Women in Film & Video: October President’s Message

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Rebecca Bustamante with Wes Moore as he signs her copy of The Work in San Diego, CA.

Why does my life matter?  This is the question that Wes Moore tackles in his book, The Work. This week, I heard him recount, in person, how his mother continually threatened him with military school if he didn’t straighten up when he was growing up in Baltimore. And then one day, when he was thirteen years old, took him – to his surprise – to a military school in Pennsylvania.  When he tried to run away (five times in four days), his mother told him that too many people believed in him, too many people had sacrificed for him to be there, and that sometimes, “it’s not about you”.

Although I’m not a widow with three children like Ms. Moore, I am a single mother of a child with special needs, and some of the mother-son exchanges struck a chord with me. As a parent, it’s those moments of tough love that are the hardest. And for our children, it can mark the beginning of self-reliance and true independence, although they may not recognize it at the time. At the time, they may hate you, or at least think they do.

The Work starts many years later when Moore is no longer a child, but a young man in his 20s.  The narrative opens with his experience aboard a flight to London on “one of the first transatlantic flights granted airspace after the attacks of September 11, 2001.” A Rhodes scholarship recipient headed to Oxford University, he began his journey at that moment to understanding the difference between his occupation, or place of employment, and what he calls his work.  Your work, says Moore, is “that place where your greatest gifts overlap with the world’s greatest needs.”

Your work is that place where your greatest gifts overlap with the world’s greatest needs. — Wes Moore

“No one has whispered in my ear how much time I have left,” Moore emphasizes. Making every day count, making his life matter, is part of his philosophy and driving energy.  He also tells stories about the people who have crossed his path and impressed him with their passion, purpose, and gratitude for the opportunity to share their gifts.  These are the ones “doing the work”.

Women in Film & Video is an extraordinary organization that both supports and empowers you, our members, to do your “work”. From documentary to narrative film and broadcast media, you are trail blazers and mountain climbers.  Use your passion to change the world, for the better.

Changing media one story at a time,

Rebecca

Learn more at WIFV.org.

Women in Film & Video: September President’s Message

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Photo by Liz Roll

“The most important part of your equipment is yourself: your mobile body, your imaginative mind, and your freedom to use both. Make sure you do use them.”

These words of Maya Deren (1917-1961), an experimental filmmaker famous for both her stream of consciousness, expressionistic films and her entrepreneurial approach to filmmaking, are both inspirational and challenging. It’s the delicate process of balancing independent, creative vision with financial realities that Women in Film & Video strives to support. But what makes WIFV unique?

According to Keri Williams, WIFV board member, it’s our ability to connect, support, and encourage one another, both virtually and face-to-face. Ms. Williams will invite you to a film screening, reach out to students at local universities, post info about the event on the ListServ, and bring everyone together to meet the directors.  As Ms. Williams puts it, “My Plus 1 is WIFV.  My Plus 1 is 1,000 people.”

This sense of community and connections is not only powerful in an immediate sense, but also reaches back to the 1970s, to WIFV’s founding members. Most of the founders are still very involved in the organization. You can meet them at happy hours, Women of Vision events, and our annual membership events. They provide strategic guidance, encouragement, and support to the WIFV board of directors, advisory committee, and staff – all with the goal of improving and sustaining this organization for future media makers in the DC metro area.

As Ms. Deren said, “It’s a terrible pain to be a filmmaker, because you not only have the creative problems, but you have financial problems that they (other artists) don’t have. You have technical problems that they don’t have. You have machines that are breaking down in a way that paintbrushes don’t break down . . . And if you are a filmmaker, it’s because there is something in the sheer medium that seems to be able to make some sort of statement that you particularly want to make, and which no other medium to you seems capable of making in the same way.”

Make your statement at this signature WIFV event in September:

  • An Evening with Christine Vachon, hosted at GMU’s Johnson Center Cinema, in Fairfax, Virginia, on Weds., Sept. 28th.   WIFV is honored to present the Women of Vision Award to Christine Vachon in celebration of her creative and technical achievements in media.

Changing media one story at a time,
Rebecca

Learn more at WIFV.org

Women in Film & Video: June President’s Message

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Rebecca stands in the gardens outside the Museum of Shenandoah Valley, where over 70 of Alphonse Mucha’s works are currently on exhibit.

A young artist moved to Paris in the late 1800’s to continue his artistic studies, and like many of us, had to work on the side to help support himself while pursuing his dream.  He made money doing commercial illustrations for magazines and advertisements, and around Christmas, happened upon a print shop that was furiously looking for a new advertising poster for Sarah Bernhardt’s latest play.  The most famous actress in Paris was starring in GISMONDA at the Theatre de la Renaissance on the Boulevard Saint-Martin at the beginning of January.  The young man was Alphonse Mucha, and the poster he produced in two weeks for Bernhardt created an overnight sensation, and established him as the “pre-eminent exponent of French Art Noveau”, according to the Mucha Foundation’s website.  It also began a six-year contract between the two artists, one renowned for his visual skill and the other, for her theatrical flair.

From 1895 to 1910, Mucha was one of the most popular and influential artists in all of Europe.  Although he frequently worked in Vienna and Paris, he also taught at Chicago’s Art Institute from 1904 – 1910.  It was in Chicago that Americans were first introduced to his women with flowing hair breaking the constraints of the picture frame, and the geometric symbolism that typically created a “halo” around the subject.  His work, or “le style Mucha”, as it was known in Paris, influenced everything from theatrical performances, paintings, book illustrations, and calendars, to architectural and furniture design.  The desire to move away from 19th century ornamental style, and incorporate organic lines and geometric forms into art is an important predecessor to modernism, and later found new life in a 60’s revival of Mucha’s popularity.

This artistic desire to break away from the old, and create something new, is a pattern that has repeated itself in art throughout the ages.  One of the signs of the decline of a civilization is the recycling of previous art forms, and the lack of new, original work.  In its 35th Anniversary year, Women in Film & Video began two strategic initiatives dedicated to fostering original works by WIFV members: the Seed Fund for Documentary Filmmakers and Spotlight on Screenwriters, founded and created by Monica Lee Bellais. This month, the inaugural WIFV Seed Fund Grant Selection Committee has begun the process of reviewing applications for the Seed Fund, and winners will be announced this summer.  Along with the $2500 grant to help with development and research of an original documentary film, each winner will also be eligible to apply for the Fiscal Sponsorship program.

In the narrative realm, WIFV is now accepting submissions for the third edition of the acclaimed Spotlight on Screenwriters spec catalogue.  Original screenplays by WIFV members are visualized with the help of graphic designers, not unlike Mucha’s theatrical posters for Bernhardt. Spotlight on Screenwriters complements both the Screenwriters Roundtable and the annual ScriptDC conference, organized by Jane Barbara.  “ScriptDC, Spotlight, and the Screenwriters Roundtable exist to help enable our growing community of storytellers to discover the best way to tell their stories.  Whether you are a writer, director, producer, editor, actor, we provide educational and networking opportunities to help you realize your goal,” says Barbara.  Participation in the Screenwriters Roundtable and ScriptDC doesn’t impact your submission status to Spotlight on Screenwriters. It is the best way to network with other writers, and learn about the professional writing industry.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR:

Spotlight on Screenwriters is possible in part with the generous support of the Washington, DC, Office of Cable Television, Film, Music & Entertainment (OCTFME) and Interface Media Group.

  • June 15, 2016 – First Submission Deadline
  • July 15, 2016 – Second Submission Deadline

SHARPEN YOUR PENCIL THIS SUMMER:

Changing media one story at a time,

Rebecca

Visit WIFV.org to learn more about Spotlight on Screenwriters, ScriptDC, and the Screenwriters Roundtable.

Women in Film & Video: May President’s Message

rebecca_mom31.jpgMy first summer in DC, I volunteered to work the AFI documentary film festival.  My job was to click a counter for each theater attendee. and provide the final count to management when the theater doors closed.  Not a terribly hard gig, and the opportunity to grab a seat and watch the film for free after the last click made it worth the effort.  This was an opportunity to meet other people in the local arts community, and contribute my time since money was tight.

It was that summer that I fell in love with documentary film — to my own surprise.  (My first love was live theater.) I left the movie theater with tears streaming down my face, amazed at how completely I’d been drawn into the lives of the people who had opened their hearts to an unflinching camera.  I was struck by the devotion to social causes and ethical standards that permeated the Q&A sessions filled with non-fiction filmmakers.  I wrote blogs about the films I saw, encouraged others to write blogs, and became an official fan of AFI.  As I write this, I’m holding a pass for tomorrow’s AFI screening of THE RETURN, which explores California’s 2012 reform of the three strikes law, a politically popular law that punished shoplifters equally with violent felons.

In 2015, AFI DOCS and NBC/Universal announced Impact Grant awards to four documentary filmmakers who had both screened at the festival and participated in a two-day AFI DOCS Impact Lab.   TO THE CONTRARY, a PBS show dedicated to discussing issues from diverse perspectives, recently announced their first annual film festival. Winning documentaries will be broadcast on national television; submissions close May 15, 2016.

Women in Film & Video is also showing tangible commitment to documentary filmmakers with the inaugural Seed Fund grants this year.  This strategic initiative began during WIFV’s 35th Anniversary, and will only be available to WIFV members.  The Board of Directors has authorized two grants of $2500 each, to be distributed in two equal parts – 50% upon notice of the award, and 50% upon receipt of a progress report.  The deadline for applications is May 20, 2016.  Grants may be used in the research and development phase of any documentary project and must be spent within 12 months of notice of the award.

Help Grow a Film (including your own):

Changing media one story at a time,

Rebecca

Women in Film & Video: April President’s Message

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(L-R) Adrienne K. Elrod with Rebecca Bustamante, WIFV President, at TheWrap‘s inaugural #PowerWomen breakfast in Washington DC.

From children who grow up with a smartphone in their hands to adults who prefer “smart” cars, the internet has changed how people consume media and entertainment. Every day, technology continues to integrate more into our daily lives, both physically and virtually. All of this translates into different supply chains, distribution outlets, and pricing tiers for media and entertainment. Although Americans are already heavily dependent on internet access today, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel believes Wi-Fi is key to managing the ever-increasing demand for online consumption.  According to the Huffington Post, Rosenworcel told attendees at the recent SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, “It is time to supersize Wi-Fi.”

Rosenworcel also voiced her views at TheWrap‘s inaugural Power Women Breakfast for 100 of the top women influencers in media, politics, and digital in Washington, DC, last month.  Sharon Waxman, CEO and Founder of TheWrap, hosted discussion panels with Senator Amy Klobuchar, Pulitzer-Prize writer Maureen Dowd, New York Times DC Bureau Chief Elisabeth Blumiller, Communications Strategist Adrienne Elrod, CreativeFuture CEO Ruth Vitale, and FTC Commissioner Julie Brill that covered topics from the future of digital content to life on the campaign trail.  Conversations included legal, consumer, and political views on the changing face of media and entertainment.

As traditional television usage declines and internet usage increases, entertainment companies are working hard to find ways to monetize the 10+ hours the average Josephine spends online each day.  How likely are you to pay a little extra on your monthly bill to watch the latest blockbuster in the privacy of your own home on the same day it releases in theaters nationwide?  How is the government protecting consumer privacy concerns as global security becomes a rationale for accessing any and all information on devices?  The recent Apple security debate has been closely watched as a landmark case for technology and cyber-security.  Piracy, and the economic impact of unauthorized distribution, is also a concern as the marketplace prepares to absorb younger generations of consumers.

Media and entertainment companies are also trying to predict the next big thing.  Virtual reality is one of the expanding horizons in the tech landscape (think Arnold Schwarzenegger’s TERMINATOR vision).  In 2014, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook was acquiring Occulas VR, a virtual reality technology that utilizes a headset to immerse the user in an augmented reality experience.  According to Zuckerberg’s Facebook post, enhanced gaming experiences are just the beginning.  “Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones. The future is coming and we have a chance to build it together.” With Google’s competitively-priced $15 cardboard version of the VR headset, it remains to be seen if Occulas will be the game-changer Zuckerberg predicted. (Pun intended.) For the near future, make it a point to attend these two upcoming WIFV events, either physically or virtually.

What’s the Next Big Thing for WIFV?

  • On Saturday, April 2, the 19th Annual Media Job Fair gives you an opportunity to meet with prospective employers including Interface Media Group, Team People, Henninger Media Services, PBS, and WHUT, among others. Register here to take action on your media career.
  • WIFV is proud to be launching its first # GalsNGear Live! event on April 19th at NABShow 2016 in Las Vegas. #GalsNGear is a pop-up event that brings professional women in the technical fields of video, film and digital media together with the tools, skills and community to succeed in their chosen craft. Can’t be there in person? The event will be live-streamed by Broadcast Beat Magazine. Special thanks to Past President and WIFV Advisory Committee Member Amy De Louise for “connecting women working in the trenches of media production to the best creative tools for filmmaking”.

Changing media one story at a time,

Rebecca

Help Grow a Film!  Applications for the Seed Fund Sprout in April.  There will be two $2,500 grants this year as early money in for a documentary film project.  Donate and learn more at WIFV.org.

Women in Film and Video: March President’s Message

DSC_0015 (2)“I got me a camera and got to it.” Best known for her compelling photographic records of World War II’s impact on civilians, especially children, Therese Bonney (American, 1894-1978) became so unhappy with the lackluster work of the photographers working in her news-photos service in Paris that she started taking the photos herself.  Bonney’s images of homeless adults and children on the Russian-Finnish war front attest to her skill as a visual communicator, and the power of media to create social consciousness.  Ultimately collected in 1943’s Europe’s Children, the film treatment she wrote based on these experiences inspired the Academy-award winning film The Search.  Bonney was also the heroine of a wartime True Comics issue, Photofighter.

Women like Therese Bonney take matters into their own hands, are fierce in their pursuit of art and justice, and leave indelible marks on our spirits – for the better. Women’s History Month honors all of the women who have fought inequality, championed human rights, and broken down barriers.  Women in Film & Video will honor the outstanding accomplishments of our own heroines with the 31 for 31 campaign.  Each day this month, WIFV will give a shout out to a member who inspires us on Twitter and Facebook.  The proceeds of this month’s campaign will go to the Seed Fund for Documentary Filmmakers unless specified otherwise.  Celebrate WIFV with a $31 donation this month.

Here are some more ways to be the change you want to see:

  • Love watching films? Join the #52FilmsByWomen movement! Make the commitment, watch one film a week, and post about it on Facebook or Twitter. You can curate a list on GoWatchIt, or pull from one of the many lists of films by female writers and directors. Or start with the film SUFFRAGETTE to help inspire you for Women’s History Month.
  • Hone your career skills with the WIFV Career Series, starting with a Weds One Resume Swap and culminating with the Media Job Fair and a special LinkedIn session in April. Hear from industry experts about what employers want to see in your resume and your interviews. To paraphrase Bonney, “Get to it!”
  • Join us at the Hirshhorn Museum on March 12th for the panel discussion A Journey to Success: A Conversation with Women Filmmakers, moderated by Catherine Wyler and featuring award-winning filmmakers Jane Barbara, Jami Ramberan, and Via Buksbazen. This “special edition”* of Smithsonian’s signature Museum Day Live! event will encourage all people, and particularly women and girls of color, to explore their nation’s museums, cultural institutions, zoos, aquariums, parks and libraries– which will offer free admission for the day. Special thanks to board member Brigitte Yuille for bringing this opportunity to WIFV.

Celebrate Women’s History Month with WIFV!  Visit WIFV.org.

Women in Film and Video: February President’s Message

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Awards season kicked off with the Spirit Awards in November, and will end with this year’s controversial Academy Awards in February.  In light of the growing criticism about the lack of diversity in nominees and a boycott announcement by Jada Pinkett, Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs issued this statement:

“As many of you know, we have implemented changes to diversify our membership in the last four years. But the change is not coming as fast as we would like.  We need to do more, and better and more quickly . . . This isn’t unprecedented for the Academy. In the ’60s and ’70s it was about recruiting younger members to stay vital and relevant. In 2016, the mandate is inclusion in all of its facets:  gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. We recognize the very real concerns of our community, and I so appreciate all of you who have reached out to me in our effort to move forward together.”

Concussion star Will Smith, who joined his wife Jada in saying he would not attend this year’s awards ceremony, responded to the Academy’s announcement last week in a BBC interview, which was promptly followed up by an Entertainment article.  “This is far beyond me. This has nothing to do with me. This has nothing to do with awards,” Smith said. “Awards are a really frivolous reason for me to put my hand up and make a statement. For me, this is much more about the idea of diversity and inclusion.”

For the second straight year, all 20 men and women nominated in the Academy’s acting categories are white.  Although it’s impossible to map the Golden Globe or Academy Awards perfectly to the SAG Awards because of the difference in award categories, this year’s SAG Awards provided a broader opportunity for actors of all ethnicities to both participate and be recognized for outstanding performances.  Focused on performance only, the SAG Awards also highlighted films snubbed in this year’s Academy Award nominations.

Predictably, Leonardo diCaprio took home another leading actor trophy for The Revenant at the SAG Awards. However, Idris Elba won both for his supporting role in the Netflix film Beasts of No Nation, and also garnered top honors for his work in the television show Luther. Leading lady Brie Larson stayed on top, adding “the Actor” award to her Golden Globes win for the feature film Room.  Other wins included Viola Davis for ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder, Uzo Aduba for Orange is the New Black, and Queen Latifah for her portrayal of blues singer Bessie Smith in HBO’s Bessie.  It’s important to note that the SAG Awards are decided by a vote of peers, rather than a select group within an institution.  Along with more award opportunities in film and television categories, peer-voting may influence the more diverse nomination and award results.

The same night the SAG Awards were being held in Los Angeles, the Sundance Film Festival was busy awarding Nate Parker’s slave-revolt film The Birth of a Nation both the grand jury prize for narrative film and audience prizes in Park City, Utah.  Parker’s award sweep gave a nod to diversity. The New York Times quoted his onstage remarks: “An issue film succeeds when it touches people. I’ve seen that people are open to change.” And in that moment, the race for the 2017 Academy Awards began.

Learn more at WIFV.org