Changing the World One Project at a Time

 

PMDoS WIFV TeamOn January 18, 2016, Martin Luther King Day, five DC Metro Area PMI chapters partnered with the Taproot Foundation to provide pro bono services with project management subject matter experts to nearly 100 charity and nonprofit organizations. The event was organized by Project Management for Change, which is also a nonprofit organization.  When the Project Management Day of Service (PMDoS) launched on MLK Day in 2015, I signed up to participate, promptly caught a virus, and stayed home sick.  This year, I forwarded the non-profit application to the Executive Director of Women in Film & Video, where I’m currently serving on the board of directors.  A small organization with only two fulltime employees, WIFV often has more projects on their plate than they can finish.  Like many nonprofits, unplanned work and limited resources create obstacles despite an army of inspired and committed supporters.

Tamika - Team Scribe

Women in Film & Video was approved for participation in this year’s PMDoS, and had a team of four project managers assigned for pro bono consulting.  On MLK Day, I bundled up and drove to the University of Maryland to meet the Executive Director and our team of consultants.  As I walked from the parking garage to the building in 10 degree weather, my hat blew off my head and went rolling down the street.  I said a few choice words as I ran after it, missing the warmth of my home.  Once inside, I registered and went straight for hot coffee after introducing myself to WIFV’s team of volunteer project managers.  As the day began, I was impressed with both the number of project managers at the event, and the expertise my own team of project managers was bringing to the table.  Over 350 project management  volunteers worked in small teams with their assigned nonprofits to help them walk out of the room with a greater understanding of their toughest business challenge, a plan to solve it, and a timeline to make it happen.

The goal of the event, called a Scopeathon, was to identify “what hurts” for the charity or nonprofit, and work out a high-level action plan and timeline for implementing a solution.   Taproot trained all of the volunteers in advance of the event, provided them with process templates, outlined an agenda for moving from one Edward & Lisa - Pro Bono PMsphase of scoping to the next to help everyone stay on schedule, and Microsoft, one of the sponsors, donated Surface Pros for every team to use.  Included in our swag bag was a flash drive, which I used to copy a full set of the final materials for review in our next WIFV board meeting.  We worked steadily from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., with a short break for lunch.  The event also featured inspiring speakers and a few door prizes throughout the day.  I won the latest version of the PMBOK, which had a note on it saying “Excellent Plot!  Action Packed!” (If you’ve ever cracked this book open, you’ll understand the joke.) A representative from the White House joined us at the end of the day to give an inspirational speech, and asked the nonprofit leaders in the room to stand and share their experiences.

PMDoS Speaker5The first nonprofit leader to stand and speak was a native African. Her organization is dedicated to helping young women in Africa get an education.  Although I’ve heard the proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” many times, the impact was very powerful when she used the metaphor to tell us how her action plan would help these young girls in another country.  “Today,” she said, “you are my village.”  A nonprofit leader from Haiti reminded everyone that you can only carry a burden if you bend your back.  “Stand tall,” she said.  Another testified about how his action plan would help his organization in their work with disabled elderly people.   “They want to feel valued,” he said.  I was both humbled and inspired by their stories.  I’ve marked my calendar for next year.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  It is the only thing that ever has”. – Margaret Mead

About Project Management for Change:
Project Management for Change is a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to raise the profile of the Project Management profession while creating positive impact in our community through pro bono project management service.  Visit PMDoS.org to learn more.

#scopeforchange #projects #WIFVDC

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Women in Film and Video: January President’s Message

rebecca_mom31.jpg

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . . a movie was released and buzz focused on the plot, cinematography, and caliber of acting.  Not on how well an actress has aged.  From The New York Times to CNN, Carrie Fisher’s physical appearance in the latest Star Wars installment has gotten more than its share of media attention.  Star Wars: The Force Awakens features Fisher as a mature General Leia commanding military forces, no longer a princess-slave in a bikini.  In a classic response to the body-shaming, Fisher tweeted, “Please stop debating about whether OR not I aged well.  It hurts all 3 of my feelings.”   Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill were not subjected to the same media scrutiny, or ageism.

The film added $22.9 million on New Year’s Eve to a total $652 million haul, according to Variety.  Apparently, looks aren’t everything.

Daisy Ridley also portrays a strong female in the film as Rey, a young woman who fights the dark force with Skywalker-like finesse.  The London-based actress has already signed off to star in Episode VIII, which begins filming this month, and Episode IX, but she’s already picking up other films along the way. In the fantasy film Scrawl, she plays Hannah, a mysterious girl who intermingles with a group of comic book lovers. In 2016, she’ll also lend her voice to a dubbed release of 1991’s Only Yesterday.

“We’re lucky in the UK that we have fantastic actresses who work often and hone their craft, moving between film, television, and theatre,” said BAFTA chief executive Amanda Berry in a recent interview with The Guardian.  “The more we see Helen Mirren, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith make films, the more it inspires the next generation of talent, also reminding the directors, writers and producers that this talent exists.  I’m seeing much stronger self-belief – women saying, “Yes, we can do that.”

Although slow to change, Hollywood also has some strong female leads in these films:

  • JOY – Jennifer Lawrence stars as the woman who rises to become the founder and owner of a powerful business dynasty.
  • OUR BRAND IS CRISIS – Sandra Bullock portrays a political strategist in Bolivia; based on the 2005 documentary by Rachel Boynton.
  • TRIPLE 9 – Kate Winslet plays a mob leader in a film about corrupt cops and criminals who plan a heist.
  • TRUMBO – Helen Mirren brings her usual aplomb to the role of Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper in this saga about blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, played by Bryan Cranston.
  • GHOSTBUSTERS – A gender remix of the 80s comedy, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones take on the roles originally played by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson.
  • THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN – Still in production, Emily Blunt and Rebecca Ferguson star in this haunting film based on Paula Hawkins’ bestselling novel. Anticipated December 2016 release.

Learn more at WIFV.org

Women in Film and Video: December President’s Message

Photo by Liz Roll

Photo by Liz Roll

November was a whirlwind month for Women in Film & Video, and it’s not slowing down.  The holidays are upon us, and if you’re like me, you may come down with a good case of compassion fatigue before it’s all over.  Don’t let yourself get so busy that you miss the beauty of a day, the smile of a friend, or the small moments that create life’s most lasting memories.  WIFV members go above and beyond on a daily basis, and some also reach out to the community, providing service to help those in need. Remember to take care of yourself in the process.

Every year, WIFV recognizes a member who exemplifies community service with the Liesel Fleshenberg Award.  Past winners include Rona Fitzgerald, Vicki Warren, and past president Hillary Kirsner.  WIFV established the Liesel Flashenberg Award for Community Service in 2010 to honor the memory of Liesel Flashenberg, a past president of WIFV, and to acknowledge all she contributed to her communities through her work with immigrant women and the establishment of Through the Kitchen Door International.  The award is presented each year to a WIFV member who exemplifies Liesel’s dedication to giving back and making a difference to non-profits in the area.  If you know a member that you would like to nominate, fill out the online nomination form here. The winner will be announced at the annual WIFV/TIVA Holiday Party on January 22, 2016, at the Harman Center for the Arts.

This year, on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, Women in Film & Video participated in #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving.  Since its founding in 2012, #GivingTuesday has inspired giving around the world, resulting in greater donations, volunteer hours, and activities that bring about real change in communities.  As a membership-driven organization, WIFV relies on volunteers and donations to augment the dedicated work of our board and staff.  We invite you to join the movement.   Some ideas include:

  1. Use the hashtag #GivingWIFV to talk about Women in Film & Video and why you support our organization on your social media accounts, and post a #UnSelfie to show why you give to WIFV.
  2. Donate to the Documentary Seed Fund.  Because start-up funding in particular is so difficult to raise, many worthy media projects with women in above-the-line positions never get off the ground. But with even a $35 contribution, you can help a filmmaker test a concept or conduct background interviews for a compelling documentary.
  3. Identify an in-kind donation for WIFV events and services.  Providing a venue for a membership event or volunteers for outreach programs like Image Makers and the Kids World Film Festival helps WIFV to continue to serve our community of artists and mentor future filmmakers.

There are many ways to get involved in giving back.  We encourage you to join the movement, recognize an unselfish WIFV member, and relieve your compassion fatigue at the holiday party January 22.  Special thanks to Kathy Dismukes for her dedication and commitment to WIFV fundraising.

Wishing you peace, joy, and abundance,

Rebecca

Learn more at WIFV.org

Women in Film and Video: November President’s Message

On Thursday, October 29th, Mayor Bowser bestowed Women in Film & Video DC with the Award for Excellence in Service to the Arts at the 30th Annual Mayor’s Arts Awards organized by the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities.   In my first message, I said I wanted to hold another award this year…one that belongs to you.  And now that’s come true.  This award belongs to everyone — Executive Director Melissa Houghton, our all-volunteer board, members, sponsors and partners.  It’s been an exciting month! I hope you enjoy reading about some of the amazing filmmakers at the Middleburg Film Festival in my message below.

LEE_0672“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good,” is one of Olivia Wilde’s favorite quotes from Steinbeck’s East of Eden.  In a candid black and white interview on Off Camera with Sam Jones, Wilde explains her recent leap of faith with Meadowland, directed by Reed Morano, and how the film helped her to develop both her business skills and her acting chops.  Wilde took on the role of producer along with the role of actress, portraying a mother devastated by the disappearance of her son.  The artistic journey for these two moviemakers involved an unexpected pregnancy for Wilde, and an unexpected illness for Morano, a female cinematographer making her directorial debut with the film — and battling cancer along the way.

And then there’s Meg Ryan, whose directorial debut Ithaca was shot on location in the Richmond-Petersburg area of Virginia, and had its world premiere at the Middleburg Film Festival this October.  Ryan also acted in this film, doing double duty like Wilde and Morano.  Set in the early days of World War II, the film follows the story of a 14-year old boy tasked with delivering telegrams from the Secretary of War to the families of the small town he lives in.  Ryan was one of seven women directors with films at this year’s MFF, and was in good company with Catherine Hardwicke, whose film Miss You Already also screened at the festival this year.

Hardwicke, known for Thirteen and the megahit Twilight, participated in a “Conversation” event at Boxwood Winery.  These special events give festival attendees the chance to enjoy an intimate setting while filmmakers answer questions from LA and NY correspondents. Maureen Orth, special correspondent for Vanity Fair, asked Hardwicke about her directing career, and noted she serves as a role model for women in Hollywood – where only 4% of movies directed by women make it to the big screen.  The tone is meant to be relaxed and conversational; the same tone Sam Jones uses in his Off Camera series, augmented in the MFF setting by a delicious glass of wine.

Lee Daniels, writer, director, and co-creator of Empire, FOX television’s original series, was also asked about diversity during his “Conversation” event at the Salamander Library at MFF.  Daniels’ responses to John Horn, host of KPCC’s The Frame in LA, were frank and unapologetic.  “I do stories that matter to me.”  Daniels recounted how he could not finish directing the scene in Empire where a boy walks to his father in high heels…that was his story, that was his father, and he froze in the director’s chair.  His sister, who was on set that day, stepped in and began directing, finishing the day for him.  Daniels’ satisfaction comes not from awards or critical accolades for his work in films Precious, Monster Ball, The Butler, but from a person who walks up to him and says, “Thank you for telling that story.  I was abused.”  Join us as we celebrate and support artistic vision this month with two of our signature events:

  • A Conversation with Joan Darling and Dawn Porter – Nov. 12 Celebrate with 2015 Women of Vision honorees Joan Darling and Dawn Porter, moderated by Peabody-Award-winning Senior Producer/Reporter on the Arts Desk at NPR Elizabeth Blair.  RSVP here.
  • Words to Action at ScriptDC – Nov. 13 – 15 Enjoy directing and producing master classes, pitch critiques, and a special screening.  Register now to get your free ScriptDC mobile app.  Special thanks to Yolanda Arrington for helping us go mobile!

When Wilde talked about not “being perfect”, she was highlighting how movies like Meadowland and Drinking Buddies allowed her to stretch artistically, and break out of the glamorous “box” that Hollywood had defined for her as a leading actress.  When we let go of the labels that other people stick on us, we’re able to approach our artistic work from a place of deep connection and unflinching honesty.  Be fearless.  Be fierce.

Changing media one story at a time,
Rebecca

Women in Film and Video: October President’s Message

Rebecca - National Archives Monument to DreamThe St. Louis arch, gateway to the West in the United States, rises from the ground to a height of 630 feet at its tallest point. It’s the result of painstaking engineering, incredible coordination, and a good dose of American grit and determination.  As I sat in the audience at the National Archive’s McGowan Theater waiting for the screening of “Monument to the Dream”, Charles Guggenheim’s documentary film about the making of this American monument, I enjoyed that hushed moment when the formal introductions have finished, the lights in the theater are dimming, but the film hasn’t yet begun to project onto the screen.  At this moment, the audience is waiting to be transported, to be moved, and with the best documentary films, even challenged in our beliefs.

As the film began, we were definitely transported. Filmed in 1967, Guggenheim captured steel workers climbing ever-increasing heights with no tether or harness in sight.  In today’s world of legal cautionary tales, this would be unheard of.  They were relentless in pushing the project forward, which involved carefully positioning each segment of steel into place, reinforcing it internally with rebar and cement, and checking constantly with the engineering team for variations in the design.  It was noted in the Q&A discussion that not a single life was lost during the construction of the monument.

The arch met with incredible resistance at the beginning of the construction project, and workers dealt with feedback like “Why are you working on that?” and “Isn’t that an anti-American design?” They persevered and remained true to their vision, despite the fact that the general public was unsupportive and critical.  And on the last day when the final segment of steel was ready to be installed, the workers were surprised to look down and see the large crowd assembled on the ground far below, cheering them as they cooled the steel with water and slowly pushed the two sides of the arch apart to allow room for the exact size required for the last piece of steel.

Our vision for Women in Film & Video this year also requires thoughtful planning, fearless execution, and relentless pursuit of our goals. Our events, programs, and fiscal sponsorships are like those two steel sides slowly rising into the sky to create a gateway, a view into new territory for filmmakers.  And you are those fearless workers assembling each piece, climbing without a net, and constantly adjusting for changes around you.  It’s no easy task to push forward knowing that the general public may not understand your vision for your art.  As an industry, many do not share WIFV’s vision for gender equity both in front of and behind the camera.  Here are a few ways WIFV can help you actualize your vision:

Support Your Design

Reach New Heights

Whether you contribute to the Documentary Seed Fund, celebrate Women of Vision Joan Darling and Dawn Porter in November, or simply take advantage of the opportunities to learn about your craft from recognized industry professionals like Hollywood Producer Michael Uslan, you have an important role to play in WIFV’s work to create a sustainable, supportive organization for filmmakers and media professionals. Special thanks to Grace Guggenheim, Woman of Vision 2010, for her ongoing support of Women in Film & Video.

Changing media one story at a time,
Rebecca

Learn more at WIFV.org

 

Women in Film and Video: September President’s Message

FullSizeRender (4)No, that’s not my personal Oscar in the photo this month, but I certainly enjoyed getting to hold him when I attended the WIFV Advisory Committee meeting last week. It was my first official meeting as President of Women in Film & Video, and I considered it a good omen for my presidency. An actress by trade, this photo taps into some of my own personal fantasies about the ultimate career. What would my life look like if I was experiencing amazing success and all of my dreams were coming true? From the first magical moment of inspiration to the 7:00 a.m. call time, how do I stay inspired and 100% present?

I took these questions with me from that committee meeting to the annual WIFV board retreat at Interface Media Group on Saturday. This was my opportunity to share that “this is so cool” feeling I had when I held that Oscar with our new and returning board members. You should know that WIFV board members are fearless and relentless in their pursuit of excellence, but they also need inspiration and vision each year as we develop our strategic plan. Liz Fletcher Brown, award-winning author and Immediate Past President of the National Speakers Association, was our guest speaker. She stood in front of the room and told a story about her experiences as a professional dancer, including lessons learned about keeping your balance in rough waters.

Liz spoke to us about clarifying our purpose, strengths, and values. The more clarity we put around this, the more our work on behalf of WIFV will be a joyful expression of our vision for the organization. As I looked across the table at Monica Lee Bellais, creator and founder of Spotlight on Screenwriters, I saw how closely her own essential beliefs are tied to that program. Monica believes strongly in the power of our screenwriters, and is fully invested in supporting and developing their professional skills. When Liz asked everyone to say two words that exemplify WIFV’s purpose, Monica responded, “Empowering creativity.” If you haven’t yet seen the Spotlight one-sheets from the first catalogue of screenplays, you’re missing a truly fantastic expression of those two words. While we’re on the topic of Spotlight on Screenwriters, mark these dates on your fall calendar:

  • Aug. 12th – Last day for Spotlight on Screenwriters 3rd/final submission deadline
  • Sept. 3 – Marketing a Screenplay Workshop
  • Sept. 18 – Early Bird Pricing Ends for ScriptDC
  • Oct. 1 – Lights, Camera, Action! Workshop
  • Nov. 13 – 15 – ScriptDC

Please let us know when you see us fulfilling our mission, share with us when you have a new career opportunity through WIFV connections, and tweet @WIFV_DC when you receive well-deserved recognition for your work as a media maker. Better yet, come to the WIFV Open House on Weds., September 2nd @ 6 p.m. at Henninger Media, and tell us your stories in person! And although we won’t know until the October awards ceremony, WIFV is a finalist for the Annual Mayor’s Arts Awards for Excellence in Service to the Arts for the second consecutive year in a row. Maybe I’ll get another chance to hold an award that belongs to someone else this year . . . you.

Changing media one story at a time,
Rebecca

Learn more at WIFV.org

SlideShare for Project Managers

SlideshareI worked with PMI.org on a short article this summer about SlideShare and it published last week. It’s in the Career Central section of their website. The idea was to help younger PMs (and just folks looking for work) find ways to promote their work and build their personal brand. It was an unsolicited opportunity 🙂 sometimes those are the best!http://ow.ly/p9a1Z #projects #socialmedia #PM ^RB