Sunday, June 18, 2006

Tote bag or purse?

I kept hoping somebody would donate tote bags for the filmmakers. I imagined the experience for the filmmakers arriving and wanted them to feel they were part of something real. We are a first-year festival and they sent their money in on faith with nothing promised in the way of prizes beyond the festival itself.

Well, I got another one of my ideas. You see, for all of my adult life, I have carried from town to town, apartment to house, a large box of fabric. My mother used to sew. When she died, my sister and I cleared out a whole roomful of unused cloth, some of it fabric she had owned since before I was born.

I know how to sew, more or less, the way I know how to cook - from watching my mother. Well, I hauled out that box and found more than enough fabric to make every single filmmaker a tote. I know, I'm crazy busy, the festival is looming, and sewing is not my area of expertise. But two rectangles and a much time could it take?

I forgot that I am constitutionally unable to make thirty of the same thing, or even thirty similar things. I started getting fancy. I played with shape and rick-rack and stitching. Lili and Ferrania got in the spirit and whenever they had idle time would pick up a square and start playing around with it.

Well, we're two weeks out and almost done. We have about thirty bags made so far, and depending on how many filmmakers actually can come, we may already be finished. True, none of the stitching is straight, nor are the corners square or the straps even. But every single one is one-of-a-kind, like the women who made these films.

The plan is to let each filmmaker choose the bag she wants. The early arrivals will have the most pick. But no Filene's basement tug of war, ladies. If someone else has a bag you must take home: negotiate the deal.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Let me just say that choosing is not fun. I am more stressed out by the thought of saying 'no' than I would have expected. In the abstract, it is a simple matter. And in reality, the binary nature of the 'yes' or 'no' carries a cartesian clarity. Unfortunately, none of the films or scripts was submitted by a computer that speaks in binary coding.

Monday, June 05, 2006

High Gear

One month to go and we go into overdrive. There are now too many things for my brain to remember. A list on paper I can lose, so I stick my list on the archway. The post-it notes go up one side of the doorframe and down the other.

Whenever the stress of too many important decisions and looming deadlines with everything important and needing to happen RIGHT NOW! starts pushing my manic button, I take up the arts-and-crafts cure employed by summer camps and mental institutions. Cut, paste, stitch, iron and zone out. Hats and shirts: we will be making them. Costumes are part of the festive atmosphere - hence the word festival - but the price of even cheap promotional wear is too deep for our pockets.

Like the films in the festival, like many an indie producer with a project, things either take money or time. The interns have come on board, and while the more mundane business tasks are basically what they are handling, they too find the crafts project s relaxing. And I am grateful for the many hands.

In and Out burgers anyone? My treat.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Thanks for Noticing

Talk about a feel-good couple of days. So many of the gals who got our email thanked us. And while 'thanks' is not why we're doing this, 'thanks' sure makes us feel like we're doing something good.

Here are what some of you said. Thanks back at you.

What a delight to get such a thoughtful, generous e-mail from a film festival programmer! I truly admire your commitment to your mandate andn not only to recognizing and honoring the work of funny broads, but to maintaining the caring nature requisite for women to support women in this industry. It is beyond rare.

(What's beyond rare? Raw? Sushi? There's a joke here, but I digress...)

thanks so much for the nice email. you have no idea how cool it is just to have someone say hey we got your film we may even watch it!!!

(Not watch it? That's a sad thought. Rest assured, we watch them all.)

Thanks for your warm and informative e-mail. ROCK ON!

(Don't mention it. Okay, mention it. Thanks for taking the time to reply)

I just wanted to send you a quick note to say thank you for the kind letter you sent to fellow filmmakers and screenwriters last week. It was a much appreciated email. :)

And here's a letter we really appreciated for its balanced view of the whole process of festival selection.

Dear Susan,

Thank you so much! What a great email. I truly appreciate it. I always want festivals to at least acknowledge and thank me for my submission (I find it amazing that some festivals cash your check and never acknowledge you in any way -- all I want is just two words -- thank you) but your email went above and beyond that. Just to acknowledge what a lot of work it is to write a screenplay, never mind making a whole film -- well that speaks volumes to me.

Of course I'm hoping so much to be included in your festival but I won't take it personally if not selected. Another filmmaker and I have compared notes and found that while we both go accepted and rejected to some of the same festivals, that there were some festivals he got in that I didn't and vice versa. It made me realize it didn't mean one of our films was "better" than the other, just that the selection process is so subjective and one film that may work for one festival or impress some screeners, may not do as well for another festival or other screeners. I don't think a film exists that everyone likes.

I don't want to ramble on because I know you have tons of work to do and don't need to be spending time reading emails! Which leads me to say thank you for putting all your heart and soul into this festival to make it happen. I appreciate that greatly. And thank you for offering to speak to us about our films, whether we are selected or not. It tells me that you are truly passionate about filmmaking and that you just want to help us make the best films we can.

Well, happy screening and best wishes in putting together the festival!