Earlier this fall, I took part on a fantastic panel at the Woodstock Film Festival lead by esteemed critic Thelma Adams, who led FilmDistrict's Jeanne Bernie, Louverture Film's Joslyn Barnes and myself in a fun and spirited panel on the many, many roles women play in this crazy business we call film.
We had quite a discussion that covered little bit of everything - from motherhood to gobos, as I recall- with a lot of laughter and irreverence thrown in for good measure.
But at the end of the day, despite our different paths and personalities, it became clear that the one thing we all had in common was that when life got crazy, production financing went south, and plans went out the window - we somehow found a way to keep our jobs - and our heads up - by simply, humbly starting fresh each morning and continuing to push forward any way we could with small, but deliberate, steps.
This week, I've been thinking a whole lot about another group of women who are currently pushing forward in a big way to ensure their stories are heard. Their films are seen. Their careers able to thrive. They're spending hours in LA, New York, Amsterdam and beyond in dark editing suites, pouring over marketing materials, finding that last bit of funding to jump start their next steps.
One by one in the coming months, they'll be introducing us to their very first feature films at Sundance, Slamdance, Rotterdam, Berlin, True/False, SXSW and beyond. It's an exciting and terrifying time for them, in equal and oscillating measure.
At this year's IFP Independent Filmmaker Labs (the only labs in the world that help first-time feature filmmakers complete, market and distribute their films), we have the highest percentage of women directors and producers we've ever had taking part in this year's program. And as you'll soon learn for yourselves, they are fierce!
We'll be hearing a lot more from these ladies over the coming months as they charge into festivals, theatres and your living room thanks to the the wonders of VOD. Already, good news and good press is trickling out about Lab Fellows Susan Youssef's recent 2010 Women in Film Grant and Victoria Mahoney's Elle Magazine recognition as one of 2010's Elle Women in Hollywood.
And we're excited to see all these Lab Fellows - and fellas too! - at our Distribution Lab here in New York December 9-11. Where after months of hard work, strategy, and struggle we get together one last time to remind each other that what it really comes down to at the end is this: That it's not just about this project. Or this Lab. Or this incredible, hardworking group of filmmakers finding their way through the indie wilds.
It's about each of us - filmmakers and film lovers all - coming together to ensure that we continue to be champions of independent film.
It's a challenge that holds true for emerging and veteran talent alike. It's both simple and powerful. And even still, fueled by small, deliberate steps.
So when you discover a new face in the crowd in the coming months- whether its one of our IFP Lab Fellows or anyone of the thousands of talented filmmakers and artists out there shooting, cutting, building websites, and planning for their festival debuts in tandem - don't forget to tell your friends. Keep the story going. Provide support any way you can. And help them to push on.