TCFF 2019 Documentary Spotlight – ‘Seeing Is Believing: Women Direct’ + Interview with director Cady McClain

On its 10th anniversary, more than 60% of Twin Cities Film Fest’s 2019 program are driven by female filmmakers. It’s something I’m happy about of course, but I wish the general statistics about women in Hollywood is something to cheer about. As of right now, according to Women And Hollywood stats, women only make up for a mere 4% of directors.

So naturally I’m intrigued by documentaries that highlight women filmmakers. I featured the doc Be Natural about Alice Guy-Blaché (the Mother of Cinema). This time I had the privilege of chatting with Cady McClain, the director of Seeing Is Believing: Women Direct.

It’s a documentary film which emphasizes the opportunity for women to use their voice through media to change the social and political landscape and achieve full equality. Focusing on inspiring and uplifting young female storytellers through the mentorship and leadership of four diverse directors, Seeing is Believing: Women Direct opens the conversation up to ask “What is the broader role of storytelling in our society and how can women use filmed media as a unique opportunity to catalyze progress?”

The best documentaries are entertaining, insightful and fascinating. Well, this is one of those documentaries and then some. I love that there are clips from their projects along with the filmmakers’ interviews. I also adore the the stunning animation by Chilean artist Xaviera López that supports the themes of the doc.

I learned that Cady McClain is planning of turning this doc into a podcast series with female filmmakers and I really hope that would happen!


Check out the trailer:

Q&A with Director, Producer, Editor Cady McClain

1. What triggered you to make this film as your first feature? I read that it had started off as a 28 minute short, then an 58-minute version before this one (84 min) doc feature?

I actually started out with the idea of doing a feature. But there were two other women who wanted to make a similar feature and we each have our own vision. We all wanted to support each other but also wanted to have our own journey of going about it, which is kind of crazy but that’s how it turned out. So I didn’t want to compete by making another feature, so I thought I’ll make a series. So the short was supposed to be the first episode, the pilot. So I sent it to Soho Film Festival and they called me and said, ‘you should make it into a feature because they think it would be really competitive in their feature doc category.’

When a film festival called you, it was the encouragement I needed. I mean I never made a documentary before, I’ve never trained in documentary, but at least the short helped me understand what documentaries are. Plus I could build it from there, and the 84-minute film ended up winning the Audience Award at Soho International Film Festival which was amazing.

Then we also had a distributor come around who said, this isn’t long enough for iTunes (because it was under an hour). Now I have a little more understanding of how to make the doc feature I had wanted to make in the first place. So I went back and added more women [filmmakers] that I had wanted to but I hadn’t figured out how to fit them in. It’s like weaving a giant quilt to form a certain pattern, and you’re making the patterns as you go along.

2. Out of the filmmakers that were interviewed, I particularly love Lesli Linka Glatter, Li Lu and Sarah Gavron… I love their stories and the way they tell their stories. So how did you choose your subjects?



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A lot of it was happenstance. It was who I knew and who people I knew knew… you know, how certain people connect me to certain people. Suffragette [movie] happened while I was making this film, one of my friends who was a member of the DGA invited me to that screening and I was so blown away by it that I wrote to her agent. She said she was too busy touring for this film, but if you fly to London she’ll make time. So I flew to London to interview Sarah Gavron. I was also so inspired by the careers of the people I interviewed.

One was Joanna Kearns (best known for Growing Pains), who was an established actor before she became a director. Some people said it might be easier the fact that we started off as actors, but it’s still very hard to make that transition and to earn your place [as director]. And also with Lesli Linka Glatter, there is a lot of happenstance that comes in any one’s career. As she said in the film, if she hadn’t met that one man in the coffee shop in Japan, she wouldn’t have gone into directing. I learned that no career is a straight line. It’s helpful for me because intrinsically, you don’t just go to film school and then have a film career. It’s a lot to do with the people you’re in school with, the connections you made there, what’s being made now, what are you inspired to make, how you craft your forward movement, etc. Nothing is guaranteed And if you didn’t go to film school and want to be a director, you really have to look around you, what resources are available to you, who are the people you know and what stories you’re inspired to tell. You really have to work with the circle you have around you instead of thinking it’s out there or you’d have to come to LA and expect things to happen.

3. How has your background as an actress help you as a director?



I feel like I could help comfort the actors, even when they push back. Some actors could get very insecure and some deal with their insecurity by becoming very tough. I learn not to take it personally, and just read it as total insecurity as that’s all it is. They need me to be the one in control, to be the strong one. If I’m not the strong one then they get afraid and nervous, ‘oh she’s not in control.’ So they need to know that ‘I’ve got it. You can be nervous and I’m holding the line here for you and I’ve got your back. Everything’s gonna be fine.’

4. Seeing the grim statistics about women in film, what do you think, from your perspective as a female filmmaker yourself, needs to be done in the industry level?

I think there is a comfort factor for the guys. When they work together there is a code of behavior, I don’t know if I would call it a pack mentality, but there’s an unspoken code of behavior. They call it the ‘Boys Club’ for a reason, it’s like in an athletic club you know, if you think about it like that, there is a code of behavior that’s been long held that they’re comfortable with. So when you introduce a randomness, which is the female into that space, they’d have to get into a learning curve. So is this a friendly person, is she going to judge us for our code? What’s their take?? So as a female leader, I feel like I have to be kind about that, and not be like ‘I’m coming in to blow your game away.’ The way I’d do it is to say, ‘I’m coming in to make your show great, to respect the work that you’ve done thus far and respect your set up here, but now I’ll bring in my intelligence, my talent and ability to the story.’ It does take a certain kind of crafting in that conversation, so we can move from a gender conversation but more about ‘let’s talk about the work.’

5. I’m glad you included Alice Guy-Blaché in your film. I watched her doc Be Natural last year and I felt so guilty that I hadn’t heard of her. So who’s been your fave female filmmakers, or those who have helped path the way for you as a filmmaker?



I saw the film ORLANDO, directed by Sally Potter and I was so blown away by it. It’s such a huge production and it’s a stunning story about gender… a person, a being, moving through bodies, through time… yet there is something so inherently similar no matter whether she was a male or female.

Tilda Swinton in ORLANDO

There was a glimmer of me ‘Could I do that? Is that possible?’ I was trained intensely by my mother that no, it isn’t something I could do. ‘She [Sally Potter] was British, it’s different over there.’ That old argument… You see, my mom was, you know the 1950s mentality, where if you’re going against the patriarchy if you will, the consequences would not be small. You’d have to have a lot of resilience to buck the status quo. I don’t think she felt she had that external or internal support, she was fighting different battles. She wants us to be safe, you know, she wants us to be happy, to survive. Unfortunately, her understanding of the world of what is possible is so limited. I think for her, standing up for what’s right is more satisfying for her.

What’s next for you? I saw you’re in the process of directing two dramatic features (Paint Made Flesh and Journey to Now)?



I’m afraid I can’t say anything about the projects I’m working on, but yes I’m definitely excited to be working on a narrative feature. Storytelling is what I’m about. Although I enjoyed making a documentary, I don’t want to be branded that I’m only doing certain type of things. I like to jump from medium to medium, I’m glad that these films found me and it resonated in our conversations. It worked out, they like me and then I got attached, so now we’re in long conversations of developing something into being. It all came about in a happenstance way, someone I met while making the doc recommended me for one, and someone else I met through the the process of finding more women directors recommended me as a female director, ‘hey think about Cady McClain.’ I think people who saw the documentary thought ‘oh she could tell a good story.’


Follow the film journey online:


Thanks Cady McClain for chatting with FlixChatter!


TCFF screening time:
 Tuesday, October 22nd 4:15PM

‘Dora and the Lost City of Gold’ Interview – with Isabela Moner & Eugenio Derbez

Last week, one of FlixChatter contributors Laura Schaubschlager got to meet the two lead cast of Dora and the Lost City of Gold (thanks Allied Global Marketing!) Read below on Laura’s conversation with Isabela Moner & Eugenio Derbez


The stars of Dora and the Lost City of Gold want you to know that this isn’t your preschooler’s Dora the Explorer. Okay, maybe it is. But it’s definitely for other viewers, too.

“I think it appeals to a broader audience,” mused Eugenio Derbez, who plays Alejandro Gutierrez, during a brief round-table press interview before a meet and greet event at the Mall of America.

“I really think that it speaks to everybody, especially my generation that really, like, grew up with Dora,” added Isabela Moner, who plays the titular young explorer.

While the movie is obviously aimed at a younger audience, with its source material stemming from the nearly 20-year-old educational Nick Jr. cartoon, it’s also an action-packed adventure film, something both actors were thoroughly excited about.

“For me, it was a dream come true,” Eugenio said.

“I grew up watching Hollywood action movies and I always wanted to be part of them. I never thought it was going to happen, but it happened, so I was really, really happy.” – Eugenio

But being in an action movie is obviously physically demanding, which Eugenio and Isabela weren’t shy about talking about.

“It was scary, it was very demanding-it was the most exhausting film physically that I’ve done,” said Eugenio. “We went through all the cardio. The underwater scene, the quicksand, everything was real. The log, also, we were inside the log.”

Isabela clarified, “We did, like, a simulation-type thing, so it was in a sound stage, so they had a trunk rolling but we were inside it. Someone threw up. We don’t know who, but we know where!”

The underwater scene was especially challenging.

“They taught us how to hold our breath,” explained Eugenio. “They wanted us to hold our breath for two minutes […] they trained us for like a week and finally we did it! But it was really hard. And also, before the scene, we had to be treading water for a few seconds and it was very exhausting.”

“Yeah, it’s hard to breathe fully and take a full, deep breath in when you’re already treading water,” added Isabela, who had a particularly harrowing experience filming the underwater scene.

“Everyone’s kicking water up and we’re all ‘choking’,” she explained, miming the actors pretending to choke on water, “But I actually started choking and we were already rolling and they were like ‘3,2, 1,’ they’re going to pull us underwater and I couldn’t tell them I was choking because I was choking and then they pulled me underwater.”

“They thought she was acting,” chimed in Eugenio. Isabela remained positive about the ordeal, though.

“It was pretty scary, but things like that happen. I think it’s great; I hope they used the original take!”

The action isn’t the only thing Isabela was excited about in the movie. Being of Peruvian descent herself, she was especially looking forward to Peruvian culture playing such a prominent role on such a large platform, even learning Quechua, an indigenous language spoken primarily in the Peruvian Andes and the highlands of South America, for the role.

“I had a voice memo to work with from San Marcos University in Peru, and that was all I had.”

“It’s an unwritten language, right?” Eugenio asked.

“Yeah,” Isabela replied. “They use a thing called a quipu, which is like knots on a rope, and the knots mean different things…it’s crazy. Usually you just learn it from hearing other people speak it, so a lot of my older relatives knew how to speak it, so I would call them if I needed an extra translation of something.”

This dedication to cultural detail meant a lot to both actors, along with the importance of Latinx representation in Hollywood overall.

“Representation in Hollywood, especially now, it’s really important,” said Eugenio. “Latinos, we’re being charged and harassed very much lately, so the timing is perfect. It’s good to tell our people with the Dora movie that being Latino is cool-to tell the kids that speaking Spanish is okay, is a good thing. So I’m glad the movie came out in this very moment where we need that kind of support.”

“Yeah,” agreed Isabela.

“We need to unite–we need to support each other more than anything because in the industry, at least in my point of view, there’s not many Latinos or Latinas. I see the same people at every audition, and it’s the same kind of roles, the same kind of dialogue, and the same attitude, and it would be great to see some diversity, or at least some roles that are ethnically ambiguous but are given to a Latino.” – Isabela

In addition to starring in the movie, Eugenio was also an executive producer, and he used his position to make sure the cultural representation in the film was done right.

“It was so great with Eugenio producing this, because it was authentic,” said Isabela. “It wasn’t like ‘Google Translate’ Spanish in the script, and he made sure the dialect was correct. There were no stereotypes like that, because I’m sure he’s faced many of them.”

With such talented, motivated, and passionate individuals as these two in the industry, hopefully we’ll continue to see an increase in more thoughtful and diverse cultural representation in film.

You can catch Dora and the Lost City of Gold in theaters now.


Thank you Isabela Moner and Eugenio Derbez for talking to Laura from FlixChatter!


Interview with the filmmakers of ‘The Chairman’ short film – Now Available Online

Hello readers, Ruth here! Welcome to another interview edition featuring two Minnesota filmmakers, Frank White (writer/director) and Jason P. Schumacher (producer).

For those of you loyal FC readers, you might be familiar with Jason’s name as we’ve featured him before when I interviewed him for his short film This Is Home, and he’s also the director of Hearts Want which I wrote and directed.

Corporate researchers go behind the back of their mysterious employer to test the telepathic abilities of a traumatized girl and her father.

The Chairman is a retro sci-fi/horror short about the intersection of business, media, and the supernatural, created by Minnesota filmmakers Frank White and Jason P. Schumacher, and featuring an original analog-synthesizer score by UK composer OGRE Sound. Frequently compared to the works of David Cronenberg and Paul Verhoeven, The Chairman is an attempt to dig below the surface of the late 20th Century retro aesthetics currently marbling popular culture, particularly when it comes to the horror genre. Instead of mere nostalgia for the analog era, the 20-minute short film seeks to explore how it underpins a mythology for our digital present.

The Chairman premiered at Cinepocalypse 2018, where it took home awards for best actor and actress. Other awards from its ongoing festival run include best editing and VFX from the 2018 Northern Frights Festival, and best horror short at Motor City Nightmares 2019.

The Chairman is now available on Amazon Prime!

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Interview with Frank White

Q: Where do you get the idea for this film that deals with a telepathic experimentation?

Frank: I’ve always been fascinated by ESP and the paranormal, in spite of being a skeptical person by nature. When Jason convinced me to make a short of my own, I combined that with a roughly sketched thriller I had been working on about a father being forced to watch horrible things happen to his family over CCTV. The evil corporation angle came from yet another unfinished story, so the core of the story is very much a family of orphaned stories. I don’t like to let an interesting idea go to waste.

Director Frank White (center) on set

Q: This is your first time directing. How’s that experience been for you? How has your background as a writer/editor assist you in directing?

Frank: Directing with a full crew is certainly intimidating at first, but we had a talented and enthusiastic bunch of people who made it a great first time experience for me. Plus we got extremely lucky with weather and locations, so I was able to focus on filmmaking rather than solving problems. Having edited narrative shorts before, I was familiar with most of the nuts and bolts of putting a scene together, and since we had a leisurely pre-production phase, I was able to do a great deal of planning for the shots I wanted, while also leaving some room for improvisation when circumstances demand it or a crew member comes up with a great new idea to try. The most helpful thing about being an editor is having some experience with struggling to put scenes together that didn’t get fully shot, and in the end I only gave myself one problematic scene as a director that I had to get creative with to put together properly as an editor.

Q: There’s a particularly intriguing scene in the film involving a bunch of extras in a lake. Would you tell me a bit about shooting that?

Frank: The big lake-ghost tableaux in the middle of The Chairman was a combination of careful planning and fortunate conditions. We had a series of ghost extras for other shots, which gave the make up artists time to get people ready one at a time, and since the ghosts don’t follow the usual laws of filmmaking continuity, we didn’t have to worry about keeping their positions constant between shots. It had been a wet, gloomy day for the shoot, which was ideal for our mood and lighting, and also had the bonus of keeping passersby away from the beach. I had a stockpile of towels and foil blankets on hand to keep people warm, but the water was surprisingly pleasant. (I spent a good portion of the day wading in it myself.)

Once we had all the extras ready, the weather decided to give us a perfect cloudy sky complete with shafts of light, and the camera crew hustled to get the jib ready just in time to get the shot. The hardest part of the shot ended up being keeping the kid ghosts focused, so it did take a couple takes to get everything right, but I couldn’t have asked for a better end result.

Q: There’s a vintage 80s feel to the film, even the grainy texture of the look. Is that deliberate and what’s the reasoning behind it?

Frank: The Chairman has a vague period feel of somewhere around 1990, which is mostly rooted in the movie’s analog media motif. There are a lot of CRT television screens and VHS equipment in the background, and the period look let us have a lot of fun with costumes and production design. ’80s aesthetics are always popular with millennials (and I have a soft spot for them), but we wanted to be a little subtler about it than most retro productions. So rather than loading the script up with references or going way over the top with period costuming, we tried to shoot it more like an ’80s movie, which meant things like using a lot less camera movement than we otherwise might; with the exceptions of one jib and two steadicam shots, everything is shot entirely on tripods. After that, we used color correction, artificial film grain, and an analog synthesizer score to enhance the retro feel.

Jeremy Frandrup and Jessie Scarborough Ghent in ‘The Chairman’

Q: You also wrote the script for this. Was there anything that you had to change for the film that would make it work better cinematically?

Frank: Since I wrote The Chairman from the ground up for myself to film, it was all ready to go from the shooting script. Some dialogue got axed while editing for pacing reasons, but otherwise it’s all on screen as intended. It was quite the journey from the first draft to that shooting script though. I initially wrote without any thought towards budgetary concerns, but fortunately a lot of the stuff that would have been wildly expensive to make (there was a biomechanical monster at one point) was cut out while streamlining and focusing the narrative.


Interview with Jason P. Schumacher

Q: I saw on IMDb this is your 11th short films you’ve produced? What is it about this project that set it apart from the other projects you’ve produced?

Jason: I’d say, the scale and ambition of it. We had to create our own evil corporation and the marketing for two of their products. It is also a period piece with period appropriate locations, costumes, and technology. I’ve done a few period pieces before, but not with this many characters and locations. The biggest difference from previous projects though, is that The Chairman has various supernatural elements that we had to use special effects and cinematic language through editing and camerawork to convey. We had to figure out how we wanted to portray ghosts and psychic energy in the world that that we were creating.

Bianet Diaz in ‘The Chairman’

Q: This film is a horror/sci-fi, are you a big fan of this genre? What’s your favorite sci-fi/horror films?

Jason: I love any good film that makes me feel like I’ve just had an experience. Frank really introduced me to a lot of horror films and directors in college when we were roommates. One of the first movies we probably watched together was John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), which is a masterpiece. It has incredible and disgusting practical effects but it also has equally compelling scenes of characters just being paranoid and suspicious of one another. I’m a huge fan of the Polish horror fairy-tale musical, The Lure (2015). It manages to be this completely weird fusion of things that still hits me on an emotional level. The Orphanage (2007) scares the heck out of me and also manages to be a soul crushing character study.

Frank and I both are excited about this new resurgence of arthouse horror that’s been happening; The Witch, Us, Hereditary, Susperia. We try to go see as many of those together in the theater as we can.

For Sci-Fi, I like a lot of the standards. Robocop, Arrival, Ex-Machina, and The Matrix all come to mind. I’m also a huge fan of the original Twilight Zone. Lately, I’ve been wanting to watch more animated Sci-Fi films because Paprika (2006) might be my actual favorite Sci-Fi film. Iron Giant, Ghost in the Shell, and A Scanner Darkly are also great.

Jessie Scarborough Ghent & James Detmar in ‘The Chairman’

Q: I know you have dealt with casting for most of the films you directed/produced. How’s the casting process go with this one as there’s quite a big ensemble?

Jason: Well, we held a big audition and saw a lot of people! I know a lot of actors in the Minnesota community but I actually didn’t know anyone that we cast before we met them for The Chairman. I’d met Tessa Meath (Samantha) briefly at another casting session and thought she had the most incredible speaking voice. I thought she’d be perfect for the part of Samantha, who’s needs to communicate a lot with few words. James Detmar (Vincent), I’d had seen in another audition where he was playing someone commanding and intimidating. His performance was so effective in that other audition that I was a little nervous reaching out to him, but he’s an incredibly kind and lovely person. All of our cold, cruel baddies in real life, are some of the nicest people around. There’s some very funny behind-the-scenes shots of them smiling and laughing in the abandoned office set, under the menacing lighting. I auditioned Jeremy Frandrup previously for This is Home and really liked him.

Q: You’ve collaborated with Frank quite a bit on short films. How much input do you have in this film in terms of the story?

Jason: Frank has been behind-the-scenes on pretty much all of my films and the other stuff we’ve created at GreyDuck. This was his time to jump in, direct, and lead a project of his own. I like to think my biggest input was just to keep asking him “When are we gonna make this thing?” But the story and script are entirely his creation. Earlier drafts of the script were longer and so we had discussions about what to cut. There was another supernatural experiment that survived many drafts of the script, but ultimately had to be cut because there wasn’t enough time to clarify what it was, without distracting from the main experiment that the story revolves around. Hopefully, in the future, we can expand the world of The Chairman and tell other stories involving Pantheon and their other products, either in a feature film or some kind of mini series.

Q: What kind of challenges did you encounter making this film and how did you overcome them?

Jason: The whole thing was filled with a lot of new challenges. But with how big and ambitious this film was, all the people involved, and all the moving parts, it was actually a joy to make. I thought the biggest challenge was going to be the lake scenes, but because we were so worried about them and planned so carefully, they actually weren’t that bad. The biggest challenge was probably the darn elevator towards the end of the film. There’s a moment where 2 characters exchange some dialogue while leaving the elevator and another character steps in and takes it to the top floor. The building that we used for the Pantheon headquarters was a highly secure building, so we needed someone on staff there to swipe their security badge for every single take. And, course, the elevator doors would shut automatically at just the wrong time. Everyone remained relatively patient and we got through it, but it all took far longer than anyone expected. Beyond fighting with an elevator, I just had to be really prepared and to help clearly communicate Frank’s ambitious vision to everyone involved, so that they knew what we were aiming for and could bring their own skill and artistry to it, to bring it all to life.


Check out The Chairman‘s teaser:


Thanks Frank & Jason for chatting with me!

….

Documentary Spotlight – ‘Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché’ + Interview with writer/director Pamela B. Green

One of the perks of covering film festivals is discovering cinematic gems that I otherwise would not have come across. This is one of those sparkling gems I got to see at MSPIFF this year. Not only is this film speaks of a topic that is near and dear to my heart as a female film critic/screenwriter/filmmaker, Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché is eye-opening, inspiring, captivating and absolutely delightful to watch!

Pamela B. Green’s energetic film about pioneer filmmaker Alice Guy-Blaché is both a tribute and a detective story, tracing the circumstances by which this extraordinary artist faded from memory and the path toward her reclamation.


‘Be Natural’ Review

Directed by: Pamela B. Green
Written by: Pamela B. Green, Joan Simon

Have you ever heard of Georges Méliès? The Lumière Brothers? Thomas Edison? Most likely your answer would be yes. But how about Alice Guy-Blaché? If you say ‘Alice who?’ then you’re not alone.

PORTRAIT OF FILMMAKER ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ IN 1912*

I remember feeling really guilty that I didn’t know who Alice Guy was, I mean I consider myself well-versed in cinema history. Or so I thought. But then the opening of this film asked that very question, ‘Have you ever heard of Alice Guy-Blaché?’ to a number of filmmakers working in the industry (i.e. Catherine Hardwicke, Jon M. Chu, Peter Farrelly) and many of them had never heard of her.

FILMMAKER ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ (WITH HAT) ON SET OF THE LIFE OF CHRIST IN FONTAINEBLEAU, FRANCE, IN 1906

By the time Jodie Foster’s voice came on as the narrator, I was glued to the screen, captivated and deeply curious to hear more about this untold story of Alice Guy, the forgotten ‘Mother of Cinema’ who’s seemingly been absent from cinema history through generations. Pamela B. Green has poured her passion and admiration for Alice Guy-Blaché and it shows. She utilized her background in motion design (she’s the founder/owner of Pic Agency in Los Angeles) in her storytelling style. I love that the film goes beyond showing talking heads and an immense wealth of archival photos/footage, but it’s also a thrilling detective story. The animation/motion graphics helped convey the filmmaker and team’s journey in finding the right people to tell Alice Guy’s journey, including her daughter Simone Blaché.

FILMMAKER ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ (CENTER) DIRECTING A PHONOSCÈNE FOR GAUMONT**

It’s immensely inspiring to see a woman behind the camera in the late 1800s. Alice Guy is shown in various photos directing actors on set. By her own account, she made the first narrative films ever in 1896! However, despite having made over 1,000 films, it’s heartbreaking that Alice had to fight to get credit for her work. It’s also astounding that even a hundred years later, there’s still a huge disparity for women behind the camera. I’m SO glad I finally learned about Alice Guy-Blaché and her crucial place in the cinema history. This film is so overdue, yet it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. As more people are championing gender parity in cinema, this film would likely inspire to keep up the good fight.

I can’t recommend this film enough to anyone who loves cinema, whether you’re a casual movie-watcher or involved in filmmaking at any capacity. Check out where this film is playing next on their official website.

* Photo courtesy of Be Natural Productions
** Photo courtesy of Anthony Slide


Check out the trailer:


Quick Bio on Pamela B. Green

Originally from New York, Pamela B. Green lived most of her life in Europe and Israel and as a result, is fluent in English, French, Italian, and Hebrew. In 2005, she founded PIC, an entertainment and motion design boutique based in Los Angeles, California. Green’s work ranges from feature film main titles, motion graphics, creative directing, directing and producing music videos and commercials. She is known in the industry for creating titles sequences and story sequences using her knowledge of graphic design, animation, editorial, and archival rare stock footage research.

Q&A with filmmaker Pamela B. Green

As soon as I saw Be Natural film, I went on Twitter to share about the film and to thank Pamela for shining a light on such a cinematic pioneer & visionary who’s somehow forgotten/omitted from film history books. I then contacted Pamela via her official site and was thrilled that I got to chat with her over the phone last Wednesday. Check out my Q&A below on some insights into her filmmaking journey.

Q1: What inspired you to tell Alice Guy’s story and let the world know that she is the true #MotherOfCinema?

I saw a tv show about women pioneers in cinema which included her. The show mentioned Mary Pickford (who co-founded Pickford–Fairbanks Studio with Douglas Fairbanks) who’s also well-known as an actress. But the fact that Alice Guy had done so much and had her own studio, she stood out. I had never heard of her at that point, and the more people I asked, I realized that many people also had never heard of her. I did more research and talked to some people in the academics community who said ‘oh everyone knows about Alice’ which made me angry because that [statement] is not true. Only a small group of academics knew about her.

I kept asking people that I work with in Hollywood, those I do jobs for, studios, and nobody had heard of her. I decided to do something about it. At that point I wasn’t sure what it would be yet, but coincidentally I was working with Robert Redford on a couple of films. On a second film, I told him about Alice and he was shocked as well. He said ‘well what are you going to do about this?’ Then I said, well I think I should do a documentary because I don’t think there’s enough work has been done to really explore Alice besides the academic aspect, restoring her films, documenting what she had done, etc. but it wasn’t a full exploration of her.

FILM STILL OF BESSIE LOVE (CENTER) IN THE GREAT ADVENTURE (1918), DIRECTED BY ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ – Courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art

Q2: How long ago was this, that this journey started?

Oh a long time ago. In 2011 I was talking about this. Then we did a Kickstarter campaign in 2013 which was quite successful. Then the head of Geena Davis’ institute [SheJane.org] found out about it and then she talked to a big producers Geralyn White Dreyfous, Regina K. Scully, Jamie Wolf who came on board. They’re not part of Hollywood, but people who often fund social issues pertaining to women. Hugh Hefner and Jodie Foster also came on board as executive producers. They’re all visionaries who understood right away why I had to make this film. Instead of having to fight the system in Hollywood, I went the other way and they really helped me.

Q3: Did you face resistance from people who try to maintain the status quo of cinema history?

Yes. I get a lot of resistance from France, the Academics, professors. And Hollywood didn’t fund this movie. I mean they participated but Hollywood didn’t fund this movie. It’s completely donation-based. The ‘wallets’ just wasn’t available I guess, so I got funding from social media and these wonderful women. Barbara Bridges from the Denver Film Society is one, basically a lot of women behind the men who helped fund this movie, a lot of philanthropist women helped tell this story. The film is also distributed independently, outside of the studio system. But I see it as a positive thing, I was able to make the movie that I wanted to make, and marketed it the way I wanted to market it. There’s not many ‘fingers in the pot’ while I was making the film.

Q4: I love that the film also plays like a detective story, and the motion graphics helped convey that so wonderfully. Was that a conscious decision on your part to tell the story that way?

Yes, from the very beginning. I wanted to have Skype interviews, contact people around the world. Some people in the industry said to me ‘It wouldn’t be aesthetically correct. Why would you do that? It would look bad, what do you know about editing, etc.’ So I got a lot of resistance and people saying that I didn’t know what I was doing while making this film. So it’s similar to how Alice Guy was treated and had to deal with, that is having people second-guessing her as a filmmaker.

A still from the documentary

Q5: Where can people see Alice Guy’s extensive work? Is there plans to make her work readily available to the public?

Our film opened at Laemmle’s Monica Film Center on Friday, April 19. Then IFC Center in New York on April 26, then slowly we’re opening in multiple cities in the US and internationally [check out the film’s official site for schedule].

As far as Alice Guy’s films, there’s the Gaumont DVD collection [available on Amazon]. Kino Lorber Distribution company has some of her American films which they’ve released as part of the Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers disc [available on Amazon]. I’m also working on doing her American collections available for streaming. There are about 150 of her films in existence and we’re setting up a foundation that would hopefully support that venture.


Follow the film journey online:


Thanks so much Pamela B. Green for chatting with FlixChatter!

MSPIFF 2019 Spotlight: Stalag Luft III – One Man’s Story & interview w/ filmmaker Louise Woehrle

There are countless of stories of war that have been depicted on screen, whether narratives or documentaries. They are inherently fascinating to me, and I’m especially intrigued by stories of survival, especially when told by the survivors themselves, as in the case of this remarkable WWII documentary with a Minnesota connection.

Told by U.S. Eighth Air Force Bombardier Lt. Charles Woehrle, one of 10,000 prisoners in Stalag Luft III – depicted in the movie ‘The Great Escape.’ At age 93 this remarkable man, a gifted storyteller, relives his experiences with vivid detail. His personal account of being shot down, captured by the Nazi’s and surviving two long years of tremendous hardship is filled with grit and grace.


MSPIFF Screenings:

Parkway TheaterTue, Apr 9 7:00 PM

St. Anthony Main Theatre 2 – Sun, Apr 14 4:15 PM (RUSH ONLY)

Marcus Rochester Cinema – Fri, Apr 19 7:00 PM


Stalag Luft III – One Man’s Story Review:

In the promotional material for the film fest, the film is billed as ‘saga filled with grit and grace.’ I couldn’t agree more after seeing the film, I feel that it was how the late Lt. Charles Woehrle lived all his life… up until he passed away at the age of 98. It’s truly a good thing that Mr. Woehrle’s niece Louise is a gifted filmmaker, as she brought her uncle’s story to life so beautifully.

Though this film depicts a harrowing story, it has such hopeful, uplifting tone, a certain quiet grace that shines through when the then 93-year-old Charles Woehrle told his story on camera. Director Louise Woehrle used footage from 13+ hours of interviews with her late uncle, and combined them with various photos, real footage, countless memorabilia, plus re-enactment scenes to tell an inspiring tale of survival.

Lt. Woehrle capture shot with fellow comrades in Allied prison camp

Lieutenant Woehrle spent 22 months at Stalag Luft III prison camp along with other Allied officers. This film allowed him to provide the voice for his fellow comrades who couldn’t tell their own stories. There’s also a delightful story about how he received an unexpected gift from Patek Philippe, the luxury watch company from Geneva while he was a prisoner of war. I was so invested in the soldiers’ stories that when I saw the footage of General Patton liberating the Allied prison camps, I literally cheered. As a movie fan, I was amused to see footage of classic Hollywood star Clark Gable who joined the Army Air Force and was part of the 351st Bombardment Group.

This is a film told with passion and care. The amount of meticulous details is astounding, and they’re woven together seamlessly with the ‘talking head’ interviews and re-enactments to tell a cohesive story that’s suspenseful, thrilling, deeply-touching and inspiring. I have to mention the wonderful music which mixes the classic theme from The Great Escape by Elmer Bernstein, as well as those made specifically for this film. Great music adds such richness to the whole experience and that is definitely the case here.

I’m glad I got to see this film and learn more about a real life hero, as well as others whose stories are told through him. A brilliant showcase of the triumph of the human spirit. Lt. Woehrle’s and his comrades’ experience certainly gives me a whole new appreciation about life and the freedom we enjoy every day.

Q&A with filmmaker Louise Woehrle

Q1. What sparked the idea that you wanted to tell your uncle’s story?

The idea was sparked after my dad died in 2006. I was still working on my feature documentary Pride of Lions (co-directed with my brother John Woehrle) so I knew it couldn’t happen right away. By 2010 when my uncle was age 93, I could wait no longer, and that’s when I got busy. I knew that even if my uncle passed away after I shot his interviews in the studio, I could still tell his story.

Q2. Sounds like you filmed this five years before your uncle passed (when he was 93), how long was the interview process with him specifically? 

The interview process happened in 3 in-studio interview sessions, lasting 3-4 hours each. I had subsequent interviews at his apartment later.

Q3. Did you learn new things about his tale you didn’t know before? 

Yes, I learned a lot of new things. The one that stands out the most is the watch story. We had been shooting at a Stalag Luft III reunion in Detroit. I was interviewing a PoW who was on oxygen. He was wearing a Rolex watch that was broken and he said he never took it off because he had it in prison camp. So, when my uncle and I were flying back to Minneapolis, I asked him if he had a watch in camp? He looked at me and said, “Let me tell you a story about a watch.” That’s the first time I heard about the Patek Philippe. I think it was never mentioned because his house was robbed in the 70s and the watch was one of the stolen valuables. He just moved on and did not talk about it. I knew, at that moment, what that watch meant to him and so began my search for the watch and ultimately a replacement watch from Patek Philippe.

Q4.When watching the film, I was astounded by the amount of details of footage, photos, memorabilia, etc. that really makes for effective documentary storytelling. Would you share a bit about the research and process of collecting all of those items?

My uncle held on to his WWII documents, logbook, journal, artifacts, letters from home, Patek documents and the negatives from the photos he took at the end of the war with the Voigtlander camera that ended up in the Nuremberg Trials. I also attained scans from Col. Clark’s photo collection from the Air Force Academy Library. Those photos were taken with clandestine cameras by the PoWs. I also worked with the Minnesota Military Museum at Camp Ripley in Little Falls, MN. They provided uniforms, tin cups, red cross parcels, the French Box car and more.

Charles Woehrle’s POW ID card

I was able to attain 2 film reels from the footage that was used in William Wiley’s 1944 documentary film Memphis Belle: The Story of a Flying Fortress. 16 mm reels from an archival film licensing online platform, Critical Past. I did a deal with them. If they sent me the reels of film, we would do the digital transfer for them. My colorist, Dave Sweet at Pixel Farm specializes in the transfer of 16mm and 35mm. Because we worked out an even trade, Critical Past did not charge for the use of the film. I also scored on the use of the B-17 from EAA in Wisconsin. That’s a whole other story of convincing them why they should work with me. All things led back to Uncle Charles and his true story. He lived it and we get to document that story!  It was a 95-degree day when they landed for 4 hours at Anoka Airport. I had to rent commercial air conditioning units so none of our re-enactors would pass out from heat stroke with all that gear on.

Q5.I thought the re-enactment scenes were well-crafted and looked very believable. How’s the process of casting the actors and recreating those air battle scenes? 

We used green screen while shooting the B-17 on the ground at the Anoka airport. The goal was to shoot as much as we could with the limited time that we had. VFX were always going to be a part of the equation but I had no idea how far we could take it. I saw this sequence as being critical to the film. I was working with one of my several shooters on the project, Alex Fournier, who also assisted in some editing too. He studied art at the Chicago Institute of Art so he had a real talent for learning VFX. Alex fell down the rabbit hole learning what he needed to make a bullet coming through the fuselage look real, taking a still image and animating it and creating a scene of jumping out of the B-17 look real. He must have worked for 3 months, straight. I was very involved in editing that sequence. I knew it had to have the right rhythm to work and so did Jim Stanger, my editor who seamlessly connected each piece. Splice came in and took the VFX to the next level with their contributions.

For the B-17 air battle sequence, I had to rely on Minnesota Military Museum’s help, specifically historians Doug Thompson and Charlie Pautler. I told them that I wanted young guys for the roles who were in shape and could wear their hair short. My historians delivered a great group. I also used some of the same guys on the forced march sequence. Three of the PoWs were family, my son Luke Enyeart (age 19), nephew, Dylan Woehrle and my uncle Charles grandson, George Kelly. Keep in mind, none of my reenactors were actual actors. The only true actor in the film was the voice over for Charles mother, Anna. That was voiced by veteran actor Sally Wingert. The woman who played the mother role, Joan Lambert had acted in high school and she was a mother, therefore, she could relate to the story. How I found Joan is yet another serendipitous event.

Q6. Did you make contact with any of Charles’ former crew that you’re making this film?

Actually, it was a family member of one of my uncle’s fellow crew members who contacted me. The daughter of Sgt. Charles Eaton (Top Turret) who is standing next to Charles in the photo of the 4 PoWs standing after they were captured. Eaton is standing next to my Uncle. They pretended they did not know each other. The daughter called me because her dad did not talk about the war and she hoped that Uncle Charles could shed some light on some unanswered questions. I arranged a conference call with Charles, the daughter and her sister and myself. They asked what their dad was like back then because the man they grew up with seemed fractured emotionally from the war. Their dad could never get over the fact that he could not get the radio operator to jump. The kid was too scared so he went down with the plane. After Uncle Charles told them about want a great guy he was and how you could always count on him, etc. they started to cry. Later they wrote to us and said how healing it was to talk to my Uncle and that it explained a lot. Uncle Charles also told them that their dad did everything he could to help the radio operator but had to jump at the last second to save his own life.

Lt. Woehrle cooking with his bunkmates

Q7. And was it Charles’ idea to honor their stories, as in providing a voice for those who didn’t make it?

Uncle Charles honored his fellow airmen, always. When he went to France as the last survivor of the crew, he took it upon himself to represent all his crew in the best way he knew how. He documented every part of the trip and put together books for each family of the crew and sent to them. He felt it was his duty as the last man standing. That’s just how he lived his life. So when you ask, was it his idea to provide a voice for those who did not make it, I would have to say yes. Was it my idea to include that theme in the film? Yes. The mission for Whirlygig Productions from inception in 2002: “Telling stories that help us see ourselves and others in new ways, promote healing and connect us as human beings.” I have shortened the tag line to “Shining a light on stories that need to be told.” For me, there always needs to be the purpose of a greater good that can come from a story. Uncle Charles lived his story, I was lucky enough to document it through this film.

Q8. Sounds like your uncle lives his life with ‘grit and grace.’ Would you share one personal moment of you and your uncle that you’ll always carry with you?

Yes – one day we were talking over dinner and I asked him who in the family reminded him of my Dad (his identical twin). I was thinking one of my 4 brothers, maybe my sons. He gently pointed his finger at me. I was moved. Uncle Charles and I were there for each other – at that moment, I understood our connection on another level.

Louise at age 14 with her uncle Charles at the piano

Q9. The moment where Charles went to a Detroit Air Show is very moving, esp when he got inside the bomber airplane similar to his B-17. Please tell me one of your favorite moments making this film.

Well, that was one of my favorite moments because up until that point he was telling me there would be no way he would ever get into a B-17 again after all he had been through. So when the young captain on the tarmac asked Uncle Charles if he wanted to go up into the plane and he said “no, no, no,” and the guy driving the golf cart said “yes, yes, yes,” or something like that…something switched in him and he did it! I was blown away. It brought a lot of joy to not only him, but the rest of us watching him.

Lt. Woehrle with Louise at the Detroit Air Show

Q10. I love the music used throughout and you’re credited as the Music Supervisor. I noticed that you used the theme from The Great Escape film by Elmer Bernstein.

Thank you. Music is the bedrock of my storytelling. I studied music growing up and into college. I became a music therapy major at the U of Minnesota. Music is integral to every story. When we were editing the Stalag Luft III prison camp sequence my editor, Jim Stanger asked if we could use the music from the Great Escape movie to get us in the spirit of being there. Of course, I said yes but was worried we would get so attached that I would never be able to find music to replace it. Elmer Bernstein composed beautifully to the spirit of that film. Well, as I thought, I got attached to the music so much that I reached out to the Elmer Bernstein Family Foundation. They referred me to Sony ATV. It took 4 months of emails back and forth with detailed examples of how the music cues would work with the sequences. Finally, they said yes and allowed me to use 4 cues at a minimal fee. They understood this was an independent film about a pretty impressive man who lived the real Stalag Luft III. I am very grateful that they got on board.

Q11. How did you select the music for this film?

I have a good sense of what a scene or sequence needs emotionally and musically. I used that inner knowing when diving into the various music libraries. The right music sort of jumps out at me. I lost myself for days looking for various music cues. There were a few cues that my editors used to cut to that we left in too. My music editor Ken Chastain did a great job providing transitional music or creating certain classics, like Silent Night, Amazing Grace or tonal segues.

My son Luke Enyeart composed 4 cues after Uncle Charles capture and during his time in the cold and hardship in prison camp. Luke wrote a couple of the cues with his good friend Will Honaker. Luke’s primary instrument is the guitar. He has composed music for 4 of my film projects and possesses great emotional intelligence in his music. You can’t teach that.

Q12. Lastly, what would you want people to take away from after seeing this film?

I hope they feel like their hearts have been opened and tended to by the life of Charles Woehrle. I hope they can walk away feeling inspired by kindness, compassion, and love for our fellow man. I want future generations to know how much we owe the Greatest Generation and hope that my Uncle’s story starts a conversation and offers some healing for families like the Charles Eaton’s.


Follow the film journey online:


Thanks so much Louise Woehrle for chatting with FlixChatter!

MN Web Series Spotlight: FEM 101 + Interview w/ the producer, director, showrunner & cast

Hello loyal FlixChatter readers! Today I bring you yet another exclusive interview with Minnesota filmmakers. It’s an extra special one as firstly, it’s a web series (which is a first here on this blog!) AND secondly, we don’t just have one or two key people participating in the Q&A, but a team of talented filmmakers/cast to give you insights into the making of this witty, well-written, oh-so-timely web series!

I’m so honored to feature producer Jeremy Bandow + writer Wenonah Wilms (who’ve both won the prestigious Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship awards), plus director Carrie Bush AND leading lady Erin Roberts (yes, Miss Kat herself!).

A community ed teacher gets more than she bargained for when she tries to teach feminism to a diverse and motley crew of misfits.

Feminism can be a complicated word these days! Jeremy Bandow & his team are Twin Cities filmmakers trying to stay true to the definition of feminism – ADVOCACY for equal rights for women – and with diverse, compelling characters explore the topic through an intersectional lens & continue the important conversation happening right here and now in 2019.

I had the privilege of seeing the first four episodes of FEM 101 (the first three episodes were shown last Fall) and this series is SO hilarious!! The writing is top notch with fun characters. I laughed so hard watching them, but each episode made you think about stuff you sometimes take for granted. I think humor can be tricky but even as someone who didn’t grow up in the US, I find it to be hilarious and an absolute hoot to watch. I think it’s a brilliant web series that’s hugely entertaining, but also offers up an important, timely message about what what it means to respect women and why women deserve to be treated equally.

Check out the trailer:

The first three episodes can be streamed on seeka.tv


Interview with director Carrie Bush +
screenwriter Wenonah Wilms

Q: Carrie – is this the first web series you’ve worked on? How’s the experience different from other directing roles you’ve done?

Carrie: ​Yes! Fem101 is the first web series I’ve worked on. Even though each individual episode is the same as a short film, with six episodes the characters have more time to arc so overall the length is a different experience for me.

Carrie Bush (right) directing Erin Roberts

Q: So Wenonah, you and Jeremy have won the Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship award. How was the experience with Jeremy as producer? Have you worked with him before?

Wenonah: I’m honored to share the title of Nicholl Winner with Jeremy, he’s an amazing writer and a good friend. This was the first time we’ve worked together and with his producer hat on he really took charge at a high level and allowed the rest of the team the freedom to do what we do best. It was so fun both in the pre-production and production stages (which a writer doesn’t get to be a part of typically.) He had a lot of great ideas from the start but he really let me take the reigns as show-runner, which I know is hard when you’re also a writer to give over the project so I’m grateful he had that trust in me even though we had very little professional experience together. I would work with him again in a heartbeat.

Q: What’s been the most challenging process in getting this FEM 101 project off the ground?

Carrie: Honestly, this was one the easiest indie/no money projects to get off the ground that I’ve ever worked on. We had a dedicated, core team of people that came together from concept and writing to preproduction, production and post. To give perspective, on my last short film I wrote, directed, got permits, bought craft service, etc. To have a team so invested in the project and to see it though fruition is pretty amazing. The collaborative process is one of my favorite things about storytelling.

Wenonah: Casting was definitely challenging to some extent simply because its an ensemble of character that need to work together on screen. We all had our favorites and some of us had to give them up to make sure the right combination of actors came together. At the end I think we made the perfect choices and I can’t imagine the FEM101 cast any other way. This was also a very prop heavy production and we all rolled up our sleeves to make sure everyone got what they needed to make the joke work. Of course any indie project has its challenges when it comes to money, locations, time and equipment but our film community rallied and the dedication and professionalism really shows.

Wenonah Wilms on set with two of the makeup artists, Lexi Tyrell + Melissa Martin

Q: Has the initial idea evolved since its inception to the final product? Where do you get the inspiration for a feminism class to a bunch of misfits?

Wenonah: The idea was actually Jeremy’s, I was pulled in after concept and helped organize how the writers room would work. The execution was really a team effort as far as characters, story lines and tone, and evolved over time through brainstorms, table reads and rehearsals. We were all willing to make changes to make the project as a whole stronger and better – seriously, the egos were checked at the door. My job was to keep the six screenplays on track, make sure that the characters sounded the same, the comedy was consistent and that as a whole the web series flowed from one episode to the next. It was a cool, fun process and I was happy how well we all worked together to get this off the ground and running.

Q: I love the first four episodes! It’s a comedy but also has plenty of educational substance about women, feminism and of course sexual relations. Given he subject matter there seems to be a danger of being vulgar or even exploitative/gratuitous. How do you balance that in the writing process?

Carrie: We had a lot of conversations about this in the writing room. For me, it really came down to trusting the people in that room. We wanted FEM to be edgy and to explore different issues that are not openly discussed in our mainstream society. I think we need to be open and talk about the things that are considered taboo in a tasteful, productive and honest way. Hopefully if we talk about some of these issues more, they will create more understanding.

Wenonah: This was something I was a bit nervous about at first. Comedy is very subjective and hard to do without the pressure of making a comedy about a very sensitive and important subject but I always think of comedy like a Trojan horse to be able to deliver a message without being on a soapbox or sound preachy. It’s an absurd premise with a serious message.

There were lots of women involved in every step of the process and we were very aware of what might offend someone and willing to dial it back or come at it differently if we felt something wasn’t landing right or could be taken the wrong way. We poked fun at the people, not the cause. We definitely took risks but I don’t believe anything we did was outrageous or in poor taste or offensive. It’s not going to be for everyone but that’s okay. That’s part of making art.

Q: So Carrie, you filmed all 6 episodes in 4 days! Wow! Tell us a memorable filming moment that stood out to you.

Carrie: It’s all such a blur I cannot remember anything! 🙂 But seriously, the thing that stands out to me the most is the laughter that was heard from cast and crew every time CUT was called.


Interview with actress Erin Roberts

Q: Is this your first experience working in webisodes? If so how was that compared to your previous acting jobs?

Erin: This is my first experience working on a web series, or having a recurring character in ANY kind of series. It was REALLY fun to get to look at the arc of a character and see HOW she changes over this implied six weeks of time. Of course you do this in a play or movie too, BUT it was an exciting challenge to try and address this when filming all six episodes in only 4 days-and in a little more than a week. It was definitely a collaboration with writing, costume/HAM consulting and making some personal choices in how my character was evolving along the way. It was fast and furious and VERY fun!

Q: You’ve been acting for a long time and you’re also an acting teacher. How’s your experience help you with this role?

Erin: Teaching is a lot like performing. There is something extremely exciting AND nerve-wracking about standing in front of people. You have to keep people’s attention, help facilitate their learning, while also entertaining them. I think this is why actors make great teachers. We’re people people! We love to communicate. I also think that being the teacher gave me the role of rallying the troops on and off screen and that’s something I love to do!

Q: What do you like most about playing Miss Kat?

Erin: I was very lucky because, thanks to Jeremy’s idea, the character of Kat was essentially pattern after, and created, for me! Not a lot of actors can say that and I canNOT thank him (and the other talented writers) enough for this opportunity. I feel very blessed. SO, what’s great about her is that I get to have a lot of my own characteristics punched up in a more comedic extreme!

She is very passionate about people and her feminists cause and she is bound and determined to successfully connect with her students. That said I think she’s a little naive and therefore struggles with understanding WHY some people might not agree with her. She’s very empathetic and motivated and might be in over her head-regardless she’s not going down without a fight! I can totally relate to these challenges in my life! Sometimes life throws curve balls and, like Kat, I do my best to stay proactive and positive.

Q: Would you share about the casting process for this? I know you’ve worked with Jeremy before of 100,000 Miles A Second short.

Erin: I was on board from the beginning (lucky lucky actor me), so I got to be part of creating the other characters and consequently, casting the rest of the ensemble. While in the writing room with Jeremy, Wenonah, Carrie and Janet, actors we knew came to mind while we riffed. We were able to put together a list pf folks we wanted to have come in and read. We have SO many awesome actors in The Cities, and we saw a bunch of talented people, but I’m happy to say we got everyone on board that we made first offers to. This group was made for this show!

Some of the colorful students of FEM 101

Q: How was the experience working with this team and cast? How collaborative was the process?

Erin: The process was extremely collaborative. From the writing room to the set, I think there was a very open atmosphere to ask questions, play with characters, and tweak. Everyone was in it to WIN it, from craft services to writers, to sound and HAM, from producing to set direction…we were all working on a shoestring budget. People were clearly very committed to the project and generously gave up their time and energy (and even finances) to make this all happen! Congrats to everyone!!!

Q: Any favorite scene that stood out to you during filming? Please share if there’s a memorable snafu that happened.

Erin: Considering the quick turn around on everything, I’m actually surprised that no major disaster happened! I think that the universe wants this puppy to have some legs because we were extremely lucky with pretty much everything! That said, wait til you see the sculptures that Wenonah made for the homework assignment in Episode 4. A definite favorite and total surprise!

Q: Lastly, anything you are most excited about in episode 4?

Erin: Episode 4 is exciting because we are introduced to our first “special guest.” Kat brings in a friend/colleague to help talk to her students about sex… I will leave it at that 😉



Interview with Producer Jeremy Bandow

Q: How did this idea of FEM 101 come about? Did you always intend it to be for a web series?

The idea for Fem 101… It’s kind of a perfect storm of events that brought this show to creation … First, it was March of ’18. The Me Too movement had just been making some headlines, and I wanted to do something to be a part of that, to help combat the injustice and inequality women face (still, yes today, in 2019). I knew something like Fem 101 wouldn’t be much but it could maybe start a conversation, and at least be a step in the right direction.

One day I got Minneapolis’ Community Ed catalog in the mail. Paging through that, I noticed all sorts of odd, nearly comical classes. I thought, there should be a class for feminism! That could be funny, and ~ *gasp* ~ educational? Voilá, the idea was born! I texted Erin about it, asked if she were interested in playing the teacher, Miss Kat. She heartily said yes. This got the ball rolling. Wenonah too, was all in. I sat down with my WheeI·House partner Adam Olson, who also has been on board since Day 1, and before we knew it we were headfirst into development and pre-production.

We did always see it as a web series. There are no limitations, and you have instant, free, and worldwide distribution. What more could one ask for? (Don’t say money 🙂 )

The stellar team of FEM 101

Q: So Jeremy, you and Wenonah have both won the Nichols Screenwriting Fellowship award. How was the experience with Wenonah as the showrunner?

We do always joke about being the only two Nicholl Fellows from Minnesota. Quite an honor. I never had worked with Wenonah before. I think we both feel lucky and happy to have gotten the chance to work together on this. Wenonah is a brilliant writer. While all of us were involved creatively, we leaned on her written words throughout this process. Having Wenonah as a showrunner was especially helpful, as she took multiple writing passes at the entire season to make sure all the episodes flowed together seamlessly. Due to her work in this capacity, we have characters who arc, plants in early episodes that pay off in later episodes, storylines that develop, build and resolve, etc…

Q: Jeremy, you’ve had experience as a writer and director, but why did you take a producer role for this one? Perhaps you can also talk about the process of working with Carrie as director?

I actually like producing! But no, I understand the question. It felt terribly antithetical to even consider directing the show, so I never did. I did have a seat in the writer’s room. Wenonah brought Carrie on board very early on to direct. Immediately there was amazing creative synergy, and we instantly fell in love with the vision Carrie developed for the show. When you watch the episodes, it shows how masterfully she brought her vision to life. I cannot overstate how tirelessly Carrie has worked on this project, from developing shot lists and storyboards, to working with camera and art and all the various departments, to working with the actors and getting the performances, now these last months in post-production, and more…

As the producer, my job was to give Carrie everything she needed to bring the show to life, and to try and limit unforeseen challenges, which are always bound to happen in a film production because there are so many variables at play.

Q: What’s the plan for future episodes? Please tell us more about Seeka TV and how people can watch Fem 101.

Seeka TV is a-mazing! It is a streaming platform for independently produced web series, dedicated to bringing great content to audiences around the globe. The first half of our season is now streaming at watch.seeka.tv/fem-101 – and we are planning on releasing the 2nd half of the season early spring, in just a few weeks from now. If you haven’t already – check out Seeka TV and Fem 101!


Thanks so much Jeremy, Wenonah, Carrie & Erin
for the insightful interview!


UPCOMING LIVE SCREENING

FilmNorth February Cinema Lounge
Wednesday at 7 PM – 10 PM
Bryant Lake Bowl & Theater
810 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408

Minnesota Cable Channel MCN6 rebranding – Q&A w/ actor/producer Russell Johnson

One of my goals with FlixChatter blog is to help promote indie filmmakers here, near and far. So when I heard that a local cable network is being rebranded to focus on MN-made content, I knew I wanted to highlight that here. Fortunately, the producer of the Minnesota-made film programming, Russell Johnson, is a friend of mine.

MCN6 is a Twin Cities local, non-affiliated cable network featuring MN made content in support of building strong diverse community. It reaches seven county metro area, over 600,000 cable subscribers. This year, MCN6 is being rebranded as a Minnesota-made Channel, produced by Russell Johnson as the MN-made programmer. The MCN6 is now managed by Stuart Devann and his management company, and Kevin Chilcote is the station’s General Manager.

Quick bio on Russell Johnson:

My introduction to the media began with the 1990’s as I worked with several news journalist reporting on the crimes of a destructive cult and I even made an appearance on CourtTV. I would write my unpublished memoir Deceived A Journey into Darkness about my experience in the Chung Moo Quan martial arts cult. Although the book remains unpublished in 2017 I release a 19 episode titled Deceived Podcast. While living in Colorado, I assisted 7-time Women’s World Martial Champion Kym Rock in making several self-defense videos for her Fight Like a Girl program.

Moving back to Minnesota in 2013, I became involved in the film community first as a volunteer at Twin Cities Film Fest and as a production assistant on several films including Sad Clown, Dragonfly. I would fill many roles in film including location manager, producer, reporter and actor.

​How did you get involved in the rebranding of MCN6 as a MN-made channel?

Russ: I am a member of the Minnesota Filmmaker Meetup group which is activity working with MCN6 on the rebranding. I was invited to the first rebranding meeting because of my connection to Twin Cities Film Fest and the local community.

Russell + Stuart Devann at the MCN6 Live Dance Party on Feb 9

A: What would you & the MCN6 organizer envision the rebranding to be and how it would affect the MN/TV film community?

Russ: Most of the talented people that I know who work in film do it for free and they do so because it’s their passion. MCN6 wants to give a home for Minnesota Made film to be seen. We want to a community sponsored channel that through advertisement and sponsorship that we will be able to pay for content.

Russell and director Jason P. Schumacher – Sad Clown won TCFF Best Audience Award Short in 2014

I know you’re passionate about films. What are some of your favorite movies growing up? Have your taste evolved over the years? 

Russ: I was a fan of the old horror films. When I was a kid there was a program TV called Horror Incorporated I would like to produce the Minnesota version of that. I am a fan of Alfred Hitchcock and films like The Birds and Rear Window. Bruce Lee martial arts films and the TV show Kung Fu had an impact on my life.

You’ve been involved in the MN film community for a while. What are you most passionate about that’s happening right now? 

Russ: I am excited that we are heading into the 10th year of Twin Cities Film Fest an organization that has brought joy and happiness to my life. This year the Independent Television Festival moves to Duluth Minnesota and for me this is an exciting time to work in television. Minnesota is about to become the hub of independently made television programming and with that comes opportunity for jobs in our community. My understanding is that they want to turn Duluth Festival into the Sundance Independent Television.

Lastly, please talk about the Valentine’s Day programming coming up on February 14th.

Russ: MCN6 wants diverse programming that represent all of Minnesota. I came about the short films selected in several ways, by posting that I had accepted them, reaching out filmmaker that I know and attending film festivals looking for them. The films are relationship-based but not all in a conventional or conservative way.

One of the films a woman falls in love with an electrical fan. As I understand, Hearts Want, the film that you wrote/produced Ruth, was filmed in MN but the story is actually set in the UK. The films are diverse in front and behind the camera. The Man Crush features a male to male crush and other films have black and women writers, directors.

LIST OF FILMS
(not necessarily in the order that they will appear):

  1. Sad Clown – Jason P. Schumacher
  2. Snail Mail – Josh Mruz
  3. The Man Crush – Ricky Loup
  4. A Verdant View – Nathan Block
  5. All Choked Up – Brent Duncan
  6. Hearts Want – Jason P. Schumacher
  7. The Unicorn – Jew DreamFirstBorn
  8. Wiggle Room – Pedro Juan Fonseca
  9. The Journey – Gwen Orth Ruhoff
  10. Sex Life – Cole Meyer
  11. It was you – Andrew Stecker
  12. Grown Men on Swings  – Dan Stewart
  13. A Perfect Night – Samuel Mueller
  14. Blue Silver – Nathan Block
  15. Cami Leon – Amber Rhodes and Ryan Schaddelee
  16. Herb & I –  Sebastian Schnabel
  17. BlunderLust – AJ Allan
  18. Relationship Spread – Jon Leininger
  19. M 4 W – Cynthia Uhrich
  20. Vows – Ingrid Moss and Alex Kohnstamm
  21. The Midway – Patrick Pierson
  22. Evergreen – Adam Zuehlke

Thanks Russell for the interview!

Be sure to tune in MCN Channel 6 on Wednesday evening, Feb 14th
and MCN6.org Live Stream from 6 – 10:03PM CST.