Rachel S. Thomas-Medwid – WIFVNE Member
What do you love about your work?
My first love is screenwriting but I recently directed my first short, which was an amazing experience. Directing is an entirely different experience than writing and switching my headspace between the two (I was also the screenwriter) was challenging but exhilarating. Honestly I loved everything about it; casting, set design, wardrobe, table reads, working with actors and crew to get exactly what we all wanted, problem solving on the spot, the actual shoot, etc. I loved it so much there are already plans for producing another of my shorts! The best part is I have so much written material and endless ideas for new material I’ll never be bored!
What is your vision for yourself, female filmmakers, or the media industry in 2020?
As the Oscars recently showed again, there’s a lack of female recognition. And I’ll be the first to say that the film/talent should speak for itself regardless of who’s making it. But when notable female filmmakers get ignored, I believe it’s time to push for change. Personally, I pushed far beyond my comfort zone this year not only in the screenwriting arena by participating in Q&As, podcasts, and public readings (an introvert writer’s nightmare) but by deciding to direct one of my short screenplays, which is currently in postproduction. While I likely made mistakes as a first-time director, I couldn’t be more excited in the decision I made to take this on. As a self-taught screenwriter/director, it was a steep learning curve that taught me an incredible amount in a short period of time. I can’t wait to share this film (“The Squirrels in the Attic,” multi-award winning screenplay) and now that the “director bug” has set in, I’m already planning the next one and am so passionate about getting my stories transformed into cinematic visions. In terms of the media industry, I strongly believe that the time for women, long overdue, is on the cusp of exploding (hopefully sooner than later).
What’s one way you would suggest people “Change the Lens”?
I’ve always been a little but perplexed that writing/directing is so male dominated. Some of my friends who aren’t in the industry and came with me to festivals this year were also surprised at females as minorities…at heart, writing and storytelling feel very feminine to me (at the risk of sounding sexist) and there are so many strong female voices needing to be heard. I’d love to see more women writing and directing and every time I’ve been at an event this year, women are the first people I talk to in a room. Communicating, encouraging, and supporting each other in person and online can go a long way in bridging that gap I believe.
What advice would you give to a new female filmmaker?
Don’t overthink and go with your gut. Don’t be intimidated by things you don’t know. If you use the right resources, it’s easy to find out what you need. Look for help and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I spent the last year asking questions (even if I felt stupid) to educate myself and people were so helpful. Although I’m new to the industry, I feel like there will never be a time where I won’t need to take advice to get me to the next level of learning. Take advantage of every resource you have around you and give back the same you end up getting!
Which women in the New England region inspire you?
I have to say the most inspiration came from the female filmmaker’s panel at the 2019 New Hampshire Film Festival! Each woman had a different story and perspective and I was really inspired by their stories. I hope to be up there talking about one of my films one day!
What film or series are looking forward to watching this year? Why?
Birds of Prey, Promising Young Woman, Saint Maud, Mulan, Emma…all featuring women in different roles of (great potential) strength!
Attending any film festivals or events, and why you are attending them?
I’m hoping to go back with a produced film to the some of the festivals I attended last year for various screenplay awards. For New England, the Massachusetts Independent Film Awards (“Burn Unit” won best short screenplay); the Shawna Shea Memorial Film Festival (“The Squirrels in the Attic” won best short screenplay); the Lonely Seal International Film and Music Festival (my feature “The Joppa Flat” was a screenplay finalist); and the New Hampshire Film Festival (my feature “Fits” was a finalist). Beyond NE, I’d love to go back to Austin Revolution Film Festival (“The Watch” was a short screenplay finalist); Filmquest (“Squirrels” won best short screenplay); Nightmares Film Festival (“Squirrels” was a screenplay finalist); and StudioFest as an invited guest (I was one of five screenwriters chosen for this incredible experience). And I have a list of new festivals to submit to this year to broaden my horizons as a filmmaker/screenwriter which I’m really excited about!
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