Ella Greely of Massachusetts – Programming Coordinator
What’s the best part about your work?
The best part of my work is onboarding new live producers. Working with them to take their ideas and actually bring them to life live on tv is super fulfilling. New producers vary in technical background, but everyone is always so appreciative of the extra guidance and support.
What challenges have you’ve faced in this industry as a woman?
I’ve been fortunate enough to not run into too many challenges regarding me being a woman in this industry. One thing I can note is that I’ve noticed our counterparts being surprisingly impressed by the work that we put in to our projects. Expectations and standards shouldn’t be any different for men and women. We all love what we do, therefore we’re always putting our best work forward. Don’t be surprised!
In the age of #MeToo & #TimesUp, what do you hope to see happening in the future for women in our industry?
I hope to see way more respect and support shown towards women that choose to take on large roles and responsibilities. Women shouldn’t have to think twice about going after the positions that have been historically male-dominated. The standards for exceeding in this industry should be based on individual merit in regards to professional roles. Also, I really hope to see more women of color represented in film. So many stories have yet to be told!
What’s one way you would suggest people “Change the Lens”?
Support women everywhere! Uplift great ideas, go see your friend’s shows and screenings, give honest feedback on screenplays, constantly make connections with other like-minded women! We’re out here and we’re not going anywhere, it’s time to start allowing ourselves to make noise and carve out this path so that girls behind us have the direction to continue the legacy!
What advice would you give to a new female filmmaker?
Do it! Vet all your ideas. Not all ideas will be good, but all good ideas can be great! Don’t be afraid of what people might not like. Always create the things that YOU wish existed! At the end of the day, no one will ever do it like you do. And that’s a pretty cool thing.
What goals do you have for this year?
I want to start pushing more of my creative projects out into the world. I really feel like I’ve been in a sort of self-induced state of arrested development in regards to growing and nurturing my craft. I’m relearning that conditions will never be perfect, so you start anyways. Work with what you’ve got, and always offer what you have when you’re sitting at the table.
What women in the region (New England) inspire you?
One woman I really admire in the New England area is Keaton Fox. I’ve had the pleasure of working in the same office as her at work, but it’s the ventures that she tackles outside of the job that are really inspiring. Her projects are far from mundane and they exceed expectations. A lot of times I don’t even know what to expect, but she ties them up so nicely like she knew what she was doing all long. Who does that? She’s art herself, full of unapologetic expression. In the symbolic phrase, “going against the grain,” Keaton would definitely be quinoa.
Upcoming Events or Announcements? What are you working on?
I’m currently leading a video project called 24 Hours in Cambridge. Our goal for this project is to showcase snippets of the everyday lives of unique individuals here in Cambridge, and help foster culture and diversity within the community. We’re inviting participation from the people who spend time anywhere in the city to record 60 seconds of video, showing us what they’re up to at any given moment of the day. We’ll then compile all the entries into one video that’ll depict the 24 hours of a day. I’m really stoked about the project, and think it would be incredibly neat to see the different point of views of the strangers we spend so much time around!
How can your fans find you!?
All information about our 24 Hours in Cambridge Project can be found at cctvcambridge.org/24Hours As for me and my personal journey, I’ll be online on FB and IG @ellagreely while working on my craft irl.
Mercedes Mehling of Maine – Editor – Member of WIFVNE
Bringing other people’s stories to life through editing
I had someone ask me if editing was a hobby while I was working on a project for them. Not being treated like a professional is a common theme, and I tend to internalize it too – imposter syndrome is a constant battle!
I hope more women are able to feel like they are in control professionally, that they are surrounded by other women in the industry and men who support them, and that more opportunities for women in the industry make it easier for women who are in unhealthy professional environments to be able to find work elsewhere
Watch movies and shows that are not only about women, but made by women. When you watch those films or shows, you’re voting with your dollar. If we want to see more projects made by and for women, we need to support the projects that are already out there.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but also own your skills and knowledge. It’s easy to feel like you’re not an expert because there is always more to learn, but owning the knowledge you already have and being confident in your skills will signal to others that you’re a professional and you should be taken seriously. And in some cases, fake it til you make it!
Work with more people in the industry, and work on projects that I’m proud of.
Everyone from the Maine Female Filmmaker group!
I’m currently editing a documentary called Brothers, due to be finished this Spring. You can check out our facebook page at facebook.com/brothersdocumentary
http://www.mercedesmehling.com, and @mrs80z on Instagram
Shadya H. Ballug of Massachusetts – On Set Dresser
What challenges have you’ve faced in this industry as a woman?
That I’m really the only woman on set dresser.
That we rise to the challenge of not making people objectified.
Speak up for us women. Keep talking. Word of mouth more education for the industry that we (women) do it also.
Try always to be humble and always give back.
To direct my own film.
My mom, my sister.
I have My own little production company. Wicked Famous Productions
How can your fans find you!?
Judith Laster of Massachusetts – Festival Director Woods Hole Film Festival
Seeing incredible films by filmmakers form around the world.
What challenges have you’ve faced in this industry as a woman? (Or otherwise)
Access to opportunity, adequate compensation, establishing a good network.
That women will be seen as equal to men and given the chance to thrive.
What’s one way you would suggest people “Change the Lens”?
Going to see women-directed films, inclusion rider, put your money where your mouth is up and down the line.
Learn from the best, create a good team (filmmaking is a team effort), give as much as you get.
Finish 4 films, including the first feature documentary.
Beth Murphy, Kate Davis, Carol Patton
28th Woods Hole Film Festival, July 27th through August 3rd
Laina Barakat of New Hampshire – Writer/Director/Producer
What’s the best part of your work?
I love storytelling. It’s magic. The power of story is everything. I also love the community that gathers around filmmaking. As an art form, it is completely depending on so many individuals getting behind a vision. I get the privilege of the talents, time, and sweat of those masses, all for the sake of my vision. That is something I will never be worthy of but am grateful for every day.
It is difficult to be taken seriously at times. I also have to censor my emotions to an extreme degree so I give no opportunity for people to fixate on them. On the flip side, but equally as disappointing, sometimes it is only after someone sees me in person or speaks with me that I am able to get discounts or other assistance that is so necessary for micro-budget filmmaking, but I don’t want unsolicited favors or pity.
I would like to see the concept of “female filmmaking” and “women’s issues” disappear. We are filmmakers, and our issues are just that. I don’t want to be segregated to a genre.
Keys demanding to work on gender balanced shoots. Investors caring enough to support female filmmakers and their voices.
Work hard, don’t let the rest get in the way. Be confident and believe in your vision. Be strong enough in your vision that you can ask others for advice and their perspective without appearing indecisive or weak.
My first feature film will be coming out this year and my second will be in pre-production. My goal is to take my career to the next level and break into a higher level festival tier.
Karlina Lyons in Portsmouth has supported me and helped challenge me from my very first day on set.
My feature film, Light Attaching to a Girl will hit the festival circuit later this year and my short, Somewhere In July, is currently touring festivals.
Sissy O’Hara of Rhode Island – Actor
Follow your gut
Continue to work with more female heavy film sets
Several features and shorts
Sissy O’Hara, Facebook, YouTube, IMDb
Leandra Sharron of Massachusetts – Assistant Director of The Boston SciFi Film Festival – Member of WIFVNE
What I enjoy most about my work is getting to experience and advocate for what I believe to be innovative, new, independent film and finding how it can connect with the Boston community. I’m going into my 3rd year programming the Boston SciFi Film Festival and I’ve learned a great deal more than I could ever even put into words, but the one thing I will say is that it’s not so simple as picking good movies. Perhaps the hardest, but also most rewarding part of the process is finding the right fit for a collaborative effort between the festival and a local organization, whether it be for a film screening, panel discussion, or workshop. This is something that I think Boston SciFi has only just recently started to succeed at, as is evidenced by our partnership with you lovely ladies as well as organizations like the Boston Museum of Science and Dust Production Company. Through coordinating co-presentations and sponsorships and the like I end up meeting so many awesome people in the Boston community as well as some amazing filmmakers from all over the world. And it was such a pleasure having JoAnn Cox in attendance to introduce the documentary Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, with Director Arwen Curry and Q&A Moderator Theodora Goss. All wonderful, truly inspiring women! As great as our last festival went, we’re all psyched for what the future holds and how we can ride this wave of momentum to make it even better next year. I’m sure you’ve got a great many smart and successful women applying for this feature, and I’m fully aware I’m on the outskirts of the industry as I’m not an actual filmmaker, however the role I play in showcasing independent films is one I believe to be important both to the film industry and to the greater Boston community, so I appreciate your consideration.
I’m lucky in that I don’t have to deal with the types of issues women on set do, and that most of my correspondences with filmmakers is done through email, where it’s relatively easy to stay autonomous. I really can’t say that I’ve experienced any drastic challenges that can clearly be traced back to my gender and the traits traditionally associated with women. However as the Assistant Director of Boston SciFi I am often the face of the festival, to a total of the 3,000 people, including 80 filmmakers, attending the festival, and as such, I try to always be welcoming and inclusive to everyone. But I’ve often had men misinterpret my professional friendliness as something more. Although this has happened to me a number of times in my personal life, as I suspect it happens to most women, but I’m still not quite sure how to handle it when it happens professionally. My go-to move is to politely decline and then bring my (made-up) boyfriend into the conversation a little later on. I find this doesn’t hurt anyone’s ego or damage their relationship with the festival. Additionally, the thing that was a bit difficult to get used to was the amount of people, mostly older men commenting on my looks, rather than the work I’ve done with the festival. I know it is ultimately meant to be a compliment, however, I can’t help but think that if I were a young man there would be no need to bring up my looks. What do my looks have to do with the work I’ve done all year long to put on this event, after all? Do my looks somehow make me more qualified or intelligent? Do these men think because I put effort into how I look, that I need them to tell me I’m pretty, as confirmation, as if I get dressed in the morning for them? I try to reassure myself that they don’t mean anything by it, it’s simply how they were raised.
As I’ve alluded to in my last response, I’d like to see a greater acceptance of women in the industry by appreciating them solely for the work they’ve done, and not how attractive they are or aren’t. More females being nominated for major awards and more focus on why they’re nominated. What I would like to see happen for women in the industry moving forward is for them not to have to even deal with the silly little issues I mentioned in my last response because they’re viewed as genuine peers and equals. Isn’t that what every girl wants!? My goal is really to use the films and filmmakers coming through the festival to get the word out to a more mainstream audience, and prove to them that the work women are creating is ; In this I see the work I do almost as an act of activism, attempting to change the general public’s opinion of women working in the industry. We all see a number of high-profile women in the industry speaking out against injustices they’ve faced, which is extremely important, but it’s just the start of what I hope continues to go much further and deeper in impact. People need to realize that it happens at every level of this industry, not just in Hollywood. I just want to be one of those women uplifting other women, showing the world that we’re capable of greatness too. Hollywood has been a boy’s club for far too long.
What’s one way you would suggest people “Change the Lens”? (Such as going to see women directed movies, or pushing for an inclusion rider)
Well the opposite side of that, for someone like me, is to try my best to support the women directing films and/or pushing for inclusion riders. Women supporting other women is one of the best things to see. Not only do I aim to program as many quality, female-directed, produced and focused films as possible, but I also do my best to open up the dialogue between both filmmakers and film watchers through post-screening Q&A’s, panel discussions and more personal, intimate networking opportunities like afterparties. I believe this to be vital to the cause because, at the end of the day, it’s important that this issue isn’t seen as an industry-specific issue, but as a universal issue presenting itself to be particularly problemsome within the film industry. And that it’s not just the responsibility of the filmmakers to fix, but the responsibility of our society. Everyone has the capability to be a factor in creating a change for the better, as challenging as it may be.
Don’t take no for an answer, always ask why, and support as many other women as possible.
Well, of course, I hope to be a driving force in the festival’s continued success, by enhancing the filmmaker’s experience as well as our community engagement. I aim to develop more partnerships with smart, local organizations and businesses who’s views and audiences align with what we try to do with the festival. Boston has had such a thriving film scene and it’s well on it’s a way to having that again, and film festivals like mine can really help make a difference. One lead that I’m particularly excited to pursue is with another WIFVNE member Jen Myronuk, and her interesting new immersive theater experience about Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. She seems to be getting a lot of traction with it and is very willing to share her success stories, bless her heart. I can see some very exciting potential partnership opportunities in the mix as well! My personal goals are to find a good film program to take that will help me to figure out what career path I’d like to pursue. I’m at the point now where I realize I want to go into the film industry, I’m just not sure what area would be the best tapping of my potential. The bubbling sense of excitement I get in my chest when I think of all the possibilities and avenues of success is such a good feeling! And on a somewhat separate but fun note, I’d also like to get back into creative performance as well. I have a background in theater education and as such have done a bit of improv and I find it to be terrifying, exhilarating and fun all at the same time. It’s generally just good for the soul to learn to take risks when being creative. So I’m taking an improv class at Improv Boston, should be a fun way to get the inventive juices flowing.
The first who come to mind are the sisters behind the Roxbury International Film Festival, Lisa and Alison Simmons. They are absolutely killing it with that festival, shedding light on some truly phenomenal films before they go on to win great mass acclaim. I had the pleasure of attending last year with an industry pass, and the opening night film, Liyana, was very much an example of this. It literally has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes that’s how good it is. I also recently had the opportunity to moderate a Panel Discussion on film festivals with Lisa and that was extremely informative. The intention of their festival is an admirable one as well. These women are sincerely and whole-heartedly doing a wonderful service to the Boston community and I applaud and respect them so much for it. I’m also awed by the work of Kelley Vickery, the Artistic Director and Founder of the Berkshire International Film Festival, in my hometown of Pittsfield, Ma. It’s a pleasure to attend each year and see first-hand what the festival is doing for its community, and it’s a contribution to Pittsfield’s cultural and artistic rep. The city of Pittsfield has had a tough past with crime, drugs, homelessness and mental illness, and has over the last 15 years seen a cultural revitalization of sorts, with the renovation of a beautiful old Colonial Theater and several professional theater companies opening up, a city-run monthly Summer Arts Walk and Concert Series, ect. And make no mistake, the Berkshire International Film Festival is a great addition to the downtown arts scene, essential to putting Pittsfield in the same league of other, more affluent surrounding towns in the Berkshires, like Lenox and Great Barrington. The festival is almost entirely run by women as well. I can only hope to have a similar impact on the community we serve in and around Somerville, and the surrounding Boston area as well as all of New England. Elizabeth Warren (because obviously). Elizabeth Banks, may not currently be in the region, but she is from Pittsfield. As a wonderful, successful actress, activist and mother she’s an amazing advocate for women in film. Some other women I find inspiring are Suzzann Cromwell, the co-curator of Boston SciFi, Miriam Olken, who also works for Boston SciFi but has been working on a lot of the local film and television sets recently. Olivia Grant, the Head Publicist for Boston SciFi, who previously worked at HBO and left that job to raise her daughter in Boston around her family and countless others. Inspirational women are all around us!
Well, we wrapped up SF44 about a week ago, but we’re already working on SF45! Lots and lots of thoughts flying around, too many to mention, but suffice it to say it’s all about the relationships and collaboration we can garner with folks like you all, The Boston Science Museum and Dust Distribution Co. First and foremost is finishing up the final touches on this year’s festival, but then we’re planning some year-round programming this year, like a youth animation workshop with local animator Michael Neel and his 6-year-old son Jasper. The two of them often create simple, fun 30-second long shorts based off Jasper’s animations and he narrates them too. They call them Jasper Tales and even have their own Facebook page for it. And then in May, I’m planning to attend the London SciFi Film Festival, a week-long festival we have a good relationship with and would like to garner more of a partnership. I may also stop over at the Prague Fringe Festival since a Boston SciFi staff member will be volunteering for it and it’s run by a woman I became friends with while working at the inaugural Newcastle International Film Festival in Northeastern England last year. As I mentioned earlier, I’m currently doing a lot of research on various different film programs at the local universities. I’d like to go back to school soon so I’m thinking maybe a summer program will help me figure out what field exactly I’d like to pursue.
Bostonscifi.com Instagram: @likealioness Facebook LinkedIn
Nerissa Williams Scott of Massachusetts – Producer – WIFVNE Member
I am able to give people jobs. I love to see their faces as they work and Love what they do.
The largest challenge for me would be breaking through the ceiling as a woman, but especially a woman of color. It has been difficult to secure financing for projects as people don’t want to trust a woman in the lead.
I hope more women make more content so that the female gaze is never lost or broken. Our opinion matters!
We should have more platforms that strike our audience outside the box of being in a theater and learn to make moves in the industry with progressive thinking and actions.
Stand firm, Stand your ground, Level up and Trust your gut!
I will be producing many different projects. It is the 10th year of my business and so we will be celebrating all year in different ways and down different avenues.
Sarah Nitsch, Georden West, Lois Roach, Sabine Bou-Jaoude
I am working on a comedy feature. I am producing three festivals this summer(Race Amity Day, BAMS Fest, and TCGT 10th Year Anniversary festival, a play in the fall (Stick Fly) and a pageant for Thanksgiving (Next Big Thing 2019).
tcgtentertainment.com and tcgtent on facebook
Portland Helmich of Massachusetts – Producer/Writer at Northern Light Productions; I also freelance as an on-camera talent (TV host, spokesperson, VO talent, actor)
Telling stories that have meaning and getting the chance at times to meet and interview intelligent, fascinating, and inspiring people who broaden my perspective and/or teach me something new. When I work as talent, I find joy in getting to express various sides of myself.
There can be the perception that women are good at the organizational side of film and video, and the creative parts can be the province of the men. That has sometimes been a challenge for me. As well, working as a talent, the standards when it comes to appearance are infinitely higher for women.
That more women will be in positions of power and that that shift will enable more stories about women and their perspectives to be told … and that THAT shift will cause men (and even some women) to view women with greater admiration and respect and treat them more equally in the professional world and in the world at large.
Consume films and television series that are about women, written by women, produced by women, directed by women.
If filmmaking is not your sole means of support, have a way of supporting yourself that doesn’t drain you so badly that you have no energy left to pursue what you care about. And … when you’re in the editing room, don’t be too precious about your work. Be willing to cut. Short and tighter are usually better. Nobody will know what you’ve left out.
Honestly, more work-life balance.
My colleague, Susan Gray, head of broadcast development at Northern Light Productions. She is a force.
I’m writing some short films for the Cherokee National Capitol Museum in Oklahoma, creating some soundscapes (soldiers’ stories from Iraq and Afghanistan) for the National Museum of the U.S. Army, and I’m helping to co-produce a film about the blues musician, James Cotton. I continue to write for the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, have been doing some voice-overs for Arnold Worldwide (for their PUR water campaign), and I’m waiting to see if I’ve gotten a callback for a role as a criminologist on a television series that’ll be shooting in Boston.
Karen Stark of New England + NY. Location Manager + Scout. Member of WIFVNE
Scouting and discovering new, interesting places to film in
Locations used to be very much a “Boys Club”. I was one of the first women in MA to scout and manage locations. As a single mother, I opted to do commercials and industrials rather than the one or two large features that came into New England. When my son was out of the house, we had the first tax credit, and I did 5 or 6 back to back and decided it was to difficult with very long hours. Now after 30+ years, I can pick the projects I choose to do.
I am seeing more women in all departments across the board and am loving it!
I would like to see an inclusion order of some type although I think that will be difficult. I support women in all departments and love seeing films, series, and commercials written and directed by women.
Really research everything you want to to do – talk to more experienced people if you can who can give you correct information and constructive criticism. Be exceptionally respectful of everyone and everything – crew, owners of locations and the locations you are in, equipment you are renting, etc.
Too many to list!
So many! Kristin Lucas (Producer), DeMane Davis (Director), Cynthia Gengras (Producer), Mary Bosley (Producer), Agi Klaus (Set Design), Maryanne Janke (AC), Mellisa Cooperman (Set Dec)…..
A series for PBS coming in May about Critical Thinking, a project for an airline coming end of March so far!
How can your fans find you!? (Please add your social media & websites so we can tag you!)
IMDB – Karen Stark 1 – Location Management, Website under construction
Past Blog Posts
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