We made movies. We passed the Bechdel Test. We made connection at the first annual Different Faces Different Voices Film Festival, and cheered on our Flicks4Chicks (F4C) competition films. The "we" I refer to are the (mainly) female filmmakers I bonded with this weekend from Utah, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Los Angeles, to name a few. Of the fifty teams competing in the U.S. and abroad, thirty-eight turned their films in on time, and only twenty-nine were selected to screen at the festival. Our Albuquerque team, Lumos Productions, competed and our film, Pinky Promise, made the cut to officially screen and I took home the Best Director award.
Rewind back to when we found out we were selected to screen and that we had won an award. Not sure which award, as the awards were announced at the festival, I had a decision to make about going to the festival to support our film. I've never attended a film festival a 2,200 miles away, or attended one without the comfort of having friends I already know there, or even attended a film festival as a filmmaker. What was I saying yes to by going? The process to decide to go was like straddling a fence that held my ability to grow up on each side. In the end, I took a chance and went because it felt like so much “yes” around me to go. Once there, I admitted my hesitation about attending to the directors I met. I also admitted that the F4C competition was my first time solo-directing. Guard down, and ding-ding! The gates of connection and truth found their channel to share. I discovered one of the unspoken aspects of this festival was that it assembled filmmakers like me, I was not the exception, I was the rule. Most all of us were director virgins. F4C contest was our coming out.
We arrived at the festival already silently bonded through our shared commitment of the festival’s tag line to - Tell Her Story on Film. Then, upon watching the films it ignited a unique sisterhood-quality interaction between the filmmakers. After we consumed the hours of content we created, we proceeded to communion this rite of passage with something women excel at - talk/express/share ideas about all da shizz. Light bulb ah-ha's going off, loud Catharine laughs, and high fives were some of the memory snap shots from the shizz sessions. It was eye opening to learn how these filmmakers worked through the evitable challenges of making a film in thirty days. I absorbed how their state resources differed from mine, and ultimately how their state politics make the process of filmmaking work for them (or not) in their communities. It put in perspective how damn good I have it here in New Mexico.
Do you know what it's like to feel the inner click of creating in the moment? The divine alignment of operating from true center? When you are in flow and faith? This kind of connection is undeniable. It's like God is saying "yes!" back to your artist's pursuit. On my artist’s journey, I had known this distinct feeling of inner expansion as an actor and dancer. And then to feel in flow as a director on Pinky Promise sealed the deal - I must direct. I am deeply honored to have won Best Director at F4C and even if I didn't, I have drank the kool aid to direct more. My next directing project is the WWII short film, Seagull, written and starring my friend and fellow Women in Film member, Catherine Fridey. With an all female cast, the story is centered around the newest refugee brought into the British and French resistance camp. More details coming soon!
Besides how much I enjoyed refining my edge as a director, my favorite detail about F4C was the fierce love and admiration I developed for the cast and crew we assembled. Each of us contributed to an environment on set that honored our profession while simultaneously elevating our craft. I want to especially commend my fellow producers: Amy Baklini, Lauren Myers, and Elizabeth Dwyer Sandlin – dubbed the #QuadForce. We were an ambitious film producing machine whose fuel was pure and unabashed empowerment. Yummy doses of yes you can, yes I can, yes we can. We tested the rules set out for a group of women creating art. Which, what are those rules, by the way? I know the stereotypes, but what’s the example to follow? I am confident that we set an example, which is a simple rule I aim to follow on all my projects: champion female creative energy at every turn. That has been the deepest truth revealed to me by making Pinky Promise.
Of all the seeds that were planted and sowed because F4C, I know because of it, I am delivered to my next level of story telling.
Bringing a little more Xanadu into the world.