New Mexico Filmmakers Conference, From left: Michelle Bolin, Christine McHugh, Joan Golden, Me, Catherine Fridey, and Vivian Nesbitt.
You think you have a grasp on the kind of art you want to create or the artist you strive to be. But, until I served on the board of New Mexico Women in Film (NMWIF), I realized I was living in an artist’s limbo. Around the table at NMWIF board meetings, I was surrounded by women who albeit excelled in various positions in the industry, all walked the walk of producing their own work. In the era of new wave media, filmmakers and particularly actors are encouraged to create their own content. Not me. Here I was, like a lot of actors, waiting for my phone to ring; waiting for the work to come to me; waiting to be picked on the team. It was in a moment of inky low-self esteem, I had an awakening - I was my own team and needed no permission to get started directing and writing my own stories. I belonged around the table, and my censor wanted me behind walls designed to keep potential growth just far enough out of reach.
We fear the unknown, but really, we are already living in the fear, so why not try the alternative?
I joined the board in March 2014 and by May of 2014 I solo directed and produced my first project. My husband, Adam, is stud and a great writer. His first novel, The Vendetta of Felipe Espinosa, was about to debut and he asked me to produce a book trailer for the publicity push. Book trailers are all the rage these days – think theatrical or even documentary style for one-three minutes in length. Even though I had never worked on a book trailer or directed film Adam knew I could do it. I thought about my fellow "Sheroes" on the board would say to me: “Duh, Cat you can do it. So just go do it.”
Whenever an idea or creative venture scares you, that means you should do it.
I was thirsty to to direct film, and here was the opportunity to serve my deep desire, but was personal to my life with my husband and his career! I hired a director of photography, wrote out a shot list/ story board, scouted locations, including a Ranger’s Legacy Equine Rescue, discovered where to find 1860’s costumes, and did it! The director bug has bit and I can faithfully say I have continued to direct film.
Started directing, what about writing? Just so happens that they very organization that encouraged me direct, also has the Athena Screenwriting contest every year. Writing was a crucial corner in my creative path that I had not rounded. Although I wrote a thesis in college, I wasn’t required in my theatre program to even write so much a monologue. I have never written a screenplay either and it scared me to try – so that’s the clue I needed to do it. I joined the Albuquerque NMWIF screenwriting group to learn more about the process and read other writer’s work. It’s a wonderful and diverse group (thanks, Mary Darling) that really has taught me so much that applies to on and off the page. It’s year two of the competition and I am getting ready to hit the submit button for the second year in a row.
Serving my two year term on the New Mexico Women in Film Board will have an enduring affect. I’m certain it will continue to show up in all that do. How I talk about women in media, how I read scripts, how I assemble my production team, how I think about my community are all for the better because of my time on the board. Being the Co-Chair of Marketing and PR was all about social media and creating flyers – which was challenging and fun. But the most vital take away from the board was that all I have to do is YES myself and my ideas.
Currently, I am in Pre-Production for the Flicks4Chicks screenwriting competition t the non-profit Harvard Square Script Writers. We have the entire month of April to shoot a film with a situation offered by the competition. We have an all female crew and I am proud to be directing. This is really an abundant time of my life.
Thank you Women in Film for teaching me how to say YES back to myself.
Bringing a little more Xanadu into the world.