My Thursday entry at Tampa’s Gasparilla International Film Festival would be an Industry Panel Discussion. It was called For the Love of Movies/Women in the Industry.
The venue was the Channelside Cinemas, once a 10 theater cinema hall, until they closed in the fall of 2012. The building remained closed and dormant and has re-opened just for this festival.
Over the five-day period of Wednesday to Sunday, March 25th – March 29th, 130 films will be screened. 70 shorts and 60 feature films.
Four of the film makers who have films showing at this festival formed the core of the panel.The Moderator, a last-minute fill in) and panel member, was Actress/Producer Mary Rachel Dudley.
Her film, which she both produced and wrote, In Lieu of Honor, would have its World Premier tonight. Have a look at the trailer:
Here’s a short precis of what the film is about –
Frank Chapman…a man and a soldier. He finds himself surviving another day…a day all too familiar that tortuously repeats itself with the stench of failure. Each step spirals him out of control. He might be back home, yet he was left behind…somewhere in a desert of painful illusions.
The second panelist was Film Director Lindsey Copeland. Her film is called Girls Night. Lindsey not only produced it, directed it,and wrote it, she also was the cinematographer. That’s wearing a lot of hats isn’t it?
Girls Night is about five female college friends who reunite for a concert in Boston. When one of them loses the tickets, the group must take on the task of retracing her steps to find the missing tickets, encountering a series of characters along the way.
That’s Director Copeland facing our way in the image above.
This film screened last night (Wednesday). Director Copeland said about the venue = “I saw that they were doing this sort of new kind of pop-up style film festival, and I thought that’s just so in the moment right now,”.
The third filmmaker was Lulu Wang, who was born in Beijing, moved with her family to Miami at the age of eight, and is now directing films in LA. Posthumous, which aired last night here at the GIFF, is Lulu’s first feature film. She both directed the movie and write the screenplay.
The film’s tag line: Love, Life And Other Lies
Posthumous is the story of an artist who comes to the realization that his art is worth more, and would increase exponentially if he were dead. After false reports of his demise put him and his work on the map, an artist decides to continue the charade by posing as his own brother. Soon, a reporter enters his life and has a profound effect on him. Jack Huston stars as the artist and Brit Marling portrays the reporter.
The fourth panelist on hand was Mars Horodyski who directed and co-wrote Ben’s At Home with her husband Dan Abramovici.
The film’s tag line reads – Sex, love, break ups, turning 30, and staying in. Yes, after a particularly bad break-up, Ben vows to not leave his apartment for 365 days.
Anything he wants he can order on line, order by phone and have delivered straight his door. No need to bother with what’s beyond his doors. The trailer:
Mar’s filmed was screened at this festival at 7:20 PM, tonight so she left the panel discussion in the middle. I did not se this film either. But there’s some news that will allow you to see it – it has been picked up as a web-series.
Panelist number five was neither a film director, nor a screenwriter, nor a film producer. Rather she is an actress. Her name is Eugenie Bondurant, and her next role will be that of Tigris in the upcoming The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 which opens later this year on November 18th.
When she’s not acting, Eugenie is at the Patel Conservatory in Tampa, and is an acting teacher and coach.
Panelist Number six was also not on the original list of attendees. Her name is Dana Place, she’s a local to the Tampa area, and she makes indie films.
While the GIFF Program book referenced this panel discussion as –
Inspiration, perspective, and adulation for the movies from unique women in the film business. What drives them, how they got into the business. the successes and failures, while empowering others to embark on this amazing journey –
It was some of that, and mostly about the passion, drive, and determination that it took for all of these women to get their projects off the ground as in up and running. From an idea to a project to a film, or a web-series, or role in front of the camera, or maybe even switching sides and going from actress to a producer and writer as did Mary Rachel Dudley.
We heard about the difficulties of networking and raising money, as well as the difficulties and cost of filming in New York. Bondurant told us about hitting that wall as an actress – the one an actress runs into when she’s 40. The rule of thumb is that no want wants you in films after you turn 40. Come see us in 30 years when you can play a grandmother.
And yet, Bondurant at 53 landed a role in The Hunger Games.
Mars talked about how tough it was to raise money, after you have a workable idea but lack cash. We heard about asking friends, and families for favors, then not being able to ask these same people for favors again.
Wang told us about how an idea takes flight. And you run with it. When asked about how she as a young director, and a relatively unknown director was able to cast a film with well known performers like Jack Huston and Brit Marling (Arbitrage). She said we just called and asked. She said she heard NO lots of times but she stayed with it – to the point that her own casting director was shocked that Huston and Marling had signed on.
Copeland told us about how she wanted to make a film about women that was different – a film that wasn’t glossy – a film that didn’t go to the usual places like dating, marriage, children, or workplace success.
What I took away from this discussion was that if any one, male or female, wants to get into the film business – you will need to believe in the words trust, believe in yourself, and go for it with all of your best – all the time.
None of these women said that their paths were easy, or involved luck, or that they had help. All said that at one time or another it was a struggle.
You know what wasn’t a struggle – listening to the passion that these women brought to this discussion in a movie house that had been shut down for 2 and half years and had just opened two days ago just for this film festival. It was a pleasure.
2 thoughts on “Six Gals Talk About the Movies, Making Movies, and the Movie Biz at the Gasparilla”
mike, well done, nice blog piece. thank you for sharing your experience and attending giff 2015. mr
Thanks for reading the piece and commenting.
Readers – turning this around – Mary Rachel was a last minute replacement choice to moderate the panel – and if she hadn’t told us that fact – we would have never known it.
There’s a lot that’s been said about breaking into the film business and how tough it is. This event was for me a fine experience in learning how each of these women not only got to the game, but also how they stepped up to the plate and took some swings.
For me, having an opportunity to attend this event and hearing the stories these women told was in itself so very rewarding.
Best Wishes, MR