This past weekend I attended the Girl Power Film + Media Summit and Showcase in New York. This event was presented by Imagine This Productions (creators of the Women’s International Film Festival). I had a phenomenal time, and I am still working my way through the goodie bag containing Cinema Femme Magazine, Eden BodyWorks, Good! Snacks, Ursa Major 4-in-1, Curls liquid hair growth vitamins and more. I love freebies!
As a small business owner who actively freelances, I’ll admit, getting my P’s and Q’s together from a business standpoint was definitely a work in progress. I am a creator, and at least initially, my focus was primarily on doing what I love … creating! I spent countless hours developing my craft, writing screenplays, filming, editing etc. However, the same level of dedication wasn’t replicated from a financial perspective. It is no secret that many filmmakers struggle to monetize their projects. Many never quite make it out of the red. I am happy to reach a stage where I can actively book freelance projects and assist companies with telling their stories. However, that is only a start! I wasn’t quite as diligent as I should have been with invoicing, retaining receipts, tracking mileage etc. From a tax standpoint, I am almost certain I left money on the table. Nonetheless, I was eager to soak information up like a sponge at the summit and implement findings with my own practice.
Panel 1: The Female Gaze – Cinematographers’ Talk included a lineup of accomplished ladies of the lens. The overarching theme was that these ladies don’t wish to be an anomaly. They desire increased integration so it’s not a shock when they are on set, let alone behind the camera. All of the panelist emphasized the importance of networking, as fostering relationships can work wonders for your career, and you will learn more in the field than you will ever learn in a classroom.
Discussion included female representation in film, and offered insights into their creative processes. Some of the panel members started out with Canon 7D, Bolex or Super 8 cameras. There was dialogue about affluent students at some of the nation’s most revered film programs having access to state-of-the-art equipment, and not experiencing challenges securing funding to shoot their student films. Isabella Tan, founder of Rebel Motion attended NYU. She stated, “Some people are privileged and have funding for great equipment, don’t get discouraged.” A poignant response statement from Valentina Caniglia, Director & Cinematographer of “Gypsy” and “The Stand” is “a great camera can still produce a bad product.”
- Camera doesn’t matter! It is about the cinematographer who tells the camera what to do.
- Emphasis should be placed on THE STORY and DRIVING THE NARRATIVE, LENS SELECTION, LIGHTING and TONE.
- Ultimately, the director and overall collaboration are greater project contributors than equipment.
The Distribution Down Low with Christina Raia from Seed & Spark was particularly informative. Christina is a Crowdfunding Director who successfully led several campaigns. Distribution is usually a confusing topic for independent creators, so it was wonderful to have her break it down with tips and tricks, and an explanation of the economics for every aspect from VOD to theatrical.
- Understand the importance of DATA TRANSPARENCY. Raia stated, “They don’t want to share the info because it gives power to the creators.”
- DON’T COMMIT to only one revenue source.
- Explore niche markets and innovative ideas to reach your audience. TAKE RISKS with your independent film.
This was my first time attending an event held by and geared towards women in film and media. This blog post barely grazes the surface with topics discussed. Overall, the atmosphere was amazing and definitely female-centric! I’d like to thank Susie and Patrice, the organizers and everyone else involved with bringing this event together. I am also extremely grateful for the guest-list addition (as the tickets were $95 otherwise). The Girl Power Film + Media Summit & Showcase was worth much more than the ticket price. The value of the knowledge I walked away with far exceeded the associated cost.