It has now been three years and two months since I became a filmmaker.  I didn’t have anything to legitimize the title until the end of the summer when we completed the editing of the film.  We had a feature length documentary that told the stories of a number of remarkable women beyond the age of sixty.   We had traveled around the country on this wonderful journey of stories.  We had spent years, months and days editing and re-editing, trying to capture the essence of each woman and her unique story.  The self-doubt and anxiety of “getting it right” ran circles around me at times.  Maintaining a budget when there is no longer a paycheck to support it brought out my creative side.  I did as much of the work I could possibly do myself in order to  manage the production costs.  It worked out.

At the end of August I began submitting the film to Film Festivals.  There must be a thousand or more, so trying to find the right fit wasn’t always easy.  I never thought the film would be accepted to Sundance or Cannes or a host of others. I was correct and this was confirmed when speaking with a film consultant.  She told me that first time filmmakers with no connection to the festival had an almost impossible chance at any opportunity for selection.   As I cast my net a bit wider and became friendly with filmmakers and producers around the country they echoed that sentiment.  Waves of  fear washed over me occasionally and I would wonder what would happen to this passion project of mine.  Are there filmmakers that make movies that others never see?

Like anything you create it takes commitment, patience and time.  I reminded myself of that regularly and worked closely with my production partners to set up calls with agents, distributors, marketers and the like.  We let a number of them view the film and the feedback was very positive.  The film community is very supportive and nurturing so they always had an idea or two as to where we might land.  I am so appreciative for their time and guidance along the way.

And then it started to happen.  It started with a small nod from an online juried festival that selected our film and gave it a special mention.  Then it was quiet, for what seemed too long, until I heard from the Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival. They selected our film which will have its Premiere Screening on March 24th.  Shortly after that we were selected by the Hot Springs International Women’s Film Festival in Arkansas.  We will screen there on March 31st.  Then last night we received an early acceptance into the New Hope Film Festival in Pennsylvania that runs in mid July.  It feels like traction and I am pretty much over the moon as I help to prepare for each festival.  Sometimes I shed a tear or two.

A young woman interviewed me recently for a paper she is working on.  She asked me a couple of basic questions and I will share my answers with you because so many people ask me two of her questions.

Q.What was the hardest thing you have had to deal with while learning to make this film?

A. Being sick for more than a year with recurring/chronic Lyme Disease.  There were times I could barely make it through the task of the day and many days I worked between napping.  I honestly never found the task of learning the process or directing and collaborating that difficult. In fact, all of the learning and creating was exciting.

Q. Why did you pick storytelling, or a Documentary, for your first attempt at film making?

A. I am not a screenwriter so figured the easiest way for me to get started in the business was to start where I would be comfortable. One of my strong suits in business was the ability to build relationships with colleagues, employees and customers.  I have spent my life listening to stories and telling my own.  I have always been fascinated by people’s journeys and inspired by so many of their stories.  When I started the film I was 65 years old. I was making a big change in my life at a time when many people were thinking about traditional retirement.  I had met many strong women throughout my life and career and I was curious about what they were doing with their lives as they neared or surpassed retirement age.  I found there was no shortage of resilient women who are continuing to make their mark on the world despite their age.  Inspiring others by documenting their stories is what I wanted to do.

I hope you will get to see the film at a screening or when the right platform for distribution is found.  Stay tuned!

Finally, thank you to all of the people who have supported and encouraged me over the last couple of years.  Your friendship, love, advice and constant interest has been felt and appreciated every day.

See you at the movies!

Love and Peace,

Melissa

 

 

 

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