Does your film pass the Bechdel Test? Submit it now to the Bluestocking Film Series!

Bluestocking fall deadline extended to September 30!

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The deadline for the fall Bluestocking Film Series screening event has been officially extended to September 30. The screening will take place on October 28th.

Interested filmmakers will find all other rules and regs spelled out under our WAB listing and are encouraged to use WAB for entries where we accept rolling submissions. However, we will also accept films submitted as outlined below. Please note that films submitted through WAB receive a discounted entry fee of $15 – the fee for films submitted otherwise is $20.

We are willing to waive fees under certain circumstances. If you would like to inquire about fee waivers, please email us at gitgoproductions@gmail.com. Please note that online screeners must be available for us to consider fee waivers.

Click to submit your film via Withoutabox! 

Guidelines for Submission:

==> Short films of all categories not exceeding 45 minutes in length will be considered. We prefer shorter films – in the 10 minutes or less range.

==> The director of the film must self-identify as a woman and any co-director must also be a woman.

==> The film must pass the ‘Bechdel Test for Women in Movies (FMI, click link below). We are most interested in fiction films that portray women as complex, intelligent human beings.

==> If not submitting through WAB, your submission fee of $20 must be included with your screener (checks made out to: Gitgo Productions). To pay submission fee via Paypal with credit card, please email gitgoproductions@gmail.com for instructions.

Submissions will be accepted on DVD (Region 0 or 1) by mail to Gitgo Productons, 161 Fort Rd., South Portland, Maine 04106.

Again, the new extended deadline for submissions is September 30, 2012 for the October screening. We look forward to seeing your film!

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Cross-posted with permission.

The Bechdel Test: get to know it!

Never heard of the Bechdel Test?

Heard of it, but don’t know exactly what it is?

It’s about movies. And women. And what they talk about. And to whom.  But watch the video below to get a full explanation!

The inspiration, author and cartoonist Alison Bechdel:

File:Alison Bechdel at Politics and Prose.jpg

Check out this video from Feminist Frequency‘s Anita Sarkeesian which brilliantly explains what the test is and why it’s important.

Also, be sure to take a look at the Bechdel Test Movie List site to see which films do and do not pass.  You can even submit your own reviews of films!

Frozen River (2008), Happy-Go-Lucky (2008), The Descent (2005) and Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee (1994) are a few Bechdel Test-passing films I like.

Which are some of your favorite movies that pass the Bechdel Test?

Have you MADE a film that passes the test?  Send me a link to your website!

INTERVIEW: Scotty Iseri, creator of kids’ web/app series ‘The Digits’

Creator and Executive Producer, Scotty Iseri

Biography:

Scotty Iseri is a theatre and new media artist based out of Portland, Oregon. His work includes the popular all-ages web series “Scotty Got An Office Job”, the live touring act “The Big Rock Show” and the Paper Hat Game. He was the writer and director behind “Merry Holidays, Please Hold”, a branded series billed “The Worldʼs First Internet Christmas Special”.

Scotty has won numerous awards for his writing, musical composition, and sound design, was an inaugural mentee for the Center For Asian American Mediaʼs Fellowship and was a finalist for the Public Radio Maker’s Quest 2.0 grant. He has years of experience in children’s theatre, has produced for Chicago Public Radio and was a teacher in Chicago’s After School matters.

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Her Film:  You wear three big hats on this series: director, writer, producer.  What has your experience been like balancing these three roles, especially in light of the fact the series is interactive and you’re dealing with various technologies for distribution and exhibition?

Scotty Iseri:  I do feel very lucky to be working with an amazing group of artists that really bring the world to life. But I must admit, it’s been a great deal of work. Luckily I love it.

The addition of interactivity requires a new approach to the production.  For “The Digits,” it’s more than shooting a film and adding prompts.  We wanted the story to holistically change and level as the viewer watches.

Juggling these technologies in storytelling is a whole new world.  The traditional roles don’t 100% apply.  Our actors created Facebook profiles for their characters which interact with our fans, so they’re also creating a universe, too.  Our developer, Battery Powered Games, is also a key member of the creative team.

“Pavi” (Sara Castilleja) and Scotty discuss direction and technique

The hardest part is finding the balance. The writer will write something crazy like, “The Digits crash land on an alien planet made of acid-spitting bacon”.  The director will say “how do i realize acid-spitting bacon?” and the producer will say “where do you think we’re going to find budget money for acid-spitting bacon?”  Since I am all three, striking a balance with only myself is a challenge indeed. Normally you’d have this creative back and forth between those three roles, which i definitely miss.

Her Film:  Can you describe the challenges you encountered when trying to raise funds for this series? 

Scotty Iseri:  We function like a startup [and] I think the startup community (especially on the finance side) is more open to ideas that break the mold.  Silicon Valley thrives on innovation, while the entertainment industry thrives on tradition. The latter usually waits until something is popular enough to enjoy a mass audience before sticking its toe in the water.  The two don’t necessarily always mix.

I took The Digits idea around to the traditional entertainment industry.  I was told “we can give you money for a television pilot that may just sit on a shelf and never be seen, but we’re not sure what to do with this interactive business. ”  I think the traditional entertainment industry is in something of a free fall in terms of its business model and so going the startup route was the best way to create something really cool.

There are some fantastic examples of others in this new storytelling field.  Fourth Wall Studios, and the Lizzie Bennett Diaries are two examples of people taking the entrepreneurial spirit into the entertainment industry and making cool things happen.

Her Film:  Entertainment professionals who create series or films, necessarily, have to act like entrepreneurs when doing so, but the word “entrepreneur” seems to be largely absent from discussions about entertainment, although it’s prevalent when talking about tech companies and start-ups.  Can you address this issue and how your work may be influenced by actively embracing the idea of entrepreneurship?

Scotty Iseri:  It’s an exciting time to make things.  No one necessarily has the “right’ answer when it comes to a next-generation filmmaking model, but you must, must must, be entrepreneurial about it.

If you think about it economically, it’s all about scarcity.  10 years ago, the scarcity was in distribution and money.  It was expensive to rent cameras and film, and more expensive to jockey for time on the limited bandwidth of broadcast.  Today the scarcity is attention–getting audiences to notice what you’re putting out.

Scotty Iseri with his favorite puppet “Andrew”

Her Film:  What is your relationship with the Center for Asian American Media and how does it relate to “The Digits”?

Scotty Iseri:  “The Digits” wouldn’t exist without CAAM.  I’m of Japanese descent and was very lucky to be invited into their new voices fellowship.  I think it was very forward-thinking on CAAM’s part to include a new media fellow among a group of fantastic screenwriters, directors and producers.

The time with CAAM allowed me to have some structure and support in building not just the technological idea, but also the story universe.

Her Film:  The main character of the show is “Pavi,” the lead singer (and a female).  With the bias, and stereotype, that girls and women are not capable in mathematics, this is very refreshing to see.  How did you decide which character, and which gender, should take the lead?  

Scotty Iseri:  Every day I see girls and women that defy this stereotype, but I also know how important it can be to have a good role model.  There’s a lot of research and conversation happening about ways to interest girls in science and technology careers and I think one of the ways to do that is to give them a role model.

Sally Ride, may she rest in peace,  inspired many women to aim for the stars, but so did Nichelle Nichols (Lt Uhura on Star Trek).  Fictional characters can be incredibly inspiring.  It allows you to “see yourself” in a fantastic situation.  Even master storyteller LeVar Burton was inspired by a strong female lead. He said in a keynote speech this year that “By the virtue of Nichelle Nichols sitting on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, I knew that there was going to be a place for me in that imagined future (of science fiction) and I felt incredibly excited by that possibility.”

Children are great imitators, so the goal was to give them someone fun to imitate.

But, for all the high minded ideals behind the creation of the character, she’s a blast to write and Sara (Castilleja) really brings her to life.  I wanted her to be capable, and strong, but also funny and flawed…In other words, a person and not a “female character.”  Does that make sense?

Although, to be fair, our first appisode does not pass the Bechdel Test (though we correct this in the web series).

“The Digits” characters

Her Film:  “The Digits” seems to be a great example of “edutainment.”  Can you talk a bit about the process of working to create a show that both entertains and educates?

Scotty Iseri:  The project was really inspired by watching my nieces and nephews play with interactive technology.  They are naturals.  They take to it immediately and begin experimenting:  Can I click this?  What happens if I do this?  This is science in its rawest form; Hypothesize, experiment, examine results, change.

I think edutainment gets a bad rap.  For people of my generation, the only reason they know their state capitals is from the Animaniacs song.

I also think kids love to learn.  They love the empowerment of knowing something they didn’t know before, and they love to show it off.  “Guess what?” is my favorite question because I know it’s going to lead somewhere new and exciting.

Her Film:  Were kids involved in the creation process or have you tested the show with kids?  I ask because I read the description of the show to my 11 year old nephew and he thought it sounded cool (his words).

Scotty Iseri:  Your nephew is right.  I think it’s a universal truth that Rock and Roll is cool.  Robots are cool.  Spaceships are cool.  Our focus really wasn’t on creating a world “for kids”, but to harness good storytelling for a new medium.  We’ve been testing the “appisode” with kids of all ages and it’s going really well.  As i said, kids are natives to this technology.  They expect their stories to play with them.

“Pavi” with beloved band-mate “Ray Ray” at her side

I do think people “create-down” for kids.  In truth, kids are the savviest and best audience in the world.  They are willing to go with you on your storytelling journey, but the minute you break your own rules, they’re the first to call foul.  They’re exacting and they’ll ask you more questions about the story you’re telling than you probably ever could think of.

Tell your nephew if he’d like to ask the Digits a question they’ll answer it in a future episode! Audience participation is key to “The Digits”!

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To learn more about this filmmaker and his work, please check out these links:

Facebook:  /WeAreTheDigits
YouTube: /FUNDAWatch
Website: watchthedigits.com
Twitter:  @wearethedigits
All-ages webseries: scottygotanofficejob.com

(Photos courtesy of S. Iseri)

‘Wadjda’ by Haifaa Al Mansour, first film made by Saudi woman and first film made in the KSA

Wadjda is a new film by Haifaa Al Mansour, the first Saudi woman filmmaker.  She is writer and director of the film.  To add to the enormous responsibility of representation she now carries, the film is also the first to be filmed completely inside Saudi Arabia.  While movie theaters are illegal in the country, producers have stated they plan to distribute it through “DVDs and TV channels” (Telegraph). You can watch two clips of the film below.

I’ve been excited about this film since I read about earlier this week, and am looking forward to seeing it (somehow, some day).  It screened at this year’s Venice International Film Festival, and has received quite a bit of press.  Check out the links below for more articles on Al Mansour, plus this week’s Her.Stories post.

From Al Mansour’s “Director’s Statement”:

I come from a small town in Saudi Arabia where there are many girls like Wadjda who have big dreams, strong characters and so much potential. These girls can, and will, reshape and redefine our nation. It was important for me to work with an all-Saudi cast, to tell this story with authentic, local voices.  (Read more.)

Have you see the film?  It’s a Saudi Arabia-Germany production, with most of the crew being German, but Al Mansour still had to deal with the exigencies of directing as a woman in Saudi Arabia where gender separation is required.  Without being able to direct the male cast or work with the male crew face to face, what did she do?  Worked from a van and used a walkie talkie.

Wadjda screened at La Biennale on August 31 and September 1.  Visit the film’s page on the festival’s website.

Watch an interview with Al Mansour at the Doha Film Institute’s website.

Read a review of Wadjda in Variety.

Watch clips from the film:

 

Her.Stories: First Saudi woman filmmaker, Julie Dash’s ‘Tupelo ’77’, Detropia, Mollywood, Telluride, Baghdad, TIFF, Abortion Rights Trilogy

Woman beats the odds to make first Saudi film
at Arab Times

First Saudi Female Director, Haifaa Al Mansour and her Film ‘Wadjda’ in Venice (with video interview)
at Euro News

Julie Dash’s 1970s-Set Drama ‘Tupelo 77’ Gets A Boost – Selected For International Financing Forum
at Shadow and Act

What Can Detroit Teach the Nation? Heidi Ewing on Detropia
at the Huffington Post
(Read Lotus’s recent review of DETROPIA.)

Filmmaker Dorothy Fadiman’s Taking The Abortion Rights Trilogy on the Road
at OpEd News

‘Battle of the Sexes’ docu portrays women’s fight for equal pay in sports
at the Chicago Tribune

Amma Asante’s ‘Belle’ Moving Full Speed Ahead, Adds To Cast, Shooting Start Date Set
at Shadow and Act

The rising matriarchs of Mollywood (Malayalam film industry)
at DNA India

New Zealand Film Commission Shorts Films Announcement
at Wellywood Woman

First Look Pic, Official Synopsis For South African Thriller ‘Layla Fourie’ Starring Brit Rayna Campbell
at Shadow and Act

3-time Oscar-winner Thelma Schoonmaker wins 2nd Gucci award for women in film for ‘Hugo’
at The Washington Post

TIFF 2012: Female filmmakers in Toronto spotlight
at the Toronto Star

Women Filmmakers Ready to Rock Toronto
at the Huffington Post

TIFF Programer dishes on film roles for women, George Clooney and saying no at CityTV
at CityTV

Baghdad International Film Festival Selections + Arab Women Filmmakers Competition
at Baghdadfilmfest.com

La Femme Telluride
at Awards Daily

Venice: ‘Fill The Void’ Looks At Hasidic Community (film by Rama Burshtein)
at the Huffington Post