SPOTLIGHT: License to Pimp

What would you do

if the strip club you worked at became a brothel?

Would you adapt to it, fight it, or quit?

LICENSE TO PIMP chronicles three strippers facing this dilemma.  Lola competes with club prostitutes to keep her job & support her family.  Daisy tried to get the city to enforce the laws & is up against strip club management & the strippers themselves who want to maintain the status quo.  Mariko quits working in the strip clubs & works independently of the club circuit so she can retain her earnings.  Ex-stripper & filmmaker Hima B. goes behind the scenes to reveal current workplace realities & show how the clubs operate by violating workers’ rights.

Pitch video:


Crowdfunding through: Kickstarter (as of this post, 22 days left to go on campaign)

Campaign goal: $30,000 (as of this post, $3,341 funded)

Courtesy of Hima B.

From filmmaker, Hima B.:

“I worked in half of San Francisco’s strip clubs during the 1990s and saw their transformation into brothels.  Now as a filmmaker, I uncover current working conditions & try to find out how strip clubs are able to operate outside the law.”

“As stripping increasingly gains acceptance within popular culture, more and more women & teenagers enter this industry and are unaware of their rights & workplace realities.  This documentary reveals the impact these illegal practices have on workers.  This is why License to Pimp needs to be made.”

Courtesy of Hima B.

The Characters:

Lola begins stripping as a 16 year old after learning her mother has cancer & needs treatment.

Daisy Anarchy goes public about how the strip clubs’ illegal fees have pushed many strippers to prostitute.

Mariko Passion quits stripping at her favorite club as the work becomes increasingly sexual and spills into her personal life.


Hima B. (Director/Producer/Camera)

Connect with this filmmaker and learn more about this new film:


Facebook:  /LicenseToPimpMovie

Twitter: @LicenseToPimp



Mailing List:


Do you have a film you are trying to finance that you would like to feature here?  Send us an email with a website and social media page(s) for your film.

SCREENING: “In Montauk” (dir. Kim Cummings)

(See below images for just the text of the release.)

June 2012  

For more information, contact

World premiere screening of IN MONTAUK at the VisionFest Film
Festival at Tribeca Cinemas on June 21 at 7 pm.

On June 21, 2012, at 7:00 pm, Siren’s Tale Productions’ IN MONTAUK will have its world premiere at VisionFest12 at Tribeca Cinemas, 54 Varick Street (corner of Laight St.) The film will be preceded by two shorts and followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Kim Cummings and actors Lukas Hassel and George Katt. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased online at For more information contact Kim Cummings at 917-922-3987 or


In Montauk (2012) (68 minutes)
Written and directed by Kim Cummings

The hardest choices in life are the ones we never think we’ll have to make

Julie Wagner has everything today’s young woman thinks she wants: a successful husband who adores her, a baby on the way, a close circle of family and friends, and a career as a photographer that is about to take off. So why is she alone in Montauk in the middle of December? During the cold, stark days, Julie throws herself into capturing her artistic vision for an upcoming solo show, yielding works of deep passion and instinct; at night, she restlessly taps away at her computer, plagued by uncertainty about the impending trajectories of her life.

When a prickly but brilliant composer-musician knocks on her door with an odd request, Julie ushers in a series of events that will bring her in contact with her buried hopes and fears, and force her to make choices she couldn’t have fathomed. At once shocking and wise, In Montauk is a now-familiar story turned inside-out by a main character who can’t help but put herself into the most uncomfortable position of all—confronting life’s imperfect choices in the hopes of grasping one through which she can be true to herself.

A composition of exquisite scenery and complex characters, In Montauk beautifully captures the quiet agony that arises when shoulds and wants collide, the conflict between cultural dictates and creative yearnings. It is a story for our times, the one that so many thoughtful, talented people of all ages live out in their drive for self-discovery and self-fulfillment.

~ ~ ~


In Montauk was shot on location in western Queens and Montauk, NY. The specific locales serve a critical function in the film—sweeping seascapes at the edge of the continent, Long Island City’s burgeoning arts scene, the promise held by the Queensboro Bridge—grounding the characters’ sense of place and informing their actions. See the trailer at

~ ~ ~

Kim Cummings’s award-winning short film Weeki Wachee Girls screened worldwide in more than 70 festivals and garnered three “Best of” awards. Her other films include the shorts Flower of a Girl (dir., screenwriter) and Kate Greer’s That’s What She Told Me (dir.). In Montauk is Cummings’s first feature film and derives from her experience as a filmmaker and parent, and the never-ending balancing act required to satisfy both roles in her life.

Nina Kaczorowski (Julie Wagner) has previously appeared in the films Austin Powers: Goldmember, Minority Report, and A Simple Plan.

Lukas Hassel (Christian Nygaard) was in the reality show SOAPSTAR, on SoapNet/ABC, and recently played a lead role in Denmark’s top-rated show Anna Pihl. He is a visual phenomenon in Norway, where his image can currently be seen in print ads and commercials as part of Norway’s ad campaign for milk.

George Katt (Josh Cohen) won the “Best Breakthrough Actor Award” at the NY International Independent Film Festival for his starring role in the independent feature film Valley of Angels, opposite Danny Trejo.

Siren’s Tale Productions is Kim Cummings’s independent film corporation. Feminist filmmaker Cummings’s goal is to present three-dimensional women and girls in nuanced storylines outside of the typical Hollywood roles of wives, girlfriends, mothers, and whores. Her hope is to depict women grappling with contemporary issues in entertaining but also thought-provoking ways.

~ ~ ~

In Montauk is made possible, in part, by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and by a grant from the Long Island Film Foundation.

INTERVIEW: Kim Cummings (“In Montauk”)

Director Kim Cummings
(Photo by Ken Nanus)


Kim Cummings wrote and directed the award-winning short “Weeki Wachee Girls.” It screened in 70 festivals worldwide, earning three “Best of” awards and a nomination for best short at Taos and is distributed by Other short films include “Flower Of A Girl” and Kate Greer’s “That’s What She Told Me.”  Cummings was a finalist for the Women In Film Foundation Post Production grant in 2010.  She received a finishing fund grant from the Long Island Film/TV Foundation and two separate grants from Queens Council on the Arts for “In Montauk,” which is her first feature.


Her Film:  Typically, short films are used as “calling cards” and stepping stones to work in features.  Can you describe your creative and professional jump from your work in shorts to making In Montauk, your first feature film?  Why was this film important for you to make?

Kim Cummings: 10 years ago I made a short film called “Weeki Wachee Girls” that was my calling card film.  I had a feature-length script that went with it, although the feature ended up being very different from the short.  Although the film played all over the world and won a few awards, I didn’t get any bites on the feature.  Shortly after that, I gave birth to twins, which forced me to take some time off.  As time went on, it seemed harder and harder to get a feature made despite having made a successful short and I kept reading that if you wanted to make a feature, you needed to make a feature. I made a few more shorts, “Flower of A Girl” and “That’s What She Told Me,” then felt that it was time to make a feature.  I look around at the resources I had available to me, especially locations and wrote a script to fit the resources that could be shot with very little money.  Before deciding to go ahead, I talked to my DP, Brian Dilg, and Co-Producer, Jeremiah Kipp, who are good friends that I’ve worked with for years and asked if they were willing to take the leap with me.  Lukas Hassel, who plays Christian is also a good friend, and I re-wrote the role of the composer after he signed on.  The script came out of my frustration out of trying to be a filmmaker while still being there for my kids. It’s important because I feel that the message we get from society is that there is nothing more important for a woman than being a mother and that we should put aside our own needs indefinitely for the sake of our children.  I know for myself, that if I hadn’t made a feature, I wouldn’t have been able to look at myself in the mirror, nor would I have been a very happy mother.

Josh, Julie & Christian have an uneasy lunch together.
(Photo by Aja Niesenson)

HF:  You’ve edited short films as well as written, directed and produced them.  How has the “editor as storyteller” experience impacted or informed your “director as storyteller” work?  Has being a mother and playing that storytelling role (reading stories and teaching about life, ethics, respect, empowerment, etc.) affected how you tell stories as a writer/director?

KC: Editing short films has taught me a lot about directing and had a big influence on the shots I plan for on set.  Editing “In Montauk” and then watching  my editor, Eleanor Burke, re-shaped the film, taught me a lot about the power of juxtaposing disparate images to create a feeling.  It was amazing to watch her.  That experience opened me up to a whole new way of writing.  It was difficult, since I’m an editor myself, to admit that I really needed someone with more experience to help me get the film to where I wanted it to be.  My kids have made me much more aware of what I’m writing, especially with respect to my daughter.  I see her looking for heroines that she can relate to and struggling to find any.  My son once asked me why girls in movies always seem to be on the side.  While they both understand that women are people, they don’t see that reflected in the majority of movies available to them.  It’s made me much more conscious of how I represent women in my stories.


HF:  Can you describe what the experience of balancing your film career and motherhood is like, particularly as you make your first foray into feature films?  How does your life as an artist and relationship with your children change over time, given that they are growing up throughout the filmmaking process?

KC: It never feels like I’m balancing it all very well, and I’ve only been able to manage it because my husband is incredibly supportive.  While I was in the process of getting the film made, especially pre-production and production, my kids dubbed me “Mount Cranky.”  My typical day went like this: get up at 6 & get the kids off to school, work, pick the kids up, help them out with homework or take them to after-school activities, hand them off to my husband for dinner, while I went back to work until mid-night.  My husband took a week off when I was shooting in Montauk.  When we shot in Queens, my kids ate breakfast with the crew.  They even had a scene in the film that eventually got cut.  It was all it a little crazy.  It was a little better when I was editing, as I could do that on my own schedule, more or less.  As the kids saw the film come together, they started to understand what filmmaking really meant and what it meant to me.  As they’ve gotten older, they’ve started rooting for me and were very excited when the film was accepted to it’s first festival.  And, of course, they’ve begun making their own films.  My daughter writes & directs, my son shoots & edits and they both act.  It’s been amazing to see what they can do.

Julie & Christian in adjoining rooms.
(Photo by Brian Dilg)

HF:  I think it’s fantastic that your daughter participated in your crowdfunding pitch video on RocketHub, and your first feature film must be a huge part of your children’s lives, as well.  Does being a mother actually help you as a creative professional?  Are there practices or lessons rooted in motherhood that you employ as a filmmaker?

KC: Being a mother has definitely made me more focused.  It’s also made me more ambitious.  Before I had kids, I felt like I had all the time in the world.  After, it felt like time passed so much more quickly, and I had to learn to say “no” to things that weren’t directly related to filmmaking or to raising my kids, which was very difficult for me.  My husband would tell you that I’m still not very good at saying “no.”  Being a mother has taught me patience, as well as the need to slow down and be in the moment every once in a while.  And kids are so naturally curious, that just talking to mine gives me a ton of story ideas.


HF:  The way you describe the production of In Montauk in your Women and Hollywood guest post, it sounds like a bare bones shoot.  You also talk about the re-shoot in one of your Facebook notes.  Is there anything you would change about the way you made the film, if you could?  Do you think that the circumstances actually helped the process?

KC: It was a very bare-bones shoot, by necessity.  I didn’t have a lot of money, but I wanted to pay everyone something for their time.  So that meant having a very small crew, where everyone did multiple jobs.  My cast & crew were terrific and very motivated which made for a wonderful working environment, despite the fact that no one had any down-time on the set.  I did re-shoot a scene that wasn’t working in the film and the re-shoot didn’t work either.  I was basically trying to make a scene work that had never worked in the script.  If I’d been able to hear that in the script stage, I could have avoided that.  I would also budget more for contingency. I learned things doing this film that I don’t think I would have learned if I hadn’t shot the film.  And working under-the-gun definitely made all of the crew think creatively at all times.  While I wouldn’t like to shoot that way again, it was definitely an invaluable experience


HF:  You are crowdfunding your film festival campaign through RocketHub.  Why did you decide to use that crowdfunding platform?  And can you update us on your festival status?

KC: I chose RocketHub, because a colleague knew one of the founders, Brian Mecce and suggested I meet with him.  Brian was terrific and gave me concise guidelines for running my campaign, as well as convincing me that I would get more personal attention by going with a smaller organization.  They also have an agreement in place with Fractured Atlas, my fiscal sponsor, so all donations would be tax-deductible for my donors.  They were terrific to work with and I would definitely recommend them.  Since then, my film has been selected to screen in four festivals this summer: VisionFest12 in Tribeca, Long Island International Film Expo, World Music and Independent Film Festival in DC and another that hasn’t been announced yet.

Director Kim Cummings, DP Brian Dilg and Gaffer Thomas Perry getting a long shot of the beach entrance. Needless to say, it was cold!  (Photo by Aja Niesenson)

HF:  Putting together financing for a film is an incredibly difficult process.  Can you give a brief overview of your general financing structure?  What are the benefits and drawbacks of fiscal sponsorship?

KC:  This film is essentially self-financed. I probably went about it a little backwards.  I had a fixed amount of money and I made a budget and shooting schedule and hired crew based on that budget. (I also had a fairly simple script with minimal characters.) I had enough to get through production.  I always assumed that I would do the final edit of the film, but when I got to what I thought was a final cut, it became clear that I needed to bring on an outside editor.  My husband and I made the decision to hire an editor, and while she edited, I wrote grants.  I was awarded a few grants, which helped defray those costs.  When it came time to finish the film, I needed more money for color-correction and sound mixing, so I launched the crowd-funding campaign.  I initially signed up for Fiscal Sponsorship to be able to apply for grants that required a fiscal sponsor.  I think Fractured Atlas is a terrific organization and it’s been great to be able to accept money through a fiscal sponsor and know that my donors can get a tax-deduction.


HF:  How important is professional strategy to you?  I don’t mean contrived, opportunistic networking (which I think is a mistake a lot of people make), but forming meaningful creative and professional relationships and moving forward on a particular plan of action.  Do you strategize your career at all?

KC: Setting goals and reviewing them periodically is very important to me.  You have to take yourself seriously as an artist and recognize that in addition to being a creative, you are also a small business owner, especially when you’re producing your own work. I find it sometimes difficult to know what the right next step is, especially as common wisdom changes about the best way to launch your career. There are a lot of established people who will tell you that cream eventually rises to the top.  I don’t think that’s true.  There are a lot of talented people who’s work is not being recognized because it doesn’t fit into current trends or the characters and/or filmmakers aren’t the right gender or race. But being unafraid to ask questions and treating everyone you meet with respect are crucial to being successful.  I work hard to forge long-lasting relationships with people in the business who’s work I respect and admire.  My DP, Brian Dilg, and Co-Producer, Jeremiah Kipp, are both people that I met in an ad hoc filmmaker’s group over 10 years ago and we all work together whenever we can.  We’ve learned how to make films together and have grown together and I love working with them because I know what to expect.  In the past few years, I’ve worked with several talented people who I hope to work with again and again.


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

Website (includes trailer for In Montauk):
Blog (“Filmmaking, Motherhood and Apple Pie”):
Facebook (In Montauk) (Sign up for the mailing list!!!)
Fractured Atlas (for tax-deductible donations to help fund the festival run for “In Montauk”):

Review: “Higher Ground” (2011)

A film by Vera Farmiga

Vera Farmiga directs and stars in this movie about a women’s journey of faith.  The film is based on Carolyn S. Briggs’ memoir, This Dark World. She breaks the movie up into chapters, such as “Summons” and “Waiting for Dawn” that deal with different parts in her journey.  Corinne grows up with a sister and parents that are in love but break up when they lose their third child.  Corinne goes to church as a young girl and tries to make sense of religion and how she fits into the picture.

The film goes on and shows Corinne as a teenager finding love with a boy in a band called the Renegades.  They marry at a young age after she becomes pregnant.  The band travels and on one particular trip Corinne brings their young child along and they are in an accident.  They crash into a lake and frantically search for their toddler that they had placed in a cooler.  They find her and are convinced that God saved her.  They join a fundamentalist sect and raise their family in the group.  They have two more children.  The group is very traditional and Corinne goes along with it until she starts to realize that maybe it’s not for her.  The group is very strict about women doing any teaching.  She tries to share what she has learned from the bible to the group and gets chastised for preaching.  She also gets called out for wearing a dress (a maternity dress no less) that garners too much attention.

I think we can all relate to this film because religion or spirituality is in most of our lives in some shape or form.  It can be a struggle to make your way and try and figure out what you would like to believe.  I thought that Corinne was very brave to leave the group when she no longer believed what they did.  It was all she had known and took courage to walk away from her family and friends.  Farmiga did a great job with the flow of the movie and kept it moving along nicely.  This film was a great start for Farmiga as director.


Lotus Wollschlager is the official Her Film movie reviewer.  Find her bio on the Her Film Reviews page.

Reproduction & Abortion (in film & TV) Week at Bitch Flicks

One of my favorite websites, and an incredibly important source for feminist film & television discussions, is Bitch Flicks.  This month, they’ve launched another great theme week: Reproduction & Abortion in film and television.  Check out some of these articles listed below and stay on the BF site to read more!  They’re posting pieces all this week.

“Procreation at the End of Civilization: Reproductive Rights on Battlestar Galactica
by Leigh Kolb

“Where Are My Children?
by Erik Bondurant

“The Dancer’s Dilemma”
by Myrna Waldron



INTERVIEW: Cassandra Hollis, director of “A Praying Grandmother”


Filmmaker Cassandra Hollis

Cassandra Hollis has directed, produced and written eight films, many of which are award-winning. The award-winning SAG film, The Altar, is airing now through 2013 on the TCT television network in the U.S. and airing on television networks in the U.K. and  South Africa. Her three-part film series about the Underground Railroad, Mattie, Johnny and Smooth White Stones: Parts I, II, & III, was selected for inclusion in the National Park Service Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program and distributed in schools, universities and libraries throughout the U.S. and Canada. In June, Mattie: Part III will screen at the 2012 Harriet Tubman Underground Conference in Cambridge, Maryland. Currently, she is co-producing a feature film with Gospel great, Helen Baylor, based on Ms. Baylor’s life story, A Praying Grandmother: The Helen Baylor Story.
(Bio updated by Her Film 4-5-12.)

Her Film:  Can you talk a bit about your newest film and what drew you to this topic?  How did you reach out to the film’s subject, renowned gospel singer Helen Baylor?

Cassandra Hollis: Amazingly, this project “found” me. Ms. Baylor saw me on a local television talk show discussing my previous 8 films and she said the Lord told her I was “the one.” For years, she’d wanted to tell her life story in film but never felt right about the
timing nor about who she could entrust her story with. She said she told her husband that she wanted to contact me and before I left the station, I received a note that they had called.

Poster for A Praying Grandmother (Courtesy of C. Hollis)

HF:  In addition to you adapting Helen Baylor’s life story — published as No Greater Love (Vision Publishing 2007) — you are also working directly with her on the film and she appears with you in the pitch video on your website.  Can you describe the type of relationship you have and the challenges that also go along with this filmmaker/film subject dynamic?

CH:  Yes, she is the Co-Producer of the film and we have become like family during the process of bringing her story to life. As a filmmaker, working with her as I adapted her autobiography into the screenplay was unlike any writing experience I have ever had. Her
recall is amazing. She can describe details of some of the biggest triumphs and tragedies in her life. She even remembers details of furnishings, etc. It was rewarding to me as the screenwriter that when she read the screenplay, she said that not only did she feel like she
was reliving everything but that it seemed I was there as it happened.  It was great being able to just call her or send over questions as I worked on the script.

Some of the challenges in our filmmaker/film subject relationship include just maintaining the daily grind of what it takes to bring a project like this to the screen. We live in different states and she travels a great deal with her singing career so sometimes it may take a few days to get a response back when I needed it yesterday (smile). I am just so proud of her commitment to share her story so that someone else may be delivered and helped. We’re on the same page with the same vision for the film so ultimately it all works out well.

HF:  You’ve worked in television as on-air talent, as a producer and a director.  To what extent do you draw off of your early experiences in this arena to inform your filmmaking, especially in the context of narrative filmmaking when much of your past work has been journalistic?

CH:  What a great observation. I believe I draw a great deal from my journalistic roots and they readily inform my choices in subject matter. My films have addressed all sorts of social issues and ills, including homelessness, abortion, abstinence, centenarians,
Underground Railroad.. I have been able to address these issues within the context of narrative filmmaking and never been accused of making say a glorified documentary or glorified news story. So my films really just show the humanity behind whatever the issue may be. The issue is positioned as subtext largely because I’m not necessarily preaching about it. Nor am I necessarily taking a position. I just present it for audiences to choose whether they want to focus on it or stay focused on the characters and plot.

HF:  Every experience in life changes us somehow, and as filmmakers, we spend so much time dealing with a script, story structure, etc.  It is inevitable that these experiences change us as people and artists.  How has your experience making A Praying Grandmother changed you as a person and as a filmmaker?  What lessons have you learned in the process that you could share here?

CH:  As a filmmaker, making this film has helped me to grow as a producer as well as director. My previous projects involved smaller budgets and therefore, I had not experienced all of the details along the way that must be covered when bringing a project to the big screen. I knew what the steps were but had not done them. Experience is the best teacher. Because of this experience I am well equipped to do more films on a large scale. I believe it helped me take my vision to global status.

Grandmother Hudson, grandmother of Helen Baylor (Courtesy of C. Hollis)

Personally, I have even more compassion for people. To some degree, I’ve always wanted my films to help people. But, with this project I think lives will be saved. It has taken that mandate to a higher place for me. I really feel a sense of responsibility and urgency with all of the recent tragedies in the Entertainment industry. Helen was a rising R&B star plagued by her addictions to cocaine and all kinds of drugs. But she had a ‘praying grandmother’ who literally did not cease to pray for her. Someone needs to see that the power of prayer can really help pull a person from the depths. Someone needs to see that you can be delivered from drugs by the power of prayer. Prayer often becomes a cliche’ but Faith and prayer are powerful weapons. Someone needs to see that and get help. As I mentioned before, the film does not preach and is not super spiritual. It simply, elegantly and powerfully tells what happened to this amazing, annointed Gospel Great and how she lived to tell it!


To learn more about this film or to connect with the filmmaker, please visit:


Twitter: @HelenBaylorFilm and @cassandrahollis

Facebook: /cassandrahollis

LinkedIn: /CassandraHollis

REVIEW: “The Future” (2011)

“The Future” (2011)

A Film by Miranda July

Sophie (Miranda July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater) live a quiet life in L.A. until they decide to adopt a stray cat that is terminally ill.  They can’t get “Paw-Paw” right away so they have to wait a month before they can pick him up.  They both start to see life in a different light and start to adapt accordingly, quitting their jobs and keeping their eyes and ears open for new opportunities.

Jason finds himself going door to door selling trees to help reduce global warming.  His organization’s goal is to plant a million trees.  He purchases a used hair dryer and befriends the previous owner, spending more and more time with him when he sees how lonely the man is.

Sophie also quits her job and promises her friends that she will record herself doing 30 dances in 30 days.  She can’t quite muster up the courage to do this and never even sends one out.  She is frustrated that Jason seems to have all these fantastic and moving experiences while she has yet to encounter anything.

While at the shelter, Sophie notices a drawing and decides to purchase it.  The artist is there and his daughter has left his home number on the back of the drawing.  He runs a banner and sign company.  On a whim she calls him and ends up going to his home under the false pretense that she needs a sign.  What follows is the start of the demise of Sophie and Jason’s relationship.

Throughout the film you hear the narrative of Paw-Paw who is an interesting addition to the film with his childlike, yet somewhat creepy, voice.  The cat feels so happy to be waiting for Sophie and Jason to return and finally feels like he belongs.   Paw-Paw has had such a sad life and is hoping for a fresh start with Jason and Sophie.  It was a nice touch to hear about life from Paw-Paw’s perspective.

The film has some mystical qualities such as being able to stop time.  It’s done in a way where it seems realistic enough to the main characters, and you see them struggle with getting a grip on their own realities.  Miranda July (as Sophie), throws in some of her performance art here and there in some majorly awkward but silly scenes.   In one interesting performance art scene she realizes that she made a huge mistake in leaving Jason.  He knew and accepted her much more than anyone else.  July doesn’t disappoint by bringing her own quirky style to the film as shown in her previous work (see below).


Lotus Wollschlager is the official Her Film movie reviewer.  Find her bio on the Her Film Reviews page.


More information on Miranda July:

The Future website and its Oracle transmedia component biography

Learning to Love You More (website archive of web/non-web project)

Joanie 4 Jackie (archives of chainletter video movement founded by July)