Cinema Without Borders interview with Grace McPhillips

Bijan Tehrani:  How did you come up with the idea of making THE OTHER ONE?
Grace McPhillips: My film THE OTHER ONE was originally a short film I had been cast in, but that had never been made.  It was a script that haunted me, spurred my imagination towards different story lines, and I saw the film fit perfectly in a location I knew I had pretty unlimited access to. So when it came time for me to produce and star in a feature, that screenplay immediately came to mind.

The short was only 15 pages and a feature needs to be closer to 85 pages, so we, the other lead actors and the director, took a collaborative creation approach and we developed a storyline and script within 3 months and immediately went into filming.

BT:  You are an independent producer and filmmaker with an extensive background in arts, has that background helped you as a filmmaker?
GM: Having a diverse background in the arts is super helpful for perspective and gumption.  I was mostly dancing, singing, and acting in musical theater prior to film, but choreographed in addition to performing, which is a lot like producing and starring.  It's deciding how you want the cake to be made and then being the one who walks out with it on your finest cake platter.

Cannes 2015 Red Carpet Gown by Veronica Scheaffer

First of all, YES.  I know how deeply lucky I am to have had another beautiful gown made for me to wear on the Red Carpet in Cannes.  I am such a fan of fashion, love being the canvas, and know that these experiences are treasures!

For this year's Cannes Film Festival, I knew much earlier than last year that I would be on the Red Carpet!  Hosted by Hewlett Packard, I was asked to speak on the panel "Cutting Edge Collaborators: Women Achieving in Film." Our day would finish with the entire panel walking the Red Carpet together.  PERFECT!  I reached out to Veronica Sheaffer, having appreciated her work on instagram, pitched the opportunity and we immediately hit it off!  

Over the next three weeks and four fittings this stunning gown came together!

 Grace McPhillips in Red Carpet Gown by Veronica Sheaffer

Grace McPhillips in Red Carpet Gown by Veronica Sheaffer

Aside from the stunning and dramatic effect the dress gives, it was so completely comfortable and made me feel regal, distinguished, and most importantly matched the accomplishment I was feeling.  Starring and producing in a feature film, The Other One, then seeing it through a year of festivals, and into distribution, was no easy task.  Excitement and stress come in equal doses during that process, so to then to be highlighted as a "Woman Achieving in Film," at Cannes, was just AWESOME!!!

 Me, Kyle Flavell, and Komal Minhas encouraging the industry to be more than a fan!

Me, Kyle Flavell, and Komal Minhas encouraging the industry to be more than a fan!

One of the things I love about Veronica is that she is all in.  After knowing what fabric we would be working with, and the feeling of the gown, she began e-mailing me links to shoes and jewelry.  More than a gown designer, she is a stylist!  Her vision is all encompassing.  Check out all of the options in this video shot by Chris Rejano of the final fitting the day before we flew to France!

The shoes, that couldn't have been more perfect, were by Adrianna Papelle. Can you see that sparkle on the inside of the stiletto? LOVE!

While you can't beat a custom gown, Rent the Runway is my go-to for other fun, fancy occasions.  In Chicago they now have a store (YES!) and they treated me to amazing jewelry to complete the look.  Working with Veronica at the final fitting we decided on the DANNIJO Avril Earrings and the aptly named Jones Bracelets from Chamak by Priya Kakkar.  

And a note about Flatgate, (not the football debacle, but the female producers being ushed off the red carpet for wearing flats,)  this year, my mother joined me in Cannes and she rocked some silver Sam and Libby's Flats with no problem.  We had a great time, incase you can't tell from the picture. 

Now... it is called the Cannes Film Festival, so what film did we see and what did I think about it?

We saw Valerie Donzelli's fourth feature, Marguerite and Julian, a tragic, incestuous Romeo and Juliet.  The reviews were mixed and interestingly when I spoke to women about it, they understood the modern touches inserted into the film as hinting towards this story being a timeless one, but the men I spoke with were mostly confused by the helicopters, electricity, and modern cars in a story taking place in the 17th century and didn't like the film.

Personally, I thought there were many commendable moments.  The children's performances were so touching and beautiful. I liked the scenes being started in tableaus, not freezing the footage, but freezing the actors, and the sense of play with which she directed the brother and sister lovers was spot on.  

The music, however, was too american for me and when Marguerite is  captured, Valerie chose to "celebrify" the moment by showing it in paparazzi style, still photography.  This felt off.  It's the only time she choses to do this in the film and it feels pushed and insincere.  It took me out of the story immediately and removed the actors from their performances for me.  Aside from that it was beautifully made and a nice story to explore.  Worthy of Cannes? Absolutely.  Groundbreaking?  No, but I think Valerie Donzelli has it in her and I'll be curious to see what is in her future. #SEEHERNOW

There was a lot energy around female filmmakers this year, but there were only two female directors in competition.  Directors of films certainly have the least representation, but the numbers across the board for female filmmakers isn't great, particularly in the upper echelon of filmmaking.

I'd like to see more women working with bigger budgets and will continue to be an advocate for women in film.  It's what I am, so why wouldn't I?  Also the best idea I've heard for creating real change is quotas.  People, and I think, Americans in particular, don't like to be told they have to do one thing or another, but when a history of injustice needs to be corrected, we MUST do things that, at the time ,feel uncomfortable or even unfair.  

Maybe you saw the film Selma?  Blacks had the right to vote, but it didn't mean it was going to happen.  Affirmative action was also an uncomfortable thing for many people, and at times, yes, it was unfair, but the culture wasn't going to change without demonstrative action.  This is the place we are at with female filmmakers.  If you haven't yet, please sign the ACLU petition for investigation into discriminatory hiring practices in Hollywood.  I'm on it.


IMDb Fact or Fiction: Joining the club as an Independent Filmmaker

Getting that first credit on IMDb is a great feeling. You’ve made it! You’re part of the crowd, hanging out with the cool kids like Dinero and Bullock. It is proof that you’re working professionally in the film industry and that your movie and the movies you've worked on are “real.”

Until, you realize your name is spelled wrong.

And you’re credited as your nickname and not your professional working name.

AND there are 10 “John Smiths” already on IMDb, plus your credits are spread out among three of their pages.

And your name isn't even John Smith!?!

Alas, it happens. People make mistakes.  Fortunately, mistakes can be easily corrected. Not feeling like asking the film's producer to please spell your name correctly?  Here's the BIG SECRET: you can actually correct most errors on your own. No single individual owns a projects page, IMDb owns the page, and so all edits are run through and finalized by them.

If it comes down to a credit or miscellaneous error, you should absolutely email the Producer of that project to fix it, as a common and professional courtesy. Much like what will be discussed in our newest webinar, the Producers have been setting up the page and all the goods on it, so they should be the one filtering those errors.

BUT back to that BIG SECRET, you should be aware of how to do that too!

                            If we can do it, you can do it!

                           If we can do it, you can do it!

Just to brief any readers outside "the club" general knowledge, IMDb stands for the International Movie Database. It was launched in 1993 and is the world's most popular and authoritative source for movie, TV and celebrity content. The site has since expanded with Publicity Photo Services in March of 2001, IMDbPro.com in January 2002 and now owns Withoutabox.com (From IMDb.com). We'll dig deeper in the webinar, but that's the skinny.

The scenario is different when big budget and studio pictures provide their information to the site, but for the Indie filmmaker like you and me, there is definitely a way to get your films on IMDb before obtaining distribution or having stars. Here is a little Fact and Fiction I've learned along the way:

FICTION: You cannot submit changes to a film's page.
Yes, you can, and its actually quite easy. Lets say your name actually IS John Smith. You see that the film you just worked on is up on IMDb and your credit is there, but it is linking to another John Smith, not you. Again, I would first recommend to write the Producer and let them know of the error, they will take care of it. But, you know your name is pretty damn common, and this unfortunately happens all the time, so maybe you just want to quickly fix it yourself. Go to the film's page, scroll down to the yellow "Edit" and follow the prompted directions. You will be able to correctly link to your page and submit to IMDb to be updated.

Keep in mind though, if you are doing this on behalf of someone else, or are not the Producer, IMDb has the right to deny your update. Because if the update is not being submitted by the creator of the page (Producer) or from your (in this case, John Smith's) IMDb account, then the request looks a little fishy.

FACT: You cannot make your own IMDb page.
To join the in-crowd you need to be credited on a project. Then, once your name is on there, you can spice up your personal page. You have more access to do this via IMDb Pro.

FICTION: Only feature films are cataloged on IMDb.
False, get your short, documentary, web-series or TV-show on there!

FACT: You cannot independently create an IMDb page for your film.
IMDb is very strict about this. They may make it easy enough to edit and add credits to a project, but you cannot just “create” one. They want to make sure that projects are legitimate, since so many films begin in development, and end in development. Here are the most common ways your film can appear on the site:

-You have a top billed actor cast
-You have a mention in a major trade publication (ie, Hollywood Reporter, Variety)
-*You set up the project and credits on withoutabox.com and have submitted it to film festivals
*Most likely course for independent filmmakers

Have all of the above? Great, learn how to fill out a New Submission Title Form.

FICTION: IMDb is easy to reach
Playing chess with a drunk person is easier than trying to contact IMDb. I get it, they receive tons of inquiries every day and need a way to filter their messages so they can actually have time to respond, which is why they don’t have a customer service phone number. However, when you spend a half an hour trying to figure how where the contact form is, you probably could have figured out how to fix the issue on your own. It’s all in the fine print guys, believe me. IMDb is pretty good about laying out all their specifications, but there are still definitely a few things you have to contact them about to get fixed and updated.

Just bookmark this SHORTCUT and make sure you’re signed into your account

Insider's Tip– If you need to contact Withoutabox, use the same contact form.

FACT: You can upload Trailers and Videos for free
So upload them! What's stopping you?

FICTION: You can add photos and posters for free
No, so budget for them in your Marketing line items.

FACT: Festivals take notice of your IMDb Page.
Once your project pops up on IMDb you should be uploading those photos, re-wording that synopsis and updating credits, especially your festival screening history.

FICTION: Your rating score is not important.
It's just as important as how many "likes" you have on Facebook, so make sure you’re letting your fans know they can rate your page! Note: Your film must be classified as “released” before rating can begin.

FACT: Having your film and name on IMDb ups your professional presence in the industry.
Absolutely.

So those are the top Fact and Fictions I’ve come across. At Sterling Rock, we spend a lot of time on the site for our projects, so we've been getting a ton of inquires on how it works. Still have more questions or just want to dig deeper? Join myself and Grace on Thursday, July 10th for our LIVE Workshop on the topic. You can register HERE, but don't wait, space is limited.

We’ll show you how to navigate IMDb and Withabox.com, link your accounts and use our own pages to show you how to edit and make corrections.

Looking forward to hanging out with you on 7/10!
-Liz