Cutting Edge Collaborators: Women Achieving in Film

Here it is!  Video clips from the amazing panel I had the honor of speaking on at the Cannes Film Festival hosted by Hewlett Packard.  Here's the official description and all of the official videos are below.

The numbers for women in film have historically been slim but the tides are turning, particularly in independent film. Through advocacy, action and creative collaborations, women in film are changing the landscape of the industry.  At this panel, hosted by HP, filmmakers discuss how technology and positive persistence moved their projects forward, breathing new life into independent filmmaking. HP is proud to showcase women redefining independence and achieving in documentary and independent dramatic filmmaking at the 68th Cannes Film Festival.  

Panel Participants:
Helen O’Hara (moderator/ not pictured) – Film Journalist
Kylie Flavell- TV Host, Producer, DP & Editor
Grace McPhillips- Actress and Executive Producer of The Other One, Sterling Rock Productions
Komal Minhas- Producer of Dream, Girl and Owner of KoMedia, Inc.
Susie Wilson- Producer at Dwarf Labs
Kate Perotti- Producer of Heatstroke, (Gus Van Sant EP) and CEO of Edendale Pictures


CLICK HERE to see full bios and a DEMO REEL of all of our work.


"Making it happen... It's never too late... I did it for me... Not waste time and teach myself... I need to help bring this story to life."  -Panelists from HP Cutting Edge Collaborators: Women Achieving in Film

For women in the film industry is it important to be multi-skilled?

"It's imperative so you can have empathy for the crew you're working with." -Kylie Flavell

"Give yourself permission." - Grace McPhillips

"Never ask someone something that you wouldn't be able to do yourself." -Kate Perotti

What is the best way for women to get into film production?

"Show up and follow through. Don't be scared of MONEY."
-Komal Minhas

"You can't tell yourself it's not meant to be... you can make it work."  -Kylie Flavell

"Life is so busy... email them again and email them again."
-Grace McPhillips

What are the major barriers for women in film production?

"Self Sabotage. Sometimes you have to talk yourself off the cliff."  -Grace McPhillips
"Over thinking things... mindfulness is important... I go looking for snakes!"  -Susie Wilson
"I think we get caught up in taking care of others... we've got to take care of ourselves."  -Kate Perotti
"Don't be so hard on yourself.  Everything takes time."  
-Komal Minhas
"While you're waiting, just keep working. If you're waiting for that filmmaking fairy godmother- you can waste your whole life not being creative."  -Kylie Flavell

How do you encourage more women into film production?

"We are the wave... How can the media help? ...the media needs to be in this room, and they need to not compare me, Grace McPhillips the "Independent Female Filmmaker" with Lana Wachowski the "Independent Female Filmmaker." -Grace McPhillips

"In a decade two thirds of consumer wealth will belong to women... It's an economic choice if we want to move past the moral choice that we are here representing."  -Komal Minhas

Cannes Cutting Edge Collaborators: women Achieving in Film Q&A

"Have any of you been to film school?"

"How do you make Hollywood films in a male dominated world?"

"How do you feel about transgender roles and does it compliment the women in film movement?"

"I've been told I say "SORRY" to much... How do you stop saying sorry?"

"Where is the money in an online premiere?"

"Can you recommend production finance companies, investors, or distributors who are sympathetic to women's films?"

"What organizations have you been a member of that have helped you get to where you are today?"

"How do you maintain your femininity when on set without being or feeling discriminated?"

"What do you look for in a production designer, or your crew?"

"Being a woman, has your appearence been a factor in what you are doing professionally?"

And... I drop a bit of a truth bomb at the end in regards to Women's Film Festivals.  Thankfully it's one that is changing, but sadly for my film the timing has passed.  Hopefully the definition of the female filmmaker will continue to expand and we'll see more and more women in all roles of filmmaking.

PLEASE Share these videos, Comment below and
let me know your thoughts.  
It's all about giving each other a helping hand up.

And enormous THANKS to Hewlett Packard for continuing this conversation and celebrating women who are making it happen!  

This panel was a terrific success with, as you can see, standing room only, and another 453 people were streaming the conversation live on Perioscope.  

And... I'd be remiss if I wasn't able to thank the MANY people who helped put this panel together from the HP Team in Europe- Cesare Zavalloni, Delphine Simiand, Danelle White, Nikhil Kalanjee, Adam Lannon, Jean-Pierre La Calvez and Marie Odile-Guenin, our friends at Doremus- Heather Moorehouse and Josh Feldberg, George Lenny at Edelman, and the US team who brought the first panel to Sundance and helped nurture that conversation into this panel at Cannes, Rick Champagne, Rick Hohmann, Penny Malsch, and Robert Dieterle.  Your support of the independent female filmmaker is AWESOME.  THANK YOU. THANK YOU.

On a final note of thanks we co-promoted our panel along with the panel- Women Make Great Movies: Strategies for Success which was equally well attended and made some great points towards the necessity of quotas to turn the tides since we know that cultural perceptions won't change soon enough.  This was all started by Melissa Silverstein who is a great champion for Women in Film. If you believe in supporting female filmmakers, and I know you do because you made it all the way to the bottom of my blog, please share #seehernow and join the movement. Our collective helping hands is the way up!

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.

Epic Producer's Patio- Sundance Panel- Why Female Filmmakers are Good Investments!

Maybe you were there and want to hear the goodness again, or maybe you weren't able to be at Sundance with us, but either way, as promised, here is the recording of the panel discussion!



Nina Yang Bongiovi, Angela C. Lee, Julie Parker-Benello, Michele Turnure-Salleo, Jennifer Phang, and Grace McPhillips, HP Sundance House 2015

Nina Yang Bongiovi, Angela C. Lee, Julie Parker-Benello, Michele Turnure-Salleo, Jennifer Phang, and Grace McPhillips, HP Sundance House 2015

Learn more about the Sundance Successes!

  • Full list of all Sundance Award Winning Films 
    • San Francisco Film Society supported films: U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Collaborative Vision: "Advantageous," Jacqueline Kim and Jennifer Phang/ U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Verite Filmmaking: "Western," Directors: Bill and Turner Ross

    • Chicken and Egg Pictures supported films: U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Break Out First Feature -"(T) error" by Lyric Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe/ Directing Award for World Cinema Documentary- "Dreamcatchers" by Kim Longinotto 

  • DOPE- PRESS New York Times

Technical Note/ Apology- I am a VO Artist and certainly know better, when dealing with microphones, but you will hear a little bauble noise every now and then from, eh ehm... my necklace.  I want to apologize for that but also say it was worth it.  I was wearing the words of Helen Keller "Life is either a great adventure or nothing." If you know me well, you know I grew up not only under the legend of the Fitzgeralds, but in the home of Mildred Tyson, Helen's sister.  The south is full of inspiring women and along with having the honor of moderating a conversation with these inspiring women, I proudly to wore the words of Helen! Words to live by!