Category Archives: history

A Soft Spot in my Heart for Independent Film

14766111811_1b259a3065_zFor better or worse, I grew up on television. We had all the cable TV channels and little supervision or limits. So I spent a lot of my younger days watching a whole lot of independent film. Many I watched over and over because they aired 3 times-a-day.

As I’ve gotten older, and now that I’ve actually tried to make some films myself, I have grown a more discerning eye for quality and a much greater respect for the artists that make film.

It seems everyone is a critic these days and not afraid to say how great or terrible a movie is. But once you try to make one yourself, you learn how much hard work, follow-through, and attention to detail it requires just to make an absolutely awful film, let alone a great one worth showing to anyone.

Being a film director is hard work. Being a successful one is considered a long-shot. Trying to become a successful female filmmaker, or female filmmaker of color, might feel even more impossible when you discover the statistics.

  • Most female filmmakers made only one film in the last decade.
  • Female directors face an age limit—they work from 30s-60s. Males work from 20s-80s.
  • 83.3% of women of color made 1 top film from 2007-2016 vs 54.3% of non-Black/non-Asian males.
  • Of 1,114 directors of 1,000 top films in the last decade, 4% were female.
  • The first African-American female directors backed by major film studios didn’t occur until as late as 1989-1991!

From: Inclusion in the Director’s Chair? Gender, Race, & Age of Film Directors Across 1,000 Films from 2007-2016 by Dr. Stacy L. Smith, Dr. Katherine Pieper, & Marc Choueiti. The Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative. February 2017. Annenburg Foundation.

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Florida Hall of Fame filmmaker Lucy Morgan, c 1985.

When I was asked to work with a new 4-day film festival in my area of the Pacific Northwest, specifically sharing the films of female directors, I couldn’t have been more honored. CASCADIA International Women’s Film Festival launches this April 20-23. Check them out and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They’re also mentioned in my most recent WhatcomTalk.com article about the upcoming independent-film-viewing opportunities in my area.

This festival and the others like it will be helping to tip the scales and make the stats above a more distant part of our history.

Finding Your Own Path to Activism

Over the past two weeks, since the Presidential Inauguration, everyone I know is unsettled. No matter who they voted for. Perhaps that is the upside of the upset. Perhaps this is what we needed. Even though it doesn’t feel good or satisfying, perhaps these benefits are worth it?

  • To be clear about how we feel on the issues.
  • To dialogue with those we disagree with.
  • For more people to take action to support what’s important to them.
  • For people to share their money in support of the causes they care about.
  • To be reminded that our point of view isn’t the only point of view.
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By Chad A. Stevens, milesfrommaybe Productions. From the film Overburden about Lorelei Scarbro who became a community organizer in the campaign to build an industrial wind farm along the ridges of mountain whose coal mine killed her husband.

I’ve used my work as a teacher, writer, and now as a marketing strategist to support the causes–and the people and businesses–I believe in.

I worked in Superfund clean up as a US EPA contractor because I believe in clean air and water and healthy ecosystems for people, for living things, and for the future of the planet.

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By Chad A. Stevens, milesfrommaybe Productions. From the documentary flm Overburden. Nonviolent protest on Coal River Mountain on a mountaintop removal preparation site.

I managed chemistry laboratories and taught environmental science at a State University training the future scientists, policy-makers, and planners that will lead us to problem-solving in future generations.

I worked in special education for little pay for years because I believe in the impact public school can have on the lives of special needs children.

I write about theater, music, the arts, environmental innovation, and buying local and supporting local businesses because I believe in their value–for myself, for my family, and for our communities.

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Bellingham Theatre Guild’s 2015 production of The Drowsy Chaperone.

My writing, my communication, and how I approach them are my activism. Perhaps all that’s going on in the world right now is a sign. A sign that its time to wake up, look outside ourselves, and find our own activism.

If we don’t hear the call, we just might lose the freedoms we’ve been taking for granted, the privileges given to us by the activists who came before us. Those activists were every day people. Writers, lawyers, teachers, cooks, students, parents, preachers, nurses, policemen, and even politicians. They are us and we are them.

3684396632_34a663e190_zAnother upside: the action is not hard to find anymore. Don’t be overwhelmed. Choose your cause and pledge to yourself to do some small things. Now and from now on. Add your voice. We can do little alone, but together we are mighty.

Here are seven articles I’ve written so far in 2017 in support of the arts and human rights. Take a look, appreciate the arts, the environment, the rights you enjoy. Then find your activism and get involved.

Mount Baker Theatre Resident Ghost Judy is Blushing in Anticipation of The Irish Rovers and We Banjo 3 at Whatcomtalk.com

Resident Ghost Judy Can’t Wait for Mount Baker Theatre Education Shows at Whatcomtalk.com

Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival Explores Critical Issues at Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism Insider Blogs

Art, Nature, History, and Fun at Whatcom Museum in Bellingham at Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism Insider Blogs

Celebrate the Tribute Act at Mount Baker Theater at Whatcomtalk.com

Join Whatcom County’s Vibrant Poetry Scene at Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism Insider Blogs

Appreciating the Poetry of Whatcom County at WhatcomTalk.com

 

Tribute Bands Rock!

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Gary Mullen has spent 13 years channeling the power and energy of Freddie Mercury. Photo courtesy of Mount Baker Theatre.

 

Since I was a teen, whenever I’ve been looking for inspiration, for motivation, for perseverance when things feel hard, I’ve turned to Queen. Singing “We are the Champions” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” quietly in my head, or at the top of my lungs, has always helped me through.

When I was urgently paddling a kayak in a storm in British Columbia’s Queen Charlotte Islands, wondering if I would have to self-rescue, I sang Queen. When my newborn twins cried in stereo and nothing would soothe them, I sang Queen. When I ran my first, and last 5K, I sang Queen. Although Freddie Mercury passed away when I was still a teen, their iconic songs live on in recordings and through live performance by the Tribute Band.

It was cathartic for me to write about the beauty of the Tribute Act for my WhatcomTalk.com piece about one of the Queen Tribute Band that is part of Mount Baker Theatre‘s program this year. Get your tickets and say thank you for the inspiration and memories.

The Value of Independence

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You probably don’t see an obvious connection between independent film and politics, but right now, its all up in my face.

I wrote this Bellingham Experience Insider Blog about my community’s independent film theater, Pickford Film Center, for Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism because it is one of the many things that makes my city great. It began, and remains, independent. Its programs, films, and decisions are made locally, by a non-profit board, for the betterment of film, the community, and education. The concerns of profit and shareholders don’t need to be included in decision-making, nor is their content dictated at a corporate level. These are among the many things I love about them.

Did I just go see a multi-billion dollar Rogue One Star Wars franchise film yesterday at the mega-plex and love it? Yes. My point is that we must preserve independent operations at the local level and not allow them to be overtaken by the big girls. Because individual choice–freedom–is among our highest ideals as a nation. If our choices become too narrow because of our profit motivations, then we, by default, are slowly losing that freedom. Will some of us be content eating only apples and oranges? Sure. But once the bananas disappear from the store front, once other options are removed from infrastructure, it will be a hell of an effort to get them back.

The meaning of the word ‘independent’ calls back to our earliest days as a country and today, our right, our duty, our responsibility to protect and preserve it is more relevant than ever.

 

Channeling a Ghost for the Holidays

Momix at Mount Baker Theater.

Momix at Mount Baker Theater.

I am honored to be a part of Mount Baker Theatre’s (MBT’s) brilliance. Since the fall, they have allowed their resident ghost Judy to channel her thoughts about the beautiful, historic theater through me.

This week Judy is helping Pacific Northwesterners cross a few things off their holiday shopping list by giving the gift of a MBT experience through my WhatcomTalk.com blog post.

I hope you’ll appreciate how much fun it is to be Judy. I’ve always wanted a writing gig like Dear Sugar where I can give advice and thoughts anonymously. For now, this is the next best thing.

Theater in Bellingham

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BTG’s 2008 production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

I love Bellingham and all it has to offer. We’re fortunate to have local original theater, improv, dance, and even nationally touring shows that stop by. I enjoy blogging for Bellingham Experience Whatcom County Tourism about the theater, music, and the arts that contribute to the culture and entertainment in our community. My hope is that by writing about them, I’ll bring them more attention, help them reach new audiences, and hopefully be appreciated more fully.

I got to speak with my friend Jeff Braswell, Bellingham Theatre Guild’s (BTG’s) publicity director, about all the exciting upgrades that are happening there, and just in time for their production of White Christmas. Please check out my blog post and then help BTG spread the word.

Expanding Theater in Whatcom County

idiom-move-sylvia-centerI’ve had the pleasure of performing in locally-written plays at the iDiOM Theatre for many years. It was my honor to perform in the first 48-Hour Theatre Festival at the new Sylvia Center for the Arts, and the home of the new iDiOM Theatre.

My Insider Blog for Bellingham Experience via Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism shares what felt like an historic experience, including a video recording of my performance, as well as all that’s happening at Sylvia as a result of the hard work of Artistic Director Glenn Hergenhahn-Zhao, the Board, and the volunteers in Bellingham’s incredible theater community.