SPRING 2020 NEWSLETTER and MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: MOLLYE ASHER
NEW YEAR, NEW YOU
Welcome! We hope this finds you and yours safe and healthy. The past few months have been extremely challenging for our members, families and friends. Many have experienced sickness or suffered a great personal loss. Our lives have been turned upside down by a virus that we still know so little about. Thankfully, we can keep our spirits up by connecting virtually with members of our community and beyond.
We look forward to reconnecting in person as soon as it’s safe, but meanwhile we met online last month with much success. We used the WEBEX platform and were able to bring together about 20 members to participate in our first virtual soiree. Our session opened with a guided meditation conducted by Rochelle White of Creative Mindz Yoga, and was followed by a bevy of resource sharing before ending with our usual ‘asks and offers.’ Seeing everyone’s faces and hearing their voices was comforting and uplifting.
The serious health and safety issues related to Covid-19 forced most WIP members to stop producing hundreds of projects, instead managing the best we can to stay healthy and productive. On the bright site, several WIP members are still busy developing narrative, doc and podcast projects, working virtually through Zoom and other online platforms. Members like, Bronwyn Berry are producing a music documentary; Erin Miller is working for a Nashville-based production company still busy developing projects and Adetoro Makinde is coordinating vfx with a South African production team. It just goes to show that producers will always be the backbone of production no matter the situation.
Our WIP board members are still actively meeting to plan more exciting opportunities and events for our members, as well as reviewing submissions from potential new members. For a look back at our first quarter in 2020, we gathered in January for a festive makeover and headshot event at the MAC Pro studio in SoHo.
With a focus on producers defining their visual brand, the event featured hands-on instruction with expert make up advice from three MAC Pro artists, fashion styling tips, a professional studio headshot by Charles Chessler of Charles Chessler Photography, and a gift bag of wonderful MAC products to remember the day
In February, WIP was a co-sponsor of the Athena Film Festival, once again partnering for a week-long celebration inspiring films that tell the extraordinary stories of fierce and fearless women leaders. For March, we were all excited to partner for our third annual Tribeca Film Festival mixer before the festival was postponed. Last year’s event at The Standard Rooftop was an event not to be missed. Moving forward WIP will be expanding its presence at festival, creating greater opportunities and resources for members to take part in.
Last fall when we launched our panel series “Tales from the Set” at the IFP| Made in New York Media Center, it was nearly sold-out and proved to be both inspiring and educational. So we’ll be planning to continue the series, even virtually, along with creating a new Associate membership category for emerging artists, non-producers, and male members. Stay tuned for upcoming information on these and more.
Until then, stay safe and well.
Member Spotlight: Mollye Asher
by MK Chambers and Erin Mae Miller
Anytime a movie gets made, it’s a miracle. Anytime a movie gets made and captivates an audience, it’s an even bigger miracle. Behind these miracles are filmmakers like WIP producer, Mollye Asher.
Mollye is a Gotham Award-winning and 2020 Film Independent Spirit Award-winning producer, whose dedication to her work proves she’s an industry force and someone you really want on your team.
But Mollye’s focus wasn’t always behind the lens. A classically trained vocalist, and dancer and actor, Mollye first pursued theatre at NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts.
Post-undergrad, Mollye spent several years in a constant state of hustle, something New York performers know all too well. It wasn’t long before Mollye felt hopeless and depleted. “My whole life was in the hands of someone else,” she says. In a step toward taking back the power, Mollye and two other friends created their first short film—an experience that opened the door to another side of the entertainment industry. This motivated Mollye to pursue an MFA in filmmaking, demonstrating a level of gutsiness also evident in her approach to filmmaking now.
NYU Film School gave Mollye experience in every role, and upon graduation, she teamed up with her classmate and director, Chloé Zhao—with whom Mollye filmed Songs My Brother Taught Me, The Rider, and Nomadland (starring Frances McDormand and David Strathairn), currently in post-production and slated for release later this year.
Chloé’s non-traditional approach to filmmaking provided a different kind of on-set and producing experience for Mollye, who notes she wore many hats while working with Chloé, including working with a non-actor cast, rising before dawn to make lunches for the cast and crew, and adjusting to rapid set changes at the command of the ever changing light in the American west. Without a doubt, Mollye Asher is a woman who knows how to produce a movie despite nearly insurmountable odds.
In fact, Mollye sees challenges not only as defining opportunities to adapt, but as opportunities to “pivot,” finding an even better, more powerful way to tell the story. She fiercely believes in the creative vision of the films and backs up the filmmakers she chooses to work with by challenging and encouraging them to never settle, no matter what. What sets Mollye apart is the fact that she isn’t afraid to leap before the net appears, and she does it all for the love of film and the filmmaker. “It’s about really believing in the filmmaker.” This is the philosophy behind her work.This idea is the foundation of the Independent Spirit Award for producers, which Mollye was nominated for multiple times prior to winning the 2020 award. The winning producer is selected based on their ability to produce under difficult and challenging circumstances, something Mollye is familiar with.
Mollye recently created a film production company, The Population, with fellow producers Mynette Louie and Derek Nguyen with a goal to develop stories of underrepresented groups. They are currently in post-production for Catch the Fair One, a thriller about a Native American female boxer who searches for her missing sister.
Thank you Mollye Asher for leading the way for Women Independent Producers!