FALL 2022 NEWSLETTER | Member Spotlight KAVERY KAUL
Letter From the President
AIM To Succeed
“Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes.” ~ Maggie Kuhn
It's almost the end of another monumental production year, and WIP is now celebrating it's one year anniversary since becoming approved as a 501(c)6 nonprofit membership organization. This means we've officially been recognized as a collective of Women Producers existing for the well-being and support of our members.
With our new membership dues structure and a permanent fiscal sponsor in place, WIP is using its resources for strategic amplification and network engagement. With in-person film festivals back in business, it's time to get to work.
Highlights so far this year include our Pop-Up Happy Hour events supporting the NY premiere screening of our member films COAST with producers Dani Faith Leonard & Alex Cirillo and DOWN WITH THE KING (Cannes 2021) with producer Kim Jackson & UPM Stephanie Dawson. Fostering our invaluable resource for peer to peer insight, we recently launched "Afternoon Tea," a midday member-only specialist chat providing inside tips and tricks from working Producers.
WIP is always thrilled to celebrate the continued success of our members, among them the Disney+ release of SNEAKERELLA from Executive Producer Rachel Watanabe-Batton, the Hollywood mega database IMDBPro's "Producer To Watch 2022" (Adetoro Makinde and Amanda Naseem), Full Sail University Hall of Fame inductee (Stephanie Dawson), NY Foundation of the Arts Women's Fund recipient (Adetoro Makinde) and the film acquisition of GOOD EGG, produced by Dorottya Mathe acquired ahead of its premiere at the Bentonville Film Festival and NY premiere at Urbanworld Film Festival, and the HBO documentary "Milestone Generations" produced by Mandy Goldberg and featuring WIProducer Jenette Khan.
Other milestones include the premiere of IN THE WAKE OF MOURNING (Adetoro Makinde) at the Woodstock and Urbanworld Film Festivals. Nora Jacobson's RUTH STONE'S VAST LIBRARY OF THE FEMALE MIND screened at the Santa Fe International Film Festival as well as the Reading FilmFest (which is headed by our very own Tracy Schott. Featured member Kavery Kaul's film THE BENGALI premiered at DOC NYC in 2021 and was released theatrically this year.
Our members were represented on panels this summer. Nicole Sylvester was featured on a panel on Microbudget Films at Gotham Week. Stephanie Dawson moderated presentations on sustainable filmmaking at Gotham Week, Film Independent Forum, and the Sustainable Production Forum. Dani Faith Leonard's ongoing series "Adult Sex Ed" returned to in-person performances.
WIP continues to evolve, and after several years of requests, we will soon be launching an Associate Membership tier for women-identifying, non-binary emerging Producers who wish to join our collective. Membership criteria and submission details are available on our website. Remembering our early start as Producers, this offering hopes to create a circle of support for a community of rising artists in a cultivated space.
Women Independent Producers is excited for our next chapter, continuing the mission goal to secure equitable access, information and money (AIM) towards our vision and personal success. We appreciate all our members, allies and partners, as we look forward to the journey ahead. Upwards and Onward... Adetoro Makinde President & Co-Founder Women Independent Producer
KAVERY KAUL: Defying the Naysayers
by Erin Mae Miller
“Rarely has reality needed so much to be imagined.” Chris Marker
WIP filmmaker Kavery Kaul loves this quote, and it marks the wonder and drive that fuels her filmmaking. Born in Kolkata India and raised in America, Kavery’s journey highlights her ability and desire to do hard things. She’s a humble spirit, who glosses over the fact that she graduated with a literature degree from Harvard at 19 years old. She’s remarkably brilliant, and leans into the art, adventure, and adversity of filmmaking.
A woman embracing life’s adventures, Kavery moved to Paris upon graduation, where she worked in an editing room handling film. “It was all very exciting. Paris taught me about editing; because I wanted to be a director, it taught me what to get to make the story.”
Venturing into producing was born out of necessity for Kavery. She was a director, but now she also needed money and a plan to make that dream a reality. In the 1980s, there were few women making documentaries, but that did not deter her. “Funding the stories I wanted to make was an enormous challenge." So I fell into producing… I embraced it… I tried to tell them that all films are made by dreamers that inspire others to laugh and cry and think. I tried to tell them that all stories are local and global. It’s all connected.” The first film Kavery produced was FIRST LOOK about two painters from Cuba. “I had to get to Cuba and film was so expensive.” This is where Kavery shares her gratitude for the people along the way who saw the significance of her projects. For FIRST LOOK, she was slipped short ends from a contact who worked at a network. “It was a big lesson, beyond raising money, producing is about building alliances, sometimes in unlikely places, like short ends or airlines.”
Shortly into our conversation, Kavery wanted to emphasize her appreciation for WIP. “I love being a WIPster because it’s a very special group of producers. We’re fierce, determined, and celebrate each other’s successes, but never lose sight of the challenges we face. It’s one of those steps as a producer that helps you move forward. It’s a safe place.” This is in sharp contrast to her early career, “there weren’t mentors… It was a very isolating experience.” Occasionally men in the industry encouraged her along the way but they “were little islands in the vast stormy waters.” And now with WIP, “we’re able to say ‘We’re talking, you need to hear.’”
One area that I personally admire about Kavery is her example as a mother and a filmmaker. Producers who are mothers feel a tension between the roles - and personal goals, ambitions, and dreams are weighed in the process. To hear and see Kavery’s example is a privilege - it’s an example she never had. “As a mother and a filmmaker: I always worry about people who say it was easy… The challenges were overwhelming. I wanted to be at home for bedtime. I didn’t want to be in another timezone. So I found subjects I could pursue in the NY area. My late husband was very supportive. One of the greatest moments of my life was overhearing [my daughters] talking to some friends, ‘My mom is making a film of three girls in a school!’” Their support through the years has been amazing. Now hopefully we can say, “get real. I’m a mom and a filmmaker. Both are important.”
One perspective of Kavery’s struck so true about the current climate of independent producing. She said, “The value of the independent producer is that we take on stories that others may not take on. And that is not recognized… The philosophy of the business is that if you are an independent filmmaker, you should just be proud that your film is being seen. You do the work, you take the risk, but where’s the compensation? This is a business.” Kavery’s hope (as is mine) is that “we can bring about the changes we need in our lifetime… it’s urgent, but I have to add that if we don’t do it, our children will. We can’t lose hope. Our films outlast the naysayers.” Kavery, we are so honored to have you in our ranks of women producers. You courageously tells stories of cultural importance! We’re cheering you on as you take out your most recent film THE BENGALI! Thank you for being a WIPster!
MEET OUR NEW MEMBERS
ORGs We Think You Should Know About
NYWIFT: New York Women in Film & Television advocates for equality in the moving image industry and supports women in every stage of their careers.
FILM FATALES: Community of women feature film and television directors
BROWN GIRL DOC MAFIA: Initiative advocating for women and non-binary people of color working in the documentary film industry around the world
DEAR PRODUCER: a platform where producers share their experiences, celebrate achievements, and provide mentorship for the next generation.
PGA: Producer Guild of America is a 501 trade association representing television producers, film producers and New Media producers in the United States.
WIF LA: Women In Film advocates for and advances the careers of women working in the screen industries—to achieve parity and transform culture.
NALIP: The National Association of Latino Independent Producers seeks to change media culture by advocating and promoting the professional needs of Latinx artists in media.
CAAM: The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to presenting stories that convey the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences to the broadest audience possible.
NYMI: The mission of New York Media Initiative is to come alongside media professionals, inspiring, equipping, and serving current and future leaders with a passion to use their profession to make a difference globally.
THE GOTHAM: The Gotham celebrates and nurtures independent film and media creators, providing career-building resources, access to industry influencers, and pathways to wider recognition.
SUNDANCE INSTITUTE: The institute is driven by its programs that discover and support independent filmmakers, theatre artists and composers from all over the world.
PRODUCERS UNION: The Producers Union aims to organize fiction, feature film producers in an effort to fight for equitable pay, protect producers’ creative rights, and to define, amplify and advance the role of the producer
BFTC: The Black TV & Film Collective facilitates career-advancing opportunities for creators of Black and African descent to achieve financial sustainability within the entertainment industry
DPA: The Documentary Producers Alliance sets standards for inclusive, sustainable and equitable business practices based on research, collective experience and input from strategic partners, amplifying the voice of documentary producers worldwide, while educating the industry about producers’ essential role from development through financing, production and distribution.
RESOURCES FOR CREATIVES: A list of grants, funds, and programs for women filmmakers
SUNDANCE Co//ab: Learn from a community of Sundance Advisors offering Masterclasses, webinars and more. (free memberships currently available)
FREELANCERS HUB: A community space designed to help New York City's freelancers
MOME: The City of New York Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment initiatives to address the underrepresentation of female and female-identifying creatives in film, television, and theatre.
ACTORS FUND: A partnership with other entertainment industry organizations to provide emergency financial assistance to those in immediate financial need.