WINTER 2021 NEWSLETTER and MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: WIP BOARD MEMBERS
A NEW YEAR OF LIGHT
"For there is always light if only we are brave enough to see it. If only we are brave enough to be it." Excerpt from The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman. As creative leaders who champion projects and nurture them to life, the year 2020 will no doubt go down in our producer’s journal as the year that pushed us to the edge. Whether it was managing our uncertain consciousness, project financing crashing with Wall Street, a festival premiere turned into a Zoom link, or sifting through COVID-19-compliance guidelines from 6 feet away… we will never forget how we climbed that hill to manifest something bigger than ourselves. And so we begin this new year remembering the strength we possess to see things through, and to take fresh steps in achieving our collective goals. Without missing a beat, WIP continued its monthly soirees, expanding our reach beyond the New York base to members safely quarantined from as far away as Australia and South Africa. Now, working from a virtual world, we are excited to welcome so many new members joining the collective from other cities and countries. Building on this, our signature TALES FROM THE SET behind-the-scenes series hosted over 300 people interested in hearing the courageous, and sometimes outrageous, production stories from our fellow producers. Until we get together with another group of dynamic producers, we are excited to launch our new virtual series Martini Shots with…” Aptly named for the last shot of physical production, we will celebrate a festival premiere with a fireside chat featuring the producer and their team – martini encouraged, but not required. Take a fun ride with the film creatives, crew and/or cast as they share the behind-the-scenes journey to the screen. We look forward to hosting future Martini shots with... CUSP (Sundance Film Festival 2021) executive produced by WIP member Caitlin Gold, and MAYA AND HER LOVER (Pan African Film Festival 2021) with WIP members Trevite Willis, producer and Stephanie Dawson, associate producer, and many more women produced projects throughout the year. While we do not know when we will be able to gather in person for monthly soirees, or our wellness retreat, the WIP executive leadership continues to champion efforts in support of women independent producers. Our first order of business has been the legal filing to become a not-for-profit entity. This official change allows us to increase the network of resources and opportunities available to our members, from vendor discounts, to fiscal partnership, partner invitations and grant allocations. We are reorganizing our collective to be distinctly producer-focused and look to our WIP members and allies to actively support that mission. For members to lead the charge of our transformation, we will be instituting dues for members, beginning in March 2021. More details will be shared with members in the coming weeks. WIP is grateful for all our members, subscribers, and allies as we climb that hill together in solidarity and with purpose, towards a light that we project and a story waiting to be told. Upwards and Onward... Adetoro Makinde President & Co-Founder Women Independent Producer |WIP
Member Spotlight: WIP Board Members
by MK Chambers and Erin Mae Miller
Happy New Year to you all! Wow. What a year it has been to be a female independent producer! I’m so proud of the work and progress so many of us have made while adapting to a pandemic. To kick off 2021 I wanted you to know a little more about the women who have prioritized WIP with their time, energy, and resources, making it the community it is today. Here are some of the behind the scenes stars of WIP bringing it all together!
Adetoro Makinde, WIP’s president and co-founder, is a tireless supporter and champion for women and inclusion in our industry – she is your fierce advocate. She has premiered four films at Sundance and is currently working on a biopic about Hurricane Katrina, THE AMERICAN CAN, and a documentary about food justice in America called ROOTED. She also served as an impact producer on the Golden Globe nominated film THE TALE. She is a Made in NY Fellow, and HBO and Ford Foundation Grantee, and prior to producing she excelled as a performing artist on stage and performed with the original cast of SARAFINA! at the Kennedy Center.
One of the behind the scenes heroes and co-founding members of WIP is Stephanie Dawson, VP of Membership Operations. She works primarily as a production manager and line producer, and is also the Co-chair of the PGA East Green committee. In addition to filming during COVID, Stephanie is on top of the administrative needs of WIP – which can often take many thankless hours – so if we don’t say it enough, thank you, Stephanie! One interesting thing to note is Stephanie once had political aspirations, and was selected for Girls’ State in her home state of Ohio. She was also in the Senate Youth Program, one of two high school students chosen from Ohio to visit Washington, DC and meet congressional reps, Supreme Court Justices, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Next, I want to introduce WIP VP of Business Development and co-founder Brandi Savitt, who manages our business affairs and is leading our transformation to becoming a bonafide 501(c)(3) organization. Brandi is president of Senza Pictures – a full service production company and storytelling agency which produced THE BIRD CATCHER and THE GIRL WHO OWNED A CITY. She recently developed and produced THE TROUBLE WITH SEX podcast which she launched with WIP member Jane Applegate, and in 2020 picked up her pottery wheel again and started selling her work – which I dare say is absolutely gorgeous!
Our external advocate is Jane Applegate. Her official title is Chair of Outreach Partnerships, and she is building a robust resource bank for WIP with peer-to-peer referrals and external alliances. Remember that fun wellness event at MAC Studios? Jane was a major force in planning that wonderful event. In addition to being a producer of award-winning independent films, Jane founded Showbizing.com with fellow WIP member Julie Crosby, and is the author of four books on small business management. An interesting fact is that Jane was previously a journalist. The most unforgettable moment of her career was when she interviewed then First Lady Hillary Clinton for a Los Angeles Times column and she completely forgot her own name. Hillary eventually helped her out by saying, “Well, you must be Jane Applegate...”. That’s what 2020 is. Keep fighting. Whether that’s a pandemic or racism.”
WIP’s Advisory Board is Co-Chaired by co-founder Cornelia Ravenal, a writer-filmmaker who came to producing by way of journalism in India, scriptwriting in Sweden, and directing in France. In 2013, Cornelia invited 15 mid-career women producers to meet in her living room in NYC once a month. Three years later, it morphed into WIP. Recently, Cornelia produced the award-winning documentary MOVING STORIES and the off-Broadway, NY Times Critics Pick NIRBHAYA. Interestingly, Cornelia’s global perspectives in her work are influenced by her diverse family background, which includes all 5 major world religions.
Also joining as Co-Chair of the Advisory Board is WIP co-founder, producer, and longtime advocate for equity and inclusion in our industry, Rachel Watanabe-Batton. She has produced film, tv and popular culture for over 20 years. Current projects include Executive Producer on for the Disney+ film SNEAKERELLA, producing Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl with filmmaker Julie Dash, and serving as consulting producer for the recently released EPIX docu-series By Whatever Means Necessary.
Last, but not least, is myself, Erin Mae Miller. You have perhaps seen my Google Group emails and communication, as I am WIP’s Member Engagement Chair. Based in Nashville, I develop content as a Producer with Third Coast Content. Previously, I worked as a production executive with Big Indie Pictures and Amazon Original Movies, and produced/directed a documentary WORK AND HAPPINESS: THE HUMAN COST OF WELFARE, which premiered on PBS and PBS World in 2018. One interesting factoid is prior to opportunities behind the lens, I was the photo double, stand-in and stunt double for Isla Fisher in CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC and Kristen Bell in WHEN IN ROME. So there you have it. Thanks for being a part of the WIP journey, and we look forward to seeing you at our next event.