GETTING READY: TAKING OUR MOCKINGBIRD TO INDEPENDENT FILM WEEK
I am Sandy Jaffe, a Boston area filmmaker, and I will be reporting my experience bringing Our Mockingbird to Independent Film Week/Spotlight on Documentaries. This is my first time at Independent Film Week and I am thrilled to get the opportunity to share my work with this community.
Our Mockingbird is a story about To Kill A Mockingbird, and why it still resonates in our national discourse about race, class, and justice. And believe me, it does. Even before all the hoopla about the fiftieth anniversary, barely a day passed where my Google alert wasn’t vibrating with stories that touched on some aspect of the book and its impact on American culture. It’s also a subject of great interest across the pond, and in non-English speaking countries like Denmark and Germany where they don’t even have a word for mockingbird because there is no such creature.
I grew up in Alabama and To Kill A Mockingbird has long been a part of my consciousness. I had been thinking about making this documentary for a long time and, finally, in early 2006 I decided to test the waters and took a camera into a Boston high school classroom where the students were making presentations on themes they found in the book. What I experienced in that classroom, their discussions about outsiders, tolerance, and social justice, convinced me that I should push forward, and I left committed to making Our Mockingbird. Now, almost five years later, I am nearing the finish line.
My preparation for Independent Film Week has been a great motivator for me to get my website together and jump into my outreach strategy. Though my film will most likely be longer than the 56 minutes I initially envisioned, the website has given me a home in which I can begin to share clips that won’t make it into the film.
And, creating the IFW screener, taking a 70-minute cut and pulling 20 minutes out of it, really helped me rethink certain sections and how to tighten them in the larger piece. So every step that I’ve taken in preparation for next week, though it’s made me bleary eyed and sleep deprived, has helped me focus the film on a number of levels that will push it forward and out into the universe.
I can’t wait to get to New York and immerse myself in Independent Film Week — meet other filmmakers and hear about their projects, wax poetic about my own project to some pretty fabulous industry people who have asked for meetings, and learn from the experts who have come to speak about filmmaking in today’s market. I’m looking forward to blogging during the week about my experience.