Persona Project

Conversations with young women in the film business. by Taylor Hess

  • “What’s Pushback and What’s Just Conversation”: Director Gabriella Moses Navigates a “Potluck of Racial Identity”

    When she was growing up in Virginia Beach, Gabriella Moses was often confused for her best friend. Brown-skinned with glasses, both girls stuck out at their predominately white Catholic school, but Moses didn’t think she looked anything like her Filipina friend. When she distinguished herself as half-Guyanese, her peers hadn’t heard of the small South American country. She didn’t quite fit in at hair salons with her Dominican mom either since she didn’t speak the language. These days in New York, she’s sometimes greeted in Spanish. Others guess she’s African American. Some say bi-racial. “People want so hard to classify,”…  Read more

    On Jun 20, 2017
    By on Jun 20, 2017 Columns
  • “I Have to Feel Sincere and Real When I Do It”: Joanna Fang on the Lifestyle Work of the Foley Artist

    In Weiner, Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s documentary about Anthony Weiner’s attempted political comeback running for New York mayor, there’s a scene of Weiner shoveling a drippy deli wrap with a side of crispy fries in the back seat of his car. Between bites, Weiner chews through his hopes of a rebounding campaign after having sabotaged it by, once again, sexting on Twitter. He gazes out the car window, jaw muscles flexing, trails off mid-sentence, and dumps the plastic to-go container’s final fistful of french fries directly into his mouth. The masticating sounds of Weiner lunching were produced at Alchemy…  Read more

    On Jan 17, 2017
    By on Jan 17, 2017 Columns
  • “Storytelling in VR is Changing What We’re Used to in Traditional Film”: Yelena Rachitsky on Virtual Reality

    Is virtual reality beginning to be embraced by the mainstream? The question was raised last weekend at IFP Film Week’s Cinema in the Age of VR panel. Roughly 50 people had gathered at the Made in NY Media Center by IFP in Dumbo to hear from four pioneers working at the forefront of VR. Every year at Film Week, IFP programs The Screen Forward Conference, a six-day event that dissects the current state of independent film. Located this year in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood for the first time, the event features panels that serve as micro think tanks for the film…  Read more

    On Sep 27, 2016
    By on Sep 27, 2016 Columns
  • “I Think Filmmaking Can Also Be as Simple as Being a Good Person to Those Around You”: Paola Mottura on Film Markets and Support Programs

    In 1996, Chris Kraus traveled to Germany to attend the Berlin Film Festival. Even though the Berlinale rejected her experimental film, she was invited to screen it at the European Film Market, the business epicenter of the festival. “A profitable trade show in which product deemed unsuitable for the Festival is bought and sold,” is how Kraus later described the EFM in her 2000 book, Aliens & Anorexia. Arriving in Berlin with neither pre-arranged business meetings, networking contacts, nor party invites, the EFM was “like Room 101 in Orwell’s 1984, a cavalcade of horrors where you confront your deepest fears,”…  Read more

    On Aug 16, 2016
    By on Aug 16, 2016 Columns
  • “If the Film is the Producer’s Baby, We Fully Adopt that Baby”: Silje Glimsdal on Film Sales

    I’m talking to a young director at a film festival who hasn’t seen any movies in the festival’s program, except several in the retrospective slate. He doesn’t like to watch many contemporary films, he explains, because he’d rather be influenced only by the classic greats. Sort of pretentious, I think, not to support the work of his peers. Also, a little sneaky, to excuse himself from typical film festival banter, dodging the obligatory ego-stroking or untimely bad-mouthing that everyone else endures. But the director’s resistance to new festival favorites is not a personal judgment on their quality, he insists, but a…  Read more

    On Dec 15, 2015
    By on Dec 15, 2015 Columns
  • “I Wish Filmmakers Could Approach PR as Part of the Filmmaking Process”: Agata Burdzy on Festival Publicity

    Athens was the first European Capital of Culture in 1985. For the 2016 title, Wroclaw, Poland and San Sebastian, Spain were both selected four years ago. Since then, various cultural projects and initiatives funded by the European Commission have been developed as both cities prepare for the tourism boosts and international attention in the coming year. One of the biggest arthouse cinemas in Europe called the New Horizons Cinema, for example, opened in Wroclaw as one these projects. And with more developments underway, city pride among local inhabitants, as well as possibilities of discovery for passing travelers, flourishes. I don’t…  Read more

    On Sep 15, 2015
    By on Sep 15, 2015 Columns
  • “We Couldn’t Do Our Jobs If We Weren’t Social People”: Diane Henderson on Festival Programming

    I’m chastising two filmmakers for walking out of Nanni Moretti’s My Mother, the closing night film at the New Horizons Film Festival in Wroclaw. I make some argument about how films, even bad ones, deserve the attention of at least their running times, and I gloat about having suffered through the entirety of Moretti’s newest flop myself. Two weeks later, on my second morning at the Locarno Film Festival, while watching the World Premiere of Chantal Akerman’s No Home Movie, which will premiere in the U.S. later this fall at the New York Film Festival, I’m almost amused by the…  Read more

    On Aug 25, 2015
    By on Aug 25, 2015 Columns
  • “This is Supposedly the Age for Things to Come Together More…”: Sabrina Dridje on Business and Technology

    I’ve owned seven different glasses since my first pair at eight years old. My short-sighted impairment has gotten worse over the years, but I’ve recently grown out of my astigmatism. Looking through someone else’s lenses and accurately guessing the prescription is my favorite party trick, even though I’m probably just impressing myself. Nevertheless, I’m well-versed in the topic of being near-sighted. Though it’s not uncommon, being near-sighted feels like a significant trait, impacting how I see and, depending on whether I wear glasses or contacts, how others see me. I like how being near-sighted is described as a “defining characteristic”…  Read more

    On Aug 7, 2015
    By on Aug 7, 2015 Columns
  • “Kickstarter is Based on Such an Optimistic View of Humanity — That People will Give to an Idea”: Liz Cook on Crowdfunding

    I’m sitting in a small cinema in Berlin watching Mad Max: Fury Road, thrilled by the action and by the fight for freedom. Less thrilling is the guilty reminder of today’s massacres in Syria or human trafficking epidemic. I feel a similar pang of conscience while re-reading passages from Medea during real-life Greek tragedy, while the potential Grexit compromises the entire economic stability of the Eurozone. I’m torn between bearing the responsibility of world strife personally, as a passive consumer, and indirectly, as a helpless Samaritan. I can sometimes evade my guilty conscience by damning society. But even then, I’m…  Read more

    On Jul 22, 2015
    By on Jul 22, 2015 Columns
  • “I’m Very Aware That in the Movies I Love There is No One Who Looks Like Me”: Lauren Domino on Producing in New Orleans

    When Miles Davis moved to the Upper West Side in 1958, backyard jams with visiting musicians transformed the small block. His residency lasted about 25 years, so he was long gone by the time I moved in to the building next door. But I was there for the block party last year when the street was renamed in his honor. In spite of the loudspeaker recordings, I got to hear the street on jazz. And immersed in the throngs of his friends and relatives, I felt transported. The next day, walking past a new 24hr CVS on the nearby corner,…  Read more

    On Jun 9, 2015
    By on Jun 9, 2015 Columns
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