Screening Room To Host Forum On Female Filmmakers

By Jack Shea
The Daily News of Newburyport, Mass.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Several top female filmmakers with ties to the Boston area will come together to discuss the many responsibilities of leading a production.

NEWBURYPORT

This Sunday, the public will have a chance to receive a behind-the-scenes look at filmmaking from a female perspective.

“Women Behind the Lens: A Women’s HerStory Film Forum,” will be held at the Screening Room at 7 p.m.

Three Boston and New York City women filmmakers representing feature film and documentary writing, production and cinematography, will discuss and contrast their approaches to making motion pictures.

It’s one of the crowning events of Women’s HerStory Month, a citywide celebration of local female artists and perspectives through many modes of storytelling sponsored by The Actors Studio of Newburyport and featured each weekend throughout March.

The event was developed by Actors Studio board member Adair Rowland, who wanted to find the backstory of women in filmmaking while delving into the creative process behind an artistically demanding mode of storytelling.

“When we think of storytelling, we think of writing but the whole idea of telling a story with moving pictures is a completely different mindset,” Rowland said.

The event was originally to be hosted by writer and director Nikole Beckwith, a Newburyport native who has gone on to have success in the filmmaking industry, especially through her debut film “Stockholm, Pennsylvania”.

The feature film has gone from the Sundance Film Festival to the Lifetime TV network.

Beckwith, who was filming in California, realized she could not return in time for the event and instead opted for a prerecorded interview that will be incorporated into the discussion.

In her place, two other award-winning filmmakers stepped up to carry out the forum, including Tracy Heather Strain, who has received national attention for “Sighted Eyes, Feeling Heart,” which aired in January on PBS’ “American Experience”.

Strain is a co-founder of a Boston-based production company, The Film Posse, and teaches film studies at Northeastern University.

Her co-host for the event, Allie Humenuk, is a woman actually shouldering the camera — an Emmy-nominated cinematographer in film and television who also shoots and directs her own films.

Her most recent is a film festival favorite that aired on PBS, “The Guys Next Door,” which follows the quest of two men to start a family with a surrogate mother and their move to a new town over the course of the pregnancy and child’s infancy.

The filmmakers will discuss their focus on finding and framing stories cinematically, and how to establish trust and rapport on a set, whether in working with actors or depicting real people’s lives.

They will discuss the many responsibilities that must be taken up in leading a production, including financing, filming, editing, marketing, promoting and screening, and will explore their dedication to their craft.

Rowland said the three filmmakers’ combined experience in multiple genres will provide a lively discussion and a culturally diverse perspective on process, the industry, and the fascinating stories they tell through the medium of film.

And while she didn’t want the event to seem politicized, Rowland said the forum naturally touches on the subject of being a woman working in the very male-dominated film industry.

“There is something different about how women look at things and how that translates on a film set — and how that translates to how they frame a story is worth discussion,” Rowland said.

Rowland said the filmmakers’ stories are integral to Women’s HerStory Month, and carry a message that she believes can be appreciated by all audiences.

“I think it will appeal to anybody because it’s the stories that unite us,” Rowland said.

The Screening Room is at 82 State St. Tickets for the forum are $15 at the door (cash only) or online at Newburyportacting.org and Brownpapertickets.com.

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