I can confidently say that the experience of making Like the Water changed my life. We set out, a group of women friends, to make a film that utterly bucks the trend. We didn’t really know that’s what we were doing, mind you. We thought we were making a movie about a young woman’s journey into herself that might speak to other women like us. In the process of making the film, we also wanted to demonstrate – despite what every women-centered reality show will have you believe – that more than fighting, we collaborated with one another, supported each other, and were as a team much greater than the sum of our parts.
Finding funding for a bunch of first time filmmakers who are gearing their story towards an otherwise under-served (and therefore, mostly unproven) audience is an uphill battle, to say the least. We had many moments along the way where we nearly threw in the towel. We talked of pushing back production to the following year, of changing the parameters of the project and making a short, of scrapping it all together. And this was where it was crucial that we were a team: one person would dig in her heels and say, “No, we’re not giving up yet.” As individuals we sometimes fell prey to our fears, but as a group we were hungry for something larger than ourselves, something that would demand we all grow into the space it created.
And the experience of producing a micro-budget feature: the generosity of spirit, the personal risks, the hard work, the advice, the solace, the humor – the whole village it took to make it happen – gave me the confidence to strike out on my own and found Seed&Spark, a production company and digital platform I hope will help other filmmakers like us tell their stories their way and build their communities as they go. Building this new platform has me doing a lot of reading on everything from start-up funding to new financing models to personal narratives of filmmakers. Yesterday I read something in a Venture Capital advice column that put Steve Jobs’ famous words on what was perhaps my most valuable lesson from the women of Like the Water:
Don’t give up. Don’t celebrate to early, either. Know that it will demand more than you think you have. It’s a long road and at every turn you benefit from putting one foot in front of the other because sometimes that’s all you can do.
I have many days where I don’t feel like doing anything, sitting alone in my office with the demand: “Make something happen!” But I’ll get an email from Caroline about a great offer of support from a film festival colleague or an update from Susan Main on a class she’s teaching in Italy or news from Caitlin that she’s booked another amazing acting job and I am reminded that we succeed because we are hungry to do more, to excel, to turn our ideas into realities.
And so I write the next iteration of the business plan. Or I call the person I’ve been shy to call. One foot in front of the other. Hungry.