A personal perspective from Lea-Ann W. Berst – Pioneers in Skirts™ Producer & Writer
I am a bit surprised at the dreams I’ve been having when I sleep. Since they are parallel representations of what I experience during the day, I can’t help but chuckle when I realize my dreams are telling me my awake-time are a little too intense. And, because I cannot resolve my feelings during the day – I dream about them.
Yeah, you don’t need to tell me — I need to chill.
Recently I dreamt I was attending college to learn about a subject that was foreign to me. It made me feel anxious about being able to fit in as well as pass the classes. In my dream, I didn’t have the money to afford college and found myself in a constant mode of stress over scholarship application deadlines and the fear of being denied.
I wake every morning living in a foreign world of “filmmaking.” Even though Pioneers in Skirts is my second documentary film – and I’ve been somewhat involved in several narrative films, I’m a business person by training. I have a long ways to go in order to be the skilled filmmaker my counterparts are.
But my most disturbing dream/real-life parallel is the fear of rejection. It is so very real. By day, I have gradually become numb from the grant rejection notices and non-replies from the people I have contacted. By night, well…I suppose I’m not as numb as I thought.
Our team has to keep trying –
We’ve applied for grants, ran a Kickstarter campaign that included the worlds first Kickstarter 360 update video (intended to impress and engage), traded favors to the point we’re physically exhausted, have reached far outside our comfort zone when asking friends and family and strangers for individual contributions, and have approached organizations about the value of teaming with us and sponsoring the film. Fundraising has taken up much more time than we have, but we keep working hard at it. Really…we do.
But making a documentary costs more money and time than people realize –
Because of the storytelling process, and because of how difficult it is to raise filmmaking funds – a documentary typically takes a good 5 years to make. Oh sure, making an impact film does help with fundraising, but there are just too many documentary filmmakers out there who are asking for money to help them start and complete impact films.
It’s a real good problem to have: an abundance of documentary filmmakers telling stories that need to be told. Movies are a great way to instigate positive change. I certainly don’t envy documentary film grantors. It must be an impossible job of choosing who to award funds to.
The most frustrating for me (personally) is…
I’m a strategic marketer. I should be able to show the world just how important the film is. I should be able to convince people to not only want to see Pioneers in Skirts once it’s completed, but to help us afford to finish it.
Maybe it’s that we’re up against too many other “empower women” initiatives…or maybe folks are confused as to who needs their time and money more. Or, oh I don’t want to say this…maybe I’m not as good of a marketer as I think I am. Whatever the reason – my efforts, and the efforts of the entire team, isn’t getting us to the finish line.
We’re much more than passionate about the purpose of this film, we’re obsessed –
Ashley and I know that we have a solid story with strategies for women and men looking to see our culture and work environments change for the better. We need help to finish it.
So – by night I dream of needing money and needing knowledge. By day I work towards raising funds and improving my filmmaking skillsets.
I am empowered by my daydreams –
I daydream about being interviewed at Sundance and Tribecca as to how Pioneers in Skirts will help women just starting out in their careers. I daydream about being on the CBS This Morning tv show; sitting in front of Gayle, Norah and Charlie as we share what we’ve learned as we made the film — providing tips like how to help Norah’s daughters avoid being overcome by gender bias in their future.
I also daydream about my daughter – Ashley Maria. She’s the Pioneers in Skirts director who is also a “character” in the film. I dream of the day she’s seen as a director, and not as a “woman director” who occasionally gets lucky.