Hello everyone -
I haven't blogged in awhile because there's a very complicated release strategy that has been at work and I haven't wanted to share the details in public while it is coming together. Some amazing things are happening, including a 25 city tour of the film and a world premiere in Los Angeles coming together very soon. Tonight, I realized that it may not be bad to be transparent.
I had the honor of listening to Ondi Timoner at an IDA seminar, the only two-time Sundance Grand Jury winner. Her film We Live In Public is opening in Los Angeles tomorrow and she has my full support.
I was approached by the IDA media after the screening (they are my fiscal sponsor for "See What I'm Saying") to give my thoughts for their article, and I decided to post my full answer here so you can get a glimpse of what I am up against. Here are my thoughts from the evening.
September 24, 2009
I have a new hero, and her name is Ondi Timoner. I came to the IDA’s seminar to hear what the only two-time winning Sundance Grand Jury winner had to say about documentary filmmaking. What I got out of the evening was so much more.
This statuesque, confident powerhouse took the stage as I settled in to hear classic documentary war-stories of long hours in the field, wading through hundreds (or in her case thousands) of hours of footage and bad distribution deal offers. What I was took away from the evening was this inspirational human being, who opened herself up for nearly three hours about her life, her motivation and her fears. Ondi’s parents sat behind me and became part of the discussion, as did her beautiful five-year old son playing with an oversized magnifying glass in the front row, a subtle mirror of his mother. Ondi’s films are truly magnified, scrutinizing her subjects so they become fully accessible to us.
To hear Ondi’s war stories of having her film Dig! privately panned by a respected colleague the night before submitting it to Sundance and then going on to not only get in but to win the Grand Jury Prize is beyond inspirational – it is a lesson in perseverance and faith. To hear how she is self distributing “We Live In Public” after winning Sundance, asking audience members to help book her on radio shows in Los Angeles the night before her theatrical debut in Los Angeles defies all logic. But to hear how she breastfed her child between filming interviews in Europe and having what must be the most well traveled child I’ve met puts a human face on this extraordinary artist.
Having graduated cum laude from Yale University and founding her own production company Interloper Films, Ondi could have come across as yet another privileged filmmaker who had many advantages above the rest of us. Yet she is subject to the same obstacles of making, selling and distributing her films highlighted by the technical difficulties of even getting her trailer to run correctly in the Kodak Screening room by professional IDA filmmaking staff. Ondi has not just survived, but thrived because of her tenacity, talent and incredible smarts. Her candor and passion are mesmerizing, as she has no qualms of sharing actual numbers, names and intimate details that most filmmakers of her stature politely steer around. After the seminar I had a chance to talk with Ondi’s mother in the lobby who told stories about Ondi’s courage even as a small child. I vow to try to be as open and accessible if I ever get the chance to sit in front of a group of filmmakers, as I left with a new-found confidence that in my isolation as a filmmaker I am not alone, and I have a new hope in this world and her name is Ondi.