From filmmaker Margaret Brown:
Though I did not have a clear agenda going in, as I made the film, it became clear that the film might make it easier for people to have a conversation about something that is really difficult for people to talk about—mainly race and class in America. And I think this is difficult because people are afraid they will sound ignorant, or because they might have thought about something in a certain way until they saw it presented in the film. I wanted to make a film that was open to interpretation, so no one felt beaten over the head with what to believe. And as I’ve traveled with the film, I’ve seen some incredible conversations begin in the discussions afterward, both in the Q&A and in the emails people have sent me describing conversations and experiences they’ve had as a result of the film. And that has been really encouraging.
Her three favorite films:
This week, I am really happy about:
Examined Life (Astra Taylor)
Sans Soleil (Chris Marker)
I Vitteloni (Fellini)
Ask me again next week and you’ll get a different answer!
Her advice for aspiring filmmakers:
Work your way up the chain and try lots of jobs in the film business (so you will have respect for all positions if you ever get the chance to be a director). You don’t have to go to film school (though I did). Be patient with rethinking your film. Find something to do outside of film so you have something to talk about besides film. Humility is attractive.
Her most inspirational food for making independent film?
Not pancakes. They are like a brick to the stomach.
Director, Producer, Editor
Margaret Brown is the producer and director of the acclaimed documentary, Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt, which was released in the United States by Palm Pictures and received worldwide theatrical distribution in 2005. Be Here to Love Me premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, was the opening night film at North America’s premier documentary film festival, Full Frame and the closing night film at the Nashville Film Festival.
Brown directed the music video Our Life is not a Movie or Maybe for Okkervil River and she produced Catpower’s Living Proof video, directed by Harmony Korine. She also produced Six Miles of Eight Feet, which won a Student Academy Award in 2000. Brown was the cinematographer for Ice Fishing, which received a special jury prize from Sundance in 2000; she received the Néstor Almendros Award for Cinematography from the NYU Graduate Film Program. The short film she directed while at NYU, 99 Threadwaxing, starred Justin Kirk and Heather Burns and was screened at film festivals across the country. She produced the narrative feature film Mi Amigo, released in 2006 by ThinkFilm and starring Josh Holloway of Lost.
Margaret Brown earned her BA from Brown University in Creative Writing and her MFA in Film from New York University.
Sara Alize Cross
Sara Alize Cross was associate producer for the documentary Murderball, which was nominated for the Feature Documentary Oscar at the 78th Annual Academy Awards. Murderball won the Audience Award at Sundance 2005, the Gotham Award for Documentary and was distributed theatrically by ThinkFilm. Cross was also the AP on the feature documentary 21 Up America, directed by Christopher Quinn. 21 Up is the third installment of the American version of the acclaimed British 7 Up series, executive-produced by Michael Apted. 21 Up was chosen as the closing night film at AFI/Silverdocs and was aired on the Discovery Channel.
Cross directed and produced The Ride, a 20-minute, 16mm film screened at several film festivals around the country. Cross’s television work includes producer credits on MTV’s MADE and Schooled, a back-to-school/concert special that has aired on the CW and ABC Family networks. She recently developed Style Trek, a verité travel series based on her experiences traveling the world sourcing products for coolnotcruel, the environmentally friendly and fair trade fashion line she founded.
Sara Alize Cross earned a Master’s degree from the University of Oxford and a BA in Film Studies from Columbia University.
Gabby Stein was an entertainment attorney in Australia where she was involved in establishing and editing the national Australian magazine Inside Film. After moving to New York in 1999, she worked in business affairs at Independent Pictures, Good Machine and Sloss Law Office. Stein is currently developing and producing feature film projects.
Gabby Stein received her LLB (JD equivalent) from the University of New South Wales and a BA with Honors in literature from the University of Sydney.
In 1987, Louis Black co-founded South by Southwest Music, Interactive and Film Festivals and Conferences. A founding board member of the Austin Film Society, he was also the board's first president. Along with Texas Monthly Editor Evan Smith, he co-founded the Texas Film Hall of Fame in 2000. Louis co-founded and currently edits the weekly paper, The Austin Chronicle.
Black is an executive producer of SXSW Presents, a local PBS show highlighting SXSW films. He was executive producer for Margaret Brown's documentary Be Here To Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt. He is currently in pre-production on a performance film Jonathan Demme will shoot about American musician Alejandro Escovedo. He is also the executive producer for the DVD release of Eagle Pennell's The Whole Shootin' Match, the film Robert Redford cites as the inspiration behind the Sundance Institute.
In 1980, Louis Black received an MFA from the University of Texas, Austin with a concentration in film.
Michael Simmonds shot Marathon and Sound Barrier for Amir Naderi, one of the most influential figures of Iranian cinema; both films were highly praised for their visual style. Simmonds was nominated for a Cinematography Independent Spirit Award in 2007 for his work on Ramin Bahrani’s Man Push Cart (Venice Film Festival, Sundance), which received worldwide theatrical distribution in 2006. New York Magazine said of Man Push Cart, “Michael Simmonds has shot one of the best-looking New York films I’ve seen in years.” He collaborated with Bahrani on Chop Shop (Cannes Director’s Fortnight, Toronto 2007), and most recently on Solo. Trainwreck: My Life as an Idiot—starring Gretchen Mol and Sean William Scott and produced by This is That—will be released in 2009. His documentary work includes collaborations with Christopher Quinn, Margaret Brown, Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing on their upcoming documentaries.
Michael Simmonds earned his BFA in cinematography from The School of Visual Arts.
Michael Taylor edited Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt. Most recently Taylor edited Peter Callahan’s Against the Current, starring Joseph Fiennes, Justin Kirk, Elizabeth Reaser and Mary Tyler Moore. Prior to that he cut George LaVoo’s A Dog Year, starring Jeff Bridges, Lauren Ambrose and Lois Smith for HBO Films and for Picturehouse theatrical release.
Taylor edited Julia Loktev’s award-winning Day Night Day Night (winner, Le Prix Regards Jeune at Cannes, first-prize winner at the Montreal Festival of New Cinema and the Woodstock Film Festival and winner of the Independent Spirit Someone to Watch Award) an IFC First Take release in 2007. He also cut Adam Rapp’s Blackbird, which debuted at South by Southwest and Edinburgh Film Festivals in 2007 and Kevin Asher Green’s Homework, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Slamdance, 2004.
Geoffrey Richman is the award-winning editor of Murderball, 2005 Academy Award nominee for Best Feature Documentary. For his work on Murderball, Richman won the first-ever Special Jury Prize for Editing at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, where the film also won the Audience Award for Best Documentary. In 2006, Geoffrey returned to Sundance with a film he edited, God Grew Tired of Us, which won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award.
Richman worked on Michael Moore's Sicko, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and was released in 2007. Previous credits include 21 Up America, executive-produced by Michael Apted, and documentary and reality programming for a variety of networks including Showtime, Discovery Channel, TLC, Oxygen, The Food Network and PBS.
Geoffrey Richman is a graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts.
Director of Photography
Michael Simmonds studied cinematography at The School of Visual Arts in NYC where he received his BFA, after which he shot two films for filmmaker, Amir Naderi, Marathon (2002) and Sound Barrier (2005). Simmonds then went on to collaborate with writer/director Ramin Bahrani, to shoot Man Push Cart (2005) and Chop Shop, which premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. Both earned him an Independent Spirit Award Nomination for Best Cinematography (2007, 2009). Goodbye Solo, his third film shot for Bahrani, screened at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals. Simmonds lensed 2009 Sundance Grand Jury nominee Big Fan by writer/director Robert Siegal. Aside from his narrative fiction work, Simmonds has worked on many notable documentaries, including THE ORDER OF MYTHS.
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