LETTER FROM THE CEO
‘Well, who doesn’t want the sun after the long winter?
— Mary Oliver
Spring and we’re off to a running start beginning with our Women’s Media Summit retreat in March, followed by two Spring Soirees, an upcoming WMS film financing forum (May 3 -5), two filmmaker residencies, two youth mentorship programs, our ongoing Film Arts Series with PAAM, and our first ever Jamaican Film Festival. Mark your calendars to meet Mutabaruka, Jamaica’s renowed actor, dub poet, educator (May 17 – 19th) along with countless other Jamaican filmmakers.
Next weekend, May 3 – 5 is our 2nd Annual Film Financing forum supporting diverse voices in filmmaking. The event is organized by PFS and Advisory Board member Ash Christian, a talented and crazy busy producer. We met Ash fifteen years ago when he premiered his directorial debut FAT GIRLS at the festival. Since then, he’s returned to the festival with dozens of other films he’s directed and produced. Last year, we screened his moving AIDS film titled 1985 directed by Yen Tan. Ash has assembled an exciting line-up of decision-makers who have financed or secured financing for films distributed by all the major studios. Speaking from my own experience as a producer, the fact that the forum takes place in a more intimate setting in Provincetown where everyone is removed from the distractions of the industry is perhaps the greatest benefit to those who participate. Register for one or all three days. Spots for the May 3 – 5th forum are still available.
We’re excited to welcome Rani Crowe to Provincetown in a few weeks to participate in the women filmmaker’s residency program. When I asked how she wanted to spend her time beyond working on her screenplay, she replied, “I want to visit with the whales.” Judging from the twenty whales we saw yesterday off the coast, I believe that we will be able to deliver. Emily Hubley, who completed her residency a few weeks ago, has been to Provincetown dozens of times, but she had never been to the dune shacks. Jay Critchley from the Provincetown Compact kindly treated us to a lovely afternoon in one of the shacks where we built a fire and ate sandwiches that somehow taste more delicious when imagining all the creative endeavors that found their inspiration in that very space. Emily is this year’s animator for our PIFF trailer and her work will be featured at the Schoolhouse Gallery throughout the festival.
This year, the Women’s Media Summit, a think tank addressing gender inequity in U.S., turned its powerful intelligence on the summit itself focusing on the ways in which the summit can support the initiatives that came out of the original summit. One of which focused on diversity incentives in film tax credit programs offered in states across the country, including in Massachusetts. Focusing less on the political implications, representative Sarah Peake spoke to the group about the ways in which the summit could work with state and house representatives to design and propose new legislation. To join in on the conversation, please contact email@example.com and you will be added to the summit mailing list.
Heartfelt gratitude goes out to Christine Barker, Ken Fulk, and Javier Morgado for hosting our spring soiree in New York and to Javier Echinique for a lovely dinner during Fashion Week in Palm Springs. We dined at the stunning home of Ted Chapin and Torrence Boone where the very talented Frank Helmer spoke about his successful career as a costume designer.
With so much going on, I must say that the encouragement and appreciation felt at these dinners in particular serves as a gentle boost to me and our staff that our work is valued and supported.
Summer is around the corner, but for now, we revel in the glories of Spring.
by Mary Oliver
a black bear
has just risen from sleep
and is staring
down the mountain.
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring
I think of her…
Christine Kunewa Walker, CEO
Join the Women’s Media Summit and Provincetown Film Society at the 2nd Annual Film Financing Forum on May 3–5 at the newly renovated Provincetown Commons!
The forum is designed for narrative and documentary filmmakers, producers, investors, and developers who are interested in learning the nuts and bolts of film financing from industry professionals who specialize in getting projects made.
Unique to other conferences, the Film Financing forum will also address the ways in which diversity and inclusion can be leveraged as a positive business strategy in today’s changing marketplace.
Three-day Forum includes:
- Panel discussions about the three-legged stool of film financing: pre-sales, equity, and soft money
- Breakout sessions on delving more deeply into tax credits, gap financing, foreign sales, and angel investing
- Learning how to structure a business plan (with sample business plans), building a team, and packaging projects
Sessions on how to develop strategies for marketing and securing distribution
- Networking and meeting one-on-one with producers and financiers who are actively seeking projects
Film Financing Forum Scholarship
Looking for some financial assistance to attend the Forum this year? Now announcing our Film Financing Forum Scholarship! The application is simple and accessible for any level of filmmaker, so click here to apply today!
FILM FINANCING FORUM PANELISTS ANNOUNCED
Jamaica On Film
THE LAUNCH with JULIE ROCKETT
Last summer I watched each episode of the hit series, Pose. I was immediately transfixed by the character of Candy. Her comedic timing was so good when trading insults with Billy Porter’s character, Pray Tell, and when dealing with the after effects of a cheap derrière enhancement. I thought that she must have a background in comedy or improv. I quickly found out she is much more than a comedic actress. A whole lot more. Angelica Ross is the CEO of her own tech company, TransTech Social Enterprises, a tireless advocate for trans rights, a singer, producer… that’s just scratching the surface. Multiple times during our interview, I found myself thinking, ‘You do that too?!’ Read on to find out more about her outstanding work and why she’ll always make time to watch Coming to America.
Julie Rockett: I just wanted to start by saying I love your show, Pose, so much. As soon as I saw you on the screen, I thought, ‘I’ve got to interview her!’ And when doing my research for today, I became and even bigger fan. I’d love for you to share some information about the company you founded, TransTech.
Angelica Ross: TransTech has always been a passion project. It came out of my own pursuit for survival and then going from surviving to thriving. As my celebrity grows, my access and influence to expand my network grows and we are able to raise funds for my company. We’re in the midst of a finance campaign so that we can roll out all of the things that I envisioned for TransTech but didn’t have funding for. My hope is that we can get the word out and, at the very least, hire more trans people. We created this platform with the LGBTQ Task Force. Companies hire our TransTech employees who work remotely. They clock in and our program takes screenshots every 10 minutes and the employers can add notes to the work. Instead of a company training someone on their own, they can hire one of our experts. They can get work done quicker and it’s better for the company’s bottom line. We’re basically trying to make these training tech hub spaces across the country where I can make sure that our Trans members have a safe space to learn and work.
JR: You were self-trained in coding?
JR: So does your company train these employees or do they come already knowing how to code?
AR: Basically, our thing is that we don’t focus on coding. TransTech is a conversation about the intersections of your passions and technology. How can technology help you step your game up to the next level? For some folks, that’s creating their own music channels. For others, it’s software development and finding the right boot camp and mentors. For instance, the essence of what I’m doing here is like the movie Avatar. These folks were going after what they thought was the most valuable resource, when in reality the most valuable resource was the people. And when they’re connected as a network, they become the infrastructure of the planet. With TransTech and our community, we have, historically, looked outside our community and outside ourselves for support that has been flailing. What I’m trying to do is have us look inside and take an inventory of our talent, resources and skills that we already have and, ‘each one, teach one’. So the purpose of the TransTech Summit that we host is to show that the trans and non-binary community has authorities in these lanes, so let’s utilize them.
JR: I mean this as the highest compliment, my Mother is a sort of pioneer in her field. I remember someone coming up to her and saying, “Because of you, my daughter knows that someone that looks like her can be a surgeon.” My mother’s reaction was and she is, “You shouldn’t limit your daughter like that. If she loves something and is good at it, encourage her. Don’t seek permission. She doesn’t need someone that looks like me to have already done it.” I see you as having done that. You don’t need anyone to pave your way, you’ve paved your own.
AR: Absolutely! We have a new partnership agreement with Medys, which is a data management group, where we’ll host TransTech Talks at their locations throughout the country. These talks will help us reach out to trans and non-binary folks… with people of color, and trans people and trans people of color, we have always had this feel of doing a lot with very little. With our ancestors like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera doing sex work to keep the Star House alive and help our brothers and sisters. It’s the same situation where I keep being invited and awarded and people congratulate me and say we are doing wonderful things, which we are, but there’s still a lot of lip service. There’s not that same level of support that you see with Marriage Equality. So hopefully, we will be recognized as an organization that puts money in people’s pockets and helps build their portfolios and we can get some of those grants out there.
JR: I hope so, too. On a different note, have you visited Provincetown?
AR: I have. I performed a few songs with my guitar at the Crown & Anchor.
JR: You sing, too?
AR: I do. I’ve had a career that’s varied. This is an idea that I’ve tried to impart at TransTech. Whatever you want to pursue, you have to be willing to start at Step 1. Meaning you have to educate yourself. Education for me was doing community theatre, choir, being a liquor spokesperson at bars… I have done it all, commercial, runway, an extra on CSI, so to be here right now is an accumulation of a lot of hard work and staying the course and not giving up.
JR: Can you tell me what your first favorite film was?
AR: I think it was Beauty & The Beast. I just remember it bringing the queen out of me. The musical theatre and the animation really spoke to me. I remember buying it on DVD and singing along to all of the songs. I believe I saw myself as a smart, pretty Belle under the surface. Of course, this was way before my transition.
JR: Was there a show or movie that you saw that made you say, “That’s what I want to do!”
AR: For me it was live theatre that was something that initially called me and then seeing Brandy’s acting and singing career unfold was inspiring. I’m huge fan of action films. That’s what I’d love to do next because I feel like I have the body for action. (Laughs) Something like The Matrix or Blade.
JR: I saw that Patti Lupone is joining the Pose cast. To that end, I’m wondering if you’ve ever been star struck?
AR: It does not happen often but I attended a Netflix party and saw Angela Bassett. I was talking in a corner to friends and she walked up and said, “So this is Angelica!” I turned around and froze. As she walked towards me I thought she was a goddess. I was speechless. I had the same reaction when I met President Obama. I just lost my words! I might have managed a hello. I definitely didn’t get to say all of the things I wanted to say.
JR: I was star struck watching the Oscars and seeing Billy Porter (Pose’s Pray Tell)’s outfit and seeing Glenn Close’s reaction.
AR: Oh yes!
JR: I imagine his feet haven’t touched the ground yet.
AR: He broke the internet. Now I know I have to step my game up. (Laughs) It’s Billy’s time. He’s been around for awhile. He has more talent in his pinky finger than most folks have. He deserves all the love that he’s finally getting.
JR: Is there a film you saw recently that moved you?
AR: I saw If Beale Street Could Talk in the theatre and it was sad and beautiful and heartbreaking. The difficult thing with Black movies is that they’re about slavery or injustice and we don’t usually have the opportunity to tell a simple love story. It’s tough to see love and joy in Beale Street and know that it’s fleeting. I also would love to hopefully see movies that aren’t seen through a white person’s experience like The Help. I’d love to see more films like Jordan Peele’s Get Out. That movie could not have been made by anybody else! We all miss out on so much when we don’t create space for black and brown filmmakers.
JR: Is there a dream person that you would love to work with?
AR: I would love a Cicely Tyson moment like the one that Viola Davis got with Cicely on How to Get Away With Murder. Or Angela Bassett or Denzel Washington. I would absolutely love to work with them. I used to study their scenes when I was studying acting in college.
JR: Where did you go to college?
AR: I originally started at The University of Wisconsin at Parkside when I was 17. I left college for the military and took a life detour. I eventually was discharged from the military. They hung me out of a 3-story window trying to get me to admit I was gay. I got out of there by the skin of my teeth. At 24, I went back to school at Florida Atlantic University and I studied theatre there.
JR: I could talk about your history for hours but I know you have to get back to filming, so getting back to movies… what’s a movie that you can happily watch over and over again?
AR: Coming to America comes to mind right away. All of the Friday films. Those are classic comedies that I will watch from top to bottom.
JR: I just want to preface that it’s not stalking. It’s research. (Laughs) I saw that your parents accompanied you to the HRC Visibility Awards and recently you posted a sweet text from your mother on Instagram. It looks like you have some wonderful parents. Is there anything they introduced you to in the creative arts space?
AR: My Mom and I watched a lot of TV and movies together and one of those films was Harlem Nights. It was an adult movie but my Mom would cackle laughing so hard at it. We all did and we all enjoyed it together. We always supported black films as a family.
JR: Do you have any upcoming projects besides Pose?
AR: I do. I have a web series that I produced and I make an appearance in called King Esther. We are premiering at the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival. It stars a black trans woman and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s Janet Hubert is in it. It takes place in New Orleans seven days before Hurricane Katrina. We had a great time making it. I’m really looking forward to going on the festival circuit with it.
JR: Thank you so much for your time! I hope you and your guitar make it back to Provincetown again very soon!
AR: Thank you so much!
A non-profit arthouse cinema, operating year-round, and contributing to Provincetown’s tradition as America’s oldest and most vital art colony. Located on the mezzanine between the 2nd and 3rd floor of Whalers Wharf.