Filmmakers We Admire

Women in Film & Video DCFilmmakers We Admire

Filmmakers We Admire Logo

To celebrate WIFV’s 40th Anniversary, we reached out to the community to nominate the colleagues they admire. We are honored to have these filmmakers in our community as mediamakers, advocates, and mentors.

Amy DeLouise

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?
Totally unfair question! I’m an omnivore when it comes to stories. A luscious doc I recently screened was Dusty Groove: The Sound of Transition a film by Danielle Beverly about records, music, love and loss. Don’t laugh, but I’m in love with Star Trek Discovery, which I watch with my husband and our teenage son. Their global VFX team does amazing world-building, and how great is it to see multi-dimensional Black and Asian females as well as gender non-binary characters! I finally got to watch Gina Prince-Blythwood’s Love & Basketball, where you see her directing talents emerge, especially through high-velocity sequences on the court intercut with intimate dialogue moments. And I loved the series Ozark, with its dark and often surprising sound design by Nick Forshager and his brilliant re-recording team. (I’m very focused on sound and storytelling as my new book came out recently Nonfiction Sound and Story in Film and Video with co-author WIFV member Cheryl Ottenritter.)

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?
We have an incredible diversity of people and organizations here, which is wonderful from a storyteller perspective. I can interview nonprofit volunteers and CEO’s, Senators and aerospace experts–all in my own back yard! And three airports makes travel to more stories and international conferences (back in the day) easy.

Who inspires you?
I’ve always been inspired by our WIFV members–one of the reasons I got involved so many years ago. The list-serve shows the breadth of projects people are tackling, and the many challenges we are able to overcome–from technical to budgetary to subject matter. There’s always someone I can turn to for advice or support.

What story do you wish someone would tell?
Many people don’t know the story of Italian-Americans locked in internment camps during World War II. This is not to minimize the far larger number of Japanese Americans interned. But I think the Italian-American story can also shed light on our constant battle with who is “other” in this country. It’s a story I’m hoping to tell with fellow WIFV member Lauren Cardillo.

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
Normally I’m on the road a lot, so we celebrate wherever we are. I’m looking forward to getting back to those heady days on the road soon!

Amy Oden

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?
Cameraperson. This film is basically a memoir of a documentarian, and is an incredibly emotional and accurate ride. If you’re considering a career in this industry, this film will give you an understanding of what you’re getting yourself into. 

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?
I’m from DC but live in Baltimore – and I love the duality between the two cities. DC is very journalistic and factual, and has a lovely and comparatively expansive production infrastructure. Baltimore is scrappy and artistic, and there are some really wonderful grassroots communities here that I didn’t feel I had access to in DC. Both cities have fantastic merits. I’m grateful to have spent time in each.

Who inspires you?
Ramona Diaz, Marilyn Ness, Penelope Cruz, Ava DuVernay… Any femme documentarian who is further along in their career than I am. Artists I’ve been able to connect and collaborate with in Baltimore – that really pushes me creatively. Of course my mom, who always helps me take a breath. My friends; queer people, BIPOC folks. Writers like Angela Davis… Anyone struggling to make the world a better, more just place. There are far too many inspirational people to list!

What story do you wish someone would tell?
I wish there was a magic bullet of a story that would push the right buttons for people to create a more sustainable and equitable socio economic system in the United States, and that someone would tell it with verve.

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
Any place is good when you’re with the right people. 🙂 

Andy Edmunds

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?
Loving  – a film by Director/Writer Jeff Nichols… filmed in VA… true story about LOVE, equality and justice.

 
What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?

Continuity. While I have travelled to all parts of the globe, I have called this place Home my entire life. Coming home always feels good. Cultural, topographical and architectural diversity – all contribute to make this a treasured region; for residents, and storytellers.

Who inspires you?
That’s a long list, and ever-growing. Right now it’s 22 year old poet Amanda Gorman.

What story do you wish someone would tell?
The story of Virginia’s Indigenous Indian culture – they were the first North American residents affected by global colonial expansion in the 17th century, and then required to denounce their heritage through institutional racism in the 20th century.

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
In a large theater, at a premiere, celebrating the work we have done together!

Angie M. Gates

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?
Being an executive producer and content maker, I think everyone should watch any film they have not seen. Television and Film broadens a person’s creativity. I am also a huge proponent of everyone watching films that highlight DC and that are based in DC.  

With that said, the film I would most encourage everyone to watch would be Wonder Woman 1984 which highlighted various landscapes of our nation’s capital and put a lot of DC residents to work. Wonder Woman 1984 is a must see.  

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC Region?
My favorite part about living and working in the DC area is that I have unique experiences each and every day. I learn something every day from the multi-generational group of individuals that cross my path.  

As I walk along the streets of DC, sometimes I hear someone singing or playing music and I think to myself, we have a diverse, vibrant and talented community. Then there is GoGo, the official music of the District.  When I hear that unique beat, it underlines the creativity and the artistic culture that is represented in this city.  

Who inspires you?
My inspirations are my ancestors and those who came before me, especially my Mom and Grandmother. 

Mayor Bowser inspires me with her leadership, empathetic approach and unprecedented work ethic.

The creatives of Washington, DC inspire me each and every day.

What story do you wish someone would tell?
The story I want told is the story of resilience. A tale in which someone loses everything or has a setback and manages to get it all back and comeback stronger than ever before. A humanistic story of success that conquered failure is what draws me in. A story of survival that reminds everyone to never give up. 

Where is your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
My favorite place to celebrate a success with my crew is behind closed doors, in private where we can come together be ourselves and bask in the glory of our success and how we got there.  

Anne Saul

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch? 
Amalie, the movie that started it all for me! I still come back to it for inspiration.

Mudbound, because it is just so heartbreakingly beautiful, and because Dee Rees and Rachel Morrison are amazing! #FemaleFilmmakers

Senna, outstanding documentary that changed my mind about docs! Phenomenal editing and use of found footage. And great driver! 

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?
I grew up in the DMV, and I’m still amazed by all the new places I get to discover while working on sets all over the area. But mostly it’s the people that are the best part of working here. There is such a diverse group of people in the DMV and every set provides a new experience! Not to mention all the great support from WIFV DC! 

Who inspires you? 
As a Gaffer is it even possible to not say Roger Deakins? Despite being known for big lighting rigs and impossible shots, the bones of his method are so simple and versatile. 

Rachel Morrison, (DP – Mudbound, Black Panther). The way she sees is just beautiful. She has such an intimate relationship with light.  And she lives such a full life as a creative and a mother. She inspires on so many levels for me.  

What story do you wish someone would tell?
There are so many stories left untold simply because they are not Hollywood enough, but I like stories about real people living real lives. I guess I’d like to see some more films about female racing drivers, we have a long way to go and plenty of young girls to inspire for the next generation. Definitely more female STEM stories. I want a plethora of films to inspire my daughter! 

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
I’m pretty laid back so I love a lowkey, informal wrap party. My favorite wraps have been at bars with a local beer, or the epic Karaoke house party after a month long musical feature shoot. But if everyones having a good time, then it’Saulgood! 

Carletta S. Hurt

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?
I love a good story. I love a good story that educates me. Everyone should watch 13th by Ava DuVernay for its historical foundation and how Ava does a great job of presenting different perspectives while keeping the key issue prominently featured.

The other film that I highly recommend is Love Jones. It’s the classic love story and really highlights how genuine on-screen chemistry can make a film more impactful.

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?
My favorite part about working in the DMV is that most people have other passions unrelated to film. I work in education and I’ve met FBI agents, lawyers (non-entertainment), interpreters, private investigators (related to finding parents and/or siblings), and farmers.

My favorite part about living the DMV is I can travel to two states and district in 60 minutes or less. This type of movement affords me a plethora of options related to work and play. Additionally, the DMV is nicely positioned so that I can take a fairly inexpensive trip to NY to get my theatre fix. 

Who inspires you?
My cousin, Byron Hurt, inspires me to tell powerful, authentic stories. His commitment and knowledge to the art form of documentary filmmaking made to take a new appreciation for the genre.

What story do you wish someone would tell?
I am fascinated with three women of color who I think have dynamic stories that deserve to be told:

  • Audre Lorde
  • Ntzake Shange
  • Staceyann Chin – it would great to make this happen while she is still living 

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
A place with good food and even better drinks is the perfect place to celebrate success with my crew. In recent years, I’ve made a point to make sure those locations are black-owned an operated. Three excellent spots in DC are Ben’s Next Door, Culture Coffee Too, and Milk and Honey.

CJ Crim

Filmmaker's Website

What film should everyone watch?
Though I haven’t seen it in years, my answer is always Schindler’s List. It is a brilliantly directed film based on a true story that exposes the best and worst of humanity. Everyone should be required to watch this film.

What is my favorite part about living and working in the DMV?
There is always something happening in the DMV. I am the daughter of a military officer, I have lived in 10 states. I know that some places are just more interesting than others. I love that I live three hours from the ocean, one hour from the mountains and 10 minutes from the Metro! Though I will admit wouldn’t mind if DC was a bit more boring and stable than it has been for the past 4 years. 

Who inspires me?
So many people inspire me, but I have to say the people featured in my film, Resisterhood are my personal heroes. I am not just saying that! It is true. They are extraordinary, ordinary people. Black, Muslim, gay, Latino and female – they stood up against the Trump administration from Day 1. They fought for our civil rights and made sure their voices were heard. They inspire me on a daily basis and I am honored to call them my friends. 

What story do you wish someone would tell?
The Round Earth Society. I am so concerned with the polarization of our country. How can we unite when we live in two completely different “fact” bubbles? I would love for someone to create a film that shows us how we can unite around science and truth. 

What’s my favorite place to celebrate success with my crew?
Since Resisterhood premiered in August, 2020, the crew and I have not been able to celebrate together. We have yet to see Resisterhood on the big screen. My hope is that we can celebrate together at one of the two festivals that postponed their event until this summer. It will mean traveling to Chicago or Vero Beach, Florida, but I think it will be worth it! If we were able to celebrate right now, we would gather in any restaurant created by another hero of mine, José Andrés. 

Cheryl Ottenritter

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?
That’s hard!  So many great films.  I do think everyone should watch a silent film at least once.  

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?
I love going to the tidal basin on a summer evening and having a picnic.  I love that we are so close to beaches and mountains.  The museums and the diversity of the DMV provide so many experiences right in our backyard.   I love working here because of all the diversity in jobs.  From museum to programming to marketing content.  We get to touch all sorts of skills everyday – instead of just mixing or just editing or just sound designing like in other big markets.  But DC is sometimes overlooked.  Because of the non fiction content that is created here – it is one of the largest markets in the US for what we do.

Who inspires you?  
Right this instance – it’s all the front line workers who are getting up every day and dealing with the Covid Crisis.  We make content which gives people information or entertainment – but they are saving lives.  Perhaps our stories and information help people get by right now?

I’d like to think so.

What story do you wish someone would tell?
I’ve been fascinated lately with Lincoln’s speeches.  His words interwoven with today’s hot topics/headlines  could be very interesting.   

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?  
Well, we spent many times celebrating at Denizen’s Brewery in Silver Spring before we moved to Fenton Street.  I’d like to celebrate there when it gets warmer.

Chris Sciannella

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?
I watch a lot of movies. There are so many great films out there it is impossible for me to pick just one. For me, watching a great film is an escape. I don’t sit still for very long so I love it when a film can draw me in and keep me engrossed for 2 hours with a great plot and strong character development.

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?
I have had the pleasure of traveling all over the world and have shot in 49 of the 50 states in the US. For me I think there is no better place to live and work than in the DMV. It is close to the beach and the mountains, two of my favorite places to spend my free time. It is very diverse, probably one of the most culturally diverse areas in the world. DC is arguably the most powerful city in the world yet has that small city feel. It is also a city which for the most part is recession proof which makes it a good place to live if you work in our industry. 

Who inspires you?
I am inspired most by people who have overcome adversity and still achieve success. This is a country of opportunity but nothing is handed to you. If you believe in yourself and work hard you can achieve your goals. 

What story do you wish someone would tell?
I love a good success story.(see above answer) We need more positive success stories being told instead of another “House Wives of where ever ….

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
The closest bar to the location.

Dina Fiasconaro

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch? 
The Piano by Jane Campion

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region? 
I love how small, supportive and diverse the Baltimore filmmaking community is. Rather than being competitive, I appreciate how collaborative and uplifting we are with one another.  

Who inspires you? 
Female filmmakers, writers and musicians. Artist parents. My grandmothers. My daughter. 

What story do you wish someone would tell? 
In general, more diverse Baltimore stories that defy the ingrained stereotypes of the city; disability, indigenous, drug/addict and 40+ narratives that also defy stereotypes.

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew? 
Atomic Books/Eightbar. I appreciate their support of Baltimore women filmmakers! 

Emma Pearce

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch? 
I recently saw My Octopus Teacher on Netflix. It is such a beautiful film that explores our relationship with nature. 

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?
I love the rich diversity of people, ideas, opportunities. One of my favorite parts about working and living in the DMV is being close to universities with great media programs. I love meeting students just out of film school and working with them on projects. 

Who inspires you?
The courageous subjects who chose to tell their stories through documentaries inspire me. The men and women I work with on a daily basis who never back down from telling their stories, no matter how challenging, or how many painful memories it brings back. Their honesty and candor inspire me to continue working in film.

What story do you wish someone would tell?
I recently read an article about two sisters in North Holland who seduced and killed Nazis during World War II. I would love to see a documentary explore the complexities of that story someday. 

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
We usually celebrate a successful day of production or local screening at a neighborhood restaurant like Raku or Cafe Divan. 

Erica Arvold

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?
Loving.

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?
Artistic collaboration.

Who inspires you?
Everyone I meet!

What story do you wish someone would tell?
Their own.

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
Cannes. Dreams can come true!

Erica Ginsberg

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?
It is very hard to narrow down what film everyone should watch since everyone has unique tastes and interests. Since this is for Women in Film and Video and my background is in documentary, I will share three documentaries by women that have really stuck with me for how they use different creative styles to tell intimate stories about bigger themes. Two are fairly recent and one is a bit older:

306 Hollywood by Elan Bogarín and Jonathan Bogarin. A magical realist approach to looking at memory and loss as two grandchildren archive objects found in their grandmother’s home combined with home movies. The film is available for rent on  Amazon or iTunes.

Time by Garrett Bradley. A really creative approach that combines family footage, original material, and evocative and experimental editing to tell a story about mass incarceration. If you want to see how to tell the story of a big social issue without being didactic, this is a film to check out.  Available on Amazon (free with Prime)

The Underground Orchestra by Heddy Honigmann. This film introduced me to her approach to storytelling which is both intimate and all-encompassing. She moves between the stories of musicians to tell a bigger story of what it is to live in exile. This hasn’t been the easiest film to find online for many years, but I think it is now available on Ovid.

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?
I have lived in this area since I was two years old. I went to grade school and higher education here, and all my jobs have been based in the area, so I have always seen this region as a living breathing place full of real people and rich stories. Yes it has a bit more transience to it than other places, but it is full of heart and creativity for those who know the area beyond its place as a political capital.

What I love most about the film community here is that it is diverse, connected and supportive of each other, and that we live in an environment where you don’t necessarily have to go to film school to become a filmmaker. It feels less elitist than bigger cultural capitals. 

What I love most about making films here is that we live in a place with so many resources – incredible stories, talented filmmakers, vibrant film institutions (universities, film organizations, screening spaces, festivals, etc.) and some of the smartest and most enthusiastic audiences who love film and discussing film.

Who inspires you?
I am constantly being inspired by other filmmakers, by other artists, by leaders who may not even see themselves as leaders. Sometimes the inspiration is the topics of their films or the style they use, but more often, it is about their approach to life. I find inspiration in people who are bold and striving, who know how to set their own boundaries, who find ways to reinvent themselves, and who see empathy as a superpower. It is hard for me to name names because I feel I will always leave someone out unintentionally, but some of these folks are part of the WIFV community and I hope you know who you are. 

What story do you wish someone would tell?
I’ve long been fascinated by the story of Mary Foote Henderson who was essentially responsible for the creation of what is now Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park in the early 20th century. She had ambitious ideals about architecture and place. She was a suffragist and a socialite. Although her husband introduced the 13th amendment that ended slavery, she was involved in organizations that promoted eugenics and her work to create the park displaced African-American families who lived in the area. After her husband’s death, she befriended and left some of her estate to a young Japanese-American man. She was of her time, behind the times, and ahead of them, and, in many ways represents all the contradictions of Washington DC and American history. I had done a bit of research on her for a documentary project, but her life feels like it would lend itself really well to a fiction period piece.

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
The place is less important than the people and the space being conducive to connection. I used to love gathering with fellow filmmakers at Teaism in Penn Quarter, at the old Docs In Progress “Doc House” or on the street at AFI DOCS/Silverdocs when it was all in Silver Spring; it always felt like a homecoming for the documentary community. Nowadays, the gathering place is on Zoom. Although it is seemingly not as intimate as meeting in person, it is often much easier for people to connect since our film community is widely spread out over three states (and yes I have high hopes the 51st state will FINALLY happen!)

Hans Charles

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?
In The Mood for Love by Wong Kar-wai,  Eat Drink Man Woman by Ang Lee, and Malcolm X by Spike Lee.  I just rewatched X and it still holds up with the passage of time.  It’s masterful.  He almost couldn’t finish it because it was considered a controversial subject at the time and he lost part of the budget.  I was floored as a highschool student watching it in theaters the week it opened.

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?
My favorite thing about living in the DMV vs a place like NYC or L.A. (I’ve lived in both places), is the fact that DC only cares about politics.  So much of the business of D.C. Maryland and Northern Virginia centers around the business of politics. Making films here is easier because as long as you stay away from the Monuments and Federal land, nobody really cares about what you are doing.  You aren’t bothering the ordinary citizen by filming in the city.  That’s such a huge contrast to shooting in NYC or LA. As a filmmaker here, I can relax, and be invisible.  Unlike a place like L.A. where you may have to be cautious about what restaurant you have lunch at and with whom.  NYC is amazing, but it requires too much energy to survive.  Here I can shoot a movie, and go for a bike ride after I wrap, or have my friends over for a cookout.  

Who inspires you?
Lately, in general, I’ve been inspired by the life and works of three people, all writers.  Toni Morrison, Walter Mosley and Maya Angelou.  Sometimes on set, if I feel like I’m about to act up, I think “imagine Dr. Maya Angelou is on set, would she approve of your attitude or tone right now?”  It’s like What Would Maya Do, kinda thing.  When I read Toni Morrison’s the Bluest Eye, she just opened up a world for me.  My favorite novel of her’s is a small book she wrote called “A Gift.”  I’ve read everything Walter Mosley has written.  He writes the unique and captivating characters.   I would love my work to inspire someone the way these three writers have blown me away.

What story do you wish someone would tell?
In terms of novels, Walter Mosley wrote a novel called 47 I would love to adapt to an animated film.  If someone did that, I wouldn’t be mad at them.

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
I love Red Rocks on H Street NE.  Great food, great bar.  When their rooftop opens back up, (it caught fire) it’s an amazing place to gather with friends.

 

Heather Waters

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?    
Water is a 2005 drama film written and directed by Deepa Mehta, with screenplay by Anurag Kashyap. It is set in 1938 and explores the lives of widows at an ashram in Varanasi, India. The film is also the third and final instalment of Mehta’s Elements trilogy. It was preceded by Fire (1996) and Earth (1998).

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region? 
The beautiful locations we have and the people.

Who inspires you? 
Søren Kierkegaard

What story do you wish someone would tell? 
Their own story, or their personal perception of another’s story. There are many creative concepts I enjoy, but often the most compelling stories are original real life character-driven stories told from a place of heart and authenticity.   

 What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?   
Sitting in the theatre together watching all of our hard work on the silver screen (followed by a lot of high fives and cheers at our favorite neighborhood spot).

Jacquie Greff

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?  
Amadeus, for the great music and some perspective on those who create it.

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?  
The region is very diverse with lots of income opportunities.  It’s possible to find a local niche where you can live near people and places you find stimulating and supportive, yet easily commute to a place of business, cultural or arts event, or nature experience.  It’s also within easy reach of other major metropolitan areas on the East Coast.  (I tell people I grew up in Iowa, which set a low bar — every place I’ve lived since has seemed interesting and fun.)

Who inspires you?  
Kraig Greff, my husband of over 40 years.  He is a fabulous musician (piano, Hammond and accordion) and composer.  For 15 years now, he’s lived in chronic pain from a bad back.  His long-time pain management specialist, Dr. Kenneth Carle, has become one of his best friends.  In spite of this hardship, Kraig is a warm, loving, supportive husband and friend.  He continues to make music and to maintain a network of friends, many of whom he’s known for decades.

What story do you wish someone would tell?  
I wanted to make a documentary about pain patients, but couldn’t figure out a way to tell the story.  Chronic pain affects a huge number of people, especially as they age.  There are a wide variety of causes and many will suffer the rest of their lives.  Some of these people are inspiring, even heroic, yet most would find their stories very depressing.   

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?  
Duda’s Tavern in Fell’s Point, just down the street from us.  It’s locally owned with traditional Baltimore food in a historic setting.  In warm weather, they have sidewalk seating with beautiful shade trees, a “cobblestone” street out front, and a view of the Domino Sugar Plant just across the harbor.  We bring our two dogs and whatever crew is available to hang out with a beer and burger.  These days, we are ordering take-out from them as often as possible because Baltimore restaurants aren’t allowed to serve food on-site during the pandemic.

Jane Barbara

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?  
Everyone should watch MOONSTRUCK.  I am not alone in this opinion. Recently, there was an article in either New York Times or the Post about a film folks were watching during this pandemic: MOONSTRUCK. 

I feel it is a perfect film.  The construction of the story as it unfolds, the acting, the directing, the location, are all just perfect. As an Italian-American, it reflects my own family experience.  Everyone knows the famous Cher line – Snap out of it!  Another favorite line is when poor Grandpa is sitting at the kitchen table and all hell is breaking loose around him.  Vincent Gardenia asks – What’s the matter Pop?  And, Grandpa says, I’m so confused.  I can still hear my Dad belly laugh at that line.

And, the very last line says exactly what the film is about – Alla famiglia! To Family!

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?  
There is so much talent here in the DC Metro region. Working with all the awesome actors, crew, shooting at amazing locations has been a joy.

Who inspires you?  
I am inspired by everyday heroes.  Folks who see unfairness, discrimination, racism, intolerance – and take a stand.  My producing partner, Oriana  Oppice, and I are committed to telling those kinds of stories from the woman’s POV.

Many years ago, I was a volunteer with a group called New York Youth at Risk.  Our executive director, Claudette Faison told us a story about attending a conference where panelists were saying about inner city youth  – “Someone aught to…”  Claudette got up.  Went to the registration table. Grabbed a new name tag and wrote – Somebody.

What story do you wish someone would tell?  
The story I want to tell is the courage of a former slave named Mary Bowser who is probably the most important spy of the Civil War. It is a story that must be told.

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew? 

My favorite place to celebrate is at my house after we wrap. Then, if we have made a good film, at whatever film festivals we are invited to attend.

I also want to add that none of my success as a filmmaker would have been possible without WIFV-DC. Years ago I started a small bridal video company. Never could I have imagined the second short film I wrote and produced would be screened at the Cannes Shorts Corner or that one of my recent films would be screened at 41 film festivals. WIFV-DC allowed me to say – Yeah. I can do this! 

Jena Burchick

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?
One of the best films I watched recently was the documentary The Mole Agent. Think 007 but the main subject is an 83 year old man who goes undercover in a Chilean nursing home. It is warm hearted and will make you think about how we treat our elderly. 

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?
I would not trade the mentorships and mentee-ships I have in the DMV for anything. There is such a unique love and support here that is a deeply connected element of my work ethic. Watching mentee’s grow and move up in the industry is the best part. We are all rooting for each other’s successes.

Who inspires you?
Rachel Morrison, Reed Morano and Ava DuVernay have all taught me that “if you can see it, you can be it.” I feel like I found female mentors later in my career and that quote is something I try to pass on to my students at Towson University every day.

What story do you wish someone would tell?
It isn’t so much about the story for me as it is who is telling the story. I want to see more intentional crewing practices and mentorship opportunities where you can walk onto a set and see that the diversity above and below the line is obvious. It can be so difficult to get your foot in the door and even harder when you do not see anyone who looks like you in your prospective department. I think once we diversify who is telling the stories, the content itself will also grow.

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
Local film festivals! MDFF and Annapolis Film Festival are among my local favorites.

Jim Lewis

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?   
Well, of course I’d think you should watch my film Confessions of a Producer on Tubi-TV or Amazon Prime

However, if you could only watch one film, I would recommend Casablanca, it is a perfect script and movie.  

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region? 
The people: Smart, fun, and happening and WIFV members are always willing to help. 

Who inspires you?
David Wolper has been a big inspiration in my life and my friend Ted Leonsis. 

What story do you wish someone would tell?
The last 12 months have been very challenging for everyone.  I would like to see a non-biased documentary film I could trust about 2020: the virus, how it spread and where it came from and how it changed the world from politics to our personal lives.  

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew? 
Well with Covid, I’ve been celebrating mostly at home, but when Covid is gone I look forward to getting back out with friends to Ireland’s Four Courts on Wilson Boulevard in Arlington or Clyde’s near the Verizon Center.  We’ve had some good times at both those places and very much hope too again.  

Joe Dzikiewicz

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?   
I recently re-watched Casablanca and was blown away by the incredible depth of supporting characters.  There were at least a dozen characters in that movie that could be protagonists of their own films, some with only a minute or two of screen time.  They were all so vivid and distinct, and each had their own motivations that barely intersected with the main story. It made the film’s world feel so real and alive.  So if you haven’t seen Casablanca, see it.  And even if you have seen it, watch it again, and think about how much fun would be a film about Yvonne (who manages to have a full character arc in around three scenes), the young Bulgarian couple, Ugarte, Carl the waiter, the pickpocket… I could go on and on.

 What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region? 
A few years ago, I realized you could find someone to teach you anything in the DC area.  Want an Olympian to teach you target archery?  We’ve got one.  Want to learn how to paint with wax?  No problem.  And, of course, there’s so many opportunities to learn all the fascinating filmmaking crafts.  For someone like me with wide-spanning interests, that’s terrific!

 Who inspires you?
A few years back, I read the most inspiring obituary I’ve ever read.  It was of Manoel de Oliveira, a Portuguese director, and he had just died at the age of 106.  During several decades of Portuguese dictatorship, Oliveira had been forbidden from making films.  But when that ended in 1974 during his 60s, Oliveira made up for lost time.  In the last four decades of his life, Oliveira made dozens of well-regarded features, including several made after he turned 100.  For someone like me who came to filmmaking later in life, Oliveira is a true inspiration.

 What story do you wish someone would tell?
I’d love to see someone make a biopic of Alice Paul that truly captured the woman’s character.  She was astonishingly brave, to be sure.  But her personality was surprising and compelling – she’d make an amazing character in a film, one tough as nails and almost completely lacking in the “feminine” virtues so valued during her lifetime.

I’ve got dozens of great anecdotes about her, but this one will give you an idea of what I mean.  When she was organizing protests outside the White House demanding votes for women, one of her followers begged off joining the protests, saying that, given the abuse the protestors often suffered, her health problems might kill her. Alice replied, “Well, if that happens, it would probably be good for the cause.”

 What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew? 
After working hard making a film, there’s nothing like being surrounded by my cast and crew sitting in a packed theater while they get to see the finished film for the first time.  I can’t wait to get back into a theater with them again!

Jon Gann

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?
The Social Dilemma to better understand what we are doing to ourselves. Then unwind with the zaniness of Auntie Mame— Rosalind Russell can cheer up anyone.

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?
I am from here, so I understand DC’s rich history and unique ways of doing things. I love guiding others — especially outsiders — through this crazy labyrinth, and in the process, connecting them with local crew and producers who are far more clever and far more creative than most in the established media centers.

Who inspires you?
I used to be inspired by the cinema “greats”, but find myself admiring young media makers who are unafraid of pushing boundaries of content, context, story, and platform that engage audiences in ways I could have never imagined.  

What story do you wish someone would tell?
The Vice Presidents — men (and now women) who have risen to the almost-peak of political power, but didn’t/couldn’t/shouldn’t have made it to the Oval Office. 

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
In the time before Covid, I would have chosen the nearest swanky hotel bar, but today, I would settle for a cup of coffee at a table on the sidewalk.

Kamilah Thurmon

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?
For me, the most remarkable films are those that leave a lasting impact on the individual viewer and our collective society. The most impressive documentary all Americans should see is 13th. It is a thought-provoking expose that everyone in modern society needs to watch, discuss, and grow from. Ava DuVernay’s film explores race, injustice, and mass incarceration in America from a real and current lens that most people are otherwise oblivious to in their day-to-day lives. By educa-taining the masses, media like this is one flicker in the growing flame of all people to insist on change for the American justice system.

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?
Living and working in the DC/MD/VA region has always been the optimal place of growth for me! The expansive community of producers, filmmakers, and storytellers established here have truly nourished my identity as a creative entrepreneur over the years.  Because of what DC has offered me, I’m more eager than ever to make positive, lasting, and impactful contributions to my community and the broader worlds of film, preservation, and representation.

Who inspires you?
Like most people, I am striving everyday to be a better person. For me, I am so inspired by the perspectives my three children offer me. I carry the responsibility for them in each of our interactions: what I tell them, how I relate to others, and how I act in our home and in the world. We are like symbiotic beings who grow from each other and I always want for them to be given as much as they have given me.

What story do you wish someone would tell?
We can all be encouraged by the daily sacrifices, lessons, accomplishments of everyday people within our own communities and families.  We are surrounded by rich stories that can inspire us. I think there is nothing more valuable than content that both represents and captures the hearts of people from all walks of life.

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
One of my favorite places to celebrate success with my crew is Lauriol Plaza.  The fast-paced energy, exquisite food, and  exemplary service put me and my crew into the right mindset after we’ve reached another huge milestone. There’s nothing like a perfect margarita with great company!

Katie Bryden

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch? 
One documentary that I always recommend people to watch is Ghost Fleet. It’s an eye-opening documentary condemning the modern-day slave labor that fuels the world’s insatiable appetite for seafood.

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?
The non-fiction storytelling community – I highly recommend attending DC’s Video Consortium’s events!

Who inspires you? 
I am so inspired by the women I’ve met from all over the globe. I feel so fortunate to have been able to travel and share stories of women leading conservation efforts. My only hope is that by sharing these stories that they create a positive impact and move the needle closer to creating an inclusive and sustainable planet.

What story do you wish someone would tell?
I want everyone to tell more stories that uplift and empower women. 

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
I love meeting up with friends and celebrating at Malcolm X park. It’s a great place to maintain social distancing!

Leslie Combemale

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?
The Night of the Hunter and Daughters of the Dust.

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?
In terms of documentaries, there have certainly been a number of them focused on the capital in the last 4 years, and rightly so. I love recognizing people and landmarks I know very well, and as the subjects often relate to policy, politics, or the people that are supposed to speak for the people, I love living around the shifting energy, when the shift is good. 

Who inspires you?
Directors Gina Prince-Bythewood, Angela Robinson, and Lesli Linka Glatter are all very down to earth, smart, creative women who are making a difference in the film world and creating wonderful content. I’m also inspired by Stacey Abrams, who has put her belief that every person makes a difference into action. 

What story do you wish someone would tell?
Heroines of the Holocaust, especially Roza Robota, who led 4 women in the Sonderkommando prisoner revolt of October 7th in 1944. The four shouted, “Chazak V’amatz” – “Be strong and have courage” before they died. There are so many stories of the fearless women of WW2 yet to be told. 

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
My favorite place to celebrate after a Women Rocking Hollywood panel at San Diego Comic-Con has been getting into Hall H to watch the Black Panther panel with Gina Prince-Bythewood and Victoria Mahoney. I know we’ll see both of them on that stage at some point!

Mark Maxey

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?
My next film! A close second would be To Kill A Mockingbird.

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?
The diverse community, rich culture and wide variety of activities and
experiences. Having been raised in the Midwest, where driving five hours in
any direction looked exactly like where you had been, I appreciate the DC
region’s varied offerings, from beaches on the Atlantic, the Chesapeake Bay,
Virginia countryside, mountains, and all that Washington has to offer with
its museums, music, theater, dance, art, culture, and baseball (go Nats!)

Who inspires you?
I find inspiration everywhere!

What story do you wish someone would tell?
Documentary about America’s first female president.

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
The Amarano, my home away from home in Burbank.

Megan Holley

Filmmaker's Website

What film do I think everyone should watch? 
Dang, that’s hard. It feels impossible to pick just one film everyone should see. Tastes are different and there are so many wonderful flavors of film! If you happen to be in a late 80s arthouse kind of mood, you really can’t go wrong with WINGS OF DESIRE. Then again, if you have a ten year old Star Wars obsessive in your life, SPACEBALLS is deliciously silly. 

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region? 
It’s home. I didn’t grow up in Virginia, but I did “grow up” here. It’s where I found my voice as a filmmaker and where I built a family. Yes, Virginia is a gorgeous state, rich in history and natural beauty… but what I love most are the people.

Who inspires you? 
The list of filmmakers who inspire me is long and has shifted over the years. Jeff Nichols, Chloé Zhao, Nicole Holofcener, Leslie Linka Glatter, Sean Baker, Debra Granik… They’d all for sure all be on that list. 

What story do you wish someone would tell? 
Hmmm. Generally, if there’s a story I’m dying for someone to tell, I just put it on my “Things I Plan To Write” list. There are lots of stories on that list. But what I most love, is to stumble across a film that tells a story I never could have imagined… a film that gives me a glimpse of a world or an issue outside of my own limited sphere of awareness. Those are particularly satisfying. 

What’s my favorite place to celebrate success with my crew? 
Well, I’m primarily a screenwriter which is mostly a solitary affair. That said, one of the most joyful memories of my life was singing 70s rock anthems with the crew of SUNSHINE CLEANING in a hotel bar somewhere in Albuquerque. Perhaps I’ve said too much. 

Nina Gilden Seavey

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?  
Capturing the Friedmans.  It’s my favorite documentary of all time.  There is not one moment in that film when you’re sure who to believe. It’s brilliant.

What is your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region. 
I live in Takoma Park and it’s like living in a small town.  Everyone knows everyone else, I can walk to the farmers’ market and the post office, kids grow up together as if in a large extended family.  There’s a real sense of belonging that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  Same goes for my working relationships.  Over the years, I’ve built a community of people who I trust implicitly.  It’s not a large community, but it’s solid.

Who inspires you?
Beethoven. His work covers every emotion in the human experience.  

What story do you wish someone would tell?  
They say that there are only 10 real ideas for stories and that we’re all just rehashing the same story over and over again, just in a different form.  I’d like to hear that 11th story.  But we don’t know what it is yet because no one has figured it out.  It’s a unicorn. 

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?  
There is nothing like the afterparty when your film premieres at its first festival. It’s usually the only time when everyone who’s been involved gets together and sees the fruits of the normally years-long labor.  It’s the only moment that I know of when crew finally breathes a sigh of relief.  And accomplishment.  

Piper Hendricks

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?
This is quite likely the hardest question you could ever ask me. It would have to be a documentary, and if I must pick one, it’s True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality. (Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops is a close second.) 

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?
The combination of talent and power in the DC region is simply unparalleled. Living so close to the White House, Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court, the Pentagon – to name but a few – we can start to take for granted how many major decisions are made in our backyard that impact people across the country – and around the world. As we all know, that power isn’t always used for good. But we are also a region full of skilled advocates and storytellers who, with the right approach,  can shape how that power is used. As we say at p.h.balanced films: Stories Power Change. Stories Change Power. 

Who inspires you?
Any person who feels a calling to leave the world better than they found it and follows that calling no matter what tries to hold them back inspires me.

What story do you wish someone would tell?
There’s a story that pulled me from human rights litigation into documentary film. It was a story whose pieces I began to gather and then a wide variety of roadblocks and detours arose, which opened onto a path that took me grand places I never could have imagined at the time. But that story is still out there and I’d like for it to someday be fully told. 

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
Honestly, any place other than a virtual meeting platform would be marvelous right about now!

Rosemary Reed

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?
1977’s Annie Hall because we all need a good laugh in this day and age And the writing is superb!

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?
Flexibility and the vibrant, excellent video production community.

Who inspires you?
My mother, Marie Reed, who never could figure out what I was up to in broadcast or video production but cheered me on no matter what crazy project I sent her.

What story do you wish someone would tell?
My story, which goes from a career in public school teaching to radio to broadcast TV to video production while owning and operating my company, Double R Productions, LLC for 33+ years and now a new adventure in the Midwest, details to follow.

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
La Tomate on Connecticut Ave. NW

Sheila Smith

Filmmaker's Website

Thank you for this recognition. I am honored to be part of the film community  here that includes so many wonderful, creative people. 

What film do you think everyone should watch?
One movie that I think everyone should watch is Tree of Life directed by Terrence Malick and with Emmanuel Lubeski as director of photography. This film  is an ambitious, experimental photo essay of life’s journey. It is radical, poetic  and so beautiful in its raw form of cinematography it literally blows your mind. It  makes you feel that cinematically, anything is possible with imagination and skill. 

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?
My favorite thing about working in the DC area is collaborating with generous  people who share contacts, help each other get hired, answer technical questions  and support each other. The DMV area is truly a big city with a small town  closeness and many opportunities.  

Who inspires you?
I am truly inspired by young people coming up in the business. Daniela  Mileykovsky is an amazing DP with a fantastic eye. You can never stop learning. I  look to Daneila as a role model and someone I aspire to become more like her in  evoking a creative approach and meticulous attention to detail.  

I am inspired by Melissa Houghton, who is always pushing me to do more, to help  the community more, to be more creative. She pushes me out of my comfort  zone and makes me continually improve. 

Amy DeLouise is the ultimate hard worker, always growing, writing, learning the  newest form of the business. She inspires me to keep adapting to an ever changing world. 

And I am always inspired by the wonderful creative eye of Erich Roland. His  cinematography is beautiful, someone I always strive to emulate. 

What story do you wish someone would tell?
The story I wish someone would tell is the power of positive thinking. I feel that if  you think things will go well, and prepare for the work, it increases the chances of  success. This is probably a difficult topic to visualize, but if everyone could be  more positive in their outlook, the world would be a better place.

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
My favorite place to celebrate success with the crew is, of course, a party,  restaurant or bar, all of which are unsafe actions during the pandemic. In the  meantime, we need to Zoom when we can, try to work with our friends if  possible, with proper protection, and keep in touch anyway we can. I went on a female camera operator Zoom call last week and 105 women registered. We are  not alone, even if we feel isolated at this time, we are all connected and can make each other stronger!

Susan Malone

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?
The Netflix Series Homemade 

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?
As an avid hiker, the streams, rivers, and creeks of Maryland keep me hiking all over the state.  

Who inspires you?
Being part of the Wide Angle community which focuses on amplifying youth voices is what inspires me everyday. 

What story do you wish someone would tell?
It is not about the stories I want to see told, it is about the stories that need to be heard. We need to advocate and fight for new voices to be distributed, amplified, and consumed in the marketplace.  

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
My favorite place to celebrate is with our community of stakeholders, while our youth shine and lead the events – both in-person or virtual -and after those same stakeholders are inspired to advocate for systemic change in Baltimore and beyond.

Tressa Azrael Smallwood

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?
Two years ago, I produced a film called Sinners Wanted, written and directed by Jimmy and Joshua Jenkins. It has a timeless message that the most important thing in life is love. We’re in a season where we’re all judging each other. This movie will make you stop and see things differently. You can watch it on Tubi.

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?
There is such a vibrant, strong community of filmmakers here. People are hungry and ready to work. The DMV area has such a promising future with all the opportunities and resources that are being made available to new filmmakers. It is important that we keep each other abreast and collaborate. Annually, I host the DMV TV & Film Summit to bring all those great creative minds together. For more information, go to www.dmvfilmsummit.com.

Who inspires you?
Nothing is more important than family. My production company, MegaMind Media, is a family run business. It’s a shared success; they’re not only helping me manifest my dreams, but they are realizing and manifesting their own as well.

What story do you wish someone would tell?
A story where we see the struggle and end result of how Stacey Abrams changed America, biopic.

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
Honestly, right in my home. I love hosting family gatherings and everyone who works with us is family. That has changed recently, due to the pandemic, so celebrations have been happening on the final day of production where we acknowledge every department for their hard work and dedication; just imagine a room full of crying producers, actors, grips, makeup artists, PAs and everything in between.

Wendy Anderson

Filmmaker's Website

What film do you think everyone should watch?
 WONDER WOMAN 1984. Let’s not give the industry any excuse for punishing women filmmakers if they don’t get exactly the same glowing notices with the sequel. After all, many men have gotten to make three, four, even five sequels without that. We need to have Patty Jenkins’ back here. 

What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?
That’s easy! The incredible mentoring I’ve received from WIFV. While I have relocated to LA in order to support my daughter in her acting career and pursue series work, WIFV continues to be the “wind beneath my wings,” in terms of connections, moral support, and building skills in every facet of my work as a screenwriter. I feel a responsibility every day to carry that forward.

Who inspires you?
Jane Barbara, Coordinator of ScriptDC, Moderator of the Screenwriters Roundtable, and terrific screenwriter in her own right, has set a fantastic example to me personally, of the courage, determination, and collaborative nature it takes to work in this industry. She just does not give up. WIFV is so fortunate to have her. 

What story do you wish someone would tell?
Where do I begin? We are in the infancy of re-dressing the dearth of women at the center of their own stories. That’s what I want to see: films about women inhabiting their stories, in their own way, at all points in human history. Things are getting better—witness BIG LITTLE LIES, DEAD TO ME, THE GREAT, WAJDA, and so many more. Our job is to tell them, and see them, and support them. 

What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
I love the homeyness of McGinty’s in Silver Spring. Especially in winter, when the fire is lit and the stew is warm and the Guinness is flowing! With just a few of us, after seeing a wonderful movie at AFI or the terrific multiplex nearby, to talk over the movie, our projects, our dreams. Boy. Do I miss that.