Well, the men will have to continue to wonder, but women who didn't make the 2010 event—as well as 2010 attendees who've been wondering what Team POSH will do for an encore—will get a chance to find out what all the excitement is about on November 6 when POSH 2011 kicks off in Cancun, Mexico. Last week I spoke with POSH co-founders Reagan Zugelter and Jennifer Moon—who won EventDV's first-ever Julian St Pierre Pay It Forward Award for their event- and community-building efforts with POSH 2010—to get the scoop on POSH 2011. Here's what I found out.
First and foremost, POSH is leaving behind the cruise-ship high seas for the seaside Beach Palace resort in Cancun, where 50 "POSHettes" will enjoy 4 nights and 3 days of educational seminars, group dinners, shooting excursions, and socializing with their fellow female filmmakers. POSH is, at first glance, a bit pricier than other industry events-attendees who elect to share a room with a fellow POSHette will pay $1,225, while those who opt for a single room will pay $1,700-but for that all-inclusive price they'll get not only their hotel accommodations and access to all POSH events, but all group meals while they're in Cancun, both food and drink (alcohol included) for the duration of the retreat, November 6-9. "It covers everything but the flight-4 nights at the hotel, meals, drinks, tips, everything. You pay for it and you're done," Reagan says. "You don't have to worry about budgeting to pay extra for all the little things."
But what else is new with POSH besides trading boat for beach? "Last year." Reagan says, "our focus was more on getting women inspired, and a lot of the presentations were geared towards that. Kristen* talked about using your feminine side in your storytelling and the way you do business, and Tasra Dawson talked about just finding that inspiration and finding projects that really you're passionate about, putting yourself into it, and giving back. But after last year's POSH, we sent out a survey, and we found out that people really wanted to focus more on the business side of things and also the technical side."
This year's speaker mix reflects the shift. First up is Karen Abad, an independent filmmaker with an MFA in Film from San Francisco's Academy of Art University who's worked on several award-winning short films, produced music videos, DP'd a feature-length documentary, and is currently a camera operator and editor for Zacuto Films, working on such series as FilmFellas, Critics, BTS, and The Great Camera Shootout. Karen will be offering both a hands-on DSLR workshop and presenting a seminar on "The Cinematography of Feel." Topics in her seminar will include technical and theoretical approaches to storytelling through cinematography, with emphasis on lighting, camera movement, choosing a camera, and networking. "This year, when we were looking for presenters," Reagan says, "we really wanted to reach outside of the event film world and look for somebody that just does filmmaking, and is really skilled in the storytelling. She's done a lot of documentaries and music videos and she actually uses Super 8 and 16 millimeter film along with DSLR, so she's really skilled on the technical side. So we wanted to bring her in to talk about that."
Joining Karen Abad will be a name familiar to event filmmakers the world over from the legendary Re:Frame events of 2008-9, Julie Hill of Elysium Productions, who runs that rare event filmmaking outfit that manages to combine volume production and extremely high-end (and usually destination) work. According to the POSH website, Julie's POSH 2011 seminar, "How to Market Yourself as a Can't Live Without Option," will focus on "unconventional ways of marketing, selling, and making your studio stand out. She will discuss creative ways to connect and book the brides you want." Reagan says Julie will address the sales aspect of the wedding film business for those whose strength lies on the creative side while the sales side goes wanting; specifically, "how you sell yourself and educate people on wanting to have your services, they have to have you and no one else." Jen describes Julie's seminar as follows: "She's going to be speaking about moving from doing more budget to higher end, but then also talking about having a successful business that encompasses all ends of the wedding spectrum."
The third POSH 2011 speaker, Michelle Loretta, runs a blog called Sage Wedding Pros, which Jen describes as designed "to help wedding professionals to build their business and marketing, writing a business plan-all the un-fun stuff. It's just a wealth of information on being a business owner. And she also does her own workshop about writing business plans. So we contacted her and she was so excited to jump on board and help people with the business end of things." Jen says the resources available at Sage Wedding Pros has benefitted herself and her husband, John Moon, and their 2-time EventDV 25 all-star studio, Northernlight Filmworks. "I downloaded her information on writing a business plan because that was something that John and I never even did, we just jumped right into starting our business and didn't even think about writing a plan. It was very eye-opening. I thought, ‘We need to share this with more people,' because we made some huge mistakes that we could have avoided had we sat down and done that from the beginning." Michelle's seminar is titled "Behind the Mystery of Pricing."
Finally, back by popular demand is Kristen* of Bliss Productions, fellow Re:Frame Collectivista with Julie Hill and a celebrated speaker at POSH 2010. "She's one of those people that's just such a natural," Reagan says. "She relates to women so well, and she's just a huge advocate for women in the industry." Kristen*'s seminar, like Karan Abad's, will focus on storytelling, "but not on the technical side," says Reagan. "It will be more of the art of how you can enhance your stories by way of natural sound bites, interviewing, that sort of thing."
Naturally, seminar topics only tell part of the story at an event like POSH, where socializing and building a community of women filmmakers are just as important as the educational aspects. The festivities kick in immediately on Sunday when POSH's 50 attendees arrive at the Beach Palace. "Sunday night, we're having a welcome party, and it's going to be on the rooftop of the building overlooking the ocean, with cocktails and appetizers. That was one of the things people put in the survey: ‘We'd like to meet everybody before the event actually starts.'" POSH will also include a series of group dinners, Reagan says, "because that was a big thing with the cruise last year. We all got to eat together at the same time, and every night we'd switch it up and sit in different seats so everybody got a chance to really talk to one another, and we didn't have any Internet service or cell phone service so people couldn't use their phones. It was cool that people actually connected and were listening to their conversations because you couldn't be checking your phone and half-listen. [POSH 2010 attendee] Meg Simone said, ‘You need to make a POSH pledge where everyone puts their phone away during the actual event.' They can have it out at night or wherever because there's wireless, we actually have wireless service at the hotel this year. But people have to put their phones and laptops away during the actual POSH part because that's where we connect on a deeper level."
Like last year's event, POSH 2011 will also include a free day, which attendees can spend shooting, socializing, or on group excursions organized through the hotel, similar to the snorkeling trip a large number of POSHettes took together last year which, along with the group dinners and other smartphone-free events, probably went a long way toward developing one of the signature elements of POSH that has evolved in the months since POSH 2010: an ongoing sense of community arguably unmatched anywhere in the industry.
Jen says it started with a private "POSHette" Facebook page that one attendee started after last year's event; "it's like we're a family there."
Reagan adds, "Several of the POSHettes have worked together now. They might put on the POSH page, ‘Hey, I need somebody to shoot with me,' and they'll ask a POSH girl before they'll ask anyone else because they'd rather work with one of their POSH friends. So we've seen a lot of collaboration and working together and just being supportive of one another. You can go on there and talk about anything and not feel intimidated that people might think you don't know what you're talking about."
Another area in which they're maintaining POSH as an active, going concern between events is through the POSH blog-a multiauthor blog featuring guest bloggers with tips and advice (similar to the blog created by Team IN[FOCUS], a consistent POSH supporter) as well as profiles showcasing the work and accomplishments of female filmmakers throughout the industry. "Starting this month," Reagan says, "we're going to be having a lot of guest bloggers writing and doing video posts for us, just trying to recognize people that aren't as maybe well known in the filmmaking community, and give them a little bit more of their voice and promote their studio. But we're going to be doing that with just women."
POSH 2011 will also feature a number of valuable giveaways, from participating sponsors including Loktah, Kessler Crane, Cinevate, Song Freedom, DP Slider, and Lens Pro to Go.
Registration is now open on http://posheventonline.com and will be available until October 1. Also on the site-along with the ongoing new posts to the blog-is more information about the event, and how Reagan and Jen are continuing to build on the success of their event and cultivate the community it helped create. And ad for those who may have been a little disappointed to discover that POSH 2011 wouldn't be a repeat of last year's cruise, Reagan says, choosing a "unique location" was still paramount to creating the POSH 2.0 experience. "We knew coming into this year that we didn't want to have it at a hotel with a conference room. There's nothing wrong with that, but what we're trying to do to differentiate our event is have it in a unique, relaxing place where we can hang out and have a great time even after the presentations are done. And that's really where we get our networking in, hanging out on the beach while sipping a piña colada."
Stephen Nathans-Kelly (stephen.nathans at infotoday.com) is editor-in-chief of EventDV.