So it all started on Twitter, as these things often do. A number of women event filmmakers from various locales throughout the industry were having a breezy afternoon chat with the hashtag "Friday Editing Happy Hour," joking about livening up the Friday afternoon editing routine with a drink or two. Then the conversation took an unexpected turn. "All of a sudden," says Reagan Zugelter of Cincinnati-based, 2009 EventDV 25 finalist Studio+Z Films, "it became a conversation about ‘Why don't we all get together?'" The idea didn't go much farther then, but Zugelter and her friend and colleague Jennifer Moon of Indianapolis-based, 2009 EventDV 25 studio Northernlight Filmworks picked it up later with a bit more urgency. "Reagan said, ‘Why don't we have a get-together and have it be fun, but have some education and open it up just to women?'" Moon recalls. "And that's how it all came about."
How what all came about, you ask? POSH, our industry's first-ever "retreat and educational experience for women event filmmakers and photographers interested in event film." Sound like fun? Did I mention that it's happening on a cruise ship?
To describe POSH as an "industry first" is to understate the matter considerably (and I don't mean the cruise part). If some of our past industry events had been billed as "men only," we might not have known the difference, as underrepresented as women have been in our industry, particularly in terms of having high-visibility, leadership roles. (This is not to deny or downplay the contributions of the great women presenters and industry pioneers who have established themselves and advanced our industry at WEVA and elsewhere—it's just that women have always been too few and far between in these roles in our field as in so many others.)
We've certainly seen some progress in recent years, particularly with the rise of Re:Frame, which has always boasted as many women as men in the Collective. But parity in male/female leadership hasn't exactly swept the industry. "That was our whole goal"—says Moon (below, right), who is launching the event in tandem with Zugelter (below, left)—"not just to connect women filmmakers from around the world to network, but also to come out of this launching some women leaders in the industry and get some recognition of all the talented women out there."
So after dropping several intriguing hints on Facebook and Twitter, Moon and Zugelter revealed details last Friday: "Our mission for POSH is education + inspiration + relaxation, so our retreat is taking place on a 4-night Royal Caribbean cruise to the Bahamas, November 8–12, 2010. POSH 2010 is reserved for only 40 women. Visit the website (http://posheventonline.com/) for more information on POSH 2010 and to register."
POSH 2010 will feature three of the leading women—scratch that, leading filmmaker/educators—in the industry, Kristen* of Bliss Productions, Tasra Dawson of Dare Dreamer Media, and Jessica Roman of Ray Roman Films as presenters, but one thing (besides demographics) that will distinguish POSH from other events is that the structure and programming of the event will focus much less on instructor presentations and much more on discussions and more active participation by the attendees. "Because it's such a small group," says Zugelter, "we'll have more smaller group discussions so more people can share and connect in that way too. So it's more of a grass roots-type of workshop instead of just having a speaker-after-speaker type of atmosphere."
Describing the predominantly male atmosphere of many industry events as one that can be a little "intimidating" for the women who bring equal talents but may not have made themselves as visible at those events, Zugelter says, the discussion group-oriented atmosphere will give more attendees more time to shine. "There might be someone who's really successful in their business and they want to tell someone else and vice versa. We've already got an inquiry from a mom who said, ‘I'd love to talk to other moms out there who do video production. How do you balance between being a mom and a business owner? I would love to talk to other moms out there who are experiencing the same things I'm experiencing.'"
"The whole thing with POSH," Moon says, "was if this was all women, what would we like to do? That's how we came up with this type of structure. What woman doesn't want to relax and have a drink and talk to other women? So we throw a little fun and networking in with the education too."
The 4-day cruise will include one day that's entirely spent at sea—Day Four—and that's when the more structured, speaker-oriented seminars with Kristen* and Tasra Dawson will occur. The cruise also includes two stops in the Bahamas, and one of those stops will give attendees a great opportunity to experiment with various different production gear. "On one of the stops we're going to be doing a shoot, and that's going to be great for people who maybe haven't used the DSLRs but want to learn more about them," Zugelter says. "We'll do some education for some of the newcomers who may not even have used HD cameras. And we're also going to bring some Super 8 and 16mm cameras as well. So it's more of a chance to try things out, get a little education on the gear itself." (So much for the stereotype that only men get into the gear.)
The focus of this year's POSH event will be event filmmaking and event filmmakers, but Zugelter and Moon says they may expand their focus in different directions for events beyond 2010. "We want to see how this year goes, then maybe extend it out to other filmmakers, or out to photographers who might be interested in learning how to shoot with the new DSLR cameras," Moon explains. "They have just as much capability of doing what we're doing."
But whatever the theme of the event might be, the goal remains the same: "Not just to connect women filmmakers from around the world to network, but also to launch some women leaders in the industry and get some recognition for all the talented women out there," Moon says.
And the POSH plan starts before—and extends beyond—the cruise. In addition to the social networking efforts they'll use to promote the event, Moon and Zugelter also use the POSH blog to profile and promote successful women in the industry with regular, bi-weekly features on the blog, starting with Kat Small of Cinema Chic (check out the Kat Small profile here). At least twice a month, Zugelter says, "we're going to be featuring a different woman on the blog, telling a little bit about herself, what inspires her, and a little clip of her work. We're going to reach out to people we know, people whose work we've seen online. And not just focusing in one area—there are really talented women filmmakers in Australia, and some people in Europe that we're going to reach out to as well."
"One of our goals," Zugelter says, "is to launch more women in the industry and have them be recognized. And who knows, maybe we'll see more women on the EventDV 25 list. Maybe they're not as involved in the forums as some of the men are, or maybe they don't go to all the conferences. Like we said, maybe they're moms and they can't go to Re:Frame and In[Focus], so they're not as well-known. But that's our whole goal: We want to create some new leaders."
"There are a lot of very talented women hiding behind their husbands," Moon explains. "That's one of the reasons I really wanted to do this event was because for myself—it's not that I'm hiding behind [my husband] John, but because of the way that our industry is, that people automatically think that he's the head of this company and it's not that way. We're equal partners. That's why we really wanted to do this," she concludes, "to empower more women to be more vocal."
Stephen Nathans-Kelly (stephen.nathans at infotoday.com) is editor-in-chief of EventDV and EventDVLive and programming director of EventDV-TV.