On November 8, 2010, 42 female visual artists from around the world boarded a cruise ship in Port Canaveral, Florida for POSH 2010. POSH, an educational workshop and retreat for women, is the brainchild of Jennifer Moon of Northernlight Filmworks and Reagan Zugelter of Studio Z Films. Jen and Reagan had recognized a need in our industry for female filmmakers and photographers to come together to connect, educate, and inspire one another. As we found our way around the ship that Monday afternoon, and began to meet one another, Jen and Reagan's inspiration started to become a reality.
At this point we were still connected to our families, our friends, and our companies because of our proximity to the mainland. That general obsession we have with our iPhones/Droids/Blackberries/whatever began to dissipate as we cruised further out to sea and that was when we really began to connect with each other. By Tuesday, we were ready to hear our first presenters, Brea McDonald of Brea McDonald Photography and Dawn Kelly of Soirée Floral, walk us through the anatomy of their collaborative photo-concept "inspiration shoots." Although their presentation was excellent-and good preparation for the inspiration shoot we'd undertake shortly thereafter—I think what many of us valued most about their presence at the retreat was the different perspective of the event industry that they brought to POSH.
Tuesday afternoon we hit Coco Cay in the Bahamas for the inspiration shoot. There's a moment from the inspiration shoot that I think will always represent the POSH experience for me. My POSH roommate, Jennifer Leyva of Cabana Pictures has been getting into film recently and had brought her Canon Scoopic M 16mm camera along. So there we were, standing under the shade of a palm tree, steel drums playing in the background and, rather than a rum drink in hand, Jennifer has a roll of film in hand, and was getting guidance from Kristen* of Bliss Productions on the best way to load the film into that beast of a camera. The moment just encapsulates everything that was right about POSH: sharing our knowledge with one another.
Sometime over dinner on Tuesday night, it was suggested we should create a short film to illustrate the positive power and passion of women in the film industry. For POSH co-founder Reagan, that moment really stands out. "Everyone in the group decided to give up some of their free time in Nassau to create and shoot the concept film we create. It was a moment that I will never forget. I looked around the room, seeing women from all over the world come together for one common goal: to continue to further the recognition of women filmmakers and photographers as not only talented artists, but as successful business owners."
We Create from POSH on Vimeo.
Thursday morning found us starting a day full of seminars. Jen and Reagan helped us identify real-world strategies to find that work-life balance which many women find elusive. Tasra Dawson of Dare Dreamer Media and Tasra Mar | Transform illustrated how multitasking was counterproductive and presented a seminar so emotionally powerful I found big, fat tears rolling down my cheeks by the end of it. I don't know if I can do Jessica Roman's presentation justice by trying to sum it up in a few sentences. She isn't the woman behind the man. She is the woman. The industry wisdom she shared was invaluable and I'm still in awe of what a talented and strong person she is.
One of the first questions Kristen* asked us in her seminar was "What differentiates us as female filmmakers from our male counterparts?" Apart from some of the obvious things, like the seemingly male obsession with the newest and coolest tools of our trade, we all kept coming back to the emotional connection we make with our clients. If Kristen* helping Jenn load film in Scoopic was the spirit of POSH, then the message of her seminar was the heart. We shoot and edit from the heart. If we're pushed for time, we might forgo a sweet slider shot during a bridal prep sequence to capture an intimate moment with the bride and her mother. In post, a beautiful, technically perfect shot may get cut in favor of a slightly out-of-focus shot, because the out-of-focus shot has more emotional impact or because it advances the story most effectively.
Because this was the inaugural gathering for POSH, I'm not sure if any of us really knew what to expect as we boarded the Monarch of the Seas that sunny afternoon. We knew that we would have the opportunity to hear from some of our industry's leaders on a variety of topics that pertained to us individually and as a group, but we got so much more. We got recharged. We got inspired. We found out we aren't doing this by ourselves, even if we're a team of one in South Dakota. We communicate through social media. We pick up the phone and call one another. We get together when we can. We collaborate. We create.
Jen Moon summed up the whole event by saying, "I think the thing that stood out most to me was how we have connected women from all over the world and created lifelong friendships. That was what I wanted most out of POSH: to create a community of strong women filmmakers and photographers, one that we could bond within and help each other out." Mission accomplished.
Joanna Banks-Morgan (email@example.com) of Diva Productions has spent most of her 41 years in newsrooms or on sets. She attended Cardiff University's Journalism, Film, and Television program in Wales and started her career in 1992 with British broadcaster Westcountry Television. Before creating Diva Productions in 2007 with husband/business partner Robert Banks-Morgan, Joanna worked for CBS 42 KEYE in Austin.