31 July 2017 01:54PM
Forget Wonder Woman, we have genuine feminist filmmakers coming to town! Feminism is basically the empowerment of women, and Grace Hannoy and Simone Stadler are doing exactly that. They are the co-producers of When We Grow Up, an independent film written by Hannoy. It is one of the first feature films to have an entirely female production crew.
“It is no secret that gender disparity in the workplace is a prevalent problem in our country,” said their Indiegogo fundraising page in 2016. “We have experienced firsthand the lack of female presence both on and off screen in the film world, and we decided to join the movement to change that.” Thus, they announced their project, raised $20,000, and started forming their crew.
“We started receiving huge numbers of personal recommendations from friends and colleagues,” said Stadler. “Once we joined forces with the phenomenally talented Zorinah Juan as our director, we brought on our Line Producer, Miranda Plant, and our Director of Photography, Katherine Castro. Both Katherine and Zorinah have been invaluable in connecting us to their professional networks of female filmmakers to fill out our crew, and Miranda has spearheaded the logistics of reaching out to these women and assembling our team.”
The young filmmakers found Columbia County by chance. In an acting class, Stadler was talking about their location scouting search for the family home in their film, “when another classmate, Melania Levitsky, overheard me and piped up that she had a house upstate that we could probably use. It really couldn’t have worked out better. Grace and I took a roadtrip up to Ghent and we knew instantly that the house was perfect for our film. We are so incredibly grateful to Melania and her family for letting us film in their home and for introducing us to the wonderful community of Chatham!”
Hannoy adds, “On our visit to see the Ghent house, Simone and I decided to check out the areas surrounding Ghent. We drove into Chatham and immediately fell in love with it! One of the first places we walked into was Willow & Oak where we met Debbye Byrum, who was the first person in town to generously offer housing for our cast and crew. This community has welcomed us in a way that I really did not think was possible, and we could not be more grateful or thrilled to be working here.”
So what’s the film about? Well, growing up, and the question perhaps of when – or how – do we really grow up. Three siblings gather to their family home because their mother is distraught with the death of her beloved dog. There are problems in the parental marriage, and there are personal struggles for each adult child: Elijah and his wife are in the process of filing for adoption, and as the only black member of his family, Elijah has some concerns about how best to start an interracial family of his own. Maris is secretly embarking on single parenthood through a sperm donor, and Louise, the baby, is not sure she wants to follow the path expected of her by her mother.
The film will be shot here August 8th through the 22nd. Their locations include the Levitsky home in Ghent, downstairs at the Blue Plate, Chatham CoWorker, and a couple exterior shots on Chatham’s Main Street.
Hannoy and Stadler met at a six-week acting intensive at The Atlantic Theater Company in New York City, and became fast friends. They have each been drawn to theater all their lives.
“I was an imaginative kid,” said Hannoy. “As I got older, my imagination took me further and to newer, more exciting places; so far as to believe I could make a career out of my dreams. Anyone who has felt this way knows what it means to be drawn to acting, and to creating. ”
Stadler said, “At various points in my life I tried to kick the habit, so to speak, and pursue something more ‘practical,’ but I kept finding myself coming back to theater and creative ensemble work, so I finally decided to listen to my gut and make it my career.”
Not only are they creating their own opportunities, they are bringing other talented women along with them. This is feminism at its most glorious.
Photographs: Gracy Hannoy, Writer & Co-Producer; Simone Stadler, Co-Producer; Zorinah Juan, Director; Katherine Castro, Director of Photography; Miranda Plant, Line Producer
This story originally appeared in The Chatham Press, August 2017.