Sunday, January 27, 2013

Women in Independent Filmmaking: Summer League

One of the things I like most about my life is that I'm immersed in a community of talented, creative people. Some such people are the minds behind the upcoming independent film, Summer League. I had a chance to catch a super sneak preview of this film earlier this week.

The film follows a young woman, Allie, as she goes home to the small town of her childhood for the summer before her last year of college. Tragedy befalls her almost immediately upon her arrival and it is by reconnecting with two important pieces of her past that she she is able to move forward: her best friend Kenzie and the love of softball. Summer League takes a light but realistic look at what it means to grow up while remembering to have fun along the way. Check out the teaser trailer:

Like I said, I'm lucky to know the people behind the project. It was written by Kelli Horan and directed by her husband, Lex Lybrand. The two of them produced it in conjunction with another friend, Carrie Evans. It was shot here in Austin, TX and exhibits the spirit of truly independent cinema.

As I write about often, women's voices are undoubtedly marginalized in the film industry. However, truly independent cinema occupies an interesting space in our current world. It's easier than ever to pick up a camera and just create. I don't mean "easy" in a way that might diminish the hard work and dedication of people who have made independent projects, because I know first hand, that projects like this take your app. But I do mean to remind you that if you have a story to tell, it can as simple as deciding you want to do it, and really sticking to it. Get your voice out there.

In that spirit, I figured what better way to share a little more of the story behind Summer League's making than to talk with Kelli Horan herself.

NF: Where did you get the idea for Summer League? 
KH: Summer League came from my genuine love for playing ball. I have played since I was a kid, and it always brought me such joy and helped me through emotions growing up (still growing up!). I really wanted to write something that helped to communicate this idea. I think everyone can relate to family issues, the struggles with growing up, loss, and friendship.

NF: One of my favorite parts of the movie was the relationship between Kenzie and Allie. Did your real life female friendships inform this? How so?
KH: Absolutely! The female friendship in Summer League between Allie and Kenzie totally represents so many of my real life friendships. To me, friendship means to be real with the other person and be there for them whenever you can. That's really what I wanted to bring to Allie and Kenzie's relationship in the movie. They call each other on their shit, but they also really care about each other. That's important. Also, I realized that my best friendships aren't limited by distance or time. Just like Allie and Kenzie, I've stayed friends with a handful of people from my hometown, and when we finally meet up again, it's as if we were never apart!

NF: What advice do you have for women who also want to write a screen play or to make movies? 
KH: My advice for women who want to write a screenplay is to just do it! This is my first feature film, and honestly it was daunting. I knew I had a story I wanted to tell, but the process seemed intimidating. That's when you just have to dig in and do it. Immerse yourself in it, in your world. Be open to criticism, but stand by your work. Don't let anyone demean your idea or ambition. But also don't get defensive about writing critiques - growing and seeing your work from an outsiders perspective is an important part of the process! I was a little surprised how difficult it was to get the respect or attention of my male peers during this process. Don't let that discourage you. While it is an unfortunate obstacle in the film industry, try hard and you will find a great group of people to support you and for you to support. I was lucky enough to meet such a great group of people working on Summer League that I inadvertently found almost a full crew already for my next film, Wind and Rain - and it's basically all women!

Thank you to Kelli for sharing her story. If you want to learn more about Summer League, like them on Facebook or visit their website. You can also learn more about Wind and Rain, currently in pre-production, here.

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