The Independent Filmmaking Hustle – Vintage Female Super Heroes Reimagined
Part of being a very, very independent filmmaker is supporting other very, very independent filmmakers, especially those who you know, love, respect and probably need to help you do something at some point.
So let me introduce you to the amazing “Her-POW! New Adventures of Vintage Heroines.”
“Her-POW! New Adventures of Vintage Heroines” brings female superheroes from the 1940s and 50s era comics back to life in film.
Having fallen into the public domain, these heroines of comic books past are now available for modern adventures, and “Her-POW!” brings three of them back to fight another day.
The project is led by Dawn “Sam” Alden, founder of the film production company Vicarious Films and a wonderful friend of mine and part of my filmmaking “tribe.” Alden is also the founder of the Feminist Writers Group within the film collective We Make Movies. Alden issued a writer’s challenge to the group, inspired by Mike Madrid’s book Divas, Dames & Daredevils: Lost Heroines of Golden Age Comics. Choose a female superhero from these Golden Age comics that is now in the public domain and create a short film script featuring her.
I actually helped out on the promotional video for the project, I shot the whole thing, but Dawn did an amazing job of editing it all together, so you will get a really good idea of how they want the finished films to look. We had a pretty wild couple of days running around LA, shooting in some spectacular locations – Shakespeare’s Bridge in Los Feliz, The Japanese Gardens in the Valley (Star Trek filmed there and I geeked out pretty hard I can tell you!!). We also shot in a beautiful mausoleum in Altadena and at the iconic Angels Flight downtown. We spent a couple of memorable hours running up and down steps by the Burbank train station too, with the “Cloud Factory” in the background, a great example of how locations can really make all the difference!
From more than 75 characters, the writers chose three: The Woman in Red, The Veiled Avenger and Ghost Woman, and have created three short films each featuring one of these characters. The producers are currently crowdfunding through Seed & Spark for the funding to make the project happen. https://www.seedandspark.com/fund/her-pow
Although the original comics were predominantly white and male, these new adventures will feature diverse casts that are either gender equal or skew female. This dedication to diversity and inclusion will extend to the crew as well as those in front of the camera. Each short will have a female director and cinematographer and will feature female characters driving the action.
Once the shorts are finished, they will be uploaded to Vicarious Film’s YouTube channel to be shared and enjoyed by all. The group wants to make more shorts featuring these and other little-known heroines and hopes to inspire others to do the same. To learn more about the project and help make it happen, check out their Seed and Spark campaign page here: https://www.seedandspark.com/fund/her-pow
Scripts were written by Stina Pederson (Ghost Woman), Tracy Schmetterer (The Veiled Avenger) and Dawn Alden (The Woman in Red). The project is being produced by Pederson, Schmetterer, Alden, Brendan Weinhold and Angela Acuña.
This is a really wonderful project and one I hope to help out on some more if I can.
It’s inspiring to find fellow filmmakers doing all they can to get something made. The pioneer spirit is strong in this group and we need to support quality and diversity in filmmaking at every level, and where better to start than in our own film universe?
Check out their campaign and if you can’t contribute then please spread the word, let’s get these movies made people!!!
Dawn Alden – Writer/Fearless Leader
Dawn Alden is a mover, a shaker and a Maker. She holds an MFA in Acting and has over 20 years experience in that, stage combat, new work development and producing. She founded and ran an all-female theatre company in Chicago (www.babeswithblades.org), and now acts and runs a film production company in LA (www.vicariousfilms.com). She is working with iWe ( www.joiniwe.com) to make a real and lasting change to the gender disparity in Hollywood. She is dedicated to creating work by and about women, for everyone. dawnalden.com
Catelin Dziuba – Costume Designer
Catelin is a costume designer with over six years of experience. She has worked in mediums ranging from theater, film, and commercials to music videos, TV, and web series. While her speciality is horror, she loves working with bold colors and recreating looks from the 40s, 60s, and 80s. Part of her talent as a designer is organizing the wardrobe needs for each character, sussing out amazing thrift store finds, sewing and fabricating costumes as needed, and then supervising and maintaining continuity on set. She is based out of Los Angeles, California.
Edgar Landa – Fight Choreographer
Edgar is the resident fight/violence instructor and fight director for the USC School of Dramatic Arts. He is a long-standing member of Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA, where he serves on the faculty as a Fight and Text instructor and has worked extensively in their nationally recognized education programs. Edgar creates violence and mayhem for theatres small and big, including The Mark Taper Forum, Kirk Douglas Theatre, South Coast Repertory, San Diego Rep, Annenberg PAC, Getty Villa, Cornerstone Theatre, Theatre @ Boston Court and many others. Edgar is an alumnus of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab & the Directors Lab West and is a graduate of the USC School of Dramatic Arts. He most recently directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Thin Air Shakespeare in Jackson Hole, WY and is directing the Loyola Marymount University production of Culture Clash’s Chavez Ravine this fall.
Stina Pederson – Writer
Stina hails from Seattle, WA, where she studied creative writing at the University of Washington. She writes poetry, novels, stage plays, and film scripts. Her most recently produced work was the award nominated play Up Down Stick Stuck, a collaboration by five writers for the 2016 Hollywood Fringe Festival. Stina fell in love with film writing after joining LA film collective We Make Movies. She is dedicated to increasing the number of complex and non-sexist film roles for women. stinapederson.com
Tracy Schmetterer – Writer/Actor
After joining SAG at age 11 and spending many years in New York and Los Angeles pursuing the acting dream, Tracy discovered a passion for writing in 2007 and she hasn’t looked back since. One comical blog and four short films later, Tracy was ecstatic to choose a piece that is not only super fun but a true homage to women and comic book heroines. The Veiled Avenger has been such a joy for her to revive, and she hopes everyone will get the chance to enjoy the campiness and power of this super heroine on screen.
Brendan Weinhold – Actor
Brendan works to build community with theatre and film. He’s a big fan of all the things he did at theatre camp when he was a kid, and he cultivates that playfulness within the companies he joins. He’s written sketch comedy for Daily Fiber Films and Second City Hollywood. He’s led workshops for 4-H, First Stage Milwaukee, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Youth Theatre Northwest, and We Make Movies. He is a CSzLA improviser, BookPALS reader, award-nominated Hollywood Fringe actor and writer for Ray Burley Productions, Young Storytellers Foundation mentor, feminist, and Wisconsin farm kid. Brendan has a B.A. in Drama from the University of Washington. BrendanWeinhold.com
Angela Acuna – Producer
Angela is a sometimes stage manager, new producer, and full-time dog personal assistant. Her hobbies include improv, watching old Mexican horror films and LARP. She is currently writing her first play for the 2017 Hollywood Fringe Festival.