#NeverthelessFilmFestival: Women Directors Share Insights

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The inaugural Nevertheless Film Festival takes place July 11 – 14, 2019 in Ann Arbor, MI. #DirectedbyWomen invited women directors with films screening at the festival to respond to this question…

“Could you please tell us about a moment during the making of your film when you could feel your vision coming together or when you overcame a challenge in a satisfying way?”

Here’s what Bridgette Auger, Kimmy Gatewood, Sarah Kate Madden, Shaina Feinberg, Simone Le Claire, Stacey Tenenbaum and Stefanie Abel Horowitz had to say about their filmmaking processes.

The Audition
directed by Sarah Kate Madden

The Audition
The Audition
The Audition
Sarah Kate Madden

The first shot I envisioned for The Audition was a slow zoom into a tight close-up of the female lead. For me, the entire short hinges on this nearly minute-long shot, because the audience needs to see the character claiming her space as an actress.

Thank God I had an amazing actress (Orianna Milne) and cinematographer (Alberto De Coste Calla) to pull it off. We did one rehearsal and three takes. And when we were finished with that third take, I knew the short was going to be okay because the shot I imagined months before actually worked the way I hoped it would.

Follow Sarah Kate Madden on Instagram.


Consent: a short comedy about a serious subject
directed by Kimmy Gatewood

Consent: a short comedy about a serious subject
Consent: a short comedy about a serious subject
Consent: a short comedy about a serious subject
Kimmy Gatewood

This film, written by/starring Rebekka Johnson, is an allegory and a role reversal story, so we had a lot of conversations about what it was like to be in each other’s shoes. In particular, how women feel uncomfortable and sometimes scared when a man is hitting on them. It was an enlightening experience. In fact, Tate our lead actor remarked how terrible he felt after the first day of filming because of how powerless and victimized his character felt. I hope our film can allow everyone to take a moment and try on different perspectives for a deeper understanding of each other.

Follow Consent: a short comedy about a serious subject on Facebook, and the film’s website, and follow Kimmy Gatewood on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


Pipe Dreams
directed by Stacey Tenenbaum

Pipe Dreams
Pipe Dreams
Pipe Dreams
Stacey Tenenbaum

Sometimes I have images of how I want things to look in my head but I am never really sure if they will work until I get to the edit suite. I think that’s the place – especially for documentary film – where your vision actually feels like it is coming together.

For Pipe Dreams, I had an idea for the film’s opening sequence. I wanted to start with very beautiful, cinematic images of the organists in the film playing the organ.

The problem is that, in documentary, you are usually following the action so there is not really time to set up pretty shots. On the last day of filming I was able to find the perfect church – I actually went into the church near my house to ask if I could film there – and I finally had the time to do these pretty shots.

The title sequence is always the last thing I do in a film, so at the very end of the editing process, I was able to see my vision for the film opening come to life.

It’s nice when something you have in your mind actually works on screen!

Stacey Tenenbaum plans to attend Nevertheless Film Festival. Find out more about Stacey Tenenbaum and Pipe Dreams on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the film’s website.


Senior Escort Service directed by Shaina Feinberg

Senior Escort Service
Senior Escort Service
Senior Escort Service
Shaina Feinberg
Shaina Feinberg

The first thing we shot for Senior Escort Service was a dinner party scene. The movie is a combination of fiction and documentary – and this dinner party scene was just straight up documentary.

We had two cameras set up and we’d invited people to come eat and drink with us and share stories in what was basically a group therapy session (which is a theme in the movie). Some of the stories were light and funny but still confessional. Then, for whatever reason, everyone started sharing animal stories. Stories of people killing animals to eat them or getting bitten by animals or getting bitten by animals while they were trying to kill the animal to eat it. We went down a whole animal story path for like, an hour. I started to panic that we’d have spent all of this time and money and only walk away with animal stories. But eventually the conversation drifted and we started to get other stories.

A woman told a beautiful story about a dream she had after her dad died and in that moment I was like, I think this movie is gonna work!

Shaina Feinberg plans to attend Nevertheless Film Festival. Find out more about her on her website.


sometimes, i think about dying
directed by Stefanie Abel Horowitz

sometimes, i think about dying
sometimes, i think about dying
sometimes, i think about dying

The film started coming together as soon as our full team was gathered in Maine. We were half Los Angelinos, half Mainers, a few from Atlanta, one from New York and one from Mumbai. It’s a magical thing when everyone comes together and creative energy starts flowing. It felt like family making a backyard play and I think that shows in the film.

Follow sometimes, i think about dying on Instagram.


To Ana
directed by Simone Le Claire

To Ana

In this work I have often been anxious about explaining my ideas to collaborators, feeling that people don’t fully understand them and at best will just go along with what I say. I remember I was particularly nervous to share the To Ana script and slightly comforted when I decided to make our team small, full of women and very warm people. So, in this very personal piece a gratifying part of the process was how fully and immediately Alyssa (the lead) understood the script. Prior to this film, a lot of my work had focused on production design and utilized more stylized performance; To Ana heavily depended on natural performance to capture the nuances of the simple story. During our private rehearsal I could instantly see the script coming alive, but even more tenderly, I witnessed Alyssa completely resonating with the subtleties and scope of what we were expressing, and harmoniously adding to it. This gave me a sweet feeling of being seen that I hadn’t yet experienced in a filmmaking context.

Simone Le Claire plans to attend Nevertheless Film Festival. Follow To Ana on Facebook, and follow Simone Le Claire on Facebook, Instagram, and her website.


We Are Not Princesses
directed by Bridgette Auger & Itab Azzam

We Are Not Princesses
We Are Not Princesses
Bridgette Auger

Itab Azzam approached me to help her film a theater workshop that she was producing called Antigone of Syria. I jumped at the chance to be creative and work on issues I care deeply about. We began filming the movement exercises and the discussions in the rehearsals. It became immediately clear that important work was also going on behind the scenes and outside of the rehearsal space. For example, the day after the women were given the script, they came rushing in exclaiming, “There is no way that this was written 2,500 years ago! This is our story!”

It was this moment that inspired our film, We Are Not Princesses.

Bridgette Auger plans to attend Nevertheless Film Festival. Follow We Are Not Princesses on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the film’s website.

Nevertheless Film Festival
Ann Arbor, MI
July 11-14, 2019

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