Posted by: michellemuldoon | October 25, 2019

Almeria Western Film Festival

I recently returned from the Almeria Western Film Festival in Tabernas, Spain where Last Stand to Nowhere received a great response. I grew up watching Spaghetti Westerns with my father and to screen in the home of the Sergio Leone classics was a dream come true.

Be prepared, this is going to be a long post!

It nearly didn’t happen. After a great festival summer for Last Stand, the coffers were bare but fifteen Facebook friends e-transferred me the cost of flights and before I knew it, I was booked and going. Why was it so important? The festival screened twenty-one films. One of the other shorts was a directing duo, with one of the duo being female. The only other woman director in the festival was me. Representation matters.

I arrived in Tabernas the morning of the festival opening. I was picked up at the Airport and driven to the village of Tabernas in time to meet my filmmaker liaison, Cristina, and then off to get my room at the hostel. The town was sold out and Cristina kindly found me a room in an apartment in a hostel directly across a narrow pedestrian street from La Puente Cafe. All I can say is, I miss the place every day; every morning began sitting outside with a coffee and a tostada of tomato and serrano ham for two euros. It was heaven.

I quickly learned that the festival is really a village wide event. There were free concerts, shows at the Western towns, and re-enactment fans from far and wide attending. The whole village took part, with the opening day films screened strictly for students. Tabernas is proud of its film heritage and the festival is a celebration of its Western roots. The full event kicked off with a parade to the plaza for the opening ceremony. Lucky me, the parade ran right past my hostel and La Puente.

Almeria Western Film Festival Parade on Vimeo 

From there it was off for lunch with approximately twenty other people, including festival honoree Alex Cox. Yes, the man who made Repoman and Sid and Nancy has a long relationship with the region. He not only lived in the area for a number of years, but has also filmed a number of other projects there.  I met and became fast friends with Daniel Camargo and his wife Rosa. Daniel hails from Brazil but now lives in Italy.  His film is an excellent documentary on Spaghetti Western star George Hilton called George Hilton, the World Belongs to the Daring.

I’m not sure if it was that day or the next but I had the great fortune of meeting two exceptional young animators from The Netherlands, Wiebe Bonnema was joined by Anselm Oettel. The five of us quickly became inseparable.  It helped we were the English speaking contingent but honestly, even if I could barely understand these guys I would still have hung out with them. I learned so much from them about European cinema, the industry and what it means to be an independent filmmaker in Europe.

I didn’t realize until the end of day that the volunteer that greeted me at the theatre was the Mayor of Tabernas, Senor Jose Dias, or that I was sitting next to the Festival Director, Senor Eduardo Trias, at lunch. Senor Trias told me he loved my film, thanked me for bringing it the festival and finished with, “We need more women in Westerns”. I still don’t think I’ve recovered.

When we say Representation Matters, this festival was proof of it. I did have one negative experience with an attendee. I met a gentleman that was there with a feature. He asked why I was at the festival and I told him that I had a film in the short film competition and the response was, “Good for you”. I’m proud to say that my new friends were quick to disappointment.  Every other man I met found the response both condescending and disappointing.  Filmmaker Alberto Romero, the director of the award-winning Argentinian feature film Infierno Grande, was quick to comment several days later that he wanted to know where the women filmmakers were.  I told him he was looking at her. The conversation that ensued gave me great hope for the genre and for women in Westerns. Alberto wanted to see more of us, and was as supportive as the other men I was spending my time with.

On the second day at the festival, I had a roommate move into my hostel apartment. I couldn’t have been more fortunate with who it was; Pierre-Alexandre Chauvat from France. Pierre-Alexandre quickly joined our group and as our table grew, so did the conversations over beer and tapas at La Puente. Piere-Alexandre, Wiebe and I all screened in the same block. It was a special feeling to have all three of us sitting in the theatre together, cheering for each other; something I never expected to happen in a theatre on the other side of the planet.

As an aside, I want to share my gratitude for how we were treated by the festival. I don’t think I paid for a meal in the first three days. There was a cocktail party each evening and the tapas were never ending. The festival had beer and wine sponsors and the El Gringo representatives were always around. We were never treated like emerging filmmakers, or independent filmmakers. We were treated like filmmakers, as professional as anyone with a big budget. It was amazing to experience.

Throughout the week I continued to meet people from all over the world who loved the genre and loved the idea of women asserting themselves into it. I was told by several women that making Last Stand was an act of bravery, and the actress that won Best Female Performer in a Feature lamented the fact she didn’t get to brandish a pistol and be that self-actualized character that you know I believe in. I was also told by someone that they thought that Last Stand to Nowhere and Pierre-Alexandre’s film The Legacy were the best of the bunch. There was an award for Best Western and Best Neo-Western. The Legacy won Best Western and I like to think we were right behind it.

We met a lovely couple, David and Carol, who had a great understanding of the European Western re-enactment community. I had no idea how big it was. There are Western towns in several places in Europe, including Great Britain, and the re-enactment community takes their costumes quite seriously as they travel to events at all of them. The community is less about re-enacting history and more about re-enacting Western Film, which I thought was fantastic.  I think this is a community that needs more exploration on my part and I was so grateful to learn more about how Westerns are valued on the Continent.

The first concert Wiebe, Anselm and I attended in the Plaza was by Sarah Vista and her band. David and Carol were enthusiastic about the concert so we knew we had to attend. Sarah hales from the UK and plays both country music and western music.  I appreciated that she has a clear point of view on how those two categories differ.  Meet Sarah Vista via her video for Killing Fever:

 

There are two Western towns in the area, both built by Sergio Leone. Oasys or Mini-Hollywood is the more commercial of the two. It has full buildings and is open to tourists with a show in the saloon. There’s also a cinema projection museum in the main building. It’s quite simply, spectacular. Fort Bravo is mostly facades but has a full saloon and cafeteria and group booking space. There are several cottage-like buildings on site so if you’re filming, you can also stay.

Fort Bravo was built for The Good The Bad and The Ugly but never used. Most recently, The Sisters Brothers filmed on location. All the performers at Fort Bravo and Mini-Hollywood were background performers in the film. You can’t help but feel the magic in both places. I’ve never wanted to film in a location more than I do Tabernas. To be a part of that heritage would be spectacular.

Oasys, Mini-Hollywood

Fort Bravo Western Show on Vimeo

Fort Bravo

Thoughts, lessons, experiences… too many to list so I’m going to itemize what comes to mind:

1.  We met some other young men from France who graduated film school then banded together to make film and grow a company. Their film was a neo-Western called Le Blizzard.  They were enthusiastic to talk about Last Stand to Nowhere and the process of making it. We chatted about the struggles to get their company going, how they run their collaboration and what the ultimate goal of financing and larger projects meant. They had a great relationship where they floated between duties. If one of them wanted to work more with camera, then they made that happen. It was refreshing to see people who were less focused on how they, as individuals, benefited than how, as a group, they could progress. Every young man I met from Europe was supportive of me and my project and open to hearing that many women are tired of the girlfriend/wife/harlot roles. I never felt talked down to, or ignored.  I have such great hope thanks to the young men I met.

2. Canadian filmmakers share issues around funding with our European and South American friends.  Financing is still connected to cultural relevance and there are also doors that open and close depending on where you went to school. What’s worse is that crowdfunding is scoffed at.  It’s considered begging for help, so many of my fellow filmmakers were making their films out of pocket and what investment they could raise. Everyone was amazed at how much we raised with crowdfunding and I found myself giving short lectures on how we ran a successful campaign. That being said, there is money in Europe and South America through government funding agencies but it’s just as hard to tap into as it is for us.

3. Spain has a longer history of film creation than I realized. The first production to film in Tabernas was Lawrence of Arabia. After that, Cleopatra arrived. Then came the Spaghetti Westerns after Sergio Leone built sets for his Dollars Trilogy. Most recently Tabernas and Almeria has been home to Queen of Swords, Game of Thrones and the latest season of The Crown. The skilled crews are there and they are hungry to bring production to the region.

4. People don’t talk about themselves or the industry in Europe. They talk about film, cinema and the masters that influence them. Not once did we talk in terms of status in the industry or the business of film, other than how we financed our own projects.

5. Women are starved for better representation in Westerns. This has been a building realization for me but when I add the voices of European women to those I’ve heard in North America then I know without a shadow of a doubt there’s an untapped market for women in Westerns.

6. It’s not just other filmmakers that matter at a festival. I learned about my market overseas from David and Carol and I made contact with someone attending the festival who passed along Last Stand to someone in the industry in Britain.

7. Which means… be open to everyone you meet at a festival. Don’t sleep unless others are sleeping. If other filmmakers are going to something, then you should too. You have no idea who you’ll meet or when. I slept maybe 4-5 hours a night thanks to events going on and jet lag. Either way, I was not going to miss a conversation at breakfast or a chance meeting at an event in the evening.

8. Don’t isolate yourself or assume that what you see, hear, experience at a local festival is how the world sees you. We must think globally, while acting locally to make projects move forward.

9. Status is not a replacement for a genuine relationship. It doesn’t matter how high up someone is, find your festival tribe and together build your network. I found mine and consider myself incredible fortunate to have met Daniel, Rosa, Wiebe, Anselm, Pierre-Alexandre and Alberto. It’s hard to put into words what I learned from them, but I think it can be summed up with; look at your choices with a global perspective, and strive for a sense of sharing and collaboration.

10. Off topic, let’s talk about climate change. The region is receiving less and less rainfall. When it does happen, it often results in flash flooding and you can see the gullies created by them. The desert is stunning, but we do need to be aware that this is one of those places that knows just how much we need to be more aware of our future use of the planet.

Spain and Tabernas caught hold of my heart and taught me I have a place in film. I don’t know if I ever felt a greater sense of belonging as I did on this trip. I went to AWFF acutely aware that I was probably the only female director there, but not once did anyone make me feel that way. If that isn’t a testimonial to how special the Almeria Western Film Festival and the international community it gathers is, I don’t what could be.

 

Posted by: michellemuldoon | August 20, 2019

Nominations Galore!

So appreciative of the recognition Last Stand to Nowhere is receiving.

CITY OF ANGELS WOMEN’S FILM FESTIVAL:
Screening: August 28th, 2019

AUSTIN REVOLUTION FILM FESTIVAL:
Screening: September 7th, 2019

THE WILD BUNCH FILM FESTIVAL
Screening: October 4th, 2019

Posted by: michellemuldoon | August 8, 2019

Festival Update

You can find Last Stand to Nowhere at the following Festivals over the next two months.

Posted by: michellemuldoon | July 8, 2019

Last Stand to Nowhere at CIFF19

Last Stand to Nowhere had a wonderful screening at the Covellite International Film Festival but not surprised, because this festival and the town of Butte, Montana are a hidden gem of the festival circuit. The people are friendly and welcoming, the venues great and the after parties always lively. It’s a festival that is always on my submission list and it should be on yours, as well.

This year was especially sweet as the film received the Achievement in Short Form Filmmaking Award. A huge thank you goes out to Festival Directors Brian Boyd and Don Andrews for running yet another successful festival.

I always leave trying to figure out how to get back to this town and festival the next year!

 

Posted by: michellemuldoon | April 15, 2019

Last Stand to Nowhere Poster

Felice House is most famous for her Re-Western Art Exhibit and her ability to bring real women to life on canvas in some of the most iconic roles in Western Film.  We could not be more grateful to Felice for agreeing to bring our set images to life on our poster for Last Stand to Nowhere.

The poster is inspired by the poster for the 1957 Gunfight at the OK Corral starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. Felice used set photographs from Mavreen David and Michelle Lamberson to inspire the final poster you see today. The lettering was created by hand by fellow Austin artist, Ken Manthei, and Isabelle Swiderski of Vancouver-based Seven25 handled the typography.

The poster represents the efforts of so many individuals, and truly represents my belief that women in roles other than Saloon Prostitute and Chaste Farm Wife makes is what will help catapult Westerns into a more prominent position in the twenty-first century.

The Western has become a sort of modern mythology and like most mythologies, women have been an afterthought. Hopefully, our project can prove that change in how we tell Westerns would be a good thing.

Posted by: michellemuldoon | March 28, 2019

Last Stand to Nowhere Festival Update

What a month for festival acceptances this has been. On the heels of Last Stand to Nowhere‘s acceptance to the Artemis Women in Action Film Festival, we received news that we received an official selection status for the first quarter with the Genre Celebration Festival in Tokyo. The film also garnered nominations for Best Western Short and Best Actress for Julie Lynn Mortensen. A week after that, we received word that Last Stand will be screening at the Bechdel Film Festival in Akron, Ohio.

Regarding Artemis, we’ve got great news. We’ve received two screening times. We screen on Saturday, April 27th at 4:15 and April 28th at 4:20. They must like us!

If this his how March is going to run, I’m excited to see what the rest of the spring and summer will look like.

Posted by: michellemuldoon | February 27, 2019

Artemis Women in Action Film Festival

Last Stand to Nowhere has received its first film festival acceptance. What’s even more exciting is that it was also the first response due on our submission list.  We’re all hoping this is the sign of a good festival run to follow.

Artemis Women in Action Film Festival is the perfect festival for us. It’s a festival that celebrates female action and empowerment films. You could say, they are “our people”. The festival takes place from April 25 – 28th inclusive. We haven’t received our screening time and date yet, but will post as soon as we receive it.

If you’re in Los Angeles, and in the Santa Monica area in particular, I hope you’ll come out and support the festival, and our film.

Posted by: michellemuldoon | January 4, 2019

Last Stand to Nowhere Teaser

We made a Western Film and we did it with a community of donors and sponsors who trusted and supported us to make Last Stand to Nowhere happen. As a filmmaker I have never experienced that level of kindness and generosity before. And I will forever be grateful for it.

To our crowdfunders and social media community, thank you for everything you have done. To our sponsors — Thunderbird Fast Draw Club, Orchard Film Studios, Stetson, Legacy Liquor Store, Sharpe Sound Studios, Encore Post and Matrix Production Services — a huge thank you. Independent Film doesn’t happen without the support of members of the film community and businesses that support the arts. You have been our heroes.

Please check out our Teaser for the project and stay tuned for updates as our festival run develops.

 

Posted by: michellemuldoon | July 9, 2018

Ms. In the Biz

Photo by Mavreen David Photography

Last Stand to Nowhere is currently in post-production.  While we are slowly inching towards finishing the film, I’m proud to share my first interview of this phase in production courtesy of Ms In The Biz.

I had the chance to discuss the film and why I chose to make it with actor/writer Taylor Hastings.

Taylor made the interview an easy discussion, and I am most appreciative of that. Sometimes it’s hard to talk about your project, but when your passionate about it, and the interviewer knows how to navigate that passion, it becomes an easy experience.

My thanks to Taylor and to Ms In the Biz for the wonderful article and experience.

Last Stand to Nowhere Ms In The Biz Interview.

Photo by WendyD Photography

Posted by: michellemuldoon | May 21, 2018

Westerns Rule

Or should I say, women in westerns rule. I know it’s been a long time since I blogged, but I was distracted. Who knew that this particular distraction would take a year and a half of my life before the camera would roll. I’m not sure if LAST STAND TO NOWHERE has been a passion or an obsession, but either way it resulted to four days in Pitt Meadows, BC with some of the most inspiring, kind, generous, talented, decent humans I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and working with.

Clantons Shack Lamberson

Photo by Michelle Lamberson

As long as it took to get to this stage, the speed at which it moved from December 2017 on was exhilarating. Joining the already established cast of Maja Aro, Frances Flanagan, Chelah Horsdal, Jenn MacLean-Angus, Julie Lynn Mortensen, and Johannah Newmarch were Catherine Lonsdale, Luvia Petersen and Sadie Silcock. Lini Evans came on at the eleventh hour to make our saloon complete with a saloon singer.

For three days our cast endured high heat in heavy clothing to make something special. The generous souls of the Thunderbird Fast Draw Club provided instruction and gun wrangling services so that our showdown would look as it should.

The camaraderie on set was astounding. The amount of people I have to thank has been extensive and I’ve spent the last two weeks on the Last Stand to Nowhere social media channels making sure I did so.  You are all brilliant!

This is what I’ve learned from the people on the shoot, and from the shoot itself:

  • Women want this kind of content. We all want this. Why? Because media is not satisfying the market. To paraphrase one woman on Facebook, Godless gave us one glorious episode. It’s time for change.
  • When we all come to a project because we believe in it, the experience can be transcendent. It’s been two weeks, and I’m still hearing from cast and crew how special the shoot was.
  • Patience is beautiful and don’t forget to breathe. Eight years ago I discovered that the saying, Patience is a Virtue, was not the correct translation of the ancient Arab proverb. The correct one is, Patience is Beautiful. And in hot weather on long days, I learned to take a deep breath and remember to keep it beautiful.
  • Vancouver will step to the plate when you need them. My thanks are eternal to our sponsors Matrix Production Services, Thunderbird Fast Draw Club, and Orchard Film Studios because without them, we wouldn’t have a film. I would also like to thanks Golden Eagles Farms and Renee Bella. Without them, we would never have been able to afford a location. These people made film happen. Let me say this again, these people made film happen!
  • Anything is possible when you have a producing team like we had; Maja Aro, Victoria Angell, Frances Flanagan, and Shannon Kaplun. When I was at my most stressed, or vexed, or impatient, they were there; unwavering, kind, patient, supportive.

We are now looking to get our huge 8K files transcoded and into the editing suite. From there, the list of things that needs to get done is staggering, but that’s okay. We have footage in the can, and that footage looks glorious.

0M1A0144

Photo by Mavreen David

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS!

Older Posts »

Categories

%d bloggers like this: