Where is She Now?

Were you a participant in J4J? Did you send a tape or attend a screening?
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Chainletter Filmmakers:

Perfect 10: The Chainletter

Katherine McDowell, The Woman Who
March 28, 2013

How did you find out about Joanie 4 Jackie and how old were you at the time?
I found out about the chainletter tapes from my college’s film department. I was around 21 at the time.

What interested you about the project?
I loved the idea of women filmmakers sharing their films and being part of a compilation.

At the time you participated in Joanie 4 Jackie did you consider yourself a filmmaker? What was your relationship to making movies?
I was studying filmmaking and dreamt of becoming a filmmaker.

What did you think/feel about the Joanie 4 Jackie at the time? And now, in retrospect?
I thought it was a very cool power-to-the-people (power-to-the-women) concept. I was also frustrated by how under-represented women filmmakers are and found the project empowering. Thirteen years later, I’m glad to still have my tape and pleased to see it catalogued on the website.

What institutions, groups, people, publications and movements were inspiring you at the time of your participation in J4J?
At the time, the Zine movement was gaining attention as one of the few ways that creative people could affordably be heard without jumping through hoops and working within the system. Though it’s hard to imagine, J4J tapes were being made before the social media/blog/internet revolution so it was challenging sending your creative work out there into the world.

What do you do now – professionally and otherwise? Are you still involved in filmmaking?
I am now a painter, printmaker and writer. For me, filmmaking is an old lover and treasured memory. At least I got to work on Super 8 and 16mm back then!

Anything you would like to see on the J4J site?
Is there any way to attach a digital version of my film to the site like some others?

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Kim Wood, Advice to Adventurous Girls
February 21, 2016

How did you find out about Joanie 4 Jackie and how old were you at the time?
I’d seen Miranda’s film “The Amateurist” and been thrilled by it. I was an artist in my twenties, inspired by photographer Cindy Sherman (Untitled Film Stills series) and filmmakers Anne McGuire (“When I Was a Monster”, “I Am Crazy and You’re Not Wrong”) and Chantal Akerman (“Je,Tu, Il, Elle”, “Jeanne Dielman”). I felt something resonant in what Miranda was doing and kept my ear to the ground for future projects. When I learned she was inviting women filmmakers to send her their own films, I did, in a heartbeat.

What interested you about the project?
I loved the mission, the D.I.Y. attitude, the mix of irreverence and earnestness in the promotional video and fliers. Joanie 4 Jackie created a forum that allowed the community to reveal itself and strengthen by doing so.

At the time you participated in Joanie 4 Jackie did you consider yourself a filmmaker? What was your relationship to making movies?
I was a photographer who eased into filmmaking by attaching a motor-drive to my still camera to shoot twelve frames per second to make silent movie inspired flip-books. Then I bought a wind-up Bolex 16mm film camera and slept beneath streamers of clothes-pinned index cards, each representing a film scene. Each day I carried a tackle box filled with paper tape, splicers, grease pencils and sat in darkness with a six-plate Steinbeck editing machine. Akin to acquiring a trade like blacksmithing or millinery, I felt I was being inducted into the arcane guild of filmmakers.

Do you have any specific anecdotes or memories associated with your movie?
I began with a shoebox of mysterious 1920s photographs. In them, a young woman—calves sheathed in leather, chest blazoned with skull and crossbones—straddles a motorcycle and rides perpendicular to the ground, chasing her own shadow on a twenty-foot high Wall of Death.

I didn’t own a computer, but there wasn’t much of a World Wide Web yet anyway. So I called strangers—carnies, bikers, daredevils, historians—to ask if they knew or had known “Lillian LaFrance, The Girl Who Flirts with Death”. No one did, though many had heard her name. I began to face the impossibility of my task but couldn’t give up—somehow I needed Lillian.

The History Room of Oakland’s main library has an imposing wall of local phone directories for each county from 1869 to 1943. One afternoon, on a hunch, I went there and selected one at random, 1938, and there was my first clue: my daredevil, living on Dante Avenue. I checked fifteen years in both directions and found no trace, save the first book. Lillian wanted me to find her—she needed me, too.

What did you think/feel about the Joanie 4 Jackie at the time? And now, in retrospect?
There are now many other means of production, outlets, ways to connect that shift focus and broaden the cinematic landscape beyond “Hollywood”. Joanie 4 Jackie not only anticipated this shift, but helped to launch it. It was immensely validating as an artist to be included, and just plain cool to see the other women’s films, all of which I likely wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

What institutions, groups, people, publications and movements were inspiring you at the time of your participation in J4J?
The San Francisco 1990s experimental filmmaking scene was so vibrant and generous. Lynne Sachs taught me (among other things) how to load a movie camera, Gail Silva’s Film Arts Foundation gave me my first grant, filmmakers Barbara Hammer, Lynn Kirby and Jeanne Finley critiqued my first footage, Craig Baldwin gave me my first public screening, at Artists’ Television Access, Greta Snider and Bill Daniel toured that film around the U.S. as part of a mobile art show via VW van. There were so many inspiring makers and venues, I couldn’t help but pick up a camera and see what would happen.

What do you do now – professionally and otherwise? Are you still involved in filmmaking?
My chainletter film was based on the life of a Kansas farm girl who ran away with the carnival and traveled the globe as a motorcycle daredevil, breaking hearts from Hong Kong to Hollywood. Although this feminist pioneer inspired me, her regrets about her limited opportunities and the price exacted by fame also broke my heart.

For more than a decade I’ve been haunted, daisy-chaining a timeline from new evidence, reaching for deeper understanding. But I was neither able to escape nor tell this story with the courage and candor it demanded until I accepted its lesson regarding the rewards and consequences of life lived on one’s own terms. A different daredevilry.

I’ve since written a book about her life and my haunting. Part fictional biography set in a Burmese mental hospital in the 1930s, part literary memoir set in an artist’s colony in present-day New Hampshire, “Advice to Adventurous Girls” incorporates the unpublished letters and photographs of the first woman in the world to ride a Wall of Death.

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Maigin Blank, Chalkumentary
February 8, 2017

How did you find out about Joanie 4 Jackie and how old were you at the time?
I remember buying one of the Chainletter videos via a mail order catalog through Kill Rock Stars or K Records (I can’t remember which one now), and being inspired to participate when I read the insert asking other girls to share their videos. I had bought a camcorder when I was in high school (a VHS one – very ‘old school’ even back in the 90’s!) with money I saved up from working at Walgreens, and my friends and I would film stuff all the time.

What interested you about the project?
I was very inspired by all of the Riot Grrl stuff as a teenager, and really just interested in anything creative women were doing back then. My future dreams sat somewhere between music and film, so I seeked to find women that would inspire me in those fields. Not that I had/have anything against men! But I think it’s easier to seek people similar to you if you want to find inspiration in them, or be able to motivate yourself. And with the Riot Grrl movement (in the idea that you didn’t have to be “the best” to create or share), it was easy to find women in the 90’s that were extremely inspiring to me as a teenager.

At the time you participated in Joanie 4 Jackie did you consider yourself a filmmaker? What was your relationship to making movies?
I wouldn’t have considered myself a filmmaker on a professional level, but definitely an amateur one. I even debated taking a film course, but ended up staying with audio (then). My friends and I had been making short films and little bits for years in high school. If I had been able to have access to a video camera when I was a little kid, I’m sure I would have made ‘movies’ back then too. Maybe having been raised watching so many 80’s sitcoms and television led me to believe that there are endless ideas for making movies.

Do you have any specific anecdotes or memories associated with your movie?
My best friend Wendy Weihs and I had a band called “Chalko Taco” in high school which was sort of a ‘spoof’ fun band, and we were a duo (which now seems to be very popular in the comedy world). Our friend Zac Davis joined us on bass a few years later and we would all hang out together in Sarasota, Florida looking for things to do. We all had a love for Spinal Tap and Christopher Guest movies so we decided to make our own ‘mockumentary’ highlighting our crazy rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle in Sarasota. The highlight for us was actually getting Brian Johnson of AC/DC (who actually WAS living a crazy rock n’ roll life in Sarasota) on tape. We ran into him at a very small local coffee shop show. He was very kind to us although

What did you think/feel about the Joanie 4 Jackie at the time? And now, in retrospect?
I thought it was such an amazing idea at the time, and there really wasn’t anything like that at the time. To kids growing up today it would seem so crazy, pre-social networking days that people would have to write letters to communicate! It does make me feel very old. I didn’t have a computer in the 90’s, so I really looked to mail order and snail mail for communication to the outside world of people who shared the same taste in things as me.

If you attended a screening, can you tell us where and when it was and anything else you remember about it?
No screenings sadly. I lived in Florida at the time so wasn’t in the right region.

What institutions, groups, people, publications and movements were inspiring you at the time of your participation in J4J?
Riot Grrl, and female musicians and filmmakers in general.

What do you do now – professionally and otherwise? Are you still involved in filmmaking?
I’m a veterinary technician at an animal hospital in Chicago. I’m also a musician on the side. I am sadly not doing much filmmaking at the time, but really want to get back into it. Prior to working with animals, I had helped out with a website MedicineFilms.com which was pre-Youtube and one of the first video social networking websites at the time. I believe the founders were inspired by Miranda July’s website. And apparently Youtube was influenced somewhat by Medicine Films. So things stem from each other as life does.

Anything you would like to see on the J4J site?
Eventually being able to stream people’s films would be excellent.

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Sara Kaye (Larson), Pecking Disorder
February 1, 2017

How did you find out about Joanie 4 Jackie and how old were you at the time?
I was a fan of zines and Bust and all of the DIY culture, especially Miranda July’s work Big Miss Moviola (at the time). I was 24 when I made the movie. I submitted my film using an email account that is no longer around – I think it was called “chickmail”?

What interested you about the project?
At the time – I was from a very small town now living in a mid-sized city, I like the idea of swapping movies with other female filmmakers from everywhere else. It combined my favorite things: chainletters/snail mail with short movies and DIY ladies. It’s easy to forget now, but there were a lot of great projects people would do cross-collaborating with zines and art, music and film projects.

At the time you participated in Joanie 4 Jackie did you consider yourself a filmmaker? What was your relationship to making movies?
I considered myself a filmmaker in the most innocent way. Thinking about those times can make a gal nostalgic. I just made movies all the time. With a hi8 video camera and with film a lot of super 8 and 16mm (when I could). I thought the greatest places to show them were at art shows or dive bars (or chainletter tapes). I hadn’t thought about larger scale filmmaking or film business.

Do you have any specific anecdotes or memories associated with your movie?
We shot at a very cool house where my friends Kristine and Katherine were staying in. The house was in an area called Detroit’s West Indian Village. I shot on an Arri-S 16mm camera and had learned to change film in a changing bag at the Detroit Filmmakers Coalition. I burnt my finger on a light and still have a scar today. We drank King Cobra 40s (a buck seventy nine out-the-door) and Kristine recently reminded me that we used to smoke a lot. There were so many chicks acting and working on the film. A couple of them were in my best friend Sarah’s geology class and one of my other good friends Cari drove up from Ann Arbor. We set up fast and furious and shot it all in one night. I had little idea on what to do with the lighting so everything kind of looks very Nosferatu. I had a general outline of what I wanted to do and everyone helped with their ideas (props, angles, actions, etc). At that time it wasn’t unusual to have a bunch of us hanging out together making stuff. I showed this film at one of our first Girlee Detroit Artist Collective shows. The Flyer said Pecking Disorder “They shared everything, except her love of dancing”

What did you think/feel about the Joanie 4 Jackie at the time? And now, in retrospect?
I thought it was such a cool project. I like how it was open to everyone. It made me feel connected to other DIY/guerrilla filmmakers. I definitely felt like a part of something and now I do even more. Who knew there would be so many chainletter tapes? And now seeing it all as a collection is so awesome. A very special kind of feminist time capsule. I’m glad to be a part of it.

What institutions, groups, people, publications and movements were inspiring you at the time of your participation in J4J?
Kodak, Kodak PressTapes, Flicker, Bust, Rodchenko, WTO Protests, Sadie Benning, Thrift Stores, Herzog, Diana Cameras, Detroit’s Cass Corridor, Vertov, Margarethe von Trotta, Seneca Falls, Wayne State University, Zip drives, The Handmade’s Tale, Detroit Cobras, The Detroit Filmmakers Coalition, Mother Jones, Kubrick, Kimberly Pierce, Mary Harron, Kathleen Hanna, vintage sewing patterns. So many things. 1999 was when we had just enough internet, a healthy growing disdain for corporate america, it was pre 2000 election, and pre 9-11. It was a different world and kind of hard to recall exactly what it was like.

What do you do now – professionally and otherwise? Are you still involved in filmmaking?
I live in Memphis, TN. I’m a documentary filmmaker and writer. I teach writing at a Federal Penitentiary for a community college. My feature documentary See The Keepers is being distributed by Virgil Films and I’m working on my next feature which is also about people who do very unusual work. I work in time-lapse photography and am obsessed with an old-growth forest here in Memphis. I’m involved in Memphis Women in Film; a group of us helping create and support films and film art made by women. I’m also now marching/standing for women and other people that needed protection.

Anything you would like to see on the J4J site?
I love seeing this kind of stuff – the “where is she now.”
Maybe have a place for us to post our “marketing materials” for our old films.
I have a great flyer – very 90s.

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