Where is She Now?

Were you a participant in J4J? Did you send a tape or attend a screening?
Please share your memories with us. Select the link that best applies to you:
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Chainletter Filmmakers:

The Chain of Love Letter

Abiola Abrams, Ophelia’s Opera
November 28, 2016

How did you find out about Joanie 4 Jackie and how old were you at the time?
There’s such a different world today. I was in my late 20s or early 30s when I first learned about Joanie 4 Jackie. The world of women art filmmakers was pretty connected at the time. I had a tony blurb in a filmmaker’s magazine that had Miranda July on the cover. Before that, I was fairly obsessed with her site and her work. Then someone suggested that my work needed to be in Joanie 4 Jackie, so I submitted.

What interested you about the project?
There is such power in collaboration and being a part of a curated collection. There’s a part of being an auteur – writer and director – that can feel like a lonely solo enterprise, although you have a team. So being a part of this documentation of women’s voices and women’s storytelling is very powerful.

At the time you participated in Joanie 4 Jackie did you consider yourself a filmmaker? What was your relationship to making movies?
I always considered myself a storyteller but I was absolutely a filmmaker at the time. I directed several short art films that examined taboo topics related to the lives of women, women of African descent specifically. In addition to Ophelia’s Opera, my film Stranded went to the Berlinale Film Festival, Afrodite Superstar was the first feminist erotica for women of color by women of color, and my documentary Knives in My Throat won a number of awards from black women’s film festivals. My life has shifted completely, and I haven’t made a film in 10 years. Now I am an author, columnist, empowerment coach and speaker. I also create Goddess Affirmation Cards and other inspirational products for women. There are also 2 documentaries that I have in the pipeline.

Do you have any specific anecdotes or memories associated with your movie?
I have a memory from filming Ophelia’s Opera, which was my first film. I remember during the filming, the men on the set expressed a grievance that the film portrayed a violent African American man. They were concerned about the negative portrayal and imagery. We had a town meeting in my apartment, which was also our main set, and almost every woman on set said that they felt that the story of domestic violence needed to be told. My crew was about 80 percent African American women who all had witnessed or experienced emotional, physical or mental relationship abuse at some level.

What did you think/feel about the Joanie 4 Jackie at the time? And now, in retrospect?
I thought that Joanie 4 Jackie was a badass sisterhood collaboration and I still do!

What do you do now – professionally and otherwise? Are you still involved in filmmaking?
My last book was The Sacred Bombshell Handbook of Self-Love and I am also the creator of the African Goddess Affirmation Cards and the Womanifesting Fertility Goddess Oracle Cards. My weekly spiritual business iTunes podcast is named Spiritpreneur School. also have a monthly digital sister circle called the ManifestYourMagic.com Moon Circles. I am an author, advice columnist, speaker and empowerment coach for women. I have a free digital self-love kit for my Joanie 4 Jackie family at OwnYourBombshell.com and will be leading the Abundance, Pray, Love Retreat in Bali. Hope to see you there!

Anything you would like to see on the J4J site?
It would be cool to see update vlogs from the former participants.

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Cyra Polizzi, Reaching Out Of Line
March 31, 2013

At the time you participated in Joanie 4 Jackie did you consider yourself a filmmaker? What was your relationship to making movies?
I started directing while going to school for theatre acting, environmental studies, and gender/women’s studies. I decided to take an intro to filmmaking class and then sent in the first film I directed to J4J.

What did you think/feel about the Joanie 4 Jackie at the time? And now, in retrospect?
At the time, I liked that it seemed non-commercial and about community and sharing art. I still do. Looking back on it, it’s pretty awesome that I had the opportunity to participate in one of Miranda July’s projects (of course that probably means Miranda July saw my first attempt at filmmaking, which today is incredibly embarrassing).

What do you do now – professionally and otherwise? Are you still involved in filmmaking?
I still work in theatre and film, primarily as a theatre actor, and occasionally in other areas, such as directing and writing.

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Deborah Stratman, Untied
March 28, 2013

How did you find out about Joanie 4 Jackie and how old were you at the time?
I was about 35 I guess. I can’t remember if I found out about it from Vanessa Renwick or Astria Suparak. Both superstars of the independent film scene.

What interested you about the project?
Radicalizing access to video visions.

At the time you participated in Joanie 4 Jackie did you consider yourself a filmmaker? What was your relationship to making movies?
Yes. I loved making movies. I still do.

What did you think/feel about the Joanie 4 Jackie at the time? And now, in retrospect?
At the time I thought it was quirky, curious, DIY. In retrospect, it seems more radical and inventive in the way it circumvented normal distribution schemes, and the extremely refreshing mix of long-time makers with first time makers and everything in between.

What do you do now – professionally and otherwise? Are you still involved in filmmaking?
I teach filmmaking to make money. I make films + art to spend money. Also, I teach because it’s great to work around people who are figuring out the world and themselves and their art. It’s good that so many things are hard (or impossible) to get to the bottom of. And it’s good to keep looking.

Anything you would like to see on the J4J site?
Links to filmmakers’ sites. www.pythagorasfilm.com

Eileen Maxson, Your Weekend Forecast, with Nora Gamble (also Untitled (Cinderella+++) on The Sugar Caneletter)
December 3, 2016

How did you find out about Joanie 4 Jackie and how old were you at the time?
I was 21 or 22 at the time, and found out about J4J one of three ways (or from all!) – through Vinyl Edge, a record store, then in the suburbs of Houston, TX. The owner had some of the earlier chain letters on VHS together with band videos. This was also around the time that I started going to screenings at Aurora Picture Show, a microcinema in Houston, which also would have introduced me. OR I was taking a video class from filmmaker Jenny Stark at University of Houston. She introduced me to a lot of film and video makers and works.

What interested you about the project?
Women making and sharing their movies in an alternative community.

At the time you participated in Joanie 4 Jackie did you consider yourself a filmmaker? What was your relationship to making movies?
I was beginning to. I started making videos around that time. I was going to school for photography, which then grew into videos. Cinderalla+++ was made as media critique assignment in Jenny Stark’s video class at University of Houston.

Do you have any specific anecdotes or memories associated with your movie?
I remember shooting “Your Weekend Forecast” in the bungalow that I lived in next door to Aurora Picture Show, Andrea Grover and Carlos Lama. It was, in retrospect, an idyllic and formative time for me as a maker.

What did you think/feel about the Joanie 4 Jackie at the time? And now, in retrospect?
I admired, and still admire, the makers who contributed to, produced, curated and are now archiving the project. The project created a sense of belonging for me to a community, and a feeling of commonality with those involved which endures to the present.

What institutions, groups, people, publications and movements were inspiring you at the time of your participation in J4J?
Aurora Picture Show, Andrea Grover, Jenny Stark, Cinematexas, NYUFF… to name just a few

What do you do now – professionally and otherwise? Are you still involved in filmmaking?
I’m an artist and educator, yes.

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Kelly Sebastian, Kasey
March 13, 2016

How did you find out about Joanie 4 Jackie and how old were you at the time?
When I was about 19 or 20 I was screening my art videos around New York City and participated in a women’s event at Bluestockings, a feminism & social activism bookstore in the Lower East Side. It was there that I met filmmaker Sarah Jacobson and we quickly became film allies. She told me about Miranda’s Joanie 4 Jackie project and encouraged me to submit something.

What interested you about the project?
This was one of the first opportunities for me to have my work presented outside of NYC. The “original portable video exhibit” – pre-online accessibility! Also, the idea of being a part of a women’s group that was D.I.Y.’ing their own work, just like me and to be able to see what other video artists were making was extremely inspiring. To be included in this “girl gang” of artists/filmmakers felt like what I saw with the Riot Grrrl movement. There was also no boundary to what I could submit, so I chose what I thought was my weirdest video to date.

At the time you participated in Joanie 4 Jackie did you consider yourself a filmmaker? What was your relationship to making movies?
At the time of submitting, I thought of myself as an experimental video artist. No boundaries, no formulas, but plenty of emotion. I made something around twenty plus experimental videos. The label “filmmaker” emerged once I began creating documentaries and even though most of my early docs were short in length and most all of them were compiled together on my public access television show “Oh The Ladies,” I still felt that I was now making films. This work then spilled over into Narrative scripts and film projects.

My relationship? Well, that is was an addiction. I had to create. I moved to New York City to paint originally, but once I learned the skills to be able to communicate emotions and tell stories within the medium of video and later films, I was hooked.

Do you have any specific anecdotes or memories associated with the project?
I remember the day a stuffed-manila envelope from Joanie 4 Jackie showed up at my apartment. I ripped the package open and found a VHS and printed pamphlet with my project included. I remember taking the tape to my College’s Media Center and hooking up two VCR’s together to rip an additional copy …just in case.

What institutions, groups, people, publications and movements were inspiring you at the time of your participation in J4J?
Sarah Jacobson, Eileen Myles, Barbara Kruger, Shepard Fairey, Erase Errata, Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, anything associated with the Riot Grrrl movement, most all of Kill Rock Stars, The Clash, The Ramones, Team Dresch. Also my Film/Video Art college professor Terri Dewhirst was very inspiring to me. She showed my the video work of Sadie Benning, Stan Brakhage, Maya Deren, Kenneth Anger, and people like Jeff Krulick.

During this time I was a video store clerk at Kim’s Video on St. Mark’s Place in the East Village – so I pretty much was living in genres as well …Queer, Experimental, Indies, Docs, Cult, Foreign, Classics

What do you do now – professionally and otherwise? Are you still involved in filmmaking?
I’m an actor, writer, director and mom.

I was the lead in last year’s zero-budget, art-house, independent feature film “Forever Into Space,” I’m a Co-Star in the Lesbian Series “SCISSR,” I write/host a Punk/Rock/Metal Radio Show on SiriusXM’s Channel Faction. I have also directed two short narrative films and this year marks the 15th Year Anniversary of my women centric documentary, public access show “Oh The Ladies,” which is being released on YouTube.

I’m a creative … that will always be my case. www.KellySebastian.com

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Stephanie Saint Sanchez, La Llorona
March 28, 2013

How did you find out about Joanie 4 Jackie and how old were you at the time?
I was friends with this really cool older woman. She was the kind of cool older women you wish your Mom was but could never be in front of you. She was a crazy artist activist in the 70’s till she had kids and had to get a straight job. She had a daughter a little younger than me that was a budding performance artist so as a treat she sprung for tickets to see you(Miranda July) perform at Diverseworks a Houston arts venue. After the show she went into full obsession mode as did I. Thats when J4J came up. I was 28.

What interested you about the project?
I thought the idea was very clever. I was excited to see what other women were out there making. Especially the kind of women that would take the chance and share their visions. Also it gave me a rush of nostalgia for the anticipatory waiting for something awesome to come in the mail.

At the time you participated in Joanie 4 Jackie did you consider yourself a filmmaker? What was your relationship to making movies?
I’ve always wanted to make movies. I came from movie lover parents who took me to see everything, even R rated stuff. I had been making mini epics since I was 12. As a teen and beyond I was always working in video stores or movie theaters. Oddly enough I just never put it as an option for myself as a profession back then. I was still just dicking around going to community college like it was not even my own life. Making movies was my idea of a perfect weekend. Get some likeminded freakazoids or hijack a party writing/casting/filming on the fly.

Do you have any specific anecdotes or memories associated with the project?
A high school art weirdo with a penchant for Robert Smith from The Cure and Siouxsie Sioux at heart I modeled my La Llorena ghosty make-up on them. I was very satisfied with the results. I loved inventing and creating the characters’ reality and enjoyed every minute.

What did you think/feel about the Joanie 4 Jackie at the time? And now, in retrospect?
I was just so excited to get in! It was a much needed validation to kick my ass of the fence and get really going. In retrospect I believed it influenced me not only to pursue cinematic adventures but to have a reverence for sisterly support in the arts.

What institutions, groups, people, publications and movements were inspiring you at the time of your participation in J4J?
I meet my first Mentor the great Carlos Calbillo around this time. He was the video documentarian for a Latino literary organization called Nuestra Palabra. My Mother had read about them in the paper and told me to check it out. That’s also where I met Alice Canestaro-Garcia the cool artist who turned me on to You. Carlos taught a film class at the community center which included watching films by Luis Buñuel and working field trips to film re-enactment battles from Texas history. Carlos was a wealth of knowledge from Texas history proper to first account stories of the hip Houston underground scene from his youth. I think that his reverence for local history as well as my involvement with Nuestra Palabra really put the concept of taking a popular Latino ghost story and turning it on it’s head as a way make a claim to my heritage on my terms.

What do you do now – professionally and otherwise? Are you still involved in filmmaking?
I have been making short films ever since J4J, dipped into multi-media installations, art cars, VHS furniture, and I also play vinyl under the name DJ Esteff. (lachicanalaundrypictures.com) One of the things I’m most proud of is starting Senorita Cinema (senoritacinema.com) the first all Latina film festival in Texas. I was inspired to do this after I screened La Llorena at a film festival in Los Angeles called BHLIFE The Boyle Heights Latina Independent Film Extravaganza (bhlife.org). It was founded by Josephina Lopez the woman who wrote Real Women have Curves. Being around all the Latina filmmakers was invigorating and as per requirement of an artist residency I received from The Lawndale Art Center (lawndaleartcenter.org) I had to host a workshop/artist talk /presentation and I chose to do a screening. That was our first festival and now we are doing number four with sponsors like The Idea Fund a project of The Andy Warhol Foundation. Lastly, this year I have been hired to direct my first feature, a 3D musical about Anna Nicole Smith.

Anything you would like to see on the J4J site?
It would be great to have a sort of bulletin board for networking with each other.

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Sujin Lee, untitled video
March 24, 2013

How did you find out about Joanie 4 Jackie and how old were you at the time?
I found out about Miranda July first. I believe I picked up a copy of 10 Million Hours a Mile at the Whitney Museum of American Art. I loved the CD and I began to follow Miranda’s work. That’s how I found out about Joanie 4 Jackie. I was 23.

What interested you about the project?
Being on a tape with other women filmmakers/artists, put together by Miranda July.

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 graduate student majoring in studio art. I had been making videos for about a year. I was writing, performing, shooting and editing my own videos.

Do you have any specific anecdotes or memories associated with the project?
This is how I got my video on the Chain of Love Letters tape. I went to see Miranda performing at the Knitting Factory in 2003. I gave her a videotape that had my work after the show and asked if she could look at my work. Miranda said yes. She wrote me an email some time later saying she watched my work and gave me feedback. Then asked if I wanted to put one of my videos on the upcoming chainletter tape. It was such a big encouragement. I am fond of this memory very much.

What did you think/feel about the Joanie 4 Jackie at the time? And now, in retrospect?
I thought and still think that it was such a wonderful project. I wish I had gotten more tapes. I only have the Chain of Love Letter and one of the Co-Star tapes.

If you attended a screening, can you tell us where and when it was and anything else you remember about it?
Unfortunately, I never attended a screening because I never heard about a screening happening. I wish I had.

What institutions, groups, people, publications and movements were inspiring you at the time of your participation in J4J?
The Sidney Kahn Summer Institute at the Kitchen, Frances Richard, Lynn Book, Sigrid Hackenberg, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. I was seeing a lot of performance art and theater works in NYC.

What do you do now – professionally and otherwise? Are you still involved in filmmaking?
I am an artist making work with text, video and performance and I show my work nationally and internationally.

Anything you would like to see on the J4J site?
I would like to see the links to all the participating artists’ websites.

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