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 M.I.A. Chainletter

Lara Odell, Diver (also Grandma Baba & Little Boris on Who Stole My Chainletter?)
March 26, 2013

How did you find out about Joanie 4 Jackie and how old were you at the time?
Sara Cooper, a friend and collaborator, had a CD from Kill Rock Stars, or K Records? I forget. It contained the Big Miss Moviola ad inside. She encouraged me to send in one of my videos. It was 1998 or so, so I was 27.

What interested you about the project?
The chainletter tape idea made me realize that there are women video artists and filmmakers scattered around the U.S. whose movies I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise. There seemed to be a lot of possibility. It felt empowering and exciting, the idea of a low-budget mix tape that wasn’t edited or curated, and was easily accessible to anyone who wanted to participate in the project.

At the time you participated in Joanie 4 Jackie did you consider yourself a filmmaker? What was your relationship to making movies?
I was an undergrad at The School of Art and Design at Alfred University, in Alfred, NY, studying video art and printmaking. I think I considered myself a video artist, or felt that I was on my way to becoming one. At Alfred we learned to treat video like a malleable material — that the video signal could be manipulated like paint, or clay. The materiality of it was emphasized rather than it’s narrative potential, although I was drawn to its narrative possibilities too. Back then I was experimenting with image processing, running both appropriated material and new material that I shot through the diverse and unique processing tools that Alfred had. There was also an emphasis on sound, and we were encouraged to build soundtracks with similar audio recording and processing tools at Alfred.

Do you have any specific anecdotes or memories associated with the project?
This is a personal anecdote and maybe not so interesting to this archive, but in retrospect I don’t know why I didn’t submit “Iris Pupil,” the movie I made with Sara Cooper, who introduced me to Big Miss Moviola. That video seemed more in line with the general feel of the Joanie 4 Jackie project. I think I wanted to submit something I made alone, which was “Diver,” which I think was possibly my first video. I had been inspired by Bill Viola’s “Reflecting Pool” for that one.

What did you think/feel about the Joanie 4 Jackie at the time? And now, in retrospect?
In some ways it doesn’t feel that long ago! But it was, in a sense, considering where I am in my life now, where my art is, and especially how technology has changed video and filmmaking and its distribution. I think I have the same feelings toward J4J then as I do now. It was a different context then, though, before YouTube and so much social media. I felt then — and now — that the idea behind J4J was “freeing” because it gave women filmmakers an opportunity to share their work/see other work in a context that wasn’t dictated by a professional art world. You didn’t have to compete to “get your work in.” J4J gave validity to the basic fact that you had the gumption to make a movie in the first place.

What do you do now – professionally and otherwise? Are you still involved in filmmaking?
I have a three year old, and I’m working as an artist and illustrator, making the occasional stop-motion animation.

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Lex Gjurasic and the Blackheart Gang, Tequila Annunciation
March 20, 2013

How did you find out about Joanie 4 Jackie and how old were you at the time?
Our film was made in 1995 but our chainletter is dated 1999. In 1995 I would have been 16 or 17 years old. From 1994-2001 we made a variety of films. I’m not sure how we found out about Joanie 4 Jackie…a zine? Riot Grrrl community hear say? Gossip at the Velvet Elvis club in Seattle? Directly from Calvin Johnson?

What interested you about the project?
To participate in anything Ms. July was/is apart of was/is still massively cool. To have had exposure to an audience for our film was awesome. Back in the day before the Internet you couldn’t just upload a film to be seen by millions. It took elbow grease and stamps to get exposure!

At the time you participated in Joanie 4 Jackie did you consider yourself a filmmaker? What was your relationship to making movies?
Of course we did! The alternative high school we attended have us an environment to pursue anything creative that struck our fancy. I’m sure at least one of us got high school credit or our film.

Do you have any specific anecdotes or memories associated with the project?
The “set” was my teenage bedroom. Our “costumes” were our everyday clothes perhaps pilfered from our high school’s Free Store. The car in the film was my actual ’72 Nova hatch back. In one of the final scenes we needed a guy to play the boyfriend. Having no dudes on hand we took creative liberties. One of us voiced the boyfriend from behind a closed door. It seemed to play well for what we needed in front of the camera.

What did you think/feel about the Joanie 4 Jackie at the time? And now, in retrospect?
J4J was fully empowering! We knew anything Ms. July was a part of would be cool, authentic and as girls our work would be respected.

What institutions, groups, people, publications and movements were inspiring you at the time of your participation in J4J?
Riot Grrrl was the foundation for all of our zines, films and shenanigans. If we had any musical talent, The Blackheart Gang would have been a band. For me personally, Miranda July was a big inspiration to me as an visual artist. I remember when she got accepted into the Whitney Biannual. That gave me a goal for what I could reach for as an artist. It was highly inspiring to me.

What do you do now – professionally and otherwise? Are you still involved in filmmaking?
Currently I am making paintings and objects as an artist and designer. View my art here: alexandragjurasic.com. Recently I launched Pyragraph.com as Creative Director. Pyragraph is an online how-to business publication for career minded artists and other creatives. I’d love to interview Miranda for Pyragraph! Please!! When the Blackhearts get together we are still making films in much the same spontaneous and subversive fashion. Only now we have children to use as props. Here is a link to one of our more recent films. Written by the Blackhearts. Directed by Zarya Rowland Bintz of Zeroand Productions.

Anything you would like to see on the J4J site?
Perhaps links to our current pursuits. I’d like to be able to watch my film. Perhaps awesome Riot Grrrl throw back merchandise? I’m still down to wear a silk screened baby T-shirt!

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Mary (Addison) Hackett, My Mother’s Pants
January 24, 2017

How did you find out about Joanie 4 Jackie and how old were you at the time?
My first day job after grad school was working 2nd shift as a tape operator at a duplication and conversion facility in Chicago. I was one of three women working in the tape room and when we weren’t working, we were either making videos or music or both. One of my co-workers told me about Miranda July and the Big Miss Moviola chainletter tapes. It was sometime between 1995 and 1997 and I was in my mid 30s.

What interested you about the project?
I was already into DIY culture and micro-cinema, and in addition to making low-budget videos, I published a zine called “Plastic Ass.” I was using dial-up to access alt.zines usenet groups on the Internet, looking through Factsheet Five and collecting Riot Grrrl zines. Miranda’s project was part of this culture for me. The call for films was inclusive and felt important in the spirit of the 90s feminism.

At the time you participated in Joanie 4 Jackie did you consider yourself a filmmaker? What was your relationship to making movies?
I had a studio arts background and considered myself more of an artist making videos than a filmmaker, but I was becoming more involved with documentary filmmaking and loved the editing process as well. I was also writing and distributing videos through my zine. I had been making work on my own between undergrad and grad school, so I was a bit of a late bloomer when it came to identifying as a filmmaker. Overall I was interested in making short films as both an autobiographical practice and one of investigation.

Do you have any specific anecdotes or memories associated with your movie?
Spoiler alert: It’s a short video about being a little too pudgy to fit into a pair of pants my mother had worn when she was in her 40s. For several years, in real life and in video persona life, I used those pants as an unrealistic measuring tool for what my ideal waist measurement should be. I finally ditched the pants. Vintage wool Pendletons. No give in the waist or the lining.

What did you think/feel about the Joanie 4 Jackie at the time? And now, in retrospect?
At the time, I thought it was fun thing to participate in and I liked being part of a video chainletter with women from all over the country. This was near the beginning of the project and before the archive so there was no way to know how expansive the project would become. Now, I think it’s a vital piece of feminist film and video history, and an amazing resource for researchers, filmmakers and curators. I haven’t had a chance to look through the entire archive, but it’s been exciting to recognize some names from then and now and be introduced to new ones.

If you attended a screening, can you tell us where and when it was and anything else you remember about it?
The MIA Chainletter screened a few years later at the 2005 New York Underground Film Festival. I was hard to track down for a couple of years and didn’t know until after the fact.

What institutions, groups, people, publications and movements were inspiring you at the time of your participation in J4J?
I was involved in DIY culture, Public-access TV (CAN TV), Women’s Action Coalition (WAC), and working intermittently as an artist-in-resident teaching media production. 90s feminism, POV television, Re/Search, Riot Grrrls, the underground films of George Kuchar, Factsheet Five, Adbusters, and NUMEROUS independent women filmmakers and video artists from that era were influential to me. At the time I was making videos about mother-daughter relationships and watched just about every video at the Video Data Bank dealing with similar issues.

What do you do now – professionally and otherwise? Are you still involved in filmmaking?
I’m still an artist. In the last 20 years, I’ve also worked professionally as a commercial film editor and arts educator in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Nashville. I finished a documentary about country music fans that was shelved due to music rights issues, and when the editorial house I worked for downsized, I went back to painting for several years and have been exhibiting consistently in galleries ever since. Two years ago, I picked up a camera again and started shooting an ongoing series of micro-documentaries about women artists called the Studio Visit Short Films. I still make experimental films and performative video art pieces with a feminist slant, and I recently founded a small production and editorial company aimed at working with other artists, socially-conscious businesses, and individuals wanting to share their stories.

Anything you would like to see on the J4J site?
It’s a fantastic site. Congrats to all.

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Sativa Peterson, The Slow Escape (also The Slow Escape on Joanie 4 Jackie 4Ever)
October 31, 2016

How did you find out about Joanie 4 Jackie and how old were you at the time?
I read an article (in BUST Magazine, I think) that mentioned Miranda July and her project, called Big Miss Moviola at the time. It was a call for lady made films, and I had recently finished making a personal documentary, The Slow Escape. So, I sent my film to Miranda hoping to make a connection with other creative women. I was 25 years old.

What interested you about the project?
Initially, that it operated like a film exchange – woman to woman. It seemed like an awesome secret club to see what other women were making and doing pre-internet when it wasn’t always so easy to find each other.

At the time you participated in Joanie 4 Jackie did you consider yourself a filmmaker? What was your relationship to making movies?
I did consider myself a filmmaker though I was largely self-taught, and The Slow Escape was my first film. I wrote the script and painstakingly recorded the narration, which informed the images I needed to shoot and collect. I began creating an image catalog, and used both a hi-8 video camera, and a Super-8 film camera. I transferred the super-8 film by projecting it onto a white sheet in my Chelsea apartment in New York City and using my video camera to re-record it.

I was working at a small post-production studio called American Montage alongside my boyfriend at the time (who was the film’s editor). My boss, Eric Marciano, would let us use the editing equipment for my film late at night and on weekends when the studio wasn’t booked.

Do you have any specific anecdotes or memories associated with your movie?
I very much wanted to talk about the idea of the missing girl; a woman’s response to the disappearance and assumed murder of another woman. And, how that disappearance played on my own imagination and sense of personal safety. Though I hoped it also faced the threat of violence with moments of resistance and even humor.

What did you think/feel about the Joanie 4 Jackie at the time? And now, in retrospect?
I was very proud for the film to be included because I always wanted the film to have a life of its own, and for it to have the opportunity to be viewed by other girls and women (and men, too) around the country and beyond.

While recording the narration I wanted it to feel intimate, a near-whisper, like something a friend would tell you as you lay next to each other at a sleepover.

I felt like the J4J distribution system of woman-to-woman continued this intimacy; telling a friend about something you discovered about the world. And I like the idea of exchanging work among makers.

If you attended a screening, can you tell us where and when it was and anything else you remember about it?
I attended a screening in 1998 in Berkeley, CA at The Fine Arts Cinema. It was part of the Joanie 4 Jackie 4Ever Tour. I remember meeting Miranda July in the bathroom and talking to one another through our reflections in the bathroom mirror. She also came to visit me one day. I was living in Oakland, CA and in graduate school at UC Berkeley, and she must have been visiting her parents’ house in Berkeley. I remember that I put these little silk flowers in my hair because I wanted to look nice for her; like I was getting ready for a date, which is really embarrassing looking back on it. I remember we talked about the book Shot in the Heart written by Mikal Gilmore about his brother Gary Gilmore (who was the first person to be executed in the United States after the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976) which, I recall, we were both sort of obsessed with, and we talked about Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song, a novel based on Gilmore’s life.

What institutions, groups, people, publications and movements were inspiring you at the time of your participation in J4J?
I grew up in Winslow, Arizona. Growing up in a small town can be really intimate; at the same time, you feel like you’re missing other things in the world. I was, at that time, trying to discover those things by watching a lot of movies and living in New York City.

Also, I had a job working at Butler Library at Columbia University. During my lunch hour I would pore over art books in the stacks.

What do you do now – professionally and otherwise? Are you still involved in filmmaking?
I am a writer, librarian, and archivist. I have been working on a memoir about being named after cannabis sativa, the Latin words for a strain of marijuana, which I hope to finish later this year. I haven’t been involved in filmmaking too recently, but I’m eager to make another film.

Anything you would like to see on the J4J site?
Links to filmmakers/participants websites would be welcome, as would more photographs. A call for a new J4J Chainletter.

Sharon Mooney, The Sweatpants Theory
January 28, 2017

How did you find out about Joanie 4 Jackie and how old were you at the time?
I was 19 or 20, working in a record store as the punk rock music buyer and going to college. I believe I saw an ad for the project in one of the zines we carried, and definitely carried the Joanie 4 Jackie tapes in the store.

At the time you participated in Joanie 4 Jackie did you consider yourself a filmmaker? What was your relationship to making movies?
I mostly made fun projects with my friends when we were hanging out. I knew I would always pursue a job in some production related or web development role, but never thought I’d be where I am now. I’ve since continued to make projects with my friends, and managed to create a career out of it.

Do you have any specific anecdotes or memories associated with your movie?
Emily and I went to the Wexner Center in Columbus, Ohio to see Miranda July at a small screening (of the Some Kind of Loving Tape) and were too shy to talk to her at the end. I later saw part of the same tape at a class Astria Suparak guest lectured in when I was in grad school at SVA in New York – a Shelly Silver class.

What did you think/feel about the Joanie 4 Jackie at the time? And now, in retrospect?
At the time I thought it was a really interesting project and an exciting way to collaborate with strangers – almost like an exquisite corpse drawing and a mix tape combined. In retrospect, it was a stepping stone to realizing that there was an audience and community for the kinds of films I wanted to make. I made a couple more short films, they started screening at various micro cinemas and screenings in Ohio. A year or two later I moved to New York to get my MFA.

What do you do now – professionally and otherwise? Are you still involved in filmmaking?
I am a professor in the School of Film and Television at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

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