Feedback, Fun & Film Friends (+ Agnes Varda)

Busy, busy! We are in the feedback mode! I recently showed a rough cut of “The Summer Help” at an IFP Chicago event held at Tribeca Flashpoint College. What a great night filled with lively conversation about the film and the subject of what life is really like for the international college students who come to America to work in resorts and tourist towns in the summer.


Lots of questions at the IFP Chicago “Rough Cuts” screening

Students, professors and some of IFP members diligently filled out their “feedback forms” after the screening and then we proceeded to have a lively discussion about the film, hosted by TFI professor/filmmaker John Otterbacher.


Very nice screening room at Tribeca Flashpoint College

I am very grateful for this opportunity since we are getting closer to “picture lock” and need to make sure the film is working. After reading the feedback forms, I can see that we are on the right track 🙂 .


Speaking about how to find good characters for your films at the Documentary Summit at Chicago Filmmakers

At another event in Chicago, I (director/producer Melody Gilbert) was a featured speaker at the Documentary Summit in Chicago at Chicago Filmmakers. Along with the longtime Chicago-based Kartemquin filmmaker Maria Finitzo (her newest film is  In the Game), we talked about how to find great characters for documentaries. I emphasized my theory that casting is just as important in documentaries as it is for fiction. Maria talked about how to gain the trust of your characters. We had a great discussion and answered many questions from the emerging filmmakers (and they liked the clips from “The Summer Help,” too!).  It was great to connect with so many established  and emerging filmmakers in Chicago, my newly adopted hometown while I am on leave of absence from teaching filmmaking and journalism at AUBG.


Maria and I having some selfie fun before our panel discussion

I will continue to keep you updated about the film as we make progress! Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Yours in Docs,

Melody Gilbert


Frozen Feet Films 

PS: On a related note, I got to meet one of my filmmaking idols recently at a seminar at University of Chicago. Agnes Varda, I adore you! I teach my students about her in my documentary history class and now I actually met her! This selfie was taken with a former student of mine from AUBG, now studying for her MFA in documentary at Northwestern.

One of my favorite quotes from Agnes from her talk: “We always have to discover something.”   Yes, yes, we do :).


Rafie and I get a a selfie with my doc film female role model, Agnes Varda ! Did I mention that she’s 87 and still make docs?? What a gal!

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