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What It Takes to Make a Film: Director Lacey Schwartz Travels with Film Forward in Minnesota
What It Takes to Make a Film: Director Lacey Schwartz Travels with Film Forward in Minnesota
What It Takes to Make a Film: Director Lacey Schwartz Travels with Film Forward in Minnesota

What It Takes to Make a Film: Director Lacey Schwartz Travels with Film Forward in Minnesota

My producing partner, Mehret Mandefro, and my production company, Truth Aid, had two films come out in 2014 – Little White Lie and the narrative film Difret.  We were incredibly honored that both films were chosen by the Sundance Film Forward program. We were even more excited when we were able to bring both films to Minnesota together for the program. It was the first time we have ever shown the films back to back and been able to talk about how the processes of making these films compared. Little White Lie is a personal documentary and Difret is a narrative film, but based on a true story. 

We premiered Little White Lie almost a year ago and since then have screened the film over 100 times all over the world. After many of those screenings we talk a lot about the issues the film raises of dual identity, family secrets and race. As a personal documentary, many people also ask me about my family and the process of uncovering my family secrets. Our week in Minneapolis-St. Paul with Sundance Film Forward felt different because we were given an opportunity to focus on not only what the film is about but how it was made, in particular how we got my family members to participate and how we captured certain moments.

Thanks to the partnership with IFP Minneapolis and support by the Federal Funding agencies, Film Forward brought Little White Lie to an incredible number of universities and colleges in the Twin City area:

  • At Macalaster College we discussed how Little White Lie fit into African-American film history and the portrayal of “mulattos” in film.
  • Minneapolis College of Art and Design we discussed the “tricks” of documentary editing and some of the ways we were able to capture different moments in the film.
  • The students at University of St. Thomas, St Paul had a lot of questions about how filmmaking can be used as process.
  • With the audience at Carleton College we discussed how film can connect with broader outreach goals.
  • For our final screening at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, we analyzed how film can help motivate people to make change in their lives.

In only three days time we spoke to over three hundred students in intimate and in-depth conversations about independent filmmaking. Following our discussions on how the films were made the Sundance and IFP teams talked about how the students could utilize both these organizations to make independent films themselves. It was a reminder for me of what it took to make these films – how much we sacrificed, how much we learned and how much we relied on organizations like Sundance and IFP among many others to get the projects done. After completing both Little White Lie and Difret independently, I was feeling a bit drained from the process of making an independent film, but after participating in Film Forward I left feeling not only that I had helped others to take their next steps in getting films done, but also personally inspired. For the first time in over a year I am ready to dig back in to the process of making a new film and I have the Film Forward trip to Minnesota to thank for that. 

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