Documentaires and movies are parables, and I think that's something we really need at this time." - Randy Haberkamp, Managing Director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, at the Opening Ceremony of Getting Real '18.
There was a melodic buzz. An ever-increasing hum of excitement as scores of the talented, famous and undiscovered brushed by in the halls, eager to find a seat within the massive Cinerama Dome for opening ceremony.
It was nearly impossible to tell whether the stranger passing by was a famous director or a struggling independent filmmaker. Everyone was meshed together, mingling, swapping business cards. Everyone was here for the same reason.
Getting Real 2018
Among the throngs of talent were 27 of Vision Maker Media's (VMM) producers and three of VMM's team members: Executive Director Shirley Sneve, Assistant Director Rebekka Schlichting and Marketing and Communication Specialist, Alyssa Ranard.
"Vision Maker Media is committed to improving the skills of our filmmakers," said Shirley Sneve. "Making a documentary for Public Broadcasting can be a daunting task!"
Armed with notepads, business cards and thousands of questions for the industry's most successful leaders, VMM set off into the uncharted seas of Getting Real '18.
The three day conference held panels with topics ranging wide enough to cover all aspects of the film industry including diversity in film, round tables, upcoming trends, new technologies, legal and logistical help, etc. The conference also presented a variety of well-known professionals including Molly Thompson, Kamal Sinclair, Michèle Stephenson and Frederick Wiseman.
Executive Director Shirley Sneve was also a featured speaker in the National Minority Consortia panel. The panel highlighted the importance of diversity in public media and discussed the challenges behind communication between funders and filmmakers.
Assistant Director Rebekka Schlichting said that the VMM filmmakers approached her between panels and after the conference to state just how helpful the panels were to their own projects.
"A few of them told me that their minds turned to mush at the end of the day because they were just absorbing so much information," Schlichting said.
Mary Katzke, one of VMM's filmmakers, traveled with her team to California from Alaska to attend the conference. Katzke's upcoming film And Now We Rise features a native hiphop artist and activist.
"We appreciated the opportunity for peer interaction, new inspiration, meeting the VMM filmmakers and team and so much more," Katzke said. "It was truly an awesome experience for us."
VMM filmmaker Willow O'Feral and her teammates Brad Heck and Jaida Grey Eagle also attended the conference to gain insights on their current project, Arming Sisters.
"Brad and Jaida and I had such an incredible time," O'Feral said. "We learned so much and our heads are stuffed to bursting with information and ideas and thoughts!"
Besides attending the panels, VMM filmmakers were also given the opportunity to network between themselves and others. Schlichting said that the networking at the conference was invaluable to the filmmakers. Alyssa Ranard, the Marketing and Communication Specialist at VMM, agreed.
"Every time you sat down next to someone for lunch or for a panel, you'd walk away with a new business card," Ranard said.
Schlichting also mentioned how helpful the conference was to the VMM team. The team hosted an exclusive gathering for all of the VMM filmmakers to meet and share their project ideas. Schlichting said that meeting each of the filmmakers and learning each of their different personalities allowed her to understand how to communicate with each one more efficiently.
"Seeing the passion in our producers' eyes is really exciting," she said. "To have like-minded people who are all working toward the same goal of expanding the native narrative all in one room is a very empowering experience."