Coffee with Wendy Ettinger
Last Friday, we had the pleasure of hosting an event with award-winning producer and co-founder of Chicken and Egg Pictures, Wendy Ettinger. Bringing together sixteen students from both the graduate and undergraduate Film and Television Production departments at Tisch, this “Coffee With…” series event geared its focus on documentary filmmaking and the importance of proper funding initiatives.
As co-founder of Chicken and Egg Pictures, a non-profit production company that supports women filmmakers in the documentary field through grants and mentoring, Wendy has had much success in promoting films that otherwise would not have been noticed by major film production companies. Graduate school attendees who are now working on their thesis documentary features expressed concern over implementing the proper funding techniques, and whether or not to be persistent and aggressive towards their potential funders. “How do I get people to care about my project as much as I do?” asked many that morning. At which point, Wendy shared that the art of funding is an act of mutual “seduction” and that only confidence and assertiveness will convince people to support a filmmaker.
One graduate student noted that as difficult as it is for anyone to get their project funded, it is especially difficult for women in the industry to get noticed against their male counterparts. She shared a brief anecdote about an interview dinner she had with a potential investor, who treated the meeting as more of a date. Wendy noted that even many industry experts tend to group women filmmakers in a “pink box,” and that it’s a matter of standing your ground as a professional filmmakers and demanding respect. She shared that something as simple as bringing along a producer to a meeting or selecting a more informal location would help set proper barriers.
Ultimately, the morning breakfast proved to be very insightful to the group of budding filmmakers. When asked by moderator and Fusion co-director, Lucy Ross, “Do you have any motto that you live by?” Wendy answered that she mostly believed that everything happens to the best. She couldn’t express enough the importance of being friendly to everyone in the industry. With her new “Game Changer” initiative, a joint venture between Impact Partners and Chicken and Egg Pictures that will aim at producing narrative films directed exclusively by women, Wendy proves to be moving forward in her achievements.
The Fusion Film Festival’s “Coffee With…” Series brings distinguished women in film and television to an intimate conversation with a select group of students through a round table breakfast.
By Natalie Erazo