Fusion Launch Event Filled With Celebration of Unity
By Jenny Levine.
Fusion Faculty Advisor Susan Sandler addressed the crowd before the event and said, although it was unusual for her to speak before a program, that it was necessary to address everyone during these emotionally heated times. Susan spoke of artists like Stella Meghie and others sitting in the audience who will continue to inspire her by telling their stories and creating beautifully diverse work.
Jean of the Joneses proved to be exactly what everyone needed. The students and faculty alike laughed at cleverly written jokes about love, death, and failure. With a jazzy score and a sense of camaraderie in shared struggles, Meghie created a beautifully tragic comedic film.
Two of Jean of the Joneses stars, Michelle Hurst from Orange is the New Black and Gloria Reuben from Mr. Robot, talked with moderators Caran Hartsfield and Rayna Tyson about the film’s relatability for immigrant families and on keeping a straight face during one of the funniest scenes in the film: actress Erica Ash hysterically crying during an estranged relative’s wake.
Mid-way through the talk, Meghie tapped into the discussion via Skype to give students advice about the trials and triumphs of making independent films. “I finished the draft in 2010 and used the script as a calling card for fellowships,” shared Meghie. “In the meantime, I worked in television, but never gave up on the script. I went to Tribeca and met the right people and got first financing. When you work on an independent film you never know where financing comes from. It’s all about meeting the right people.”
Besides touching upon the logistics of creating an independent film, Meghie explained how she was able to write about such complicated and relatable characters. “Inspiration is definitely my family; I have a large family of women who are unintentionally funny and those voices definitely filled up my head.”
Hurst has worked for decades in the film and TV industry and talked to students about individuality in your work. “In this business, your integrity is gonna get tested a whole bunch of times. Write what comes from your heart, not necessarily what you think someone else wants you to write. You can write about things you know, every so often write about something you don’t know. You have to love what you’re doing,” Hurst said. One can see where Hurst’s advice comes into play, Meghie herself had to deal with rejection and staying true to her story. “I told myself that it would just take time. A ‘no’ right now doesn’t mean a ‘no’ later,” Meghie said.
The film’s stars and moderators were delighted to receive gift bags from Fusion’s sponsor DAVID’S TEA. “How did you know I love David’s Tea?” Michelle Hurst glowed as she held up the bag filled with goodies from David’s Tea’s Bleecker Street Store where special holiday gifts are available.
The Launch Event was not only a great opportunity for healing with laughter and education, but a source of unity in launching the 15th Annual Fusion Film Festival. All in the NYU community are encouraged to submit, with the goal of creating an inclusive work environment between women and men in the realms of narrative and documentary filmmaking as well as screenplay writing.
The deadline to submit your work to Fusion is January 13th. Visit the Submissions Page for more information.