Second Cut and Editing Lab

We arrived at a full, glorious second cut early in August, and with Joe’s help and encouragement are in the midst of a kind of Editing Lab with the most amazing group of filmmakers:  Jonathan Oppenheim, Lewis Erskine, and Richard Hankin.  We are all honored and thrilled to be having these editorial giants watching and giving us notes.

We expect to have another cut by the end of the month, which we’ll begin sending out.  We are really cooking with gas, and are almost there.  Stay tuned!

The Po-go Stick

Emily here. Monday was our first day back with our editor Maya and I woke up wide awake, like it was the first day of school. With Maya comes her unrelenting confidence in the film and a dare-devil willingness to shoot for the moon- I don’t want to think about how many boba teas she’s drinking.

Mary and I are in constant cahoots. On phone-calls, I can hear her beautiful kids pip-squeaking in the background. I remember when I was little, watching my parents work, thinking what on earth could be so important???

It is go-time. There is a 5000 page document stacked up next to my bed: six large binders, twelve different colors of post-it notes that mean fifteen different things. No wonder I am having trouble sleeping. We are are working like hell to get to a second cut over the next six weeks.

This part of making a documentary brings such a strange one-sided intimacy. The characters and the footage are so present inside my head that when their names pop up on my phone or email, I stare at them in disbelief. “I was just thinking of you!” I could say but what an understatement. I feel like a school girl talking to the boy whose name I have written a thousand times in my notebook, except in my case it’s my own mother or uncle that I am talking to. Strange times.

After conversations like that, I go outside and po-go stick.

A Huge Push Forward

Last month, Emily traveled back to Baltimore for two very important events. Her family home in Ednor Gardens was sold after thirty-five years. Emily helped her family pack up the last of the boxes and said goodbye to the neighborhood where she was raised (and of course put mics on everyone and ducked behind a camera as often as she could!).

Also that week, Emily brought the first cut of the film to an incredible group of people at the Annie E. Casey Foundation who work in social justice, education, and racial justice. The response was resounding encouragement, and it was an incredible experience to witness firsthand the affect that the film has on a room. The discussion that followed was intense and productive. Even in this none-too-polished form, the film inspires a level of engagement that is exactly what we are aiming for. When asked by the group what was needed to finish the film, Jan Rivitz of The Straus Foundation pledged $15,000 on the spot. And there is talk of more support from the Casey Foundation directly!

In the meantime, this generous grant from the Straus Foundation (and our ability to stretch every last dollar) will fund our next push of editorial, bringing us very very nearly to a final cut. After that, we are on to music, archival footage, and rights – the end is so close we can taste it.

What an honor and privilege to have come this far, and it is only with your support that we are here today. Stay tuned over the next few months as we race towards the finish line!

Reached a First Cut!

Greetings from the editing room. Just four days ago, we watched a full rough cut of our film for the very first time. Over the last 8 weeks, our editor Maya Hawke (& 2012 Eddie nominee!) has brought the project from being an idea that obsessed us for three years to a tangible, intense feature film.

After a long time slogging, and still a ton of work ahead, we are, for a minute anyway, feeling awfully proud.

Our Good Pitch Family is Kicking BUTT!

Two of our Good Pitch family films have been accepted to the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2012!  The glorious David France’s (and his producer Howard Gertler’s) How to Survive a Plague and the fabulous Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering’s The Invisible War.

Watch The Invisible War‘s explosive trailer (edited by our very good friend and amazingly great guy Derek Boonstra!) here.

We could not be happier for these filmmakers!!  Way to go guys!  We are so proud to have been at Good Pitch with them, and wish them all the best as they prepare for their premiere.

San Francisco Film Society/Herbert Family Documentary Award

We love the San Francisco Film Society.  During Good Pitch in San Francisco, the Director of Filmmaker Services granted us $5,000 on the spot, and here is the press release about the grant.  It’s the San Francisco Film Society/Herbert Family Documentary Award, created…

“…to support the career of an emerging filmmaker who pitched a project at the recently concluded 2011 San Francisco Good Pitch event. The award is part of the Film Society’s suite of filmmaker services designed to foster creativity and further the careers of independent filmmakers. First-time directors Mary Posatko and Emily Topper were selected for their social justice documentary American Village and will receive $5,000 to support their next phase of production.

Michele Turnure-Salleo tapped Posatko and Topper for the award at the Good Pitch on September 27 noting the Film Society’s specific interest in supporting emerging filmmakers and the winners’ courageous approach to their project…”

The $5K is currently paying our editor and moving us forward.  We are so grateful for this honor and real shot in the arm.

Fabulous Fundraiser in Baltimore

Thank you Mary Ann Mears, Bob Embry, Lois Feinblatt, Jed Dietz, and Elizabeth Embry for throwing such a fabulous party for “American Village.” More than a hundred incredible people packed into the Mears-Embry house. We screened an eight minute portion of the film. As the lights came back on Congressman Cummings rose to speak. His words brought our project into razor-sharp focus. It was an evening we will never forget.

Photos by Hank Topper.