The Mamalode Starter Series is an exciting opportunity for us to introduce you to some of the amazing people we get to meet. Starting something takes enormous amounts of work, faith, help and community. Every week we'll share another story of starting. So, community of Mamalode, read up, get inspired and check out these wonder-folk.
Tell us a little bit about your business and how you started it.
FilmSpur includes two major divisions: The Audience Awards—a social platform for film and The International Documentary Challenge—a timed filmmaking competition. As an independent filmmaker, I always loved winning The Audience Awards at film festivals because it meant the people I had made the film for liked it. In the independent film world, we need to be able to reach and engage a larger audience. And it’s really tough knowing where to put your film for digital distribution—there’s such a segregated experience from pre-production to distribution throughout the whole process of making an indie film. One has to use several platforms to reach their community and market the film once it’s done.
So, I put all of the different services filmmakers need into one platform. A filmmaker can raise funds on our site, post their films or trailers to promote their films, place their short films into competitions to reach audiences and monetize those films. The competitions provide a way for audiences to get involved with a film and find the best short films. Users can interact with the filmmakers in an online Q&A, comment and review the films and support filmmakers. Filmmakers can list all of the places their film resides digitally and each film and filmmaker have their own pages. (The next version of our site at TheAudienceAwards.com will release in a month.)
Once I started The Audience Awards, The International Documentary Challenge organically fell into my lap. Started in 2006, the folks who operated this annual timed filmmaking competition wanted to unload it. I saw the value of the Doc Challenge for filmmakers and audiences and how we could grow it. Filmmaking teams from around the world sign up to make a short 4-7 minute documentary in just five days. The films are judged and the top twelve premiere at Hot Docs— North America’s largest documentary film festival. Our sponsors like P.O.V. pick their favorite and offer distribution and we are now doing the work of finding distribution outlets for all of the finalist films. We are creating a library of the 900 short films at FilmSpur.com. Businesses will be able to search a topic and use the content on their social media outlets and websites.
If you run a non-profit that addresses human trafficking, you can go to our site and search human trafficking and find and share all of the short films that have been made on the topic through the Doc Challenge. We monetize these films for the filmmakers. We are currently expanding the brand to include Women’s, Music and Adventure Doc Challenges. Music Doc Challenge finalist films will premiere at SXSW, Adventure at Slamdance and we’re trying for a Sundance premiere of the Women’s Doc Challenge finalist films.
What do your kids think about your job?
I’m writing this interview next to Bennie, 2.5 and Jack, 6.5 years old and asked them this question. They said, “Because it’s neat and cool.“ Jack really likes that he’s been in one of my films. Bennie likes that I take Fridays off to be with him.
Tell us about a total mom + biz fail?
Time management is always an issue. I co-parent so my time with my kids is split and precious. On the days that we have the boys, we make it the number one priority to spend time together as a family. And when we don’t, I work long hours. I try to be active in my sons’ classrooms and volunteer a few times a month. One Wednesday, I’m at work doing my thing and I completely spaced that I was supposed to be in Jack’s class. There’s always an internal conversation about balance—being the mom I want to be and the CEO I need to be. In an ideal world, the mom role always wins but in the real world, sometimes CEO takes precedence. So when I miss a mom appointment, it feels like a huge failure because the boys are (should be) the most important people in my world.
Share with us a total win (brag away!)
Three weeks ago, I was in Toronto for the Doc Challenge premiere at Hot Docs. As always, I was faced with the mom versus CEO role. I could go to Hot Docs one day, spend the day in Toronto the next and return to Missoula just in time to be with the kids and not miss one of my nights. It was an expensive trip and there were amazing networking opportunities that I would miss because I was only at the festival for a day. But it’s a choice I made because of the ideal, time with the boys comes first. I got home and the next day, Jack lost his first tooth and I was there for it. I was able to put his tooth under his pillow that night and wake up to see what the tooth fairy left (2 bucks!) I was so grateful I wasn’t still in Toronto.
What's your relationship with Mamalode?
I made a documentary a few years ago called From Place to Place about kids who age out of foster care and Mamalode did an article on the film. As a mom, I read Mamalode but it wasn’t until I moved into Missoula’s incubator MonTEC, that I met founder Elke and her amazing team. It’s awesome getting to share space with another female owned business. There is an unspoken singleness of purpose and understanding between us—be good moms and run a kickass business. That’s quite a feat.