Project summary: Lessons from Exes is a collaborative short film project. Community-sourced interviews about practical lessons women have learned from past romantic partners (like how to separate an egg) will form the content and soundtrack. Five women filmmakers, diverse in their cinematic approaches, will each create images to accompany one of the interview segments. These will be edited together into one ten-minute film, and exhibited in outdoor screenings in Kansas City and in Lawrence. It will also screen looped on a small monitor in the shared, private space of area restaurant restrooms.
Project details: The collaborative component for this project is twofold: community members from Kansas City and Lawrence will be invited to record documentary interviews about their lessons from exes, thus generating the content for the film. Then, the five filmmakers will each choose an edited interview, approximately 90 seconds long, for which to create images. The filmmakers were selected for their different approaches to film, and their cumulative body of work includes documentary, experimental, animation, and narrative, ensuring that this film will include a diversity of cinematic styles. Lyn Elliot will create images for one of the segments, and also serve as producer and editor: conducting and editing the interviews, ordering the finished segments, devising transitions, and creating a unified soundtrack.
The project is motivated by Elliot’s interest in using film to explore the hidden life that underpins women’s everyday experience. ‘Lessons’ from romantic relationships that have ended are often cast in emotional terms; however, here she is curious about the practical lessons from one’s former lover—such as how to bait a fishhook, or how to fold a fitted sheet—that endure. By giving voice to personal stories about little-shared elements of a romantic relationship’s aftermath, the film will have the feel of women exchanging secrets, some small, some significant.
The project’s target audience is Kansas City and Lawrence’s film-going community. Lessons from Exes will offer this community an engaging film experience beyond traditional narrative. The film will have two free public outdoor screenings, one in Kansas City, and one in Lawrence. The film will also screen looped on monitors in the restrooms of local restaurants. This venue, a shared private space, complements the film’s theme of women exchanging secrets, and viewing the film as an audience of one will intensify this element.
Assembling a group of artistically diverse filmmakers to create one film is a new undertaking among Kansas City and Lawrence filmmakers. In gathering the interviews, Elliot will engage Kansas City and Lawrence women from all walks of life with an interest in telling their stories. The project’s hybrid form, its incorporation of material from community members, and its emphasis on a small-scale, local, and accessible model of filmmaking and film viewing could serve as a model for future projects.
Lyn Elliot has been making short films for fifteen years. Her body of work encompasses several cinematic forms, including narrative, film essay, and animation. Lyn’s films are linked thematically in that they unearth, display, and contemplate the hidden life that underpins everyday experience. She likes to explore the “lives” of common objects—spare buttons, canned food, a newspaper advertisement—and the interior lives of characters in seemingly unremarkable situations. Making films is a way for Lyn to share her own curiosity about life’s immediate landscape, the things that people see, use, and participate in on a daily basis, and to invite the audience to re-experience the familiar from a new perspective.
Lyn came to film through writing. Her educational background includes a Ph.D. in English from the University of Iowa. When she took a film production class late in her doctoral career, she discovered that she liked making films more than she liked writing academic articles. Lyn went on to earn an M.F.A. in Film and Video Production, also from the University of Iowa. Since her first short, which she wrote, directed, shot, and edited herself, Lyn has created many of her films with collaborators, such as cinematographers, sound designers, composers, and animators.
She has been exhibiting films at juried film festivals since 1999, when her first 16mm short, Cars Will Make You Free, won a prize (for Funniest Film!) at the Ann Arbor Film Festival. Lyn’s subsequent films have also won prizes at Ann Arbor, and at numerous other film festivals across the country. Her films have been invited to screen at other prominent venues, such as BAM Cinematek, the IFC Center, and the National Gallery of Art, and she has received several prestigious grants. Her current project, a collaborative animation titled I Was a Teenage Girl, Apparently will be completed in summer of 2014.
Lyn has combined her work as a filmmaker with a career in university teaching, having taught at Penn State University from 2002-2011, and since 2011 as an Associate Professor of Film and Media Arts at UMKC. For more information, see www.lynelliot.com
Misti Boland is an accomplished motion picture production designer and writer/director. As a production designer she has overseen the art department on dozens of film projects, and as a director her films have both screened and won awards in festivals across the country. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas.
Caitlin Horsmon is an artist, teacher and curator who makes films, videos and installations. Her work has been exhibited around the world, and her film Themes & Variations for the Naked Eye was selected as one of the 50 best avant-garde films of the 2000’s by Nicole Brenez. She has received numerous awards and grants including a Rocket Grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation, Charlotte Street Foundation and Spencer Museum of Art. She is one of five artists who make up the curatorial collaboration Plug Projects. Caitlin is Associate Professor of Film and Media Arts at UMKC. Her work is distributed by The Collectif Jeune Cinéma.
Meg Jamieson has been a filmmaker, writer and professor for a decade. Her personal films, a poetic blend of document and experiment, have played at museums and festivals around the world, and her film work with community groups as disparate as the Ada tribe in Ghana to the Haudenosaunee of the Northeast United States has given voice to histories which run parallel to the dominant narrative. She is interested in the intersection of experience and memory, and finds the film medium perfect for this exploration. Meg teaches film production at the University of Kansas.
Mary C. Taylor is an animator and illustrator who works out of her studio, Flipt Pictures, based in Kansas City, MO. Her work has screened across the country in film festivals, movie theaters, sports stadiums, television and interactive devices. Her children’s animation, How To Put A Square Peg Into A Round Hole, was featured on Yahoo’s home page. She is also a board member of Kansas City Women in Film & TV