With the Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (MGLFF) less than a month away, we are thrilled to present an interview with Lisa Thrasher, President of Film Production & Distribution at POWER UP, a Non-Profit Film Production Company & Educational Organization for Women and the GLBTQ Community, and catalyst behind MGLFF Women’s Spotlight film GIRLTRASH: All Night Long (a work-in-progress).
How did POWER UP get its start?
After donning an impressive track-record as a successful Feature Film Producer & Screenwriter, Stacy Codikow (Under the Hula Moon; Profiler; Fatal Instinct) became inspired to “pay-it-forward” and turned her financial success, as well as her considerable experience & knowledge, towards philanthropy and mentoring. After a few years of volunteering and donating large amounts of money to various GLBTQ non-profit organizations, Codikow realized that there was a tremendous need to educate Women and the GLBTQ community in Film & Television careers. Even today, the Film & Television industries report shockingly low employment numbers for all minority groups, but especially for the GLBTQ Community and Women. This shameful absence, both behind the scenes, and on screen, needed a remedy and to that end Stacy Codikow created POWER UP Films in 2001.
Today, POWER UP is the only 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Film Production Company & Educational Organization for Women and the GLBTQ community. POWER UP develops, finances, produces & distributes award-winning films AND conducts unique advanced educational programs through our hands-on filmmaking mentorships, classes, workshops and seminars. Additionally, POWER UP offers career, script, television and film counseling; Awards notable contributors to the arts, entertainment and our community. POWER UP continues to unify and validate women and the GLBTQ community worldwide by “challenging perception through film.”
What’s been your best experience as the President of Film Production & Distribution at POWER UP?
Without question, making POWER UP’s Films! POWER UP has Developed, Financed, Produced and Distributed 15 Films; 13 Public Service Announcements; and has given money and production support to dozens more LGBTQ Films. To date, POWER UP is the only non-profit organization to allocate more than 2 million dollars in cash and in-kind services to make GLBTQ films.
What surprises have you faced?
The best surprise has been the unfettered enthusiasm and support from mainstream Hollywood. Showtime Networks, for example, has been POWER UP’s biggest and most loyal donor and sponsor from day one – even before “Queer As Folk” and “The L Word” were on their channels. We could not be more grateful.
How has the independent film industry changed over the past 10 years? Do you think it’s changed for the better or for the worst?
Technology! The Independent Film Community has benefitted greatly from the advancements of film technology. With all the light weight, high quality digital cameras and the increased number of distribution outlets (Hulu, Amazon, IMDB etc.,) Indie Filmmakers can now bypass the traditional distribution routes, do it themselves and actually recoup some money back for their film.
Do you have any advice for other LGBT women entering the film industry?
Is you want an easy short-cut into the film industry, become involved in POWER UP Films, seriously! Join as a Member; sign-up for every POWER UP workshop, seminar or educational program; get Mentorship & Advice; and, at the very least, read POWER UP ’s website, blogs, Facebook & tweets!
What is the inspiration behind GIRLTRASH: All Night Long?
POWER UP wanted to teach another Mentorship Program and make another feature film that would “WOW” the GLBTQ Film audiences. So, we called up POWER UP Grantee, Angela Robinson, and commissioned a script for us. We loved the characters from the GIRLTRASH web-series, commissioned by Showtime, so POWER UP suggested that Robinson write a GIRLTRASH Feature Film. “GIRLTRASH: All Night Long” — the movie – was born and POWER UP offered the position as Director to First-Time Feature Director, Alex Martinez Kondracke.
As POWER UP did with “ITTY BITTY TITTY COMMITTEE,” we started with an inspired idea and created a delightful reality: “GIRLTRASH: All Night Long,” POWER UP’s ensemble, coming-of-age, Romantic-Comedy that morphed into a sexy & fun Lesbian Rock-Musical.
Yes, POWER UP has screened all our films at the Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival! ITTY BITTY TITTY COMMITTEE sold-out MGLFF in 2007 and ended with cheers and dozens sitting in the aisles. We love the city and, more than that, we love the MGLFF audience!
The 14th Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival will take place from Friday April 27 until Sunday May 6, 2012. Tickets are on sale now. For tickets to GIRLTRASH: All Night Long, The Official MGLFF Women’s Spotlight film or any other events please visit MGLFF.com.