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Sep 10th, 2012
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Shame On Me?


The past several weeks have been tumultuous, at best. I have debated back and forth about whether or not to write about the experience, but in the end, my virtuous side won. Why shouldn’t I tell my story? It’s fascinating, as well as scandalous.


At the end of January, I joined a private Facebook group with several other women, and helped save the life of an old friend. None of us were close in High School, and I still have to pinch myself to realize that we actually brought our friend to safety from across the Pacific Ocean. It was a happy ending, or so I thought.


I am a writer/producer/director, have worked on many television and film projects, and recently completed my first novel. When I received a message from an old friend, asking if I would help, I agreed. I had some free time, and felt that helping someone was better than sitting around feeling sorry for myself for not having the energy to start rewriting/editing my book. (A late bloomer in the writing profession, I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself.)


At one point, in late March, I thought that it would be a great idea for our group to tell our story on film. The conception of a documentary was born. I had a vision of a seamless narrative stream, with my friends discussing their experience. My hope was to show how each woman came to the decision to participate in the task at hand, how our life stories  influenced our decisions, and what effect the event had on each of our lives.


Did I mention the person we saved? No. That is because she did not want to be included. I respected her decision, and made a conscious effort to leave her out. The details of her life – her name, profession, location, living conditions, and other very personal things – were never of interest to the story telling. Unfortunately, other people stepped in and started to create doubt, questioning integrity and intention.


I had no problem dealing with questions, but when the online attacks came, I got angry. Documentarians have a code of ethics they follow, and I was well within that code. They also have rights. My rights were being violated. I was harassed, donors to our indiegogo campaign were sent threatening messages, my team of women were told they would be sued, and our fiscal sponsor was verbally attacked. When my blog partner, Sj, was sent a horrible message that scared her, I drew the line.


The police were called, the FBI contacted, and our entire film team was forced into damage control and trying to explain the inexplicable actions of others. Guess what happened? Arrests? No. We opted to protect certain individuals from that, as they were only “indirectly” involved. I took the high road.


Did I do something wrong? No. I may have decided to make a film about a topic that may have caused discomfort for some, but documentaries do not make money as a rule, and I am NOT an opportunist. (I am not Michael Moore. Darn.) I am a storyteller, and have a very inspiring story to tell. It’s a story that will help bring hope to others who have friends or family in trouble. It’s about not giving up hope, putting differences aside, and working with one another to help someone in distress. That’s it, folks.


I have been accused of profiting from someone else’s pain – exploitation. Really? I have been told that I am acting on “creative whimsy.” No. My favorite has been that “You are professionally insecure.” Okay, what does that mean? Really? I’m a creative person. I am not insecure. I love what I do. When it was suggested that I change professions if having people bombard my project with “criticism” was too much for me, I must say, “Huh?” One person said that, “your story doesn’t have to be told.” In my humble opinion, I have to say that I only meant to encourage others to love one another, the story is important, and films cost money to make. I will not apologize for that.


This entire attack on a very socially conscious and relevant subject is unjust, and I have to say that supporters of “We Are Sisters,” are fantastic people, who believe in the creative process, and know that a documentary film is made for a purpose. In this case, the purpose is to show how groups of women have come together on Facebook (of all things), and done some inspiring feats. No lives ruined, no jobs lost. Beautiful stories of love and selfless deeds.


The decision to include several stories of faith, hope and perseverance, was done out of respect for the many groups of women who help one another, without bias to affliction, race, creed, age, or sexual preference. Our original story was not unique, and allowing others to share our film is only right.


People should not be intimidated to contribute to helping tell our stories. It’s okay.


After all, “We Are All Sisters,” aren’t we?

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