REEL Lady: Producer, Emily Abt, Pureland Pictures

REEL Ladies chats with Emily Abt from Pureland Pictures.  Emily Abt is an award-winning filmmaker dedicated to creating both fiction and documentary projects that grapple with current socio-political themes. She is also the President of Pureland Pictures Inc. which she founded in 1999. Earlier this year, Abt completed 11 spots for an on-line campaign for Johnson & Johnson. ALL OF US, her second documentary feature, was completed this winter and is soon to be theatrically released. This spring, Abt directed her first narrative feature TOE TO TOE, which is currently in post-production. Abt’s films have screened at festivals nationwide and she has received support for her work from sources such as the Independent Feature Project, New York State Council on the Arts, UK Fulbright Commission, Jerome Foundation, North Star Fund, The Playboy Foundation, the Lucius & Eva Eastman Fund, Open Meadows Foundation, The Valentine Foundation, International Women’s Health Coalition, The Swanee Hunt Family Foundation and the Third Wave Foundation.
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RL: WHEN DID YOU KNOW THAT YOU WANTED TO PURSUE FILM?

EA: When i was a caseworker in New York City, age 22, I was inspired to make a film about some of my clients as they transitioned from welfare to work.

RL: WHAT WERE YOUR FIRST STEPS TO ACTIVELY PURSUE IT, AND NOT JUST DREAM ABOUT IT?

EA: I loved films for a long time – DO THE RIGHT THING made my stomach flip-flop at age 14- but it wasn’t until I was rejected by the law schools I applied to that I realized I needed to be brave and jump in.

RL: WHAT DON’T THEY TEACH YOU IN FILM SCHOOL?

EA: That you need to be entrepreneurial if you’re going to survive as a filmmaker. My parents were both entrepreneurs so their guidance has helped me a great deal over the years.

RL: TELL US ABOUT YOUR SCRIPT, TOE TO TOE, WHICH GOT ACCEPTED INTO THE IFP ‘NO BORDERS’ PROJECT.

EA: It’s my baby, I started writing it 7 years ago. Seeing it come to life on the screen is a truly exciting thing.

RL: HOW WAS THAT EXPERIENCE FOR YOU?

EA: IFP was a good time, lots of networking opportunites there. I need to be reminded to leave my fishbowl sometimes and IFP helped me to do that.

RL: HOW DID YOU OBTAIN FUNDING FOR IT?

EA: I begged every producer, friend, family member and wealthy stranger I knew. You have to be shameless about it. I hit up my family the day after Christmas, my brother was appalled. Everybody turns you down and then you beg again a few weeks later. Women have a hard time asking for money on their own behalf, they can do it for others but not for themselves. This is a problem because if you can’t raise money, then you probably can’t make your film. Everybody drags their feet when it comes to hustling for financing but you have to go to the mat for your film or no one else will

RL: WHAT IS YOUR WRITING PROCESS?

EA: I eavesdrop a lot and scribble notes incessantly. I borrow from the clever things I hear people say. I re-write and re-write and re-write until the darn thing is good

RL: WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A FILM?

EA: I like films that move me emotionally. Drop me into someone else’s world, shake me up and let me return to my own life with a little more wisdom and i’m a happy citizen. i love rarified, foreign indies like LILYA 4-EVER and THE COLOR OF PARADISE but SEX IN THE CITY was a pretty fun watch too.

RL: TELL US ABOUT PURELAND PICTURES.

EA: Pureland is my awesome little company that has kept me afloat and happy for many years. The Purelanders are the folks that make the magic happen.
RL: WHAT SHOULD FILMMAKERS KNOW ABOUT THE NEW YORK FILM INDUSTRY?

EA: It’s competitive but rewarding if you stick it out. Find your niche and build a network of good folks around you.

RL: WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?

EA: The distribution of ALL OF US and post-production of TOE TO TOE.

RL: WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT THING FOR YOU AS A PRODUCER?

EA: Paying the bills.

RL: WHICH DO YOU ENJOY MORE, DIRECTING OR PRODUCING?

EA: I love both and I think you have to be good at both to get off the ground as a filmmaker. I guess directing is ‘more fun’ in a lot of ways but producers are the ones who make the whole thing happen.

RL: WHAT IS YOUR ULTIMATE GOAL IN THE FILM & ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY?

EA: I’d like to keep doing what I’m doing with less all-nighters and more moolah. I’m also always trying to get less attached to the outcome of a given film and enjoy the process more. You can’t control how a film is perceived but you can refine your experience of making films. If I can keep creating feminist, meaningful, sexy, uplifting, harrowing, provoking work, and share it with an audience, than I’m all good. I guess I’d also like to figure out how to have less conflict during the filmmaking process itself. That said, if you don’t think your film is worth a few tussles, you probably shouldn’t be making it.
RL: WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE FROM WOMEN IN FILM?

EA: I’d like us to become more than 5% of the working directors out there. I’d like us to be brave and fight the battles we need to in order to get our work made and seen. I’d like those of us who are feminists to claim that title proudly. And finally, I’d like us all to support each other more. This is a hard gig and we need each other’s encouragement and early buy-in as much as possible.

VISIT EMILY at http://www.PureLandPictures.com or http://www.AllOfUsTheMovie.com

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About REEL Ladies

A Networking Community & Organization for Women in Film & Entertainment! View all posts by REEL Ladies

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