EXAMPLE INTERVIEW: Siren Interview of the week: Rebecca Long Producer 'Forget Me Not'
Siren Stream: 'Forget Me Not' was the first feature by Rebecca Long . This week we get insight from Rebecca about this experience and challenges she has faced in her career, what drives her plus her top tips for success:Siren Stream:
Tell us about 'Forget Me Not' and the experience of producing a first feature.
'Forget Me Not' is a love story set during one night in London with great cast including Tobias Menzies, Genevieve O'Reilly and Gemma Jones. In a nutshell it is a moving and emotive film that explores finding a real connection with someone and even if that is fleeting what an impact it can have on your life. The film premiered at Palm Beach International Film Festival, Won best film at London Independent Film Festival and was also at Vale, Rhode Island festivals and was shown on the BBC.
This was the first feature I had produced after about ten years of experience. I could talk about the challenges of producing film endlessly but I would like to express for women reading this whatever they're profession is, that it did seem like an insurmountable endeavour however I did find a way forward and made a film that audiences have genuinely enjoyed.
I did not get many opportunities within the film industry to become a producer, I felt that I had the heart of a producer but to other people, I did not look or perhaps act like a producer. I find that other people always provide an excuse. I recall being told at one interview that I was over qualified, over educated and too smart in my appearance. I guess I felt I did not fit in. I was also still learning how to lead my own way. I am an ideas person, a can do positive person and I like to lead within a team of people who share the same vision. I think often women who are strong leaders but team players can often be underestimated. I learnt that is not a bad thing and it was not only about getting to the position of making a film which is an achievement in itself but there are many other skills required such as managing a multitude of people on set in a very pressured environment and to be seen to be tough but fair and keeping everyone happy which is an almost impossible mission. Not to mention marketing, negotiation etc. However it was a great experience and I eventually found more confidence within myself to be a more natural and effective leader and now I try to lead from the top, be fair, show appreciation and let people know they are valued without micro managing them.
To help other women facing big professional challenges what advice would you give?
I would say to other women to stand your ground, to trust yourself. To not be pressured into making wrong choices.
To join a relevant group within your industry with other people that face the same challenges as yourself. I would have done this earlier. As it was, I was mentored by Women in Film & TV when 'Forget Me Not' was being shown at cinemas. I had just had my first son and I still recall the first meeting at the Theatre Trust in Charing Cross, two weeks after my son's birth, being around a big table of other women and my breast milking feeding thing started going off in my bag. No matter what we achieve how big or small, being part of a community made me understand that other women face similar personal and professional challenges (I had just had a son) and they showed me how I could potentially manage a career and have a family which is always a massive balancing act for any working mothers. Just being part of something bigger than yourself means that you don't need to be battling things solo. Also to find supporters, people who you can work with who value you and vice versa and are loyal. I also learnt that inner confidence is something that we can grow within us and to try and remember everything we have achieved!
Do you think things are different now in film for women than they were when you made this film?
I think the film industry will always be massively challenging so it is about your personality and nurturing yourself creatively, in business and finding your niche. Things are very different now in the world of independent film. However there are always opportunities. I think there are more women that have had success that we can look up to for inspiration but I think there is still a very long way to go for women. What we need to do is lead by way of example and provide opportunities to other women and show our respective industry that it works.
What was the one thing that drove you on rather than giving up can you describe it?
For me personally it was the support of my family. When my father suddenly died, it was the worst thing that could have happened to me. He always told me that most people give up when they are 80% there. To never give up, to keep going. After he died, though I was out of my comfort zone many times when I was making my first feature film, at the back of my mind, I just thought - what is the worst that can happen? It already has. Im going to do this for Dad and that kept me focused through the turbulent ups and downs. I took stock to review how I could then improve as a creative producer and leader and joined the WFTV mentee scheme. Plus I made a film that I am proud of. It is more than a love story - it still resonates, has depth and makes one think about the world we live in. Naivety is no bad thing (by way of example I remember getting Roger Ebert to review the film when it was shown at the Palm Beach Film Festival and I did not know that he was the biggest film reviewer ever!) because if we knew the reality it would make us pause rather than push forward and if we don't push forward we don't grow as people.
To receive Rebecca's top tips for success and watch 'Forget Me Not' the first feature she produced and many other films subscribe to Siren Stream here: https://www.sirenstream.com/romance