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04

Dec

Pioneers in Skirts is going to Charlotte – and we need your help!

Maddy and SophiaThat’s right! The first week of January, we – the team behind Pioneers in Skirts – will pack up our truck with camera, sound and lighting gear and drive to Charlotte, North Carolina to follow two subjects of our “Pioneers in Skirts” documentary – Maddy and Sophia. They are teenagers interested and skilled in robotics but also interested in other hobbies like dancing and theater. We are following them during a time in their life when choice is imminent. Will they or won’t they follow a career in STEM? What outside factors play a role?

It’s Time to Rally the Troops!

Dear Pioneer Troops: As we wait to hear back from grants, we need to keep moving forward in making this film – so we need your help to make this trip happen through either monetary or in-kind donations – all of which are tax-deductible through our Fiscal Sponsor Fractured Atlas. [Contact us (pioneersinfo@ashley-maria.com) to learn more!]

Here’s what we need:

Gift Cards to Restaurants

It doesn’t matter the kind of restaurant (we aren’t picky), but you would be surprised how quickly the numbers add up when you are feeding a crew of 3 or 4. Gift cards to fast food help when we are on the road, and then gift cards to sit-down restaurants help us to treat our crew right after a long, hard day!

Gift Cards to Grocery Stores

We drink a lot of water on set because it’s easy to get dehydrated while you’re running around, plus we also get hungry! Granola bars are my favorite on set pick me up… but I like to make sure we have enough healthy and enough sweet to keep the crew satisfied until it’s time to eat that big meal. It’s all about food with me…

Gift Cards for Gas

YES we want GAS! We will be driving A LOT to our various locations following these young ladies, so help filling up the tank would be much appreciated. Costco gift cards are also a cool work around for this.

Hotel Stays

Do you know of a hotel that has an initiative to support women in their company? Would they want to support this film by donating a night or two to us? We will be in Charlotte for 5 days total. And, did we mention it is all tax-deductible as In-Kind Donations? Cool, right?

Businesses Can Help, Too

If you are, or know of, a business that would like to help – please send them our way. We have all sorts of ways to recognize business sponsorships. To be honest, documentary films are funded more by people and businesses than Grants and crowdsourcing. We need YOU!

Here is a link to our sponsor page for monetary donations:

https://www.fracturedatlas.org/site/fiscal/profile?id=10872 OR you can contact us directly here pioneersinfo@ashley-maria.com

What do you get in return?

Other than the satisfying feeling you get when you support a movement – a film that will influence change – every donor to the film receives a special Thank You in the credits – YOUR NAME up on the screen!

Why are we are following Maddy and Sophia?

Maddy and Sophia’s interest and skills in engineering plus their super fun personalities as best friends drew us to them when we first met back in March 2014 at the NC First Robotics competition in Raleigh, North Carolina.

They began learning about engineering on their all-girls middle school Robotics team where they thrived. Now, they are on the high school co-ed team, and their mentor tells us they are exhibiting an elevated level of confidence – much higher than the girls who didn’t come from an all-girls team.

Is this a solution to encouraging more women to join the STEM fields? Studies show that young girls are interested in STEM fields but are discouraged along the way from ever pursuing a career in it, thus making it an industry highly dominated by men. What happens, and will this same thing happen to Maddy and Sophia?

Check them out in our teaser (they’re the ones wearing the cool hats):

“Pioneers in Skirts” – Exploring the obstacles women face in their careers, and how to overcome them.

 


29

Oct

Editing Mit Kitty

I thought you would enjoy seeing why I didn’t get any work done editing in AVID tonight… how can anyone work with a cat in the room?

Oh! And I chose “mit” because it’s German for “with” and has one less letter than “with” for the Title Card to work. Makes sense?


30

Sep

You Asked, They Answered

Check out some footage from our Pioneers in Skirts shoot in Seattle earlier this month!

We asked our Followers on Facebook what question they would ask of successful business leaders if they had a chance to pick their brains at a roundtable. Here is the answer to one of YOUR questions!

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more opportunities to ask questions of some awesome people!


12

Sep

Pioneers in Skirts takes on Seattle!

From the highest point in what felt like the whole planet – The Space Needle – check out an update video we made for you about our days filming in Seattle. But, whatever you do…don’t look over the edge!

Follow “Pioneers in Skirts” on Facebook and Twitter

 


18

Jun

Editing a Teaser for Pioneers in Skirts

Filmmaking… It’s Not Always Glamorous

I’m sitting in my editor’s room right now watching her edit. I’m not in her editing bay, I’m in her bedroom. I’m actually sitting on the edge of her bed.

She lives in a 2 bedroom apartment in Studio City and her editing computer is in her bedroom. Good thing we were friends first, right??

Filmmaking isn’t always glamorous, my friends!

5 Days of Editing Non-Stop

We are currently in Day 5 of editing a “Pioneers in Skirts” teaser. We have pulled early mornings and late nights, but it’s looking good! Why such intense editing, you ask? We were invited to attend the White House Summit on Working Families in Washington, DC at the end of June and knew we needed to premiere our teaser for this event – but it’s about 2 months earlier than we were planning to premiere.

It was time to power through 14 hours of footage to make a 4-minute teaser. And we did it. Well, we are still doing it, but by the time you read this, it should be done.

I’m from the future to share the teaser with you! Watch below:

Finally for you,

5 ways to survive a marathon of film editing:

  1. Drink plenty of water. We noticed that after 5 days of barely sleeping and forgetting to eat – your mouth gets dry. Like, really dry. We started to think there was a conspiracy in Studio City making my editor’s tap water cause dry mouth; but no, it was the exhaustion. (I’ve been drinking from a water bottle the last 24 hours just in case)
  2. Go home. Yeah, I could have probably slept on her couch to then begin the process all over again the next day, but you need that sense of an “end” so you can sleep. You need that little ritual, so you don’t have a “too anxious” sleep. Maybe I only slept for a few hours, but it let me recharge and prepare for more decision making the next day.
  3. Prepare to not do anything else. I regret not doing my laundry before this 5 day marathon began, but I did clean my dishes, and that has made all the difference.
  4. You better like your editor. Shannon, our editor, and I have been in the same room for 72 hours and we still laugh and get excited! If you don’t think you can spend that much time with your editor, then you better enlist a buffer person or you will kill each other…well, metaphorically.
  5. Skype Screen Sharing. This feature allowed us to share the cut and receive notes in real time with Producer Lea-Ann Berst. Working coast-to-coast is simple when you have technology like this. (You are welcome.)

skype screen grab

Here’s a screen capture from our Skype Screen Sharing. You can see me and the editor in one square and Producer, Lea-Ann Berst in the other watching the current cut.

This has been an amazing experience but editing marathons should be few and far between…I hope!


13

Jun

“Pioneers in Skirts” Heads to Washington, DC

The team behind Pioneers in Skirts™ was invited to attend The White House Summit on Working Families in Washington DC on June 23rd!

Producer, Lea-Ann Berst, will be attending as a “contributor,” and I will be attending to cover the event. As a contributor Lea-Ann will join panels and group discussions to share what we have learned while making “Pioneers in Skirts.” My role is to capture the discussion, the progress.

This is pretty cool, huh? Well, this event is a huge deal.

We’ve learned a lot about the challenges working women of today face. We’ve spoken to the topic experts who have explored the reasons for the slowed pace toward gender equity. We’ve spoken to ‘pioneers’ from around the country who can help define and reveal ways for women to overcome and achieve.

“Pioneers in Skirts” is a full feature national documentary that aims to answer the question, “What does it take for women to succeed in the workplace?” and this summit sponsored by the White House aims to propel a major step toward the answer.

White House Summit


From the Website: The White House Summit on Working Families will focus on strategies to ensure all members of our society have equal access to high-quality jobs. Of particular significance is the increasingly important role of women as breadwinners in working families. Topics will include key issues such as workplace flexibility, equal pay, workplace discrimination, worker retention and promotion, opportunities for low-wage workers, elder care, childcare, and early childhood education.


I am thrilled we are in the same room with these change-makers.
Attendees will be from women’s groups representing the needs of working women and working mothers and families, but many are businesses and individuals – those who feel inclined to act on the changing times. Both men and women will be a part of the discussion because BOTH are equally responsible for creating workplaces that are thriving and competitive in today’s global economy.

This event is a discussion. It’s #timeforprogress.

We see that it is our job to then help implement some of those thoughts and ideas from the summit. Our goal for participating in the discussion is to make sure the story arc of our film captures the summit outcome when it pertains to women and their success in the workplace. The best of the best of those who have an opinion and have something to say will be there. We want to meet them!

I am bringing my gear – and the comfortable shoes – I am ready.

Now, we have to actually get ourselves to the event.

We didn’t find out until Tuesday that we were invited to attend. So, needless to say, flights and hotels are not affordable with only a week to plan. To be honest, this trip is going to cost us $2,000+ and that’s just travel and lodging. Welcome to the last minute travel of a filmmaker!

We are excited to attend and share what we’ve learned.

If you would like us to share our “Pioneers in Skirts” experiences in D.C. at the summit, we sure could use your help! Please take a moment to donate online here! Thank you!!

We see that we NEED to do this. We NEED to be a part of this discussion and put the concerns and learnings that arise during the event in the film. We NEED to discover those answers, those solutions, and share them with our country through the documentary.

We know that we are taking something current and giving it right back to the people who need it the most – today’s working woman, our pioneering women. And we know what we’ve learned so far while making “Pioneers in Skirts” can add value to the summit discussions. We are honored to be there.

Pioneers in Skirts DC

Here’s a screenshot from our interview with Joan Wages, the President and CEO of the National Women’s History Museum, near the National Monument.

Be A Pioneer

 


09

Jun

Police Pursuits in Los Angeles

As I watch yet another police pursuit in Los Angeles – this one in particular passed within a mile of my house – I felt it was time to share my stories encountering these little Los Angeles wonders.

Police Pursuit 1

My POV of the police pursuit. A safe distance…

I first traveled to Los Angeles my last year of high school – I believe it was the summer after graduation but my mom can tell you better. You should call her.

Anywho, we arrive in Los Angeles, take the taxi to our very nice hotel in Hollywood. Sit on our beds and turn on the 6 o’clock news as we get ready for dinner. And lo and behold, a car chase.

My friends, I saw a car chase my first day in Los Angeles, my first hour!

And it wasn’t just any car chase. It was the one where a bystander saved a young girl from getting hit by the car. And it was the one where they showed the driver getting shot.

There was a police shoot out, and instead of zooming out like they do now, the helicopter cameras stayed close. We saw this man jump out of the car, shoot at the police, run and then get hit by a bullet. I saw his body react to the bullet, shake, fall and then the cameras zoomed out quickly. Yeah, you guys messed up.

Welcome to Los Angeles?

I am pretty sure I have been a part of a pursuit

About a year ago, I was driving down Wilshire Blvd, going to a meeting, and a van pulled up to the right side of me, matching my speed. He so clearly did not want to be blocked in by the car in front of him, so he immediately started pushing into my lane. I didn’t realize it at first. Then he pushed even more. I slowed down and he took that as his cue to completely merge into my lane, pushing me into oncoming traffic. We didn’t hit each other. I pulled my wheel to the left, but I was completely in the opposite lane – in oncoming traffic. Thank God there was no one driving towards me, but I remember not even reacting. Not even yelling “What the F&#*! I just remember watching this huge red van take off in front of me, run a red light, then another. I carefully got back in my lane, like nothing had happened. I remember asking myself, “why am I not freaking out??”

THEN I got to my destination, parked, and there was the freak out. I was shaking, the tears were coming. I closed my eyes and just sat. I’m so not as cool as I thought.

Police Lockdowns

I have looked for alternate routes in Los Angeles many times because the police locked down a street, there was a shooter here, a runner there, a bomb threat up the street. And I just want to go home! Well, speaking of home, read about the morning the FBI raided my apartment complex – no place is safe!

But, we have to live in Los Angeles.

If you want to work in the film industry, then you have to live in Los Angeles (or New York or whatever, but LA has the most opportunity…okay, okay that’s another debate, but I have to live in Los Angeles). So you shouldn’t worry about the next police pursuit that will interrupt your life, you should worry about finding the best Veggie Burgers, or the best Yoga Class (that’s what LA people like, right?).

And, if you want to be in a police chase, then PLEASE do not pick rush hour as the time to run. I always feel so bad for those guys. I’m like “idiot, if you’re going to run from police, start at like 10am, not 8am. Idiot.”

Police Pursuit 2As of right now they haven’t caught this guy – but the different news channels compete for the best shot. NBC has the closest so far – this is their “double zoom” – technical term.

**UPDATE** They caught the guy! And thanks to everyone who asked if I was okay :) The scary man was nowhere near me!


04

Jun

The Day I Went to the Wrong Set …Oops

So…what had happened was…

Okay. Yesterday I was hired to do production sound on a PSA. I was told it was going to be very simple. Small crew in a theater. One actor. Only a few hours. No biggie.

So imagine my surprise when I drove to the location and there were huge signs not only telling me where to park, but also a transportation van to take me to set (transpo-van). You see, when you have a large crew in a city (and a budget), you need to provide them with parking and a way to get them to set that is safer than walking the few blocks.

I figured I must have misunderstood the size of this production, so I unloaded my gear into the transpo-van, parked my car and we were off.

This is what “crew parking” signs tend to look like, but they actually rarely ever say “crew parking.” They usually have just the letters or just the arrow to tell experienced film crew members where to park. It’s their way of making sure strangers don’t just wander to set…or it’s their way of luring experienced film crew members TO come to set – like me. Oops.

Something didn’t feel right but I didn’t listen – and not like a scary movie where you BETTER listen to your instincts…

My call time was 9:30am and it was about 9:25am. But wow, it looks like everyone else has been here for hours!

On the drive we passed 4 grip trucks, a costume truck, trailers and arrived at holding where there were two catering trucks. I must have REALLY underestimated this production. I even asked “Is this us??” and received blank stares from the other two crew members in the van. Hmmmm….

I still haven’t figured it out…

I got out of the van and unloaded my gear. The 2nd AD walked up to me and asked if I was with “stills.” I said “what?” He said “stills.” I said “No, I’m the sound person.” He said “okay, set is that way!” and he pointed. He was so nice. I asked if someone could come out to help me carry all the gear. He said “sure thing” and walkie’d for someone to help Sound (I don’t actually get a name on on set…I am called “Sound” until I say my name enough for people to remember).

A PA (I think) was walking by and she said she would help me. Her name was Laurie I believe. She was so nice. We chatted. She had been on set since 6am (But I thought everyone else’s call was 8am?). I STILL had not realized I was on the wrong set, but I was going to figure it out soon.

About to figure it out…

We joked a bit more and then she asked “Where is all of this gear going?” I said “I’m not sure, I haven’t seen set yet.” “Yes, but who is the gear for?” “ME!” I proclaimed. Could this woman really not believe I was the sound person? She said “Oh, okay” and we walked onto set.

We passed about 3 monitor set ups, a huge sitting area for producers, even more gear and crew – and then arrived to set. This was not a theater, it was a restaurant. Nope, this isn’t right.

We stopped walking, and I said with a smile, “I don’t think I’m on the right set.”

“What set are you looking for?”

I asked, “Is this the Margaret Cho interview?”

“Oh no, this is a Food Network promo…but oh cool, Margaret Cho is awesome!” Yeah she is.

So yes, I was on the wrong set.

I and all my gear had made it onto a Food Network show, but now we had to go all the way back to the beautiful holding area – the one with all the food I can’t have – and wait for transpo to pick me up. Laurie walked me all the way back and walkie’d transpo. I heard their walkie conversation “Oh the sound girl is on the wrong set” Shut up dude, you don’t need to tell nobody!

And the best part? Her boyfriend was the sound guy on their set! She said she didn’t recognize me as someone he has worked with in the past, but she wasn’t sure. She was really giving me the benefit of the doubt in this situation.

Back to my set…

The transpo guy picked me up and drove me to MY set. It was now 9:45am. I was late. I texted the producer “got wrapped up in the other production – be there in 5.” This producer hasn’t even met me yet. Is he going to think I’m an idiot? Ugh.

The transpo guy was very nice. No one really thought much of my mistake. I was embarrassed but more worried about being late. Margaret Cho was supposed to arrive at 10am, and I wasn’t even on set yet.

When we finally arrived at the theater, we saw my mistake. The side entrance to the theater was literally 10 feet away from the entrance to the parking area but not clearly marked. I just trusted the production to take me in the van to set. I think what I experienced was voluntary kidnapping?

Once I got into the theater, I got a little lost just finding the right theater (there are 3 in this particular building…WHAT??). But then I saw other production people, and yes, I WAS FINALLY ON THE RIGHT SET!!! and only 20 minutes late.

I quickly set up. Margaret Cho arrived. Makeup and hair took up enough time for me to finalize everything, then I mic’d her and we were ready to go.

Margaret Cho 2

SEE! THIS is the theater I was trying to find for 25 minutes…

Margaret Cho 1

Which one is the real Margaret? Well… it’s actually hard to see her. She’s in the grey sweater in the background. You’ll have to check out the Anti-Bullying PSA when it is released!

It was such a fun day with a great group of people. It was short and sweet. We all went to lunch at The Federal, had great conversation, good vibes from everyone. It turned into a very relaxing day.

And – when it was time for me to call it a day and go home – I went back to that parking lot, said goodbye to the attendant and drove past all of the Food Network crew cars. Goodbye my “could have been” friends!

So…what I think I’m actually trying to say is…it is really easy to sneak onto sets.

Love, Ashley


14

May

The Morning They Yelled Bomb

I think I grew a little bit taller this morning. You know — that kind of taller when you hear the word “bomb” yelled by the FBI…

At 6am, I was awoken by a man pounding on a neighbor’s door screaming “POLICE!” He just pounded and yelled. I mean, now I’m up. Thanks, guy.

Then a woman started yelling “This is the FBI! Open this door!” More pounding. Now I’m scared. This is real.

As I grasped my surroundings, realizing it wasn’t a dream, I heard the word “bomb.” Wait…what?? BOMB??

I couldn’t see a thing in my apartment, and I was too afraid to turn on lights or make much noise. But I knew I had to get ready to leave.

Maybe it’s from the weeks of watching “The Closer” reruns, but I immediately thought “If there’s a shootout – I’ll easily be shot.” So I ran looking for my robe, completely crouched, ready for an announcement of an evacuation. But in the dark, everything looked the same. I had no success finding anything.

And then it hit me, it could explode right now. This could be it.

So I called my mom.

She’s on the east coast so it was 9am there. And she answered the phone so happy, “Hi honey!”

I just kept whispering “The FBI is here” “They’re at my neighbors” “I think there’s a bomb” “I can’t find any clothes” “The FBI is here!” “bomb!”

She said “What? I can’t hear you!”

Oh no mom, I can’t whisper louder, or they’ll hear me!

So I ‘scream-whispered’ “FBI” “BOMB” — definitely not the two words you want to hear coming from your daughter’s mouth, I’m sure.

HallwayMy Hallway

She said “Put the phone down, get dressed!” I did. “Now pack up your valuables and get ready to go!”

Yes ma’am.

I grabbed my computer, but then noticed I hadn’t heard any more yelling. No one saying “Get Out” or banging on my door telling me to leave. It had been a few minutes since I heard “bomb” and nothing happened.

Just then, my pillow looked amazing. I was on a film set late the night before – surely the FBI and Bomb will understand I was sleepy. Please don’t let there be a bomb…I want to go back to sleep!

I stayed on the phone with my mom for a few more minutes – turning off my air conditioning and fan so I could hear more clearly. Nothing. And now it was hot in my room. Great.

I hung up the phone and poked my head out (even though my mom told me not to…). There was an FBI agent in the hallway (wearing a similar jacket to the one I rented for a film I directed a few years ago…except his was, of course, the real deal). He started to look in my direction and WHOOSH my door was closed. He didn’t see me. I’m a ninja.

I heard someone’s voice trying to explain “something” but I couldn’t hold on anymore. I needed to go back to sleep.

Later I discovered this person was arrested for “probably drugs or something.”

Cool.

Note to self: time to finally clean my apartment and get organized — for the next time I hear “bomb” in the middle of the night.