March 25th, 2014 | Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines | Newport News, VA
The last stop on our tour (I can’t believe it!): Newport News, Virginia. Now Virginia is a state I haven’t traveled through much, so I am looking forward to the trip south. For some reason though, traveling with a toddler seems to add exponentially to the schedule. We get lost a couple times, drive past many battle sights of various wars, and by 7 p.m. as we approach Richmond we decide we need to stop and eat. For once, Yelp, offers the perfect solution and mom and dad have a relaxed – ok, very relaxed via a fine Bourbon drink called “The Seersucker” – dinner at a wonderful establishment called The Roosevelt. Fortified, we head into Newport News. I have an early morning call time at the Christopher Newport University.
My first appointment is to speak to Dr. John Nichols’ upper-division film analysis class. We have an intimate conversation about how I made the film, why I chose to have to have a young girl record some of the narration of the comic panels, what camera I used, funding strategies, and the editing process. All very practical considerations about independent filmmaking that show they have been paying attention in class! I have the opportunity to have lunch with Professor Nichols, and Dr. Lynn Shollen, who teaches a gender and leadership class, and the president of the film club, Zenith Hass (whoa, yes, Zenith!) I learn about the History of Comics class being taught in the History Department, how people in Virginia will wave to you and say “hi” even when driving down the street, and the Leadership Studies minor. I didn’t even know that was a thing now: Leadership Studies. How freakin’ cool!
My next visit is with the gender and leadership class. They blow my mind with their questions: Have I ever encountered discrimination as a filmmaker? How do I support myself making independent media? And how do I balance motherhood with work? That last one, naturally, takes us some time to really dig into and I appreciate the opportunity to speak to young women about how screwed up the situation can be for working parents in this country. They have been discussing “opting in” (how working moms can stay on the career path) vs. “opting out” (choosing to be a stay-at-home mom if you can afford to (!) or at least going part-time or freelance and putting the career on hold). The debate is lively. I end up getting emotional for the second time this tour when talking about how important having a supportive partner is to the working mom. So I should take this opportunity now to give a big shout-out to my partner, Mark Hedin, who agreed to go on this crazy road trip and has been the childcare provider for all of my screenings and community engagements. Go team Wonder Women! Also a big shout out to my lil trooper, Zora Flanagan, who has definitely gone with the flow: sleeping in a new room nearly every night, bravely discovering new micro-climates and suffering many hours of being strapped into a backward-facing car seat, barely tall enough to even look out the window.
But back to our regularly scheduled program:
The weather takes a turn for the snowy and I gear up for the evening screening, arriving with a snow-dusted overcoat having taken another wrong turn. To conclude my tour, I have a wonderful panel with Dr. Brian Puaca, the professor teaching the class on History of Comics and Richard Trinkle, owner of Heroes and Villains, a comic book store in Hampton for over 20 years. Please visit the store when you are in the area. We talk about the conundrum of Wonder Woman being seen as a feminist icon, while being primarily read in comic book form by boys and men. We talk about how superhero comics spoke out against Nazism both before and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and how Wonder Woman even encouraged women to join the WAAC (Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps). And we talk about the positive aspect of crowd-sourcing platforms like Kickstarter that give audiences the opportunity to fund the kind of independent music, art and films they’d like to see rather than whatever they’re served by mainstream media.
Zenith was kind enough to offer to sell our DVDs to anyone who chose to opt in afterward and I have the sweetest conversations with two students who did. “I haven’t bought a DVD in years,” and “I never spend $20 on anything,” pepper the conversation as they assure me how unique the event was to inspire them to purchase my film. I am honored and sign the DVD thoughtfully, seriously thankful for their support, and for the entire tour.
Post by OSIP touring filmmaker, Kristy Guevara-Flanagan.
To listen to a podcast interview with the filmmaker, click here.