When Leah Meyerhoff invited some fellow female filmmakers to dinner at her New York City apartment, to get their advice about a feature she was trying to write, she had no idea she'd lit the wick. But two years later that film, I Believe in Unicorns is out and an award-winning hit on the festival circuit -- and that original group of women has expanded into what is now known as Film Fatales: an international, growing network of people-who-identify-as-female filmmakers.
"We sat around for about an hour and talked about all sorts of relevant topics in film," says Leah, remembering the night. "It was so empowering. Not just for me, but for the other women at the table, that one of them said, 'let's do this again next month, I'll host it at my place'. It just organically grew from there."
As well as chapters across the US, FF now meet in London, Sydney, Melbourne, Toronto, Costa Rica and Brazil, with Istanbul and South Africa about to join the list.
"We're growing so rapidly that we're trying to figure out how to be more focused in that growth," says Leah. "While still connecting all of us together. There really is power in being a global network."
The groups meet monthly; they number no more than 20, and members must be actively working as filmmakers. Over dinner everyone updates each other about their work, then as a group they zero in on a topic selected by the host. At the end of the night, each person puts forward something related to a current project that they need help with, and the rest are given an opportunity to offer advice and practical help.
"One woman might say, I'm looking for a writing partner, or I need an editor, or I need a new entertainment lawyer, or whatever it may be," Leah explains. "I'm happy to say that around 90% of these problems get solved. If you take 20 female filmmakers and put them in a room it's amazing what they can do."
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