Leah Warshawski is one of the producers and directors of Finding Hillywood, a documentary about the use of film for healing in post-genocide Rwanda (read the Voice review here). Recently she took the time to answer Wanda Waterman’s questions about what inspires her and what we might expect from her in the near future. (You can read the first part of this interview here.)
You’ve worked on Baywatch, Lost, and Survivor. Did any of these shows prepare you for Finding Hillywood?
Every job is a learning experience for me, and each job prepares me for the next one. One of our executive producers for Finding Hillywood is Harold Perrineau, who I met on Lost.
Are new models of film financing emerging which can enable ordinary Rwandans and citizens of other less privileged countries to produce their own films?
Well, even citizens of “privileged” countries have a rough time producing films because financing is getting harder and harder. Grants are really competitive in every country around the world. It forces people to get creative about funding and think outside the box.
We actually co-founded the website http://rwandafilm.org to try and help filmmakers in Rwanda connect and find work and funding for their projects.
Are there any books, films, shows, or albums that have deeply influenced your development as a filmmaker?
Movies/Shows: War/Dance, On Freddy Roach, and Last Train Home.
Books: Shaking the Money Tree
If you had an artist’s mission statement, what would it be?
Work hard, play hard, give back.
Were you surprised that your debut feature got so much positive press?
We worked really hard to get positive press?it didn’t just show up on our doorstep. Because we didn’t have a theatrical release we’re still trying to get reviews and press from major national outlets (LA Times, Variety, Hollywood Reporter, NYT, etc.). We did as much as we could without a marketing budget. If we had more money we could afford more publicity. we’re happy with the positive reviews and press, but we worked really hard to make a great film.
Tell us about your current projects.
Currently, we are working on http://rwandafilm.org and trying to find a local Rwandan organization to take over the site.
we’re also producing another feature documentary about a tiny woman with huge impact? BIG SONIA. (http://www.bigsonia.com)
Wanda also penned the poems for the artist book They Tell My Tale to Children Now to Help Them to be Good, a collection of meditations on fairy tales, illustrated by artist Susan Malmstrom.