Supporting Fellow Artists

Just got an email from a Librarian from Kewaskum, WI that eloquently discusses some of the major issues addressed in Who Does She Think She Is?. See email below.

In brief, Steven would like to buy our Library version of the film, but doesn’t have the budget for it. And I can relate and empathize and sympathize and understand…BUT– we made a film— about art and its value to society–and to make this film– we’ve put in six years of time and more money than I would have imagined…and not one of the five artists that we have profiled has been paid.

They gave of their time, gladly (well, maybe Not Always gladly–its a pain to have a film crew following you around) but they gave out of a sense of the importance of these issues.

And not for a moment, do I regret the time, money and resources I have spent on this project– I am paid back by all the people who have come, seen, cried, clapped and perhaps…even gone home and made some changes in their life. People who write to tell us that the film “kept them going” as painters, writers, singers. People who say that the trailer made them cry. I am kept going by these and other responses– such as this heartfelt letter from Steve about his lack of funds.

But, we are trying to cover our costs– hence the sale of the DVD.

So, what IS the Answer? Does art–or film making– only exist because of Patronage– people who toil away in Law or Medicine or Commodity trading but secretly desire to sing? I don’t know the answer–Except, if anyone out there values this film, please tell your friends and family to go see it, to buy the DVD or, to have your Library, your community college or Arts organization buy the DVD. The more people see it– and buy it– the more it becomes possible to make other important films. This goes for all works of art, of course!

I do know that this work is vital–we need stories and paintings and songs–to remind us of who we are and where we are going. Good art wakes us up–it reminds us to be courageous– to go after a life of laughter, connection, love—even if it seems impossible. Maybe you work at McDonalds or CVS– but you live for the moment you leave work and blast your favorite music and sing along while in the car…that’s what art gives.

So, I know this is a bit of a rant– I WISH art weren’t so expensive. But, I also wish artists could be paid for their work….

I guess, I just want everyone to think what their lives would be like without stories, without songs, without images…and try to support the creators.

Thanks, again, Steev– and all those to there struggling with these issues.


Picture 1

Independent artists and filmmakers are some of my favorite people. I am an independent musician and writer as well as a librarian, so I know exactly how it feels to spend lots of time, energy and money creating art and the desire to get a return on your emotional and financial investment! That being said, we are a small rural library with a small service population and small budget. We cannot afford to purchase films with public performance rights. For ten years I have been ordering material for this library and only within the past year I have come to realize that small, self-funded, independent artists understand the phrase “public performance” differently than I do. In fact I just had a similar conversation with another documentary filmmaker. When I see “public performance,” I am thinking of a program where the public is invited and we are leading a community-wide viewing of the film and discussion of the topic. In that case, $150 is a good fee for a program and we have just enough money in our budget for three or four of those types of programs. When I buy books or DVDs or periodicals or music or audiobooks for general circulation, I’m trying to get the most I can out of our limited budget. In our case, I have about $150 a month to spend on dvd and computer media. It’s easy for me to justify spending this on 6-15 items, but it’s not a good use of taxpayer money to spend all of this money on a single item. I get really excited when I can afford to support a local or regional artist or musician by buying their film or cd and I do understand that when I buy a DVD for $20 and it circulates 50 times in a year, that’s $980 in potential lost profits to the artist. For the latest Sony Pictures Classics or Docurama release, that’s not as much of a problem as it is with independent filmmakers who are spending their own money on their art and releasing it by themselves. I completely understand the price points, but since I am responsible to my local taxpayers, I can’t justify spending my whole month’s budget to fill a request for two people vs. purchasing material that I know will be used dozens of times during the first few months of release.

I hope you can understand my perspective. I’d love to see WDSTSI and I’d love for my arts-minded patrons to see it, but we’ll have to wait for a more affordable release to become available.

If you have any further questions, please ask.

Thanks much,

Steev Baker

Steven Baker, Director

Kewaskum Public Library


5 Responses to “Supporting Fellow Artists”

  1. The public library and schools are not a forum for recuperation of costs. We should be doing the right thing for society to make it a better place; not just say that we are doing the right thing for credit. Your “budget costs” from the beginning should have taken in the consideration of your duty to society.

    • I agree that we should all work to make society a better place! We made the film to inspire, to provoke, to begin a dialogue about art and caring– all of which makes a positive difference in the world. It is highly unlikely that this film will ever “make” money, or turn a profit. We had hoped to cover our production costs through the sale of DVDs and theater tickets. The larger aim, however, is to have as wide an audience as possible for the issues addressed in WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS? Hence, the focus on schools and library sales. And we do need to sell, rather than give away our work…otherwise, we cannot continue to do this work!

  2. I’ve been waiting to buy this DVD since you all came to Asheville! I’m on the list, but there’s no individual version for sale……

    “In a Dream” is just now selling two versions, a collector’s at ~$70 and basic film lower at $25 which is a do-able rate for just about anybody interested.

    When or will you make this film available for those of us still interested in supporting this film and accessing it’s wonderfulness? Can’t get it on Netflix either. What’s an artist to do?

    • Hello Michelle:

      I am so happy to know that our screening in Asheville still resonates with you. I am also very frustrated by the SLOWNESS of DVD releases.

      Here’s the thing. We made the film and are now selling it for sale in the Educational market. We also have a House Party Kit available. This is geared to the home market. Now, I know, I know, it costs $65.00 and this is no small sum….But, this is a “party in a box.” It includes, the DVD, extras, invitations, a poster, playing cards illustrated by the artists with provocative conversation starters that we dreamed up–everything you need to have a great evening with friends. And the “box” is beautiful!! It is a Perfect gift for any of the mothers, artists, sons of mothers, husbands of artists in your group.

      Why aren’t we selling the film at retail, yet? Well, we feel that this film should have a chance to sell to Universities and Public Libraries first–these institutions buy Public Performance rights–and pay a higher price. If we were to “retail” the film for $24. 00 then all those schools and other public institutions would be too tempted to buy that version. And, why does this matter? In order to continue making films like WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS? we have to be paid and the only way to be paid is to sell many many many DVDs, first at the “public Performance” level, then the retail.

      Sorry for all this–but, I feel strongly that being paid for one’s work, is part of the message of the film. Too often, women “give away” their work–whether it be caregiving, nurturing or making art. We need to value our work and to ask to be paid…

      In case you are wondering–a film like WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS? has almost NO chance of making a profit. The costs of making the film, then promoting it are too high. I am okay with this, but I do want to, at least, try to break even.

      So, as an artist–what can you do?? Buy the House Party Kit–ask some friends over, serve tea or wine, ask everyone to contribute to the evening and have an awesome event!

      You can also organize a House Party Screening of the film on our National House Party Day–November 8. This is a chance for all of you who didn’t see it in a theater, to watch the film together, and then call in with questions and comments. See our site for more information.

      You can ALSO help by telling everyone you know–on Facebook, through email, or through your various community organizations to go to our site and also buy the House Party Kit and to tell their schools and libraries to BUY the Educational Version!

      Thanks so so much, Pamela Tanner Boll

      • As the wife of a working artist and as a writer and emerging artist myself, I appreciate to the depth of my bones how important it is for artists to be compensated for their work, and how often artists generously give away their labors of love.

        I am the proud new owner of the House Party Kit and am already planning several venues for this important film. Oh, the times we will have!

        Renee Watabe Folzenlogen

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