STOP Waiting for Permission to Tell the Story.

Denver, CO – June 15, 2017

I did not go to film school. I did not grow up with access to video cameras, video editing software, or YouTube tutorials at my fingertips. I did not approach life with an aggressive attitude. I did, however grow up in a world that told me going into the creative arts was a waste of time and resources. I live passively and wistfully. I almost fell into that trap. Almost.

For a decade I fought myself on pursuing my passions, specifically the need to engage in visual storytelling. I attended a few film festivals as the general public, living vicariously through established filmmaker connections. 

January 2014 in Park City, Utah, I attended my first Sundance event; a Women in Film Panel. A filmmaker from Salt Lake City invited me to attend, as she was the panel moderator and strongly encouraged local Utah women to attend. I sat in the audience as five women provided insight into the industry, statistics on the uneven representation of women in film, and professional tips on independent filmmaking. The panel was abundant in information and beneficial for active independent filmmakers. At this point I was still experiencing this as a vicarious general member of the public, the turmoil to pursue film still alive within me. That of course was until the moderator introduced the last question. She asked the typical question we hear at most film panels, “What advice would you give a woman that wants to work in film?” I swear I felt my ears twitch as I fought the urge to lean forward. The eager filmmaker in me was waiting to hear the magic answer. 

This was the answer that changed my course, and this was the answer that mattered most. I do not remember her name, but I will always remember her answer:

“If you are waiting for permission to make film, you will never make a film.”

She went on to explain that nobody, and that is NOBODY, has the power to give you permission to do something. This resonated with me, because at some level I had been waiting for somebody to recognize what I wanted to do, somehow know my deepest wishes, and open the door for me. I was waiting for the permission to enter this world and be recognized as someone with an important story to tell. 

In that moment I realized, “I am going to make film. I AM a creator. I AM a storyteller. I AM a filmmaker.”

Easier said than done right? Absolutely not. To give ourselves permission to pursue our passions and take risks in a robust and constantly evolving creative industry is an extremely difficult task. Throw in the mix that it is a male dominated industry, where we often times have to knock down more doors than we have sometimes have energy to, takes enormous heart, and infinite courage. 

The longer we are in this industry the more draining it can become, the more our energy wanes, and the easier our frustration sometimes arises. The digital world has made getting our stories out there more accessible. So, I challenge you. I challenge you, no matter where you currently are in your entertainment industry career, to remind yourself of the following:

YOU are a creator, you ARE a visual storyteller, and you have an entire community that believes in you.

It is amazing what self confidence grounded in strength and purpose will do to help drive towards continuing to educating yourself on the ongoing evolution of the entertainment industry, networking, collaborating, breaking down doors, outreaching, and assertively reaching for your goals. 

All the best,

Ashley Turner

Membership Director

Women in Film & Media Colorado

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