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Filmmakers talk funding at third annual Citizen Jane Summit

October 23, 2015

When Mo Scarpelli and Alexandria Bombach were in the midst of making their film about life in Afghanistan, they met with a person willing to help finance the last stages of the project.

The potential donor had just one condition: The entire film would need to be re-edited to tell a different version of the story.

“We turned down a big chunk of money to keep control,” Scarpelli told a crowd at the Citizen Jane Summit yesterday.

Scarpelli joined veteran filmmaker Alison Bagnall Standefer, director of “Funny Bunny,” and actor and filmmaker Catherine Dudley-Rose, director of “Parallel Chords” for the third annual summit, which kicked off the Citizen Jane Film Festival. Scarpelli’s film, “Frame by Frame,” debuted at South by Southwest and is the opening night film for CJFF. It starts at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Missouri Theatre.

Funding was a hot topic at the summit, which drew about 100 people and was recorded by She Does Podcast for an upcoming episode.

Scarpelli, a University of Missouri graduate, and Bombach essentially funded their film piece by piece. In the early stages, Bombach sold her car to finance a two-week trip to Afghanistan. That allowed them to get enough footage to create a trailer and raise money through an online Kickstarter campaign. The film has received critical acclaim and the filmmakers are currently negotiating distribution rights.

Standefer shared a similar story of having to sever ties over artistic differences. She acknowledged her films might not appeal to everyone but it’s important for her to create movies that matter to her. It’s like sending “smoke signals” into the air to see who else out there gets it, she said.

Asked for advice for future filmmakers, all three agreed that the most important thing is to stay true to the story, even if it means saying “no” to potential funders.

“You have to do what you want to,” Standefer said. “Life is short. Your job is to share with the world your story.”

“Believe in yourself,” Dudley-Rose added, “and commit to the story that moves you.”

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