Meet Stacie McClam, our chair winner from Women In Media event!
She is so incredibly talented, an author, teacher and now working on documentaries. Visit these links to learn more about one of our favorite family members
Follow @RobbedTheDoc on all media
We first met you through a Women In Media event (one of our favorite organizations), how did you end up becoming involved with them? What benefits have you seen from participating in their events?
I was searching for organizations that supported women in the entertainment industry. The barrier to entry into Women in Media was easier for me as a beginning filmmaker. Some organizations required a recommendation which I didn’t have. Women in Media seems more inclusive to filmmakers at all levels. They consistently have great workshops, events, and panels. It’s inspiring to be around women in the industry. I found two fantastic cinematographers from the crew list! Tema Staig, the amazing founder of the organization, introduced me to people at my first workshop.
You are a published author and we absolutely love your book School Dismissed, tell us a bit about your experiences that led to writing your book and where can others go to purchase and read it?
Thank you. This book is quite personal. I was an elementary teacher for 10 years, and resigned in 2018. This was a major decision and shift in my life. I had been unhappy teaching for many years due to the systemic inequalities that I observed in schools. I suffered from secondary traumatic stress and PTSD. Writing the book was therapeutic for me. My book can be found at www.SchoolDismissed.com
What advice do you have for new authors just starting out?
First thing is to get it on paper. It doesn’t have to make sense, but it just needs to be on paper so that you have something to work from. If everything stays in your head, then you’re not making progress. You actually process your thoughts while writing so you have to make yourself write. Deadlines were helpful for me. I would tell new authors to get over being fearful of telling your truth. It may feel uncomfortable to write what you feel because you may not want to be vulnerable. Initially, I struggled with what and how much I wanted to share. The best thing to do is just to start writing because then you can edit later.
You have recently started a production company and started filming documentaries, how did that come about and tell us about your latest projects?
My production company is called, School Dismissed, which bridges education and law through film. We are currently in production for my first feature documentary, Robbed: A Mother’s Peril - The Kelley Williams-Bolar Story. I hired a screenwriting coach to help me write a narrative script. I would ask my coach questions, and he’d tell me that it sounded like a documentary. I started thinking about documentaries. After I finished the narrative script, I decided to make a documentary because I erroneously thought it would be easier and cheaper than a narrative film lol. I remembered that I had been a guest on a show on Tribe Family Channel and was able to interview with Kelley Williams-Bolar. Then she was a guest on my show, Teacher Talks, on Tribe Family Channel. Kelley’s story moved me as she was jailed for using her parent’s address to enroll her daughters into her parent’s school district after her home was burglarized. When I was in law school I wrote an article in the law school newspaper about a mother in Denver with a school residency issue so this issue was already important to me. I contacted Kelley last December, and began production in January 2020. Sign up for exclusive behind-the-scene photos and video at www.RobbedTheDoc.com. Follow @RobbedTheDoc on all social media.
Tell us your favorite part about being a woman in the film industry - what are the challenges you've faced, how did you overcome them?
My favorite part of being a women in film industry is that I get to be a change agent by hiring women crew. My favorite director is Ava DuVernay (see below) because she says that we often times don’t show women, especially Black women, explain the craft of filmmaking. Thus, I have the opportunity to designate a production assistant to capture the crew in action to show their craft, and I have interviewed the crew. Financial challenges exists as my project has been self-funded thus far, but Ava says that people want to join a moving train so I overcome these challenges by making what I can with what I have. The goal is to get started.
What was your most exciting project or experience on a set? in your life?
My most exciting experience on set was last September where we filmed the opening credits of the documentary. We used a studio set of a classroom and a professional dancer and choreographer, Tashara Gavin-Moorehead, performed a routine using school desk beats by composer/musician, Asha Santee. Our cinematographer, Crystal Kelley, created a phenomenal lighting design. I am so pleased with how the footage turned out. The dancer really made the story come alive through movement. It was amazing!
What genre of film is your favorite?
Dramas that involve universal family issues and internal struggles because these are themes that everyone experiences.
What genre of books do you love to read vs. write?
I like to read non-fiction books by educators or books about education-related issues.
Do you have a favorite director?
My favorite director is Ava DuVernay.
What is your favorite music to listen to?
90s R&B which is the kind of music that I listed to growing up.
What new innovations are you seeing in this industry?
My colleagues have informed me about specifically designated Covid PAs and many actors on set are getting tested weekly or every other day. We required our crew to get tested for both of our Los Angeles film shoots.
Where do you see this industry headed in the coming years? months?
I think we’ll see more documentaries because filmmakers realize that studios will need content after the pandemic. Those filmmakers who push through during the pandemic may have more opportunities simply for the fact that there are less productions to choose from.
We see you love director's chairs and we were thrilled to work on a print with you, why do you think a printed canvas is good for branding?
OMG, I absolutely LOVE MY CHAIR! It’s so sleek and pretty lol. I love the bold red color and my hashtag #SchoolDismissed which is the name of my production company and book. I intend to make a series of education-related narrative films all using the name School Dismissed with different subtitles. A printed canvas designates you, your business, and how you want to show up in the world.
What advice would you give to others designing their own canvas?
Contact Rachel lol. Rachel was extremely helpful and patient. I had no idea that there were so many options to think about when designing your personalized chair from colors to fonts to the brand or image that you want to represent. Take your time and make a decision that you would be happy with.
If you could gift anyone in the world a personalized chair, who would it be and what would it look like?
I would gift a personalized chair to a teacher who has considered making films about education issues. I believe that we have to use the media to hold school systems accountable to the families and teachers that they are supposed to serve. Classroom teachers are often silenced by being expected to maintain to status quo. A film would allow teachers to have a voice on a larger scale that would expose the inequalities.
What hobbies do you have outside of work?
None, I’m working on finding hobbies for balance lol.
If you could donate to any charity right now, which would it be and why?
I don’t know a specific charity to donate to, but I would donate to a literacy organization if I could because being literate can unlock opportunities and change the trajectory of your life.
How have you been dealing with changes during the pandemic?
It’s been a reflective time which has been a positive thing. I’ve been able to accomplish a lot during this time. Some days are better than others, but I try to remain hopeful. I deal with the changes as they come. I am grateful to be employed during this time.
Favorite movie or tv show out right now?
A documentary recently released on Amazon called TIME is my favorite movie out right now. It’s a beautifully shot film that focuses on a couple’s love instead of the legal and criminal justice systems that they were involved with. I like that the filmmaker, Garrett Bradley, took the approach to focus on the couple’s love because often the human aspect is removed when discussing crime. The media does not often portray Black people as having emotions and being in love.
In your opinion, what is the greatest part of living and working in in your city?
Since Los Angeles is the home of the film industry, there are many different organizations and events going on daily even if on Zoom. There are many free resources available even during the pandemic.
What message do you have for the world?
My message is that the current education system is ineffective and has been ineffective on many different levels. It needs to change. As a country, we need to fix our education system sooner rather than later.
How can others support organizations and creators like yours in the coming days?
Like, follow, and share on social media and sign up for our newsletter. Unfortunately, this is a numbers game and many investors and campaigns need to see numbers to ensure success.
Who inspires you?
My grandmother who was a teacher in segregated Virginia. I respected the value that she placed on education and her contribution to her students, families, and community.
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