What I Learned from Keri Putnam’s Conversation with Gina Prince-Blythewood at BinderCon

Keri Putnam (@KPutnam) and Gina Prince-Bythewood (@GPBMadeIt) in conversation at BinderCon LA, March 28 2015
Keri Putnam (@KPutnam) and Gina Prince-Bythewood (@GPBMadeIt) in conversation at BinderCon LA, March 28 2015
Photo Credit: Sherilyn Lee

Keri Putnam, Executive Director of the Sundance Institute, opened this talk with a comment about her own experience, “Some combination of luck and will — have helped me beat the odds in Hollywood.”

This is exactly why hundreds of women attended BinderCon this weekend and tuned in deeply to these talks.  We want to beat the odds too.

Gina Prince-Blythewood attributed much of what makes her a successful director today to being an athlete.  She grew up playing sports in boys leagues because they didn’t have teams for girls.  On the days she came home discouraged, her parents would say, “Keep playing, you deserve to be there.”

I nodded as she listed how sports has strengthened her to take on the studio system like, “leave it on the floor,” “working with a team in a heightened environment.”  When she said that sports gave her swagger, that word ricocheted off of round tables covered with white tablecloths, onto Twitter feeds, into future discussions that weekend.  And it wasn’t bravado, she reinforced later, by saying how to use “swagger as authenticity.”  Yes, to truly be the Wonder Woman reaching out from Prince-Blythewood’s Converse high tops, to embody Prince-Blythwood’s own mantra, “Overcome the noes.”  Most of her stories included the phrase, “I had pitched this to every studio in town and they had all said no.”

“There is a shock to the system when you realize how hard it [the studio system] is,” said Prince-Blythewood.

And she still found a way.

Putnam identified how Prince-Blythewood overcame this because the vision of what she wants is always so clear.

“Always be clear of your vision and what you want to put into the world because someone will want to make changes, have opinions,” said Prince-Blythewood.

Prince-Blythewood acknowledged that writing is very difficult, awful for her but she does it so she can protect her work. She surrounds herself with the best readers who are great writers and are brutally honest in their feedback.  Regarding choices of topics, she says that it’s easy to fall into writing what will sell the easiest and says that when we do that, it never works because we are listening to other voices, not our own.  When we do work we aren’t passionate about, we can’t overcome the noes.

 

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