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Featured Member: Autumn Tarleton

Posted By Administration, Monday, January 23, 2012
Featured Member: Autumn Tarleton
From Contributing Member: Elaine Spooner


Autumn Tarleton
WHAT DREW YOU TO THE ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS? 

I came to film from dance, which I studied as a kid.  Dance combines performance, music, choreography, costume design – all the elements for artistic mediums.  I no longer dance, but I still love the process.  I watch films and editing to see how subjects are expressed.  I think of them as dances. 

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY?

My first job in the industry was in the wardrobe department on a couple of small indie features. I just wanted to get in at whatever level I could and start learning the filmmaking process from the bottom up. Being hyper-organized was key to being a good wardrobe supervisor and that constant attention to every lapel crease, every striped sock, every detail has helped make me a better producer.   

HOW DID YOU START OUT AS A PRODUCER?

I joined Double Wide Media after earning my Masters in documentary filmmaking and I was immediately trusted to just jump in and learn how to produce whatever the company was working on. I think, again, that knowing about the production process and the art of storytelling helped steer me towards the producer role. To be honest, there was also a certain level of creative control that I was interested in obtaining and steering a project from start to finish is something that I found really suited me. I learned quickly to be courageous because I always had Don Faller (the owner of Double Wide Media) around to rely on if things got complicated or harried. He really taught me the ropes by giving me a lot room to do what I thought was best and he always had my back. It was incredibly freeing. In 2007, I was offered the opportunity to partner with the Editors of GQ to produce content for GQ.com, their online magazine.  One of the first online magazines, highlights included GQ Rules for topics such as ‘How To Tie A Tie’ and the ‘Verge Girl’ series.  The site received 3 Webby nominations and is still a leading edge online publication.  "We were one of the first sites to take the magazine pages and bring them to life on the web.  We created art pieces with great editing and music.”  

WHAT LED YOU TO JOIN THE PGA?

I joined the PGA about 2 years ago at the suggestion of Don Faller, Owner and Executive Producer of Double Wide.  The East Coast Chapter and the New Media Council have great meetings, with wonderful networking and screening opportunities.  Participating with other filmmakers is terrific.   

 WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?

2010 was really a heavy production year for me and 2011 became the year of premieres and distribution, which then morphed back into development again -- it's the same ol' cycle. We've created several original programming opportunities this year and are wrapping up 2011 pitching them to talent, directors, agents and networks. I'm very excited about them. One project is a half hour dark comedy called THE NORMS which is a scripted series that follows a couple of guys in their mid-30s who struggle to be special in a big city that couldn't care less that their somewhat successful band broke up... 15 years ago. I feel like it's a little bit ‘Louis’ and a little bit ‘Mr. Show’ if that show's themes were wrapped in a dark comedy soap opera. And then there's ‘The Flesh’, a scripted genre show that follows Ava Lone, a young woman who has survived a global viral outbreak, after she makes it back home to New Mexico looking to start over.  

I’m very excited about a new project called ‘Random Fandom’, to be hosted by Kevin Maher.  The idea is to travel to special-interest conventions and embed with the fans to understand the cultures.  We’ll be starting on TV, but the digital media elements will be much bigger.  We plan to coordinate with all the online sites and user content possibilities presented by the huge fan bases for these events.  Viewers will watch on their phones, interact on the TV and consume with additional content wherever it appears.

WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR MOST INTERESTING PROJECTS, AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THEM?

I produced a web series about Chicago Bears’ Quarterback Jay Cutler’s triumph over diabetes on the football field and post-produced a documentary about New York Knicks’ Tracy McGrady and his trip to Chad to learn of the Sudanese atrocities in Darfur.  In 2008, she post-produced ‘Life For A Child’, another documentary about children with diabetes set in Nepal.  In 2010, she produced a month-long documentary shoot in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The film focuses on children struggling to survive with juvenile diabetes. 

My most recently produced film is ‘Animals Distract Me’ which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Directed by and starring Isabella Rossellini, this docu-fantasy film explores a "day in the life” of the animal-obsessed Rossellini.  My first feature length documentary, ‘Windfall’, tells the story of the inhabitants of a small, rural town in upstate New York and their struggle to decide whether or not to allow industrial wind turbine development amidst their homes. It won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 DOCNYC Festival and premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. The film is scheduled to hit theatres in New York in February of 2012.  

Production allows you to do a lot of different things.  I love editing, but I can’t do just that.  On smaller productions with a 4-person crew, I am responsible for the digital media management, interviews, sound  recording and b-roll production, among other roles.  Now, I’m doing a lot of great development work, some on our own and some for other people.  And, of course, we’ll marry everything with the web.

It might sound generic but I think you learn something from all your projects. Sometimes it's as simple as learning a new camera setup or it can be as complicated as navigating the psychology of humans who are just trying to work and create stories together. 

Producing a documentary about juvenile diabetes that we shot for a month in the Congo was truly interesting. Our main concern was just keeping everyone safe and healthy but then there were complications, obviously. We couldn't go anywhere without two security guards at all times and I am usually more accustomed to finding the story out of a certain freedom and access to your subjects and your surroundings. We had little of that. The fact that the families we met and who we cared deeply for didn't have money, or food, or jobs to provide for themselves was an emotional weight added to the 12 hour days in extreme heat. There is a sheer will to survive in Kinshasa that we can all learn from.

It all goes back to storytelling and today we have more avenues to tell any story.  I like playing that game.

Tags:  Featured Member  non-fiction  PGA East 

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