Brantly Jackson Watts

Brantly Jackson Watts, photo by Isadora Pennington, 2015.

Recently, I met local producer and creative Brantly Jackson Watts. Brantly served as moderator during the all-female panel, Filminism, for the Creative Conference of the 2015 Atlanta Film Festival. The event took place in Little 5 Points at the 7 Stages theater on Friday, March 27th. Surprisingly, the audience at the event was quite gender diverse- in fact about 50/50 female and male, “I was pleasantly surprised,” she said.
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Brantly told me of her past experiences with the festival, when she showed her film AKA Blondie back in 2012. The production had taken 3 years and had required that she and her husband be immersed and involved with the Atlanta icon Blondie, or Anita Rae Strange, a dancer at the infamous Clermont Lounge on Ponce. The film sold out two screenings and received a standing ovation, making a lasting impression upon Brantly. “I’m not sure that I will ever personally experience another premiere of that magnitude,” she said. “It was amazing.”
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Brantly is a local Atlanta writer, producer and marketing professional. Her project, the Homespun Series, has received nationwide attention by showcasing local filmmakers and hearkening back to what makes Atlanta such an amazing scene for film professionals. Brantly has always been interested in “the ideologies found in the different feminist movements.” She has experienced and observed some of the differences between the reception of women as opposed to men in the film industry. “As a female filmmaker, I have definitely experienced challenges that face women,” she told me, noting her education in feminist studies as an influence on her approach to the topic.
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“I think many people are scared of the word ‘feminist,’ however many people who delve into the movement learn that they were already a feminist and didn’t know it,” Brantly said. The discussion was lively and encouraging, breeding connections, community support, and a thoughtful approach to a somewhat sensitive topic. “My hope for the New Mavericks program and for the Filminism panel, is that more women in Atlanta will have the confidence to create their own work, using their own unique voice,” she explained.
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“When the Atlanta Film Festival approached me about moderating an all female panel during the creative conference, I immediately accepted,” Brantly said of Filminism. The event was a panel discussion during this year’s Creative Conference, and set out to start an open dialogue about facilitating the changes that need to occur for women in the film industry to network and encourage about the struggles they face in the current market.
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Beyond the panel, Brantly has also gotten involved with the New Mavericks program on a more permanent basis. The program was born when she got together with local filmmakers Jen West, Lane Skye, and Robyn Hicks to discuss the Atlanta film community. The motive behind this undertaking was to enable and encourage their peers, “specifically, how could we support women in the local community to achieve a strong voice in the industry,” she explained.
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Despite the newness of this program, Brantly remains confident in the importance of its cause. “Through planned screenings, programs and events New Mavericks will highlight women involved in various aspects of the film industry,” she said. This collaboration and effort has resulted in a program bursting with talent and potential. “I am honored to serve as the program’s first Chair,” she said, and indeed I have seen her passion and commitment to this program through our discussions during the festival.
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Though the New Mavericks program is still early in development, the team is hoping to garner honest discussion about the topic and to get a feel for the needs of the community. They have a survey which can be found here, and the group plans to customize the program according to Atlanta’s needs. You can also follow New Mavericks on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to hear about upcoming events and to get involved.
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-Isadora

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