Author: Michelle Kantor

Michelle Kantor co-founded Cinefemme, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization for women directors, while studying at San Francisco State University. She is the youngest daughter of political refugees who fled Communist Czechoslovakia in the 1960's, and is currently producing two films about her family's historic escape from behind the Iron Curtain: RED STAR, a feature documentary following her father's return on the 50th anniversary of his escape, and THE REBEL, a narrative feature film screenplay written by Michelle, based on their lives. She also directs performance art videos for painter Tara Savelo, former Haus of Gaga member and writes the blog www.ultra-luxurious.com. Michelle's body of work includes short films, experimental narratives, documentaries, and live work for circus performers at San Francisco's Teatro Zinzanni. Her music video "Highway To Yodel-Ay-Hee-Huuu," starring America's Got Talent's Manuela Horn, won Best Music Video at LA Femme Film Festival in 2014. Her production credits include work for HBO, FYI, The History Channel, Sony, Universal, and NASA. An advocate for epilepsy, her groundbreaking film "Bettina in the Fog" won the Thunen Award by the Illuminating Engineers Society. Michelle's other distinctions include the Goldfarb Award for Best Student Film and funding from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation for Cinefemme. She holds an MFA in Cinema from San Francisco State University and BFA in Film Production from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Michelle is a certified paralegal, mother, writer and artist. An active member of the female filmmaking community, Michelle belongs to WIF, AWD and Film Fatales.

Another Women’s History Month is upon us and International Women’s Day just passed. Something this year feels…different. Even with gender issues being nearly completely swept under the rug at this year’s Academy Awards (thank you, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, for speaking up), we all sense the electrifying energy in the air this year. Freedom is on our minds, from the tyranny of words and social stigma, to being liberated from our own mental limitations. Efforts of women who worked tirelessly for years in pursuit of gender equity are finally seeing their work bear fruit. New companies and initiatives lead by women are…

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This week in Santa Monica, a panel of impressive VFX experts converged with independent filmmakers to bridge the gap of creative possibilities. Hosted by The Visual Effect Society and Alliance of Women Directors, the panel aimed to prove “filmmakers can affordably incorporate visual effects into future projects by inviting visual effects professionals to collaborate in the early stages of production.” With 3000 VES members globally, a third of those are located in Los Angeles, the hub of networking in VFX, they are spearheading an initiative to connect filmmakers and VFX artists and help the former understand what’s within their creative reach. Moderated…

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I wandered into an independent book store recently, the kind with rare books you won’t find at a chain, and eventually found myself in the film section where I inevitably end up. Usually, nothing is more satisfying than a breeze through cinematic history to spend time with my favorite artists. I treasure my book collection at home, especially artifacts from film school, and take pleasure in seeing how film history and theory evolves in the public sphere. This time, however, something was different. As I looked at book after book about directors, writers, and other masters of the craft, I…

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How will you be spending this holiday season? Feeling festive, feeding stress, or being creative? The holidays can bring up a multitude of different emotions for people. If you find that you get the holiday blues, then consider turning it around into creative fodder. Los Angeles is an amazing place to experience holiday magic (compensation for the downside to our lack of seasons), particularly because of the creative juices flowing within our city gates. For all its downsides, nowhere else in the world have I seen creativity flourish the way it does in Los Angeles. Leaving all religious elements aside,…

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November is Epilepsy Awareness Month. Otherwise known as a seizure disorder, epilepsy is a neurological condition characterized by excessive or abnormal electrical disturbances in the brain. I had my first grand-mal seizure at age thirteen and am now fortunate to maintain a mostly seizure-free life through medication and healthy lifestyle choices. The life of an epileptic is marked by unpredictability and (for me, at least) a quest for freedom. Your body and brain is a battlefield where you battle yourself, with no winner or loser, engaged in a constant balancing act. I can literally feel my brain tingling at times,…

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As I write this post 20,000 feet in the air, en route to Prague via Frankfurt from Los Angeles, I can feel the adrenaline of five months of full-time producing work finally come peak. Having crowd-funded, marketed, fundraised, production coordinated, arranged travel, fixed, brokered, geared up, and produced this vision to the max (and in record time, too), I am too mentally and physically exhausted at the moment to feel creative. Hopefully, all T’s have been crossed and I’s dotted, because now that I’ve handled the who/how/when and whats, my primary focus now needs to be the WHY. The essence…

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If you are a woman in the entertainment industry, this is for you. Our time has come. The mass exposure of gender inequity (in pay, position and power) reflects pervasive cultural sexism across a multitude of professions and fields. Journalists and media outlets are running hot with the story, especially as prominent celebrities speak out with personal experiences of prejudicial maltreatment. A ton of badass females are working hard to independently promote, celebrate, engage and empower other women. Women are finding the needs of our community and building infrastructure to fulfill them. It’s a historic moment for feminism in the…

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In my twenties, I wanted nothing more than a thriving career in the film industry. Without stopping between degrees, I graduated from one of the top film schools in the country with an MFA in Cinema, had a newly formed non-profit company Cinefemme, and the world ahead of me. I felt like a force of nature and nothing would stop me from my dream. Then, life intervened and took me on another path. Instead of fast-tracking it to a studio position or production job, I instead entered the terrifying realm of motherhood. Everything else took a backseat, especially my dream…

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As independent filmmakers, and therefore entrepreneurs, we have to set the stage for success mentally before anything good can happen in the material world. It all starts with healthy self-motivation. I grew up listening to Zig Ziglar tapes played endlessly by my father in the car and at home (really, it was all the time). The master of manifesting goals, my dad knew what he was doing. He was also raised with very little support or encouragement in this area, and therefore, REQUIRED HIMSELF to be his first and only advocate. “You were born to win,” says Zig Ziglar, “but…

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Not all systems are made for artists, and not all artists belong in the system. It’s challenging to be an independent creative working in Los Angele: hustling, making work, receiving recognition, and paying the bills. We are often driven by little else than passion and a deep belief in our abilities and our truth. “Women speaking the truth is a revolutionary act,” said Jill Solloway. “And it’ll change the world.” The system is not exactly build for us, but the world needs our authenticity. We are important. In 2002, I co-founded Cinefemme, a non-profit for women directors, while studying for…

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