This time last year, I was living in New York City and working as the Managing Editor of a culture blog. I was writing every single day and doing my favourite things in the world: fixing spelling mistakes and following film, music, fashion and art news from all over the world.
I was also really blue. I don’t wish to trivialise depression or mental illness by calling what I experienced either of those things, but it was a struggle every day to get out of bed, to ride the subway to work without crying, and to make it through each work day without a trip to the communal bathroom on the 14th floor, where I would remind myself to breathe and encourage myself to just get through it. Despite the great opportunity I had in the city, I resigned from my job 11 months ago - almost to the day - consequently making the decision to move back to Australia.
When I came home, I began to feel better. I was without much money, but I was surrounded by familiar faces and places. I found a new job where I was surrounded by incredibly talented and funny people every day and I slowly got back on my feet. While it taught me a lot, my new job couldn’t fill the hole left by the work I was doing before. I committed to a handful of freelance writing projects - contributing to blogs and collaborating on a webseries project with two talented friends - to satiate that creative hunger I hadn’t realised I possessed. I was so sad when I made the decision to leave it that I had taken for granted, almost forgotten, how much my job as a writer and editor had given me.
It was during New York Fashion Week in September that I developed a near-embarrassing case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out); I saw pictures online of my friends at parties I’d been invited to and shows I’d loved attending and covering the two previous seasons. It seemed silly, but it was representative of all that I’d loved in New York and all that I felt I’d left behind and could never get back.
I was motivated to stop moping and start moving when I saw that my friend Tavi had launched the first print version of her Rookie website. A year earlier, when we first met in person, she’d created something because she felt a need for it amongst her peers. She knew who her site was speaking to, because she was in a position to be doing both the speaking and listening. She knew Rookie needed to exist, and so she created it and filled it with the things that she loved, trusting that people who shared her passions would find it.
That night, I bought the filmmefatales.com URL as the catalyst to finally commit to the idea I’d toyed with for months. My passions were for feminism and film and the place where they meet - the instances when women create or star in films, be they good or bad - and I knew at least a handful of people who shared this interest. Film magazines satisfied our geeky side and feminist magazines fed that political side, but where was the dedicated place to discuss what women bring to film, what films about them say about all of us?
Being a frugal (read: tight) person, the only way I could really push myself into action was with money. So I shelled out for a URL and a Tumblr theme, I asked my beautiful friend Ellie to create a logo for me, and I learned to redirect IP addresses and to use InDesign (didn’t shell out for that one, though, soz Adobe).
Then I contacted the women I knew whose voices my project needed. I sought out the artistic talents of Valerie and Kat and Emma and Anton, whose work I’d loved for so long. I read pitches and gave feedback, I wrote drafts and corrected typos. I thought about Gwyneth Paltrow a lot. I wrote and rewrote and sent back drafts and used my red pen. I wanted the best product I could create because I needed this zine to reflect what it was like to be a 20-something woman watching movies that were supposed to represent me. I wasn’t aiming for a goal that could be measured in pageviews and didn’t have a daily quota of content to fill (with something! anything!). I knew what I wanted and I’d know it when I saw it.
Three-and-a-bit months later, I received my first proof from the printer of what will become Issue #1 of Filmme Fatales. I cried a few tears of pride and happiness and relief and tiredness and appreciation, and I whipped out my red pen one last time to make one final round of changes.
Today, I sent that final draft to the printer, and this Saturday night at a pokey bar in Fitzroy, people will read the fruits of the last four months’ work. I’m nervous that they won’t love it, that the work I’ve pored into those pages won’t be obvious. I’m afraid no-one will buy it and I’ll be left with an enormous printing bill and no way to pay my rent this month. Mostly, though, I’m proud of myself for making something I both needed and wanted to read, and I’m grateful to this zine for helping me leave 2012 in a significantly better place than the one in which I started it.
If you can’t make it to the launch, you can grab a copy here.
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