IEM had the opportunity to interview 3rd annual Production Without Borders panelists Jason Greer and Vanessa Cicarelli of Birdy & Bean Films. The event also features Yasmine Al Massri (Quantico), Larry Kasanoff (Mortal Kombat) and Christina Rose (MirrorWater Entertainment), with moderator, award-winning filmmaker Kate Rees Davies.
The event will be streamed live on Facebook on Tuesday, November 10 at 11 a.m. PST. https://www.facebook.com/events/798998367341389
Jason and Vanessa are high school sweethearts that have been together for over 25 years. Jason was born in Bozeman, Montana and Vanessa in Montreal, Quebec. They now live in upstate New York where they raise their children and run a family business. They started Greer Cicarelli Photography in 2000, a business that has grown over the years from family and wedding photography to commercial photography and video production. Their work has been featured in numerous magazines and publications, both nationally and internationally. They have worked for companies, such as GoDaddy, Bombardier, PenAir, BMW, Family Dollar, Canadian Pacific Rail Ways, The Adirondack Coast, and many more.
Jason and Vanessa believe in telling authentic stories be it through photography or film. She is their first full length directorial endeavor. What began as a passion project has grown into a life of its own. She is set to become a full-length documentary delicately interweaving the weight of the forgotten with feminine beauty and the power of knowledge. She with feature the voices of Kate Mulgrew (Orange Is The New Black,
Star Trek: Voyager ) as the film’s narrator, Raven Goodwin as Poetry Narrator (Smilf, Glee, The Clark Sisters, Good Luck Charlie), and special guest Poetry Narrator, Coco Jones (Flock of Four, Disney’s Let It Shine). The film’s original song is written and performed by Billboard-charted country singer Stephanie Quayle.
How has COVID affected your “grand plan”?
Corona virus has slowed us way down on productivity in one sense, but it has also forced us to slow down to the point of being more mindful of what we are doing and allowing us the time to really focus on the parts of the project that we can do from home. Phone calls, emails, laying the groundwork. Without COVID, we don’t think that the project would be growing at the same magnitude that it is.
What are some of your most exciting, upcoming projects? And past projects of which you are most proud?
Upcoming? Who knows, we always have a way of coming up with something off the cuff as soon as we finish off a project. And sometimes, something pops up to surprise us. We will wait and see. In the past, our main focus was photography, and photography only. We have an ongoing personal photo project that has gained some attention, and in business, we have had some amazing clients including GoDaddy, Woman’s World, Bombardier, PenAir, BMW, Family Dollar, Canadian Pacific Rail Ways, and many more.
You work on many commercial projects with top brands. How is your approach different with respect to the different genres and platforms?
I feel that our approach to each job is the same regardless of whether it’s a top brand or a small local business. We show up to each job with fresh eyes. We see what we’ve been given to work with, factor in the feeling or style we want to convey and go from there. The approach is always the same, but the results can vary drastically.
Birdy & Bean is a family affair. How is it being married and working together, personally and professionally?
Working together is great. We have personalities that complement each other and very different perspectives, so we feel like we can cover anything. We also know that we can say almost anything to each other in the name of creating the best possible product and not take offense to it. It’s not personal to us, it’s all about making good art. You might hear us on the job and think “Whoa! One of them will be upset later,” but we never are. It doesn’t even phase us, and after 25 years together, we don’t think it ever will.
What do you wish to communicate to the film market attendees of 2020?
We believe that this is a worthy project and needs to be seen, but we can only do so with the support of others.
You believe in telling authentic stories be it through photography or film. Can you elaborate on this notion?
Early in our career, we were told that our work was very “organic.” We weren’t sure if that was a good thing or not, to be honest, but it made us realize that it’s the only way we wanted to work. True to the subject. We strive to present the best possible image of the subjects just being themselves so that we can let their personalities shine. In other words, we want our work to look like them and not us.
Can you tell us a little more about She? (How did it come about? When it will be released? What are your release plans?)
When we first heard about Aimée Baker and her book Doe, we were immediately invested. We approached Aimée to see if she would be interested in letting us produce this documentary and she agreed, after a bit of convincing. The project started out small, as a way of us trying our hand at filmmaking, but it has grown. We don’t have a real finish date yet, but if COVID stops standing in our way, we are hoping to release it in the Fall of 2021.
What has been the biggest challenge so far with the production?
One of the biggest challenges so far is finishing up the B-roll and some specific footage needed because of COVID restrictions. We are also having a hard time getting some of the historical footage and photos we need from places local to the women in the film because so many historical societies and organizations are either closed or limited due to COVID
You are using crowdfunding platform to help fund ‘She’? Has this been successful?
The crowdfunding so far has been successful on a very small scale, with people we know personally or people who know Aimée. They have been amazing, but we are having trouble getting it out there on a larger scale. To see the film get the treatment it deserves, more funding will be necessary.
Along the way, who has been the biggest influence on you both? Do you have any mentors?
We’ve worked with and known a lot of good people over the years, be it artists, friends, family, or people in business and we’ve had tremendous community support, but we can’t say that we have one big influencer or mentor. We draw our energy and inspiration from the many strong, smart people and diverse projects we see all around us.