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Fashion Show Wishes & Documentary Dreams
Hello everyone -
I'm remaining busy these days as I try to do everything that pops into my head at any given time.  It's a little hectic but seems to be part of the equation to keeping me sane.  I may drive others a little crazy in the process, however, so I apologize for that.  Speaking of, hey!  I haven't asked anyone for money in awhile!  Wow, who would I be if I didn't ask the people I know and love for some money for what I think is a good cause?  Well, without further ado...

My latest activities have lead to me producing a documentary film.  That sounds a little fancy but mostly what it means is that I'm trying to come up with the money to make it happen.  That seems to be the make-it-or-break it part of this entire project and that's the stage we're at thus far.  No pressure for me, right?!  I'm happily applying for grants, whistling while I work and such (kidding - I despise sitting down and devoting time to the unpleasant process), but in addition to that, I thought I'd send out an old fashioned call for donors.

So, you'd probably want to know what we're doing before you blindly hand your hard-earned cash over to me.  Because, who knows - I may be raising money to euthanize puppies or something.  But, I'm not!  Whew, right?!

Well, it all began back in September or so when I signed up for a week-long workshop offered by Wisconsin Film School to learn how to make a movie.  We actually made a movie!  It is called "Hits" and once it's all polished up in the editing room, it will be looped daily at the Mustard Museum in Middleton, WI.  I'll definitely let people know when it "hits" the museum film screening room.

Hey - that's me!  And I'm touching technological equipment!

Photo Credit: David Ruhland

And the whole crew after a long weekend of hard, but satisfying work...

Photo Credit: David Ruhland

WI Film School is a newer, local, non-profit collaboration of filmmakers with a mission to

instruct collaborate with, and support filmmakers and filmmaking in all genres and disciplines, promoting the arts of filmmaking and digital media through workshops, gatherings, competitions and festivals, taking special interest in the promotion and education of filmmakers of color, underserved communities and activists.

I'm sure you can see why the film school appealed to me.  With my social work background and growing interest in using film to promote social action in various ways, it seemed perfect.  And, frankly, I wasn't ready to jump into a 2-year film program somewhere without testing the waters a bit.  My dream was and is to make documentary films.  

Of course, I met some kind and talented folks through that experience and we got to talking.  I told them about this great event here in Madison that I've been on the steering committee for for a few years.  It's called the Fashion Show for All Abilities.  The committee had been looking for someone to take interest in making a documentary about the event but we didn't really know any filmmakers.  Social workers...it's like we only interact with other social workers or something because we never have any connections!  After describing the event, Jim from the film school became very enthusiastic and we have pitched ideas around a few times since the Mustard Movie workshop.  And  now we're committed!  Funny how this stuff works out, right?  Basically, dreams coming true.  I'm a little mystified yet that all I had to do was dream, put myself out there (the scary part), and work hard.

Before I get to "the catch" to it all (yeah, that money thing), let me talk a bit about this fashion show.  The Fashion Show for All Abilities began as a dream of a young woman named Chantel who had wanted to become a model.  After experiencing a brain injury and needing to rely on a wheelchair, Chantel found that modeling agencies were not so interested in hiring a model with a disability.  Chantel shared her dream with the folks over at the Waisman Center (part of UW Madison) and the Community Outreach program worked with Chantel to create the annual fashion show that has now, after 5 successful years, become the "Fashion Show for Abilities."  This fashion show has become huge in so many ways.  First, it's a community awareness event, bridging the gap between retailers and individuals with disabilities.  Retailers are beginning to address how to make the shopping experience available to everyone.  Secondly, the audience is continually expanding.  Every year the venues have sold out and in 2010 the show will be at the lovely Monona Terrace in the heart of downtown Madison.  Third, it's been beautiful to see more and more committed volunteers participate with joy every year.  Retailers, make-up artists, photographers, a certain radio personality and hairstylists have donated their time and talents year after year and begged to be invited to help again the next.  I've read some of their blogs where they share how life-changing this experience has been for them.

And finally (well, not really - there are infinite ways that this show has been hugely impactful but I'll wrap this up), the part I love the most is seeing the models up on the runway enjoying their own moment of a lifetime.  After a couple months of planning and preparation, a few hours of pampering and polishing, they each have their moment up there, feeling their best, with a cheering crowd of friends, family members and strangers reflecting positive energy back on them.  It's a beautiful thing.  An intensely beautiful thing.

So, yeah.  That money thing.  It turns out that teaching students and making movies is really, really expensive.  Crap.  So that's what this blog is really about right now.  It's a request that you'll consider donating to the Wisconsin Film School.  As much as I believe in this project, I can't say for certain that the money will go directly to it, on the off-chance that we don't pull in enough money to cover all the bases on this one.   But, I'm pretty confident that with this appeal, and applying for grants, we'll make it.  Or I wouldn't be doing this.  Because it sucks to put a lot of effort into something and bug a bunch of people about something that one doesn't think is going to happen.  I've kind of been on a "making things happen" streak recently so maybe that can put you at ease in your donation.  Regardless, the film school is a wonderful non-profit organization with a strong mission related to media, arts and social equality.  Beautiful things indeed.      

I'll add a link to donate down at the bottom, if you choose.  I know money is a tricky thing these days with so much going on in our world.  A non-donation is certainly nothing personal.   

A few more things I feel like I need to say before you send any money...

The link is to WI Film School's Paypal account, just for this lovely project, and is a convenient way to send your support.  If you want to skip the Paypal option, you can just mail a check made out to "WI Film School" to the address below.  Please add a note in the memo line to specify that you're donating toward the fashion show project.

Wisconsin Film School
2301 Monterey Drive
Madison, WI 53704
                                                                                                                                                        Last 3 Photo Credits: Douglas Otto

We'll be sure to get a receipt to each donor for tax purposes.  Wisconsin Film School operates under their 501(c) (3) (nonprofit) fiscal agent, The Neighborhood House Community Center in downtown Madison.

I think that's pretty much the nuts and bolts of it.  Thanks for bearing with that and for reading this WHOLE thing!  It's such an honor that you did so.  Thanks for all the love and support, even after you realized I was bugging you for money :)

Oh, also - nothing is officially in the works yet for post-production but once we pull this off, I'll keep donors (and everyone, I'm sure) posted on any opportunities to view the final masterpiece.  I'll also be sending out info and reminders on this blog and my facebook page about the fashion show event itself.  Feel free to repost, link, and forward this and any other news I share.  And whenever there are any opportunities, we will list donors so you can proudly see your name attached to the project.  Thank you!

My best to you,


Photo Credit: Douglas Otto