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Reel Women, Reel Stories

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Photo: Reel Women
Photo: Reel Women

What makes Austin one of the best film towns in the country is the true film community we have. Since its founding in 1996, Reel Women has been doing its best to increase that feeling of community.

"Reel Women was developed when a very small group of women who wanted to work in the film business weren’t finding the opportunitieies that would allow them to do what they wanted to do," says Sherry Mills, executive director of Reel Women. "So they just started meeting on a casual basis in someone's living room and realized that they all had different skills, so they decided a great thing to do would be to start an organization where different women could bring different skills and share those with others, and started informal meetings and informal workshops and outgrew a living room, moved to another meeting space, and actually we are on our third meeting space now because we keep growing."

Reel Women stills offers those meetings and workshops, but now gives women in the Austin film community other opportunities to grow together. The group now hosts screenings and film festivals and engages in outreach and youth education. Also, each year, Reel Women sponsors its own short film produced by an all-female crew. However, despite its primary focus on women, men have become increasingly involved in Reel Women.

"I used to say that when I first started with Reel Women that it took a really brave man to walk into a meeting called Reel Women and find a whole group of women sitting there, and then I just figured they were just looking for dates," says Mills. "But once they found out about the great speakers that we have and the workshops we do, the word just got out, and more and more guys come, and now much of our activities are easily 30 to 50 percent male attendants -- that’s meetings, workshops and mixers. So, we don’t consider ourself exclusive to women, but were always going to put the womens needs first."

Reel Women's events help to bring Austin's filmmakers, both male and female, together as a community.

"Reel Women, first of all, is a great place to have a sense of community for people like you – whatever your interests are from being the arts, acting, filmmaking," says Elise Ballard, a member of the Reel Women board. "I think that Reel Women absolutely has a really dynamic group of people of like interests so it immediately gives you a sense of community."



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Produced by Domenique Bellavia.

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