Folklight Film Club founder is out to change the way movies are made
From her home in the redwoods of Guerneville, actress Brooke Tansley is waging a quiet revolution against the powers that be in her profession.
The Broadway actress whose credentials include a turn as Belle in the Broadway production of “Beauty and the Beast,” began imagining what it would be like to reclaim storytelling from the Hollywood moguls who make movies by the numbers, deciding with a godlike power, what stories get made and for whom.
She remembers the exact moment the concept for a new form of filmmaking came to her. It was while driving a winding 6-mile stretch of Highway 116 between Forestville and Guerneville in the summer of 2015.
“My first thought was, ‘What if we made a wine club, but instead of wine we would make movies?’ ” she recalled.
It’s an idea that as far as she can tell, has never been tried, but which she’s beta testing in Sonoma County with a hope that it can be launched in other communities as well.
More than just crowdfunding, club members would get to have a hand in the whole filmmaking process from the ground up, including driving the storyline and characters for what would become a full-length feature film, written, directed and filmed by Hollywood professionals, but set in Sonoma County and reflecting the people who live here.
She’s calling it “the world’s first farm-to-table” film, a nod to the locavore food movement that extols the virtues of eating food that is fresh, seasonal and grown close to home.
“The local members would be the farmers and the professional Hollywood team would be the chefs and we would make a film inspired by local people and the land and the community and the culture here,” she said.
Members of what she has called “The Folklight Film Club,” for $79 a quarter get to collaborate with other members to shape a film.
“There’s a lack of representation of marginalized people in film,” said Tansley, who came to Sonoma County to perform with the professional Transcendence Theatre Company at Jack London State Historic Park, fell in love with the area and decided to stay. “What we have right now is an industry created from the perspective of and serving the tastes of one kind of person.
And it isn’t logical to believe one kind of person can accurately choose the stories we are all going to want to be told. This is a real opportunity to include a broader breadth of humanity in the storytelling tradition.”
The intent, however, is not to be art-by-committee and Tansley is quick to point out that storytelling, going back to prehistoric times, was a way of bringing communities together through “shared wisdom and values.”
“The business that created the film industry of storytelling shifted the focus instead toward creating illusion, collecting power and money and influence and in a large part, fulfilling their own personal fantasies,” she said, a theme she articulates with passion in a video on the Folklight website, folklightfilmclub.com.
“We want to take storytelling through the medium of film back, and realign it with the original purpose of bringing community together.”
While anyone with a digital camera can make a movie nowadays, the 41-year-old Tansley is aiming to shoot high, drawing on connections built over more than 20 years in the entertainment business.