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Notes from the Reel World: The President's Column, Fall 2012

By Marjan Safinia

Dear IDA Community,

A few weeks ago, I decided to write this issue's column about inspiration. But now, as my deadline approaches and I'm facing an empty page, I find it hard to reconnect with that inspiration. Where did the clarity, which felt so tangible in the moment, go?

Inspiration is a tricky thing. When we are lucky enough to have a taste of it, it's the most powerful, intoxicating and consuming drug. And then, just as quickly, it evaporates. But often, a small dose can be all we need to push forward.

Let's be honest. We all know that there's not much that is glamorous about being a documentary filmmaker. Sure, it sounds cool at dinner parties, but more often than not we spend our days figuring out how to raise money and do too much with too few resources, watching the render bar creep forward in an edit, managing our online campaigns, or struggling to draft a snappy synopsis.

But just occasionally, we are fortunate enough to be rewarded with a moment of true inspiration. And it is in those moments when we feel most alive.

I was lucky enough to have one of those moments a few weeks ago. As is often the case, it came along unexpectedly, and although the feeling only manifested itself for a couple of hours, its heady thrill kept me buzzing for weeks afterwards.

It reminded me how grateful I am to be able to do this work, of the magic that happens when you ask people to tell you their story, and the gift that can be for both the filmmaker and the subject. How incredible and sacred it feels when strangers agree to open up about the most private parts of themselves, because they know that by doing so they will be witnessed, and they can help the rest of humanity remember our common bonds. That's powerful stuff, and we're so lucky to be exposed to it. No doubt we'd all be much better off financially if we were lawyers or engineers or Internet entrepreneurs, but whenever work gets me down, I remember that our challenges come with the most extraordinary privileges too.

It has been a busy and productive summer over at IDA headquarters as we have thrown ourselves deep into strategic planning for the organization. Under the strong leadership of Michael Lumpkin, the Board of Directors and staff have been wrestling with big questions about IDA's role and potential. The fruits of our labor are still ripening, but they will form a roadmap for IDA's growth over the next three years. We are proud to share this work with you in the coming months.

We have also added five incredible new leaders to our Board of Directors: Fonda Berosini, executive director of communications for the Digital Media team at Disney/ABC Television Group; Lauren Lexton, co-founder of Authentic Entertainment; independent filmmaker Billy Luther; Ted Mundorff, president and CEO for Landmark Theatres; and Stephen Nemeth, head of Rhino Films. The outstanding professional caliber of our new directors is a testament to the hard work we have been doing at IDA, and the promise of what we can achieve together.

And I, for one, find that incredibly inspiring.

Until next time,

Marjan Safinia
IDA Board President