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Producer Lydia Dean Pilcher visits CSU-Pueblo

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With over 30 films to her credit and 30 years of film industry experience, producer Lydia Dean Pilcher brought unique insight, opinions and stories to the Colorado State University-Pueblo campus on March 14.

Lydia Dean Pilcher by Alec Herrera
Lydia Dean Pilcher | Photo by Alec Herrera

Visiting from New York City, Pilcher held three separate events on campus, including two workshops in the Library and Academic Resources Center and a large presentation titled “The Audience in Revolt: Culture Wars and Disruption in Hollywood” which was held in the Occhiato University Center Ballroom, all of which were open to the public.

Pilcher’s first workshop explored her various experiences and opinions on “crowd funding” in the film and industry and how it has affected modern filmmaking.

She outlined her own experience having crowd-funded a movie titled “The Sisterhood of the Night,” which was released in 2015.

This experience includes making a crowd-funding campaign to get people interested, making videos to let people know what the movie is about and considering feedback from the audience.

“When you reach out to people, they talk back,” Pilcher explained in regards to her production company having to progressively make more videos and provide more information at the behest of people asking for them.

This presentation on crowdfunding also included Pilcher’s thoughts on how movies seem to have diverged in production value in budget. Pilcher explained that independent movies tend to “challenge the status quo” and explore stories that are not told in Hollywood.

Despite painting a picture disparity between Hollywood and independent movies, Pilcher felt that the two styles were very much connected.

“Hollywood needs independent movies and independent movies need Hollywood,” Pilcher said.

Audience during Pilcher's presentation by Alec Hererra
The audience watches Pilcher’s presentation. | Photo by Alec Hererra

Ending the first workshop, Pilcher said that she will be crowd-funding another movie this coming year titled “Sight.”

The second workshop focused on sustainability in the movie industry and Pilcher’s own efforts in “greening” sets. A member of the Producers’ Guild of America, Pilcher has long been trying to improve the environmental sustainability of film sets and industry endeavors.

The final portion of Pilcher’s eventful day was the presentation “”The Audience in Revolt: Culture Wars and Disruption in Hollywood,” which examined filmmaking trends as well as the role of a producer in the industry.

Opening with an introduction of herself, Pilcher talked about herself and even showed a video consisting of movies she’s produced, including “The Darjeeling Limited,” and “The Reluctant Fundamentalist.”

One of the first questions that Pilcher addressed in her presentation was “What does a producer do?” She broke down the various tasks that a producer has, both creatively and financially, but she essentially answered the question by saying, “If you are someone who is good at making people say ‘yes,’ then you would be a good producer.”

The meat of the presentation really started to show itself when Pilcher spoke about the various changes that have hit the industry in the last 10 years.

She talked about the generational change from generation x to millennials, stating that the millennial generation now makes up one third of the U.S. population and is nearly 50 percent “diverse,” making for a lot more diverse stories worth being told.

This idea of diversity led to a presentation on “unconscious bias” in not only the film industry, but in everyday life. She presented various scenarios and engaged the audience on how they felt on stereotypes and unintended biases, all just to illustrate her point on the subject.

Pilcher briefly touched on this year’s Academy Awards as an example of the newer generation’s diverse audience wanting more representation in films, and eschewing the “traditional” sensibilities of the academy.

Highlighting her own experience, Pilcher talked about an upcoming movie of hers about a Ugandan chess prodigy. Titled “Queen of Katwe,” the film is meant to explore aspects of life that Pilcher explained, “aren’t really talked about or told in Hollywood.”

The film is scheduled to release this September.

In the end, Pilcher accepted questions from the audience and enthusiastically met with students and faculty after the presentation for brief one-on-one discussion, a lot of which consisted of questions from enthusiastic aspiring filmmakers.

Pilcher herself reflected positively on the experience, complimenting both the campus and the people, saying that it was an all around great experience.