Faythe Levine is a crafter, designer and entrepreneur and now, with her new doc Handmade Nation, she’s adding filmmaker to her roster of titles. Realscreen spoke with Levine, whose film is currently on tour of craft fairs and art galleries all over the world, about embarking on doc-making for the first time and whether she feels her doc is part of the craft world or the film scene.
Your credentials include craft, art, design and music related work. What made you get into doc-making with Handmade Nation, and how did you decide that it deserved to be both a film and a book?
I felt compelled to document the energy of what was unfolding around me in the indie community. I had some experience within the commercial film industry and just tapped into my resources, which happened to include my best friend, Micaela O’Herlihy, who is a filmmaker. Micaela was willing to work with me on this project and it allowed me to follow through with my vision. The book came out of the film; after releasing an eight minute clip on YouTube I was approached by a number of publishers and Princeton was who we decided to go with. At that point my co-author Cortney Heimerl joined and we submitted our proposal which Princeton picked up.
What was your funding strategy for this doc?
I had no strategy for funding when I started; I just began using my credit cards and continued to do for financing the film. I also set up an Etsy.com shop at one point to sell promo goods and donated handmade items to raise money for the film. Last summer I put together a silent art auction in Los Angeles with the help of Poketo where we sold off an amazing collection of work to raise funds as well. I’m still trying to figure out how to recoup my expenses.
Was there anything that surprised you about working on your first documentary?
I didn’t really have many expectations; however, I am continually surprised at the interest around this project and the resurgence of handmade work.
What are your distribution plans for the film?
I am hoping to have a DVD version available within six months. There will be details on our website about how to make the purchase soon!
I imagine you might feel this doc is more a part of the craft world than it is part of the film world, but what’s your take on the doc industry as a first-time filmmaker?
Well, the first three film festivals we submitted to turned us down. I think that Handmade Nation is not your ‘traditional’ documentary. It does not follow a narrative arc and there is no blood, no fights, drama or death – however, all the feedback and reviews we have received so far have been gushing. I think that the documentary industry, just like the film industry, is so used to seeing the same format and layout in a film. I think that Handmade Nation fits in somewhere though; it really does educate [the audience] about what is going on and what potential we have to change things.