A PHOTOGRAPHIC MEMORY
DIRECTOR: Rachel Elizabeth Seed | PRODUCER: Danielle Varga
Thirty years after her mother’s death, photographer and filmmaker Rachel Elizabeth Seed discovers her mother’s work — more than 50 hours of interviews with some of the greatest photographers of the 20th Century, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Lisette Model, Gordon Parks, W. Eugene Smith, and Bruce Davidson. When Rachel threads in the audio reels and presses play, she hears her mother’s voice for the first time since she was a baby. Sheila Turner-Seed, an award-winning journalist ahead of her time, died suddenly of a brain aneurysm when Rachel was just 18 months old. Moved to uncover what she left behind, Rachel sets out to revisit her mom’s subjects, family and friends, including the photographers she interviewed decades before. As new truths emerge, Rachel builds a relationship with her mother through the multimedia work she created, crafting a new conversation and collaboration with her mom. As she discovers the shocking secrets which may have led to her mother’s untimely death, Rachel’s ability to forge her own path hinges on how these revelations affect her own life. The film draws from footage of Rachel’s visits to the photographers her mother interviewed, Sheila’s award-winning audio-visual work, Super 8 family films, her still photography and journals, weaving together personal and photohistorical artifacts to tell a universal story — about loss, the construction of memory and what of us remains in the work we create and in the people whose lives we’ve touched. Along this path, Rachel explores the question of whether it’s possible to get to know someone through the things they leave behind.
|START OF PRODUCTION:||January 2014|
|EXPECTED DELIVERY:||December 2021|
|SHOOTING FORMAT:||Digital, Super 8, Super 16|
|SHOOTING LOCATIONS:||United States/ France / England / Israel|
|PRODUCTION COMPANY:||CapaRiva Films LLC|
|PRODUCTION COUNTRY:||United States|
In my photography and creative work, I am driven by the desire for connection. Perhaps this is because I was disconnected from my mother as a baby — I’m always seeking to reconcile this loss in my life. It’s this drive which has inspired me to make the feature documentary, A PHOTOGRAPHIC MEMORY.
From 2004-2011 I created an audio-visual series about motherless women, interviewing and photographing 40 women and girls around the world, but it wasn’t until I turned the camera on my life in A PHOTOGRAPHIC MEMORY that I began to make sense of my loss. As I just turned the age my mother was when she died, it is also a personally timely project. I hope for the result to be cathartic for myself and for an audience who relates to losing someone close or being estranged from a parent. At the same time, I aim to memorialize my mother’s legacy as a woman ahead of her time who contributed to the canon of photography history. She died in her prime but left an undeniable mark through her work and great compassion for humanity. This legacy would be forgotten without this film.
The film will play on the tensions between remembering and forgetting, recovery and loss, and the probing of relationship and portraiture through lost archives, juxtaposition and cinematic form, such as in Chris Marker’s LA JETEE, Jonathan Caouette’s TARNATION or Sarah Polley’s STORIES WE TELL. A nonlinear editing approach, weaving back and forth between her interviews and mine, allows for an imagined conversation; a posthumous collaboration between a mother and daughter who were never able to communicate in “real” life yet who now appear to converse. The medium of cinema becomes a time machine that is tantalizingly vivid. While at its core, the film is about regaining a lost mother-daughter connection, the personal story expands into universal themes as I recontextualize my mother’s photographer interviews, airing quandaries about time, memory, mortality and the passion to live a creative life.
RACHEL ELIZABETH SEED
DIRECTOR / PRODUCER
Originally from London, Rachel Elizabeth Seed is a Brooklyn-based nonfiction storyteller working in filmmaking, photography and writing. She is a 2020 Sundance Institute, Chicken + Egg Pictures, NYFA NYC Women’s Fund, and National Arts Club fellow, and a 2019 Sundance Edit & Story Lab fellow and Sundance Documentary Fund recipient. Rachel’s work has also been supported by Field of Vision, the Jerome Foundation, New York State Council On the Arts, the Maine Media Workshops, the Roy W. Dean grant and IFP. Formerly a photo editor at New York Magazine, her photography was included in the International Center of Photography’s exhibit on Hurricane Sandy, Rising Waters, and she was a cameraperson on several award-winning feature documentaries including SACRED, by Academy-Award winning filmmaker Thomas Lennon. Rachel’s writing has been published by No Film School, the Sundance Institute, and Talkhouse and she is Executive Director and Co-founder of the Brooklyn Documentary Club, a thriving NYC-based filmmaker collective with more than 250 members.
Danielle Varga is a nonfiction producer who has been working in documentary film for the past decade. She most recently produced BULLETPROOF (SXSW, Hot Docs 2020) directed by Todd Chandler, who won the Hot Docs Award for Best Emerging International Filmmaker. She produced Brett Story’s critically acclaimed documentary THE HOTTEST AUGUST (True/False 2019), heralded as one of the top films of 2019 by Rolling Stone, Slate, and Vanity Fair, among others, and is being distributed by Grasshopper Film and PBS-Independent Lens. Danielle co-produced Kirsten Johnson’s award-winning and Oscar shortlisted film CAMERAPERSON (Sundance 2016), and produced the short documentary WATCHED (Tribeca 2017). Danielle was listed on DOC NYC’s inaugural list of “40 Under 40” filmmakers to watch. She was a Sundance Creative Producing Fellow, and has pitched projects at Hot Docs Forum, CPH:DOX Forum, IFP Week, Sheffield MeetMarket and the Sundance Creative Producing Summit.
Eileen Meyer is a film editor based in Los Angeles, CA. Most recently, she edited the award-winning film Crip Camp (Higher Ground/Netflix), which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature (2021), won Best Documentary Feature at the IDA Awards, and won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. Previous work includes Television Event (Doc NYC 2020), the Netflix Documentary Series The Devil Next Door, and Best of Enemies, which was shortlisted for an Academy Award in 2016 and won an Emmy Award for Best Historical Documentary.
She has been nominated for Best Editing by the International Documentary Association (IDA), Critics Choice Awards, Cinema Eye Honors, and was awarded the competitive Karen Schmeer Editing Fellowship in 2016.
Maida Lynn founded Genuine Article Pictures, a production company that supports non-fiction filmmakers with unique visions who push the form into new directions. She executive produced THE SEND-OFF (Sundance ’16, SFIFF, SXSW, AFI Fest), and co-produced THE RABBIT HUNT (Sundance and Berlinale ’17) and ROADSIDE ATTRACTION (TIFF, SXSW). Maida is the producer of the short film SKIP DAY, which premiered at the Directors’ Fortnight and was released by The Guardian. Her credits as Executive Producer include Sam Green’s live documentary, A THOUSAND THOUGHTS (Sundance ’17) THE HOTTEST AUGUST (True/False ’19), and SO LATE SO SOON (True/False ’20). The feature documentary Maida produced, PAHOKEE, premiered at Sundance 2019. She proudly serves on the boards of The Roxie Theater (San Francisco, CA) and California Film Institute (San Rafael, CA).
Kirsten Johnson is a cinematographer and director interested in addressing the changing dimensions and urgent ethical challenges of documentary camerawork. Her most recent film, DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD (2020) premiered at Sundance and was shortlisted for an Academy Award in 2021. Her previous film, CAMERAPERSON, premiered at Sundance 2016, was shortlisted for an Academy Award, won the National Board of Review “Freedom of Expression” prize, and was awarded three 2017 Cinema Eye Honors, including ‘Outstanding Nonfiction Feature’. Kirsten’s camerawork has appeared in the Academy Award-winning CITIZEN FOUR, Cannes Premiere RISK, Academy Award-nominated THE INVISIBLE WAR, Tribeca Documentary Winner, PRAY THE DEVIL BACK TO HELL, Cannes winner FAHRENHEIT 9/11, and Emmy Award-winning LADIES FIRST. She shared the Sundance 2010 Cinematography Award with Laura Poitras for their work on THE OATH. She and Katy Chevigny co-directed the Berlinale premiering DEADLINE, which won the Thurgood Marshall Award. She teaches “Visual Thinking” in the NYU Graduate Journalism Department. In 2017, she was awarded the Chicken and Egg Breakthrough Filmmaker Award and she is currently a Sundance Art of Nonfiction Fellow. She is a 2017 Guggenheim Fellow.
GROUP OF COSTS
|MATERIALS / CONSUMABLES:||$24,000.00|
|FOOD / TRAVEL:||$40,740.00|
|PURCHASE OF RIGHTS, RENTALS, LEASES:||$66,350.00|
|EQUIPMENT (RENTALS & PURCHASE):||$34,350.00|
|EDITING EQUIPMENT & POST FACILITIES:||$74,600.00|
|MUSIC & ANIMATION:||$31,500.00|
|PR & MARKETING/VERSIONING||$37,450.00|
|GEN. EXPENSES / INSURANCE, OH||$49,800.00|
FINANCING PLAN | FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTORS