Our biggest, and arguably most exciting, current film project hits on all the levels; all of them. If you live in Bellingham, or think we need more women in film, or heck, if you enjoy a great story, then read on to learn about...
Aside from being the first Poet Laureate of Washington state, an internationally published writer, and a famous figure among the Bellingham elite, Ella Higginson also wrote screenplays. Never heard of her? Neither had we. Sadly, Washington State remembers little of this prolific writer. Why this amazing woman fell into obscurity is a problem--one that's repeated throughout our history.
Just Like the Men is Ella's screenplay written in the silent era of film. In essence, it is a political satire/romantic comedy depicting the first woman elected into legislative office in Washington State in 1912 with the help of her "Political Boss." Ready for the kicker? It’s all true. Ella Higginson was the campaign manager for Frances Axtell, one of the first women elected to legislative office in the state.
Upon completing her script, Ella contacted her editor in New York who believed Mary Pickford to be an ideal Hollywood connect. Why Mary Pickford ultimately turned Just Like the Men down, we can only speculate. It was a progressive topic given the time, and not what you'd call a "cash cow."
A stranger to rejection after extensive success as a novelist and poet, Ella shelved the screenplay sometime after 1914, not to be touched again until 2012 when Laura Laffrado, literature professor at Western Washington University, began restoring Ella’s prolific body of work. After meeting regarding an unrelated project, Laura shared with us this mysterious script sitting in the archives, untouched.
Needless to say, we were very into it.
Our role in restoring Ella was clear: we had to pick up where Ella left off. The metaphor is not lost on us; the story of a woman in charge of their own creative vision, and failing, is also the story of us. It is the story of any woman taking control in a patriarchy.
We know moving forward that this is so much bigger than us. This is Washington’s political history, this is the importance of propagating female legacy; this is why we make film.
Drawing on our own experience as theater performers and comedians, we knew that we wanted to adapt Just Like the Men in the spirit it was written: a comedy. We've made some adjustments to the original content to bring it to a 21st century audience, but very few. We believe comedy to be a powerful storytelling tool, and it’s clear Ella did, too. For "phase II," we'd like to adapt this film into an unorthodox feature that weaves present-day -us- with Ella's original story: the true product of her script's impact on our lives.
But first things first; let's film Ella.
Summer of 2018 begins principal photography of Ella's original script. Our first priority is to faithfully restore this piece of history, later weaving in our own story of how this woman has changed our lives. We plan to put Just Like The Men through the 2020 Festival circuit. We can think of no better time for Ella to re-enter the world as we approach the 100 year anniversary of women's suffrage.
If you feel there's a lack of a female leaders in our mainstream media, if you are passionate about preserving history, if you want to help change the status quo, then contact us to find out how you can be part of this film's success. This film is a labor of love, and we are actively seeking donations to make this production the best it can be with the resources available to us. We ran a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2017 which got us off to a great start, but we still have a long, long way to go.
Will you help us?