Tomeka Winborne – Filmmaker Episode 10

In 2014, Winborne developed Lavender Reel Media Group, LLC /Lavender Reel Publishing, a production and media services company, producing commercials, documentaries and other film projects of commercial clients as well as her own. That same year, Tomeka was commissioned to co-produce a documentary entitled, “IN PLAIN SIGHT: HUMAN TRAFFICKING” for Cox Creative.

To date she has written and produced five and directed four short films. She would later serve on the board of the  Hampton Roads Chapter of the Virginia Production Alliance in 2015. Most recently, Tomeka became a founding board member of the Alliance of Women Directors – Atlanta Chapter.

On This Episode we Cover:
Transitioning from an Author to a filmmaker.

Investing her money into film projects rather than film school.

Tips on building your skills as a screenwriter.


How working with Monty Ross assisted in developing her skills on how to look a films. If you aren’t sure who Monty Ross is, Ross is most notable for co-producing films with Spike Lee, with whom he co-founded 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks. They first met at Morehouse College, where both took film making courses.  Ross appeared in Lee’s master’s degree thesis film, Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads.He co-produced many films with Lee through the 1980s and 1990s, including She’s Gotta Have It, School Daze, Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Malcolm X and Crooklyn.

How to find your filmmaking crew.

Moving to Atlanta the New Hollywood.

Balancing a 9 to 5 and filmmaking

You can listen here or here

How can you connect?

Tomeka Winborne

Interview with Film Director: Nicola Mills

I’m a Writer-Director, and co-founder of Cinesisters, a collective of female directors.   Brought up on the Isle of Wight, in a working class family, stories of any world – other than mine – grabbed me as soon as I could read. My nose was almost permanently in a book; my parents worried about this much like parents now worry about their kids spending too much time playing computer games…

What drew you into the world of filmmaking? Specifically directing?

I studied graphic design but quickly tired of the static nature of print design and started messing about with basic animation, Super 8 film and video. I worked as a moving image graphic designer for many years which led to directing, firstly animation and then combining design with life action. I got the bug, made a couple of live action shorts and in my mid thirties applied to the National Film School as a director, wanting to concentrate on drama and working with actors; I won a place.


For women in our collective who can’t attend film school what are some tips do you suggest to develop as a director?

Watch films, a wide variety, not just stuff you like – it’s useful to see films you don’t like and work out why – what’s wrong with them, what would you do differently? Make shorts, don’t be too precious, use your phone if necessary. Mess around, try different ways of working and make lots of mistakes. You learn so much through making mistakes – some of my worst shorts were the most valuable in terms of learning how to make films. Find other filmmakers, connect, create your own networks and ask questions – your filmmaking peers are a wealth of information and can offer practical help.


How have you found your “crew” to work with and what is your process for working with the DP?

When I started directing I didn’t know any crew, I didn’t even know what a gaffer did. I had experienced producers who recommended crew they’d worked with. As I moved into fiction I worked with some of these same crew, and at the NFTS part of the beauty of the place is that you have filmmakers around you – cinematographers, editors, production designers – and get to work with them over a couple of shorts at least. Plus watch work by people you don’t know and meet them, see if you get on, whether you can work together. In terms of how I work with a DP, everything starts at story and character level. We discuss the story, the motivations of the characters, the themes and leap from there – gather images, share them, and find a relevant aesthetic. It’s a collaboration – which is one of the most exciting things about filmmaking.

We aren’t accurately represented on screen as women how can we as indie filmmakers change this stat?

It’s a statistical fact the representation of women on screen has not changed much since the 40’s – which is a shocker. Make sure your scripts reflect the world around you and check your own unconscious bias.

What does this statement mean to you? “To all of us filmmakers: All movies are political movies.”

Films can be and, right now, they should be. Even films that are purely entertainment, and maybe especially those films, can do a lot to help shift perceptions – as simply as casting actors in roles that might not fit the perceived norm.


Most creatives are referred to “starving artist” how have you or have you learned to monetize your craft and tips for those striving to achieve this?

That’s a tough one, there’s no easy answer. I was well paid as a moving image designer and director, but like everyone I started at the bottom. Currently I’m being paid develop a feature script and many filmmakers have other jobs – teaching, script editing, commercials, corporate videos, I know filmmakers who are yoga teachers and work in call centres. The aim is of course to make money from directing, but until then do what you can.


What’s next for you?

I’m pushing forward on a feature called UP YOURS! About a bi-racial female punk singer, from the 70’s. It has a great energy to it, story and character wise, has political relevance and will be a fun ride fro an audience – so it’s exciting times.


What are you reading/watching that’s inspiring you as a filmmaker?

 Two screen works leap to mind, one very current and TV, The Handmaids Tale(2017), directed by Reed Morano and then the feature film Moonlight(2016) directed by Barry Jenkins – the directing is incredibly confident, the imagery is all about story and character, both are emotionally complex and provocative pieces.

How can we keep in touch with you?

Twitter @cinemasister


Interview with Freelance Filmmaker: Caroline J. Phillips

Currently I am a freelance filmmaker located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I manage Riverine Creative, a video content business I created to help tell the stories of Maryland and beyond.

What drew you into the world of filmmaking? Specifically cinematography.

When I was younger I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to focus on when I grew up. I was happiest when I was with people and watching TV. When I found out that there were actual people that created television and those were possible jobs, I decided to major in film and media. I went to Messiah College in Harrisburg, PA and grew to love filmmaking even more. I was always drawn to the cinematography of a film and got into cinematography by practicing still photography. Only in the last 5 years have I picked up my own camera and created films. I was an editor first, which enabled me to learn what shots I liked and I didn’t.

Tell us what’s in your filmmaking bag? Now & Then (meaning what did you start off with and what do you have currently)?

I’ve always loved a very simplified bag because I travel a lot and I’m a one man show.

Camera: Canon 5D Mark iii

Lenses: Canon 24-70mm 2.8

Stabilization: Sirui SUP204SR Aluminum-Alloy Photo/Video Monopod

I started off with a Nikon d5100 and it took great video. I mainly used that for photos and wedding videography.

How have you been able to establish yourself as a freelance filmmaker? Especially considering that you aren’t living on the West Coast? Do you believe filmmakers on the east coast have a disadvantage or advantage?

When I graduated from college in 2014, I started working for other freelance filmmakers and photographers by working as their assistants. By being an assistant, I was able to learn how freelance and entrepreneurship works. During those years I also starting taking on my own clients and shooting weddings. When I quit working for a photographer in 2016, I decided to contact my clients and see if I could get some sustaining gigs. I was able to establish long-term relationships with some amazing clients here on the Eastern Shore and I fell in love with telling their stories. I started Riverine Creative about 4 months ago to establish more of a business.

About a year ago I had all intention of moving to the West Coast for film. When I went out there, I had just started working with some clients back East. While I enjoyed the abundance of film and television work out in LA, I realized that there was a huge need for quality media in my hometown. I am the only filmmaker in my town. There is a small network along the Eastern Shore, but there is a void that I am able to fill.

I’m in demand because I’m one of a kind, but sometimes it can be difficult because there are a small amount of brands here that understand they need video content. So it takes a lot of patience but I love educating my community about the power of film. So by being on the East Coast has it’s advantages and disadvantages, but by being freelance I have the power of traveling, so I get to work all over the world.

Take us through you experience of successfully organizing a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $20,000, what would you say were the key takeaways that allowed this campaign to be a success?

When raising money for “Life of An Ingredient,” we had already established our community that we were marketing towards, so once we launched and put our campaign in front of the right people, we were able to raise the money in no time. I think knowing your audience and what they want is a key part of crowdfunding. Also understanding that your audience needs more incentive than, “this is something we are passionate about.” Really ask yourself, why should these people give money? What is in it for them? In this age of crowdfunding, the donor is really going to have to choose between your film and someone else’s.

Also, after working on the Kickstarter, I realized that sometimes raising the money is the easy part. The next step, making the film and producing something your donor expects, is harder.

How do you prepare commercial shoot verses a documentary?

A commercial shoot is about your client. You are working on something that tells their story exclusively and also puts them in the best light, for marketing. A documentary is telling the story, “as is.” I like a documentary-style to my commercial work – meaning that I want tell my client’s story in a documentary way. However, since it is a commercial piece, you have to make sure the story you are helping to craft is marketable.

One tip you would give someone who wants to become better at cinematography?

It’s a lot about perspective as much as it is technical. I would encourage anyone wanting to become a cinematographer to keep looking at the world and your space with new angles. One thing that more of my clients comment on about my work is that it captures something that they didn’t even notice. I notice the light, the space, the allure and try to capture that through my camera.

What are you reading right now and what are you watching?

Watching: I was obsessed with Reed Morano for a few years so when she directed the first three episodes of Handmaids Tale, I was totally into it. It’s breathtaking. I also really enjoyed HBO’s Divorce (the first episode was actually shot by Reed but I didn’t know this until after!). It’s oddly funny and I love the cinematography in that as well. With Fall TV Season in full swing, I’m watching Great News (the best 30 Rock replacement) and of course Will & Grace.

Reading: Presence by Amy Cuddy, Jeffory Tambor’s Memoir: Are you Anybody?


How can we keep in touch with you?

Riverine Creative:

Social media: @riverinecreative

Personal/Editorial Work:

Instagram: @caro_jphillips


Film Career Guidance with Sarah Hawkins


My comfy, safe bubble burst once I finished my MFA in screenwriting. All I could think about after graduation was what’s next? In school my cohort had the plan of staying a tight community that was full of support and yearly writing sessions where we would meet up, write our hearts out and catch the eye of someone who was willing to fund our project. But, it seems as if life has interrupted our plans and writing has become this solo task that we are navigating through without a guide.

I do believe there is support and a community for women filmmakers but you can only pick someone’s brain but so much because just like you they are trying to figure out “the way” for themselves. So I jumped at the opportunity after interviewing Sarah on our podcast to try one of her services (FYI I paid, I don’t believe in the hook up) Film Career Guidance.

Prior to talking to Sarah my goals were:

  • To gain clarity personally as a creative filmmaker
  • Clarity on the direction with The Creative Outsiders
  • Action steps so I can leave my 9 to 5
  • Assessment of what was working and what wasn’t

What to expect?

  • Sarah will contact you via email after receiving the confirmation of the appointment. She will ask you for clarity on what you want to discuss in particular during the session (so she can prepare for the call).
    • Note, be honest with what you need or your uncertainty. I personally rambled a bit on my response back to her. Remember you can’t get real help if you aren’t really honest!
  • Our Call was 1 hour as promised and it was full of information. I suggest that you take your own personal notes during the call because she covers a lot of information. She gave me practical advice but also plenty of resources I wasn’t aware of and an honest assessment of my strengths. She also encouraged me to OWN my strengths.
    • Note, it’s easy to start to feel overwhelmed during the session because it’s so much information but just take a breather and one step at a time.
  • Once the session is over she does follow up with any information she promised she would provide along with a recap. My notes were a lot more extensive (but I’m a super note taker).

Overall, this was a great experience and I no longer felt like I was in the dark with the direction I needed to go. I recommend that you utilize this service if you are uncertain with your filmmaking career. Click HERE if you are interested 🙂

Shivawn Hill, is a writer, director and a storyteller at heart. She’s currently in post production with her short documentary film. She believes that one day soon she’ll form the ultimate group of Storytellers who will travel the world to share the stories of creative peculiar people.