We’re so psyched to bring you this edition of “MNN Diaries,” our popular web series that offers a look into the hearts and minds of the people creating the distinctive, important, community-driven programming you see on MNN. The beauty of “MNN Diaries” is in its simplicity: We ask MNN Community Producers the same five questions, and they write their answers, producing an essay that’s totally unique and representative of their experience in community media. As a whole, the series becomes a tapestry of the lives touched and stories told. We love it.
For this installment, we snagged the time and talent of Vanessa Corwin, the award-winning producer of MNN’s "HerFlix," a monthly program that offers reviews, interviews and coverage of TV and film from a woman’s perspective (check out the show's recent interviews with megastars Ellen Barkin and Robin Wright!). Asking Vanessa to write this, we knew "HerFlix" was a good fit for Women’s History Month. We just didn’t know how good. Read on to learn about the show’s dedication not just to the work of female filmmakers, but to advocating for more representation of women in the entertainment industry overall, both in front of and behind the camera.
What led you to MNN?
I was introduced to MNN when, as a member of NY Women In Film and Television, a group of us organized a post-9/11 “PSA Day”, for which we partnered with MNN to create PSAs for worthy NYC non-profit organizations. It was an eye-opening experience. As a freelance video producer, I was excited to learn about the resources MNN has to offer and wondered why it was such a huge secret to those of us in the media industries. Imagine, you can get free production training and opportunities to practice those skills that would normally cost big bucks at a film school or professional training institution! As a producer in the broadcast and corporate arenas, I always wanted to learn to be more “hands-on." I had found my perfect chance!
What have you learned—about the craft, about yourself—while creating a
TV show at MNN?
Since I started producing my show, “HerFlix,”(now in our third season) and working as a crew member on other producers’ shows, getting that Control Room certification opened a number of doors. First and foremost, I have met and crewed with many talented MNN producers who are dedicated to getting the word out about their passions. Some of these associations led to other collaborations. For example, I’ve had the good fortune to work with people like Will Sanchez, who is my technical director, editor extraordinaire and right hand on HerFlix. I served as producer on a special episode of Will’s show, “Gotta Run with Will” called “Save the Putnam Nature Trail.” We created a short version of that episode which garnered the “Best Indie Producer” award for Will and me at the 2013 International Film Festival Manhattan.
In terms of craft, I’m constantly honing my producer skills, learning to be a better director and working on improving my skills in the various control room positions. I discovered that I really like doing audio. It is an ongoing process -- you never stop learning. Production is a collaborative venture, and MNN certainly embodies that spirit. But MNN has something unique. It is a community of producers who support one another by working on each others' shows. I’m now producing my show out of the recently opened El Barrio Firehouse and love the intimacy and vibrant feeling of community of that facility. I am excited to be part of the new group of producers there.
I have also had the privilege of serving on MNN’s Board of Directors for the past several years. I’m currently Board Secretary. As I look to the conclusion of my Board term this fall, I must say that having the opportunity to get to know Dan Coughlin, MNN’s talented staff and fellow board members and the experience of helping to guide the organization have added a major dimension to my experiences at MNN.
How would you like your show to impact your audience?
"HerFlix" is a monthly program that presents movie and TV reviews, interviews, coverage of film festivals and more from a woman’s perspective. We use a “Siskel and Ebert” type format with two hosts/ reviewers discussing and rating each film. We strive to bring to light unique viewpoints, and raise awareness of films by and about women that general audiences might not be aware of. We provide our take on big blockbuster films, too. We advocate for equality for women in the entertainment industries. Statistics show that representation of women in key positions in mainstream film and television is still pretty dismal and we will continue to raise public awareness of this situation.
How has MNN changed your life, present and future?
MNN has changed my present and future because it is a venue for dissemination of issues that individuals consider important. Thus, I get to stand on my soap box and promote equality for women in the entertainment fields while also presenting some interesting movie reviews, interviews and film festival reports which we hope our audiences will find entertaining. It is a venue for exploration of new concepts and learning new broadcast technologies. Through MNN, I have gained an extended group of colleagues, new friends and new skills. And as a board member, it has been an honor to participate in helping to lead MNN toward a vibrant, successful future in our complex, sometimes crazy but constantly changing media landscape.
In three words, why do you love the work you do at MNN?
It’s great fun!