It’s time for another Grantee Highlight! This month’s featured grantee from our 2018-2019 Individual Artist grant cycle probably looks familiar, because we just wrote a feature in the “Fargo Forum” about her last week: filmmaker Stephanie Manesis!
Stephanie is the Director and Producer of her own film company, Zenlily Films. She received a grant from The Arts Partnership to help fund her film “Compassion on the Battlefield in WWII,” a 26-minute documentary highlighting courageous acts of compassion in World War II that “speak to the human spirit that exists in mankind, even when thrust into the most horrific circumstances,” the film description says. We’ve provided a link to our story about the film at the bottom of this post if you’d like to learn more!
Here are a few questions Stephanie answered for us about her creative process:
1. What is your greatest fear/challenge when facing a new project?
My greatest challenge is raising enough money for my documentaries. My documentary that I am currently working on will require about $50,000 to produce a top-notch quality 26-minute documentary short. I’ve raised $22k to date and still have a ways to go. It keeps me on my toes!
2. What do you do when you get stuck?
I remind myself that what I am doing is bigger than me. And that is it inspired by the Divine. I also replay my video footage to date, which always brings me to tears. It reminds me why I am doing this and why this documentary is so important. We need to get the word out about WWII and compassion on the battlefield while WWII veterans are still alive.
3. What advice would you give to someone starting out in the field?
You can absolutely make a documentary even if you’ve never been trained or have any experience. Just surround yourself with an amazing, experienced and/or dedicated team and you can make it happen! My other piece of advice would be to start fundraising more diligently earlier on in the process.
4. What was the most discouraging feedback you’ve ever received?
When people tell me I can’t raise the money for the documentary, I find it sad, but I don’t’ let their words stay in my head for long. I even had a loved one telling me perhaps I should throw in the towel. But I could never do this. I am determined to see this documentary to its fruition and raising the money to make it happen is what I need to do to make it a reality.
5. What was the most encouraging feedback you’ve ever received?
One of my advisory board members is Edward W. Wood Jr, the author of On Being Wounded and Worshipping the Myths of WWII. He is a WWII veteran who survived serious injuries from the war and now lives in Denver, CO. When he learned about my project and its progress, he said “The World Needs this Film!”. He reminds me of this periodically when we talk and it is a great motivator.
6. What would you be if you couldn’t be an artist?
This is an almost impossible question to answer as my artistic sensibilities are so strong. I did pursue a career in marketing for many years which addressed some of these creative needs. Perhaps that’s what I would still do if not pursuing art.
Thanks, Stephanie! To learn more about “Compassion on the Battlefield in WWII” or find out how you can donate to the film, click here.