'We are shining a light on the folks," says Brooke Tansley, executive artistic director of the newly launched Folklight Film Club. A Sonoma County–based film production company, Folklight has created the first wine club–inspired experience to be centered on making a movie.
Tansley, a veteran actress and producer who previously heralded the Sonoma Laughfest, got the idea after getting to know the wine industry through her husband's work in the North Bay.
"We started seeing parallels between the entertainment industry and wine," Tansley says. "The purpose of storytelling as a tradition is to strengthen the bonds of a community through experiences and wisdom, and to pass that on. The values in fine winemaking are the same thing."
For Tansley, wine is all about the shared moments between people—much like the experience of seeing a film in a packed theater. "I started thinking," she says, "what if we made a wine club, but we made movies instead?"
Similar to the way a wine club offers members exclusive access to a winery and special events not available to the public, Folklight Film Club's plan is to feature behind-the-scenes access to filmmaking. For a quarterly fee, members can participate in and influence a full-length feature film production from script to screen.
The first thing club members will do is share their own ideas and/or personal experiences that they would like to see on the big screen. From there, Folklight will commission a professional screenwriter to craft a script that will then get the full filmmaking treatment. Other scheduled film club events include a cast and crew panel discussion, a concert featuring music from an original soundtrack for the film, a gallery viewing of art inspired by the film and eventually a red carpet premiere.
Tansley points out that this community-driven model of filmmaking is antithetical to traditional filmmaking, where a single writer, director and studio come up with an idea and then go about producing it. "We are creating the infrastructure to making the film before the film exists," she says.
Membership enrollment is open now to residents of Sonoma, Napa, Marin and Mendocino counties, though space is limited and enrollment closes after the summer. The two-year membership, including all the events and engagement, is $79 quarterly and discounts are available for making yearly or one-time payments, and for pairs or groups.
"What we're going to end up with is a feature film that we are calling the first farm-to-table film, or work of 'film terroir,'" says Tansley, who admits she has no idea at this point what filmic possibilities could come from this endeavor.
"We are going to have a film that is going to capture who these people are at this place and at this time. It's going to be really exciting to see what story we end up telling."
For more details on Folklight Film Club and to sign up now, visit folklightfilmclub.com.