Andrea Meyerson on Clambake
By Megan Wadding, February 2016 Web Exclusive. Back to Echo’s Desperado 2016 coverage.
As part for the 2016 Desperado LGBT Film Festival, filmmaker and documentarian Andrea Meyerson is heading to the Valley.
Not only will her latest project, Clambake, will screen at Paradise Valley Community College’s Center for the Performing Arts Jan. 30, but Meyerson will also be in attendance for a Q&A session that will take place following the screening.
Clambake chronicles the history of the lesbian event, Women's Week in Provincetown, Massachusetts and the women who created it.
Meyerson spoke to Echo Magazine from her home in Los Angeles.
Echo: Your new documentary, Clambake, takes place in Provincetown and focuses on Women's Week. Seeing as you’re from Los Angeles, what is your tie to Provincetown?
Meyerson: I run an organization called Women on a Roll, and I take women traveling all over the world with it. We started in 1995 as a bicycle club, hence the name, but quickly became much more. One of our regular trips has been taking women to Women’s Week in Provincetown. I've been taking groups there every year for 18 years. We buy out one of the nicest inns.
Echo: How did you come up with the idea to make a film about Women’s Week?
Meyerson: When I was in Provincetown in 2013 with my group, we were celebrating the 29th anniversary of Women's Week. I realized that the next year would be the 30th, and that’s pretty historical. Being so moved by Women's Week and what it has meant to me and sharing with the women I take traveling, I wanted to get into how and why it started.
Echo: What were some of the challenges of bringing an event like Women's Week to the screen?
Meyerson: The biggest challenge was that back in the 1980s and even in the early 1990s, women went there to escape and to be able to be who they were and as a result, nobody took pictures. There certainly wasn’t any video or iPhones. It was a sanctuary, a place where women could be themselves. But since they were very closeted, there were very few photos capturing the early days of Women’s Week. It was a different world.
Echo: So, what did you end up having to do?
Meyerson: We called everybody that we could find that had been going all these years and nobody had photos. They just didn’t take photos of themselves being out. The good news was we had been able to get in touch with a lot of original innkeepers and a lot of the woman who had been going to Women's Week all of these years. The innkeepers had some photos.
Echo: Once you got photos and some footage, how did you decide from what angle to tell the story?
Meyerson: The story was told through the stories and any photos we could come up with. I got as creative as I could and I decided to tell it through the celebration of the 30th anniversary in 2014, and looking back and how it got to 30 years. We kind of worked today and then backwards.
Echo: What did you find was the most interesting part of documenting something so historic for the lesbian community?
Meyerson: I was able to interview of the original innkeepers, who are the co-founders of the event. I loved hearing their stories bringing them into the spotlight!
Echo: Why was the story of Women's Week so important for you to document and share with the world?
Meyerson: Thirty years of anything in our community is a long time and it needs to be celebrated and recognized, and it needs to go down in the history books. I'm honored that I got to bring these women into the spotlight and let the world know what they did when a time when nothing was easy to do as a women, let alone a lesbian.
Echo: Where did the title Clambake come from?
Meyerson: I was sitting in my office and started thinking about words that would conjure up images for that part of the world. The world "clambake" came to me and I thought it was perfect; double entendre and all! Then, as I started doing more research about Women's Week, I found out the first Women's Weekend was actually a clambake!
Echo: As founder and president of StandOut Productions, this is your 10th documentary. You've had projects covering everything from musicians to comediennes and everything in between. How do you choose your projects? From where do you draw your inspiration?
Meyerson: I've been making films and documentaries for a while. I’m always in search of what will move me to do another one. I always do documentaries about people. That is what moves me. I like telling those stories. What I loved about this film is that these women, the women who founded Women's Week and the Women’s Innkeepers of Provincetown, they couldn’t believe that someone took notice enough to make a story. They were so humble.
Echo: What did you do for the premiere of Clambake? And what is your plan for the film festival circuit?
Meyerson: I’m going to have a very aggressive tour with this film. The final cut was released in September [of 2015]. We premiered the final cut at film festivals in Edmonton, Canada and in Long Beach, Calif.. We had a big premiere during Women’s Week in October. Phoenix is the beginning of our 2016 tour.
Echo: What can attendees expect from the Clambake screening and Q&A session at the Desperado LGBT Film Festival?
Meyerson: They can expect to be thoroughly entertained! The film features most of our favorite comics: Kate Clinton, Vickie Shaw, Suzanne Westenhoefer, Karen Williams, Jennie McNulty, Poppy Champlin and Jessica Kirson. So, in addition to learning about the history of Women's Week, there's lots of laughs along the way. And I love meeting the audiences and they should feel free to ask me anything they'd like to know!
As part of the Desperado LGBT Film Festival, Clambake will screen at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 30. at Paradise Valley Community College’s Center for the Performing Arts, 18401 N. 32nd St. in Phoenix.
For more information on the Desperado LGBT Film Festival visit desperadofilmfestival.com or pick up the February Issue of Echo Magazine (out Jan. 21).