“Growing where you’re planted” and other lessons Robert Osborne taught us

As classic movie fans descended on Hollywood Boulevard for the 8th annual Turner Classic Movies Film Festival, feelings of excitement, love, and anticipation filled the air. The Hollywood Roosevelt, the main headquarters of the festival, is decked out in the warm hues of this year’s banner images claiming this section of Hollywood and Vine as “TCM town” for the weekend. It all adds to the anticipation of the next three days yet there is an empty feeling all of us are trying to shake: this is the first festival since the passing of Robert Osborne.

The first official TCMFF event I attended was “Remembering Robert” a panel featuring long-time colleagues sharing stories about the man all of us loved but many of us never even met. I’ll admit I was hesitant to attend simply for the fact that I did not want to be a sobbing mess but then I realized this was the chance to learn about the man Robert Osborne was by the work family who knew him best.

Remembering Robert panel

Sean Cameron, Vice President of production at Turner, Gary Freedman, a TCM producer, Ann Wilson, Osborne’s longtime director and producer, actress and longtime friend Diane Baker, and Charlie Tabesh, TCM’s head of programming who worked with Osborne for over 20 years. Each of them shared beautiful stories about Robert that humanized him in ways I didn’t expect. I learned the Robert Osborne you saw on tv was even more warm, thoughtful, and caring in real life. “He was always considering the other person, all the years I knew him, ” Diane Baker said. We learned Robert was in ill health in his final weeks of life but made a point to reach out to those he loved to say goodbye. One of the last things he told Baker was, “No sad songs for me. I’ve had a great life. It’s been a wonderful, wonderful life so don’t be sad.” It’s inspiring to hear Robert Osborne lived life on his terms and was able to fulfill his dreams, a sentiment he passed on to his friends, colleagues, and even us fans. Robert Osborne died the way he lived with the utmost dignity. He had control over his life and left on his terms. He took producer Gary Freedman under his wing and became a mentor. Freedman told us the best advice he ever received came from Robert when he told him, “Grow where you’re planted.”

As a colleague, Robert was a man who helped lift everyone up. He may have been the face of TCM but he didn’t act like it. Programmer Charlie Tabesh shared how he treated everyone with respect.

“Robert had a monthly ‘Bob’s Picks’ (block) that we worked with him every month to get his collections. For the most part, and really to his credit, he knew so much more about classic movies than we all did but he didn’t really interfere for programming. He took what was programmed and was respected it,” Tabesh said.

As TCM fans, we expect nothing less from Robert. On the channel you saw his compassion and interest in everyone he interviewed from Hollywood legends like Shirley MacLaine to even Kermit the Frog. We did learn that one person actually ‘intimidated’ him and it’s someone you may not expect. It was Judge Judy. Robert was a big fan of her show. And while interviewing Hollywood legends was his job, he was just a fan like the rest of us. Legendary French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo was a guest at one of the earliest TCM Film Festivals. One of Robert’s colleagues told us that after the interview, Robert was giddy as a kid exclaiming, “I can’t believe we got Jean-Paul Belmondo!!” Classic movie historians, they’re just the rest of us!

I express my deepest condolences to Robert’s colleagues and Diane Baker. Despite this tragedy, it’s beautiful to see how they are following his example. Even during this difficult time, they are sharing their love of film and Robert with all of us this weekend. Every staffer I’ve spoken with has been unbelievably warm and friendly. Robert would be so proud.

For more TCMFF coverage, follow me on Twitter at @thedameupstairs and on Instagram at @flickin_out

What’s in my bag and other tips for TCMFF

I can’t believe the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival is only days away! I’m so excited for all the films and to visit California but mostly, I can’t wait to meet so many people I’ve connected with through this blog and on Twitter in real life. The other day I asked the good people of Twitter for tips on surviving TCMFF. As a newbie, who is also covering the event, my schedule is STACKED to say the least but it’s an exhilarating feeling. This feels like the Super Bowl and Comic-Con rolled into one.

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Looking at the schedule of films there is one that jumps out at everyone when they scroll through it: when will I eat? A fun fact about me is that I don’t like popcorn. Yep, the most iconic food when it comes to going to the movies and I don’t like it. Another fun fact is that I actually don’t enjoy eating at the movies. When I’m at the movies, I like the film to transport me into its world and eating distracts me from that. However, I love food and I will definitely need some things to munch on waiting in line. TCM veterans have told me to pack snacks and also a water bottle to hydrate throughout the day. California is pretty pricy so I’m working ahead to try and save at the festival plus I don’t exactly know what’s in the vicinity of the event so I’d rather save myself an extra headache. Speaking of headaches, I think it’s important to have ibuprofen on hand, you never know where a headache will strike.

TCMFF veterans have told me the Hollywood and Highland Center across from where TCMFF is happening has a lot of restaurants and a Starbucks. I also heard there’s an In-N-Out burger a few blocks down. If you have some down time and want to eat but don’t have anyone to eat with, the lovely Kate Gabrielle has suggested using the hashtag  to find someone to dine with and make new friends. I’m a rather introverted person but this is a great idea. I want to meet so many of you in person and share our love of classic film.

Some other things on my packing list include:

  • sunscreen
  • antibac
  • a camera
  • sunglasses
  • a portable mobile phone charger
  • a blanket or jacket
  • hair tie
  • cash
  • umbrella or poncho (you never know)

Although the venues seem pretty close to each other, there’s going to be a lot of walking and standing in line which means…comfortable shoes are a must. There is a red carpet gala and closing night party where special occasion wear is recommended but perhaps instead of heels women can opt for wedges or the most comfortable heels they can find. I’ve packed comfortable clothes with a classic movie twist. I can’t wait to see people in vintage clothing and hopefully some classic movie cosplay. People are so creative and I love it.

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A look at what will be in my Gone with the Wind themed tote I’ll be bringing to TCMFF

If you have any other tips that I’ve forgotten to mention, please add them in the comments. Here are some other survival guides that I hope will be very useful to you in planning for TCMFF.

Son of the TCMFF Survival Guide – Chris’ fantastic post has been my bible for TCMFF for the past few weeks as I get ready for the main event.

Will McKinley’s Obsessive Compulsive Guide to TCMFF – It’s from 2014 but it’s relevant today.

See you in Hollywood!

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I’m headed off to Hollywood! My picks for TCMFF

It’s been a long time in the making but this time next week I will be in Hollywood for my first ever Turner Classic Movies Film Festival! To say I’m excited doesn’t even do all of the emotions I’m feeling justice. It’s been a dream of mine to attend ever since I heard the first one was announced. Not only will I be attending but I’ll be taking you along for the ride covering the event here on my blog and on social media. I’m really excited to meet so many people and geek out over classic cinema.

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My plans laid out for the TCMFF

My journey will begin with some media events that include a press conference on the day preceding the event and the TCM classic movie locations tour bright and early on the first day of the festival. The festival begins Thursday, April 6th. It’s dedicated to the late Robert Osborne and TCM staffers will share their memories of him at a special event called Remembering Robert that will be sure to draw tears but more importantly allow fans to gather to celebrate the life of a man who gave us so much.

To pay homage to Cameron at Blonde at the Film, to the films!

Thursday will be a light day for me. I plan to attend either the 6 PM screening of the William Powell-Myrna Loy comedy Love Crazy or the nitrate presentation of Hitchcock’s 1939 The Man Who Knew Too Much. 

Here comes Friday, the first full day of films!

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I expected all of the films to just be comedies so I was bracing for Abbott and Costello and Martin and Lewis films but to my delight TCM added musicals, dramas, and other titles with categories such as The Essentials, taking a nod from their popular franchise to mix up the lineup. I love this choice as I am someone who likes variety. I will start the day off with the John Huston cult classic Beat the Devil. This film has fascinated and eluded me for years. Finding it on some form of dvd that isn’t a terrible transfer is hard enough so I can’t pass up the opportunity to see it in a theater. The tough decision is that this forbids me to see one of the three William Holden films being shown at the festival. Yes, I am cheating on my classic movie husband with Jennifer Jones and Humphrey Bogart, two costars of his that famously did not get along with him during the productions of Love is a Many-Splendored Thing and Sabrina respectively. I think somewhere Bill will forgive me. After Beat the Devil, I will take in the Marx Brothers classic Monkey Business. I’ve never seen this film and I feel like at a festival honoring comedy, seeing a Marx Brothers film is a must. At 5 PM I have a makeup date with Bill at the screening of The Bridge on the River Kwai. I can not wait to see this David Lean epic the way it was meant to be seen! If you’ve been following news of the festival you know the evening of Friday has the toughest choices! A screening of High Anxiety with Mel Brooks in attendance, Laura on nitrate, Cat People, Twentieth Century and Those Redheads from Seattle. For me it comes down to High Anxiety and Laura. This is so tough because I’m a Mel Brooks fan but I also LOVE Laura. Laura, to me, is the definitive film that made me fall in love with classic cinema. It’s probably my favorite of all time and I’ve never seen it on the big screen! But I know there will be opportunities to see it some form on the big screen with Noir City festivals and the fact that I have resources to theaters that show classic films so I have to go with Mr. Brooks. Seeing him in person is something I know I won’t have the opportunity to do again so I must take the chance. After that, I’ll see Zardoz at midnight because how can anyone pass up the chance to watch Sean Connery in whatever this is below?

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To Saturday! Saturday morning is another tough spot but I’m going with my love of William Holden and checking out Stalag 17. I’ve never seen this film on the big screen and have seen Arsenic and Old Lace. The other choice that I considered was This is Cinerama but unfortunately I don’t do very well with giant immersive screens so Bill it is. After that I’m headed to Club TCM to take in the presentation of The Art of Subtitling and then I’ll stay there for A Conversation with Lee Grant. I’ll round out the evening with Best in Show and Black Narcissus. I’ve never seen Black Narcissus ever so I am elated that my first time will be in nitrate.

And just like that the festival is almost over on Sunday. 😦 What? I thought we just got started?!?! A lot of Sunday is still up in the air due to TBA screenings. Who knows maybe they’ll bring Laura back? A girl can dream! I’m starting my Sunday a little bit later with A Conversation with Leonard Maltin at Club TCM. Maltin is one of my film heroes so I hope I’m able to snag a good seat for this presentation. After that I’ll head to The Palm Beach Story, one of my favorite comedies of all time. Then it’s off to a tribute to Debbie Reynolds with Singin’ in the Rain introduced by her son, Todd Fisher and then I’ll end TCMFF with The Lady in the Dark, a musical starring Ginger Rogers and Ray Milland on nitrate. The Major and the Minor is one of my favorite films so I look forward to seeing their second pairing.

And that’s a wrap! WOW! I can’t wait for my first TCM Film Festival experience. If you’ve been before and have any tips, please feel free to share them in the comments! I look forward to meet you all in Hollywood! Also, a few PSA’s, TCM has created a special app for the event that you can download on both iTunes and Google Play and if you want a printable version of the schedule, the fabulous Kate Gabrielle has created one here.

Want to see where your other favorite bloggers will be? Check out their picks below:

Journeys in Classic Film

Cinema Crossroads

Once Upon A Screen

Silents and Talkies’ guide to rarities at the TCM Film Festival

Silents and Talkies: My TCMFF Schedule

The Nitrate Diva’s picks via Periscope

Out of the Past

Joel’s Classic Film Passion

Pre-Code.com

Backlots

Christy’s Inkwells

Blog of the Darned

I See A Dark Theater

Thirty Hertz Rumble

The Hollywood Revue

The importance of the neighborhood arthouse cinema

Since graduating from college in 2008, I’ve lived in six different cities. Always for work. When researching a new city one of the first things I search for is the arthouse cinema. Okay, so maybe cost of living and crime are also up there but finding a community that also understands my love of film is very important to me. I currently live in Miami, Florida and I’m so grateful for Coral Gables Art Cinema.

Coral Gables Art Cinema makes me feel right at home. Not only do they play foreign and documentary films but they are also committed to showing classic movies. During my first week in Miami, the cinema was hosting a Preston Sturges week and I went to every screening. Not only did they show the films but they had an introduction by a passionate film fan. That’s nothing new but the man who introduced it was friendly, knowledgeable, and you could tell he wanted to be there. I love when passion for film just fills the room and it made being in a new city less scary.

Since then I’ve seen a 4K restoration of It Happened One Night and countless other classics, buzzed about Oscar worthy films that aren’t available in other theaters in my city, and even a Paul Henreid double feature that featured Casablanca on 35 mm where I had the opportunity to interview his daughter. There is always something interesting and unique happening at the bustling theater that’s in the heart of Miracle Mile. On March 21st, they will show a special 50th anniversary presentation of the romantic dramedy Two for the Road. This is a unique film in Audrey Hepburn’s oeuvre. Long gone is the ingenue, as Joanna Wallace, she’s an adult woman in a rocky 12-year-marriage with Albert Finney learning to cope with the growing indifferences between her and her husband.

This film is notable for its use of nonlinear storytelling. Before Pulp Fiction and Blue Valentine, Two for the Road is considered one of the first to use this method effectively. The film is directed by Stanley Donen, known for his work on numerous musicals such as Singin’ in the Rain and Funny Face as well as the ‘Hitchcock film the master of suspense didn’t direct’ Charade.  Donen is the last of the great golden age Hollywood directors. He will celebrate his 93rd birthday this year. On the surface, the film seems like a departure for both Donen and Hepburn but their charms make it work. It’s one of my favorite Hepburn performances because of her honesty. She always had it but here she uses it to add humanity to a complex woman. This may be the only character she portrayed that is both likeable and unlikeable at the same time.

This special screening of Two for the Road is an example of why I love Coral Gables Art Cinema. They’ll have sold out screenings of Casablanca but they’ll also fit lesser known classics into their schedule. I spoke with Associate Director Javier Chavez about the theater’s mission and what he told me is why I will continue to be a loyal patron.

“The interesting thing about films from the 1930s and so on is, in the same way that we talk about how foreign films aren’t so dissimilar to what we’re experiencing here in the U.S. is that their struggles are not that dissimilar to what we’re experiencing here in the present day. Many, many of those films have themes that are universal and in keeping that perspective we’re going to connect and that’s really important. Beyond that —these films laid the foundation for modern cinema. They invented new styles of editing, shooting, and acting. To not be able to show them to an audience in 2017, to not experience that on the big screen, the way they’re meant to be seen would be a tragedy. We value them for what they can teach us and we pride ourselves on being able to show them to new audiences and to ones revisiting them.”

Îf you live in Miami, you can catch Two for the Road at 7:00 pm on March 21st. You can purchase tickets here.

A Women’s History Month Reading Guide for Classic Film Fans

March is Women’s History Month and the 8th of this month is International Women’s Day. While it’s important to watch films created by strong women, with strong female leads, it’s also important to read about them too. Feud, the miniseries currently on FX exploring the relationship between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, has been met with some resistance by members of the classic film community because of its revisit to a topic that’s been discussed over and over again. After I watched the first episode I was impressed by how it showcased the deep levels of sexism these respected actresses faced in their careers. Davis and Crawford are well known for breaking away from the expectations imposed on them because of their gender but they weren’t the only women to make a difference in classic Hollywood. Below are a list of books that tell the story of glass ceiling breakers in the classic era.

 

A Woman’s View: How Hollywood Spoke to Women, 1930-1960

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Jeanine Basinger examines the realm of the so-called “women’s pictures” of the classic era and the messages they sent to their audience. These pictures cross all genres from screwball comedies to even film noirs. I sometimes want to throw this book at people who claim that classic films never featured strong female leads. Um hello? Have you even seen a Barbara Stanwyck picture? The book focuses from the 1930’s to 1960 with a close examination of stars such as Kay Francis, Loretta Young, and Miriam Hopkins. I appreciate its attention to these secondary actresses because it goes to show that Stanwyck, Crawford, Davis, and Katharine Hepburn weren’t the only crop of leading ladies around portraying these characters. Basinger is also very effective at putting these films and tropes into historical context that makes you wonder why this debate is still going on in the first place. Oh Hollywood, will you ever learn?

Without Lying Down: Francis Marion and the Powerful women of Early Hollywood

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Without Lying Down serves as both a biography of Francis Marion as well as a look at the formation of early Hollywood and its key players: Mary Pickford, Marie Dressler, and Irving Thalberg. Marion was one of the most influential screenwriters in movie history. So much so that’s she often credited for being the one who gave Hollywood its voice. She wrote almost 200 produced films and won Academy Awards for writing The Big House and The Champ. Marion was Hollywood’s highest paid screenwriter for almost three decades. Her background was in journalism. She even served in Europe as a combat correspondent during World War I. I think what most people will be surprised to learn is how well respected she was and how many women like her during this time actually more freedom than one might think when it came to her work. It was obviously much different for women in other parts of the country.

Pickford: The woman who made Hollywood 

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Eileen Whitefield’s Pickford: The Woman who made Hollywood is, in my opinion, the best account of this pioneer’s life. Pickford led an extraordinary life. In addition to being an actress, she was also a writer, businesswoman and at 27 co-founded United Artists, the first independent film distribution company. Contrary to the adolescent women with fringy hair she portrayed onscreen, Pickford was a brilliant businesswoman. The impact she had on all aspects of cinema’s early era is inspiring. I left this book truly impressed by what one person accomplished in their life during the formation of an industry that no one had much hope for.

Women in Film Noir Revised Edition by E. Ann Kaplan

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Women in Film Noir is a collection of essays examining the complex female characters brought to life in film noirs. I always loved the complex dames that populate the seedy underworld of noir. They’re often much more interested than the main plots. As a teenager when noir was everything I watched I found myself rooting for these women even if they turned out to be the villains in the end, they were just more fun to watch. These essays go beyond the femme fatale box by delving deeper into tropes and themes in such essential films like Gilda to more modern noirs like Klute and L.A. Confidential. Multiple editions exist so as long as noirs keep getting made, we can expect this book to grow.

Rita Moreno: A memoir 

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Rita Moreno is an icon. The Puerto Rican trailblazer is one of the only 12 people to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and a Tony and she did it the fastest. She’s had a colorful life by all accounts and is still working. Her hit show One Day at a Time was just renewed for a second season by Netflix. As candid as she is in interviews, she gives us even more in her autobiography Rita Moreno: A Memoir. This is one of the best autobiographies I’ve ever read. Moreno is such an engrossing storyteller. I felt like I was in her living room and she was telling all these amazing stories about life in Hollywood in the 50s and 60s. I also appreciated how Moreno didn’t water down some of the darker aspects of her life including racism, misogyny, and an attempted suicide. The book is incredibly revealing but always dignified. Moreno more than anything is a survivor who is still kicking it. A reina indeed.

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Robert Osborne: The friend I never met

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Robert Osborne helped me fall in love with Gene Tierney, Betty Grable, William Holden, film noir, technicolor, William Wyler, Howard Hawks, and so many other icons of cinema.

Robert Osborne comforted me during times of sadness and unease.

Robert Osborne made a young girl who loved classic movies and was bullied for it feel less alone.

Robert Osborne explained that the movies were best seen on the big screen.

Robert Osborne was the best film history teacher I ever had.

Robert Osborne has had a profound impact on my life but I never got to tell him. I never met Robert Osborne but throughout the past 20 years of my life he was always there on my tv screen. Robert was my quintessential classic movie buddy. As a classic film scholar and fan, he was the link to a world that is now gone. When he introduced each film on TCM, not only was he passionate and respectful of Hollywood, he lived it. He knew the men and women he was talking about.

It’s hard to put into words just what Robert Osborne means to me. His work even inspired me to create this blog. I am so grateful that he and TCM were brought into my life. TCM isn’t just television, it’s a family and Robert is the grandfather gathering us around for story time sharing his wisdom. His gentle presence is what made him stand above all others. Robert wasn’t just a host, he was a storyteller. What I’ll miss so much is his respect for each and every movie he introduced. Robert understood each film’s place in history. No film was ever “beneath him.” He didn’t just know everything about movies, he cared about them and wanted to share that passion.

This afternoon when I heard the news of his passing I felt like I lost a family member. His absence has been felt in my life for the last year as his intros ceased on TCM due to his declining health. Despite hearing news of frequently canceled engagements, I hoped he’d be back in his rightful place on that chair in the TCM living room with his TCM bistro mug by his side. But it wasn’t meant to be. Having an interest in classic cinema I’m used to loss. When I discovered many of my favorite actors and actresses they were already dead some for over 30 years. Now there aren’t many left. It hurts but they’ll always be with us thanks to technology. It’s a comforting thought but the emptiness will remain.

I spent the day thinking about lonely nights that were made better with Robert’s presence on my tv screen and how so many of my favorite talents were introduced to me by him. A Robert Osborne bobblehead sits on my desk and fills me with the same comfort of his intros. The best thing I think we can all do during this time is to continue to watch the movies and be the Robert Osborne to people in our lives. The world is in a dark place and it’s important to find escape once in a while. Robert said it best in an interview on CBS Sunday Morning last year:

“I think we have to have dreams. We need a little Carmen Miranda with all her tutti frutti hats. We need to be taken into a fantasy world, and not be afraid to go there occasionally.”

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Rest in peace Robert. While you may not have been in my life physically, your presence was always felt.

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Interview with artist, entrepreneur, and classic movie fan Kate Gabrielle

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The artist herself Kate Gabrielle courtesy of Instagram @kategabrielle

Last Christmas I made a list of gift ideas for classic movie fans. There was one item on the list that stood out from the rest and it was a enamel pin of The Maltese Falcon. I love enamel pins, actually I’ve become a little obsessive over them. There are so many creative artists out there making great work that my pin game has exploded the last few months. Kate Gabrielle is one of my favorite artists. Her shop has a fun assortment of classic movie-related pins as well as art related to old Hollywood, contemporary film art, and feminist themed prints. Kate Gabrielle also runs a classic movie blog. We met on Twitter bonding over our love of classics. Her shop also include calendars, notecards, and other gifts.

For TCM fans attending TCMFF, Kate is the go-to girl for buttons. The festival is now a month away and this will be my first one. I noticed that many festival goers wear a myriad of buttons with their names or their favorite actors. I decided to reach out to Kate to not only learn more about her, her work and her process but what’s the deal with these buttons.

Check out our interview below:

1. For those who aren’t familiar with your fabulous shop and work, can you give me a short description of what types of art and products you create.

Most of the art I make falls into one of three categories—punny paintings, black and white line drawings of 1920’s flapper characters I created, or pop culture/classic movie inspired art. I sell art prints, but lately I’ve been concentrating more on my accessories like buttons, enamel pins, and patches.

2. When did you become a classic movie fan? Who are some of your favorite classic film stars and why?

It all started when AMC aired How to Steal a Million over the holiday break when I was 13 years old. I became instantly obsessed with classic movies and Audrey Hepburn! My dad took me to Hollywood Video (a Blockbuster-like chain) and I rented every single Audrey movie that they had. And the rest is history 😉

My favorite stars now are Barbara Stanwyck and Alain Delon. I love Stany because I think she was the most talented actress in Hollywood … she has such a natural, effortless way of acting that is so believable. When she’s in comedies she’s hilarious, and when she’s in dramas she can break your heart into a thousand pieces. She is just SO good. And Alain Delon… sigh… I just love looking at him, lol!

I also have to throw a shout out to some of my other favorites because, I’m sure any classic movie fan would agree with me, it’s VERY hard to narrow it down!! I also love Julie Christie, Dirk Bogarde, Ronald Colman, Robert Montgomery, Joan Blondell, Chishū Ryū, Monica Vitti, Anna Karina, Emmanuelle Riva, and Charles Boyer.

3. A lot of people in the classic film community know you because of your awesome button sets for TCMFF. The button sets are so much fun. When did you start creating them?

Thank you 🙂 Last year, Raquel from Out of the Past suggested that I make a social media name-tag button so that people who know each other in the online film community could meet up at the festival, and I decided to expand that into a set of buttons.

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Classic movie bloggers Aurora, Kelle, and Theresa with their pins. Photo by Kelle Pratt via Instagram

4. For those of us who haven’t been to the festival, what’s the deal with pins? Is there a pin trading program or is it more of a grassroots way to meet other people?

I wish there was a pin trading program, that would be awesome! But it’s more of a way to connect with the people that you know online. There’s a group of festival-goers on Facebook who have had me make a special button three years in a row so they can all recognize each other in Hollywood. And then there’s my TCMFF set with the social media button. I personally love including the other buttons (one shows off how many years you’ve attended and the other seven highlight features at the festival) because they’re relevant even if you aren’t on social media. They’re fun souvenirs that are specific to the year you’re wearing them. Like this year’s set includes a 75th anniversary Casablanca button set. It won’t be available again next year, it’s exclusive to the 2017 festival 🙂

5. But these types of pins aren’t the only ones you do! I’m a big fan of your new lapel pin collection and my readers know this because I listed The Maltese Falcon pin as one of the must haves for a classic film fan last Christmas. I’m so happy that you moved into the lapel pin realm. Where do you get your inspiration?

Thank you so much! I get my inspiration from the things I love, so mostly classic movies, haha! My rule is I only design things I would want myself, so I tend to stick with movies, dinosaurs, cats, and feminism. I hired my brother to manage the “business” side of my business last year and he often has to reign in how many classic movie themed pins I produce since they aren’t quite as popular as my other designs. They probably account for 90% of my ideas but only like 10% of my finished pins. But I’m always trying to sneak more classic movie designs into my lapel pin production orders because honestly I just want to wear more of them myself 😉

6. You also have some great artwork and calendars. I really love how you give a modern twist to classic cinema. I’m always surprised to meet so many classic movie fans online, did it surprise you to see such a big response for your work? 

I think I might have a different perspective on the response to my work (I wouldn’t call it big, haha!) but I appreciate each and every person who likes my designs! 🙂 I will say though that I was also very surprised to see how many classic movie fans there are online! I was bullied in middle school for liking “dead actors” and was kind of a loner because of my interest in film. It wasn’t until I was already in my 20’s that I discovered that so many people (including young people!) shared my love of classic movies. It’s so heartwarming to me to know that teenagers getting interested in film history now have this enormous online community to welcome them with open arms.

7. I love your feminist artwork. Seeing these have really helped me cope with the tough times we’re dealing with currently. Are there certain actresses that you gravitate to as feminist heroes or certain films that have given you inspiration with everything that’s happening with the current political climate?

Absolutely! Barbara Stanwyck is someone I always turn to when I need a little feminist pick-me-up, especially her pre-codes. She’s so spunky! And while certain movies have always been political touchstones to me (like Meet John Doe) I’ve found myself revisiting movies that suddenly seem relevant when they hadn’t before… like Born Yesterday and The Great Dictator.

I recently revisited Ever in My Heart, a 1930’s film that takes place during WWI, and there’s a scene where anti-German-immigrant sentiment reaches a boiling point and a family dog gets murdered. I’ve seen the movie countless times and that scene always broke my heart, but suddenly it seemed so timely and poignant.

To quote Meet John Doe, I think movies are “lighthouses in a foggy world.”

8. For those of us who haven’t been to TCMFF what are some things we should pack or know about to prepare in advance?

The main thing I’d recommend is bringing something to keep you warm in the theaters. It can get SO COLD in there! I’ve seen people bring snuggies even! It’s usually warm outside in Hollywood in the spring, so I dress for the warm weather and pack a blanket in my tote bag.

Also, most people don’t eat. I’m only slightly kidding, haha! I personally take time to eat dinner every single day, even though it means missing movies. But most people don’t do that, so if you want to squeeze in as many films as possible make sure you stop at a grocery store and pick up healthy snacks to keep on hand so you can munch during the movies instead of taking a break. You don’t want to survive on popcorn alone, and you don’t want to go home sick, so preparing your food situation ahead of time is really important.

9. And finally for those who want to order a TCMFF pin set, how can we and what’s the cut off date to get them in time for the festival?

The button set is available in my shop here and my cut-off date is March 24th. I’d really advise ordering as soon as possible though (especially if you don’t live in the US) since I make the sets by hand and they need to travel through the mail to get to you. I don’t bring buttons or my button maker with me to the festival, so I won’t have them on me there. They’re only available on my website.

Many thanks to Kate Gabrielle for taking the time to answer my interview questions. Her shop is fabulous and her art will make any classic movie fan’s day.

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