5Q's w/Alicia Wszelaki "The Newsletter" Director

#1: Can you describe your movie and why somebody should see it in less than 140 characters?

A Japan housewife builds an international magazine. After 30 years of publication, she must then reckon with what it means to be successful.

#2: What do you want the Borrego FilmFestival audience to know about your film that isn’t obvious from its title?

A person’s passion to create something can originate from many motivations in life.  Yasuko, the publisher of the newsletter featured in this documentary, is no different.  The philosophies of her life and of her staff offer insight about why her magazine is the way it is.

In a more meaningful way, however, “The Newsletter” also offers a perception as to why those that have a desire to create something, do so; no matter how modest or grandiose; no matter the odds or the consequences.

#3: What is your movie making background?  Tell us about yourself.

Traveling the world has been my career.  Hosting and producing travel films for Lonely Planet TV as well as Condé Nast Video has been a highlight.  Whatever got me on the road, the road is where you could find me.  However, my journeys haven’t always been for media production.

For example, while spending 46 days walking around Japan’s fourth largest island, Shikoku (1200km), and experiencing the Pilgrimage of The 88 Sacred Temples, that adventure didn’t include a motion picture camera in my backpack.

These days, along with my husband Matthew, (co-director of “The Newsletter”) we’re owners of the media company Path 88 Productions. The speciality of Path 88 is producing travel related documentaries and films.  Our residence is Borrego Springs, CA.  After visiting all corners of the planet it’s easy for us to admit Borrego Springs is one of the most beautiful places on it.

#4: What was the biggest lesson learned in getting your film made?

Learning that everyone, no matter who they are, has profound stories to share.  This has been a quiet revelation. We all relate to each other.  Discovering that emotional universal attachment between people, regardless of culture, is wonderful.  Understanding it and applying it to storytelling is a fascinating process.  Making stories that connect people to this bond is not easy. Becoming more accomplished in this aspect of filmmaking means a lot to me and my husband.

Also, we made “The Newsletter” by ourselves.  Using two of our small consumer stills cameras, that also shoot video, we followed our protagonist around as long as it took to capture the footage.  After that, it was a matter of putting in a lot of sweat-equity into the post-production process.  Aside from the travel cost, the budget of the film was zero dollars.  We made it with what we had.  The largest expenses have been the fees we pay to submit the film to various festivals.

The fact that documentarians can create movies these days with nothing more than basically their ambition is wildly inspiring.

#5: What does the future hold for your film and you?

We have a few fun ideas for new films, as well as two other films already in the can, so there’s always a lot to do!

In the meantime, being able to screen “The Newsletter” in front of film festival audiences is very exciting.  It gives us the opportunity to understand what works and doesn’t work with the narrative we’ve built.  Taking this wisdom forward in our careers keeps us energized for making more documentaries.

Matthew Nothelfer3 Comments