“The Woodmans” C. Scott Willis, director
In an interview with Ron Messner form the Tribeca film festival he was embarrassed to say that when showing his piece there, it was actually the first film festival he had attended and the first one that he had shown his work in as well. It was clear that Willis is passionate about his subjects, The Woodman’s. He speaks of them very highly in his interview calling them “ they’re amazing people. They’re amazing artist. They’re very smart” it is very important to him to try to tell their story in the most truthful light, but also illuminate and honor their story. He actually stumbled onto the idea for the story when he ran into them at a friend’s house and was talking to them about their daughters getting together. This is when he first found out about their tragedy. This conversation was very uncomfortable for them because they were not good at talking about the death of their daughter. After he left that night he went home and looked up Francesca’s work and decided to share their story.
While being clear and concise Willis gets right to the point of their story. He starts of with interviews of the family members friends, sharing memories and different part of their lives growing up and their relationship with Francesca and her work. While drawing the viewer into their lives he brings you right into Francesca’s work, flashing through some of her more well known works, he also brings in some more un-famous pieces. Shots of her diary and small phrases pulled from her journal get pulled up to the front. Various video clips show Francesca taping herself while shooting a piece of an interesting movement, sometimes her boyfriend, Benjamin, her friends. It is clearly evident that she was very interested in documenting her life. She poured her energy into her work and remained very involved, she had this enormous amount of sophistication in her creative eye. George mentions that he had a very positive relationship with his daughter, she was very talented, he admired her, and found her interesting. “If Francesca didn’t deserve the recognition of her work, hen I would be mad” George had said as he talks about his daughters’ fame as an incredible photographer. It is interesting however that all three members of the family all have different out looks on her fame. Betty says that they always had a competiveness vibe to the family, but of course they did, they were a family of aspiring artist all fight for recignition of their works. “ sometimes when I thought about her fame it frustrated me because I would think, hey im an artist too (Betty).” Charlie was just happy that people could enjoy her work for its quality and originality and not nto the story that was attached to it.
Francesca was actually always a very happy person, and was a little different growing up but as her friends talk about their memories they shared with her, they just postive. She was mostly remembered as a matured artist far ahead of her peers, she consumed herself in her work and was very passionate and clear about the ideas that she wanted to convey in her work. When she attempted suiced for the first time she did not succeed, hoever she had left a note behind explaiing that she would rather die young with her accomlishments that were already made. She was very rpoud of her work, she was making exactally what she wanted, but she might have been discourgaged that she was unable to find her nitch in New York with a career that could involve photography and the kind of work she enjoyed making. Truth was photography wasn’t to popular at the time, yet she found a fashion photography studio, yet was turned down because of the kind of work she was creating. Studies of her work now shows that her work didn’t fit into that age, but is very relivant tday and a lot of work created now is inspired by hers own. She was just ahead of the time. Professors that had spoken of her work in the film stated that she has had such an impact that there is never a semester that passes with out one student the doesn’t follow in the same path as francesca’s. in fact they said there are always group of young artist that become totally obsessed with her work, and totally consume theirselves into there own work in a similar style that she worked in.
When she became depressed after her first sucide attempt, she just wasn’t the same. ‘She felt like her life could be compare to a stale cup of coffee grinds:it was worth nothing.’ The most frighting things that her friends remember during this time was that she was not taking photographs. Francesca just couldn’t take living another year in dishonestly. Betty states that after she had been taking her medicine, Francesca had asked if they would mind if she could move out so that she didn’t have to feel like she was being watched everyhour of the day. Her death did not occur to far after, Betty guess that she had stoped taking her medication and returned back to the same state of mind.
An amazing family is captured with highlights from a lifetime of a stories. This film directed by C. Scott Willis describes a wonderful family with a tradgey in there past. Growing up this family of artist started with Betty and George, who have been married for 57 years. Betty is a cyramist and george, who practiced photography prior to his painting were active vigourous artist. Their life together was surrounded by arts. They had two children, Charlie and Francesca. As they describe their memories of their children growing up, they surrounded them with art. Charlie said that his mother was never very religious, however she treated art like it was her religion. It seem to be that Betty and George might feel a little feeling of remorse of how much they pushed art on their children at such a young age. They would take them out of school every summer a bit early, and dragged them away friends constantly. It could be possible that because the children were never settled that they didn’t have strong bonds with children there age that they excelled into the art world right long with their parents.
Betty and George could bring them along to museams and send them off on there own for an hour with a notebook so that they could go off and enjoy the art on exhibition to on their own time as they pleased. Francesca would often come back with portraits of master copies, usually with women in fancy and elaborate dresses. She was always more interested in the femal figure, and gravitated toward those kinds of works.