Brooke Tansley launches filmmaking membership club

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Northern California is an increasingly popular choice for television and film shoots. In 2017, “13 Reasons Why,”“Ant-Man and the Wasp” and “Bumblebee,” among many more, filmed on location in and around the San Francisco Bay Area.

Now, a new kind of project is in pre-production. But this gig is not backed by any major motion picture studio or online streaming service. You don’t need an agent, and you don’t need to “know” someone to be a part of the production.

Folklight Film Club is a first of its kind “events and engagement filmmaking experience” backed by members.

The club is the brainchild of Brooke Tansley, who is familiar to many as the executive producer of the popular comedy festival “Sonoma Laughfest.”

Tansley’s entertainment career spans 28 years, both on stage and behind the camera. She spent three years on the roster of Amy Poehler’s Upright Citizens Brigade, made numerous acting appearances on TV and film and starred on Broadway in “Beauty and the Beast” and “Hairspray.”

Now, she is using her industry experience to foster alternative, artisan-inspired filmmaking.

Tansley’s Folklight Film Club aims to bring locals together to create a movie from scratch. Members’ ideas will inspire an original film “geared towards the values of Sonoma County.” And, everyone is welcome. (So long as you live in Napa, Sonoma, Marin or Mendocino counties and become a paid member.)

This unique club offers members a chance to be involved in each step of the filmmaking process. Member surveys will determine the film’s content. A screenplay will be written from common themes. Members will even get a say in the film’s casting.

The film will be a SAG-AFTRA production and club members may get a chance to be unpaid extras, if the script they create calls for it.

Tansley said that the films developed will reflect Northern California’s culture and interests. The process will be akin to farm-to-table cooking, she explained.

The Folklight members are the farm. The creative professional team is the chef. “It is a journey we all are going to be taking together,” said Tansley.

The “chefs” that she has assembled for the first Folklight project consist of film and television, events and hospitality, live entertainment, business, education, public relations, management, design and advertising professionals. Together, they have more than 142 years of experience. While the creative team is made up of Sonoma-based artists, others will come to town just for this venture. Team bios are listed on the film club’s website.

Tansley is the film club’s founder and executive artistic director, and she has ambitious plans for this new venture. She says that Sonoma is just the first chapter. Her goal is to bring Folklight to other cities around the country to share the magic of movie-making and take back story telling one community at a time.

Should the film secure distribution and be enjoyed by a wider audience, members choose where their share of the profit goes. Their options will include future club projects, scholarship funds, or other local non-profits organizations.

Just like a movie, the two-year membership has a beginning, middle and end. The first enrollment period closes this fall. The next one won’t be until August 2020.

“People are joining,” confirms Tansley, who said that space will be limited.

Tansley says one of the problems with Hollywood is that there are just a few gatekeepers who produce content largely reflective of what they want.

“The people who were able to make an industry out of storytelling using the motion picture have built it on a set of values that don’t necessarily reflect the values of Sonoma County,” says Tansley. But, that shouldn’t stop a parallel industry from thriving on Sonoma soil.

When reached for a comment on this upcoming film venture aimed at positive filmmaking, successful Petaluma actor and producer Ali Afshar (“Godzilla,” “Dirt,” “American Wrestler”) said, “I love it. It lines up with what the world needs. And filmmaking up here is great because there are fantastic people, resources, and locations.”

Similar to the various levels of a wine club, Folklight offers two membership tracks.

The entry level membership, at around $600 for the two years the project spans, includes nine events, from a panel discussion with the cast and filmmakers, to a concert of the original music created for the film, to a showcase of member-created short films and an invitation to the members red carpet premiere of the finished project.

The higher “Join and Learn” membership level (at around $4,800) offers more behind the scenes access into 2020. Limited to just 16 spots, the club offers a more hands-on experience. Learners work alongside a team of Hollywood professionals on the set while enjoying all of the events offered to “Join” members.

Filmmaking education includes nine weekend intensives covering subjects from screenwriting to editing as well as guidance in making their own short films. After the sojourn, these members earn an IMDb credit.

For more information, visit folklightfilmclub.com

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