Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-08-31
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

The Making of Hannah Free: Producer Tracy Baim
by Jorjet Harper
2009-09-23

This article shared 8087 times since Wed Sep 23, 2009
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Very few feature films are shot in Chicago, and even fewer lesbian ones. That changed last November in Chicago, when a team was put together to do just that.

Tracy Baim is well-known in the Chicago GLBT community for her many enterprises. A journalist in the city for over two decades, she is publisher and managing editor of Chicago's largest chain of gay and lesbian publications ( Windy City Media Group ) . Among her many accomplishments, she played a significant role in bringing the 2006 Gay Games to the Chicago; edited the first book dedicated to gay Chicago history, Out and Proud in Chicago; and spearheaded the Chicago Gay History website, chicagogayhistory.com, that provides a wealth of information about the community online.

In 2008, Baim founded Ripe Fruit Films, to "produce Chicago-based films about lesbian lives." The production company's first feature film is Hannah Free, based on the play of the same name by Chicago playwright Claudia Allen, and will have its Chicago debut at the Gene Siskel Film Center from Sept. 25 through Oct. 1. There will be a gala opening night event featuring the film's star, Sharon Gless.

"I had wanted to make a lesbian feature film for a few years, and had worked on a book and a play called Half Life with various people, staged in Chicago," recalls Baim. "I was continuing to work with various people to develop it as a movie, but it was a military story, which was difficult to do." At the end of 2007, Baim was attending a Victory Gardens event, invited by gay playwright Nick Patricca, and she ran into Allen, and got another idea.

"I had just finished my history project, and wanted to interview Claudia for it. I offered to pick her up for her interview, and on the ride there I mentioned to her that I really wanted to do a movie, and I thought her plays would translate well to film. She said that various people had approached her about filming one of her plays, but she would trust me with a film project if I was serious about it."

Baim had seen two different productions of Hannah Free in the 1990s. "That play was the one that came to my mind as something relatively simple to stage," says Baim. At the interview Baim introduced Allen to Wendy Jo Carlton, who was doing the camera work for the history project and would become the film's director. "They were both from Michigan, and hit it off, and I said that a film might be an interesting thing to think about. Then I talked to Claudia more about it, and the three of us met together to discuss it in early 2008."

As a result of that meeting, Baim began working on a business plan for the film, and Carlton and Allen began to confer about the script. But the project really got off the ground when Hollywood actress Sharon Gless, of Cagney & Lacey and Queer As Folk fame, agreed to participate. Gless had become an admirer of Allen's work after appearing in her radio play Deed of Trust in 1994, and her stage play Cahoots. Gless was in town in early spring of 2008 to get an award from DePaul University, and invited Allen to lunch at the Four Seasons. When Allen told Gless about the plans for a film version of Hannah Free, Gless expressed great interest in playing the title character.

"From that point on," says Baim, "we were working around Sharon's availability." Gless was busy as a regular character on the hit television show Burn Notice. But she would be able to shoot Hannah Free during November, for 3-4 weeks. "That was an extremely aggressive schedule," says Baim, "but as it turned out, we were fortunate to have a short timeline, because it prevented burnout, kept costs down, and kept people committed to the project. So a short timeline and short shoot schedule worked out well."

As executive producer, Baim took on the critical task of every independent film, raising money. "Basically, the buck stopped with me, in that I had control of the budget, and ultimately, the final fundraising. Claudia also raised money, and other people had different economic roles." Marti Marro was the fourth person to join the team, as composer and sound supervisor, and also became an investor. Editor Sharon Zurek invested as well. "Everybody tries to get as much donated as they can, but I think it's kind of rare that some of our key crew and producers also put money in," says Baim. "Often it's the money people very separate from the creative people, and it's very rare to have so much overlap as we did on Hannah Free." It was one indication that those who worked on this film really believed in its importance.

Casting Director Laurie Attea was busy casting by September, and shooting for Hannah Free began on Nov. 3, "just as the economy tanked," Baim laughs ironically. Interior scenes were shot at the huge house Baim grew up in on Prairie Avenue on Chicago's Near South Side, and her family also got into the act: Baim's sister Marcy was location manager, and her father Hal was the film's main still photographer; he shot more than 20,000 still photos during filming. "It was difficult because of cold weather and noise, but that location saved us a lot of resources and made it a doable budget," says Baim. Sharon Gless was housed in the residence's coach house, and "that also saved us tremendously on costs." External scenes were shot at a farm in Beecher, illinois, about an hour south of Chicago.

Post production was accelerated so a rough cut could be submitted to Frameline in San Francisco, and the gala world premiere was held at that festival in June on the evening of Pride Sunday, with many of the cast and crew in attendance. "We benefited from a great story and great actors, and you don't always get both those things, and all the great supporting cast, a wonderful group of people," says Baim.

Overall costs for Hannah Free, including post production, came to just over $200,000, "a testament," says Baim, "to Chicago and all of the individual businesses and people who stepped up to help, in many ways including volunteering in many ways, discounted services and donations."

"Now I know how difficult it is to make a movie," Baim says, smiling. "It requires hundreds of people. It was probably good that I was naive going into it, because I don't know if I would have taken it on if I had known. But I've talked to so many filmmakers since that I've now realized how many mini miracles we had during the making of the film, so it turned out to be a really good experience."

Baim also notes that there is a great talent pool in Chicago. "So many movies come through Chicago for the tax credits, but the talent and crew they use are not from Chicago—they don't use Chicago actors as key cast or for post production. When we go around the country to the film festivals showing Hannah Free, we've discovered that this is something filmmakers and festival producers especially like about our film—that it really is a Chicago production, through and through."


This article shared 8087 times since Wed Sep 23, 2009
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

National AIDS Memorial releases 'The Black Community & AIDS'
2022-09-23
The National AIDS Memorial has released its latest mini-documentary, "The Black Community & AIDS," the seventh film in its oral history project. "The Black Community & AIDS" chronicles the personal stories of nearly two dozen survivors ...


Gay News

REELING Producer, co-director talk about the 'International Male' documentary
2022-09-23
Back in 1976, Gene Burkard (influenced by what he saw in Europe) created and sold the "Jock Sock" out of his San Diego shop. That sartorial invention led to the emergence and popularity of International Male—a ...


Gay News

Out comic/writer Sam Jay talks career ahead of Wicker Park performance
2022-09-22
Stand-up comic and Emmy-nominated writer Sam Jay will be performing at The Den Theatre, located in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood, on Sept. 23-24. The first Black lesbian writer in Saturday Night Live's history, Jay is a ...


Gay News

Artemis Singers to present 'Samhain - Encounters through the Veil' Oct. 29
2022-09-22
-- From a press release - CHICAGO─Artemis Singers, www.artemissingers.org, Chicago's lesbian feminist chorus, will present a unique, timely concert, "Samhain - Encounters through the Veil," about the time of year when we reflect on those who have gone before and honor t ...


Gay News

BOOKS 2022 #BannedTogether virtual auction taking place Sept. 22-25
2022-09-22
On Sept. 22-25, non-profit organization Pride and Less Prejudice (PLP) will hold its second annual #BannedTogether virtual auction to raise $10,000 to send 800 LGBTQ+-inclusive books to elementary schools across the United States and Canada. The ...


Gay News

COMEDY Cameron Esposito at The Den Theatre on Dec. 30-31
2022-09-22
The Den Theatre is welcoming back LGBTQ+ comedian Cameron Esposito, performing two stand-up shows on Dec. 30-31, 2022 on The Heath Mainstage, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. Esposito (a onetime Windy City Times 30 Under 30 honoree) ...


Gay News

MOVIES 'Scrooge & Marley' coming to digital, 10th-anniversary DVD
2022-09-21
On digital for the first time, and available in a 10th-anniversary DVD, the classic Chicago-made LGBTQ+ holiday comedy Scrooge & Marley is coming this October from Dark Star Pictures. An adaptation of Charles Dickens' 1843 novella ...


Gay News

MOVIES 2022 Reeling Film Festival reviews
2022-09-21
Universal Pictures must have felt guilty about opening Bros, touted as "the first gay rom-com released by a major studio," i.e., aimed at a general audience (What about The Birdcage or In and Out?) opposite the ...


Gay News

Human Rights Campaign makes history with new president
2022-09-20
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRCF) announced that Kelley Robinson (she/her) will become the organization's ninth president—and the first Black, queer woman to lead the ...


Gay News

Dozens arrested at EuroPride march in Serbia
2022-09-19
Serbian police arrested more than 60 people as thousands of LGBTQI+ activists turned out for Belgrade's EuroPride march on Sept. 17—despite a governmental ban, The Guardian reported. The event had been intended as the culmination of ...


Gay News

AIDS organization honors actors Farrell, Ralph and Theron
2022-09-19
On Sept. 15, The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF) honored actors Sheryl Lee Ralph, Charlize Theron and Colin Farrell with the Elizabeth Taylor Commitment to End AIDS Award at The Elizabeth Taylor Ball to End AIDS ...


Gay News

LGBTQ Victory Fund endorses Lightfoot
2022-09-18
LGBTQ Victory Fund, the only national organization dedicated to electing LGBTQ+ leaders to public office, endorsed Lori Lightfoot for Chicago mayor. Since her historic victory in 2019, Lightfoot has remained the nation's highest-ranking out LGBTQ+ may ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Watermelon Woman,' 'Dragula,' Indigo Girls, 'Dahmer' series
2022-09-18
Video below - Cheryl Dunye shared a photo on Facebook confirming that her 1996 groundbreaking lesbian-themed film Watermelon Woman is now officially part of the National Film Registry Library. According to the library's website, some of the other movies ...


Gay News

WORLD Malta PM, Kenya official, Kharkiv Pride, sex-education campaign
2022-09-18
Malta Prime Minister Robert Abela has promised reforms for the country's LGBTQ+ community, including free gender-affirming surgery for trans people, according to PinkNews. In an interview with ONE Radio, he said, "I believe that social reform ...


Gay News

Actress/singer/advocate Lynda Carter honored at National Museum of Mexican Art
2022-09-18
On Sept. 17, iconic actress, award-winning producer and accomplished singer Lynda Carter received the prestigious Sor Juana Legacy Award from the National Museum of Mexican Art. In a sold-out lunch and interview program held in the ...


 



Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS






Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.