Photographer and filmmaker Kate Perotti

My Creative Director and I recently met filmmaker Kate Perotti at PhotoPlus New York.  We were really impressed with her creativity in filmmaking and photography and were intrigued to hear about her project “MOMz Hot ROCKs: the women of Mamapalooza” which is a feature length original music documentary following moms in rock bands.  The film has been really well received at many film festivals and recently won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Rhode Island International Film Festival.

I find the whole project a real inspiration, from the rocking moms to Kates tenacity in making the film happen.  I caught up with her to find out how it all came about and what she’s going to tackle next …

The moms in the film seem liberated by their involvement in these bands. Was one of your aims to show the empowerment of women through music?

Most definitely.   In all cultures, music is a form of accepted expression.  It can be simple or layered with multiples of meaning.  Rock and punk have traditionally been dominated by men.  Independent women have made marks in music no doubt, (Janis Joplin, Grace Slick, Patti Smith, Exene Cervenka to name a few).  This film aims to give voice to the most door matted members of society, mothers and caregivers.  Collectively, the film and women of mamapalooza spread the now popular Live Out Loud.

I hadn’t really heard of the phenomenon of mom bands until MOMz Hot ROCKs, how did you come about the idea to make the film?

Six years ago, I had not heard of any either.  I was writing a fictional comedy about a group of women (based on my air band best friends from high school) who have a reunion midst full lives and start to send lyrics in emails.  One thing leads to another and they add track by track.  The song is intercepted, put online and becomes an anonymous hit.  The women are hesitant to show themselves, go on a “spa retreat” and record the rest of the album.  More hits follow, they do the “KISS” thing, perform in disguise, eventually do the big reveal at a packed Madison Square Garden show.  CUT to June 2004, I am waiting in the car to pick up my son from summer school, reading the Wall Street Journal and see a full page spread “Mommie Loudest” featuring 5 of the bands in the film.  Frump, the Mydols, Candyband, Placenta and Housewives on Prozac.  After googling all of them, I send Joy Rose an email, ten minutes later we are talking for over an hour.  She says, “I’ve been vibing the universe for a filmmaker to come my way.” I say, “I’m the one.”  We finally meet in October when I extend what began as a trip to do the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.  I borrowed a camera and started filming the night we met.  That organizational meeting for Mamapalooza 2005 is part of the film.  I knew I had to just start, it was happening, these women were doing it.  No time to find proper funding, I ended up financing it myself thanks to the LA housing bubble.  It was personally liberating to shoot most of the footage myself.  I did however have a great crew for larger performances.  Shout out to Liz Rubin, an up and coming cinematographer, she rocked.

What advice would you give to other aspiring filmmakers who want to get started on a project?

As far as advice, there are no rules, follow your heart and don’t take no personally.  If you can maintain some sort of balance in your life (I almost laughed out loud), good luck.  This film did fall into place as I did not stop.

I did sometimes get the picture in my head of “one foot on a banana peel, the other on a roller-skate while jumping through a hoop of fire juggling swords…”

Before MOMz Hot ROCKs did you make any other films? What is your background?

I got my MFA in Film/’Video from CalArts in 1993 and have done just about everything behind the camera for various features, commercials and music videos.  I was a still photographer in NY and worked for a special effects house in NY before that.  I am proud to say that I completed the first digital media thesis in the CalArts film school, thanks to Eric Martin of the art department who let me use their computers before the film school had any.

This is my first feature film.  I have done many shorts and music videos for a lot of still unknown bands.

Music has always been a driving force in my life; I was in a band at CalArts and in Iceland in the early nineties.

You have submitted some great images to moodboard, do you still find time for your photography with all the film making/promotion going on?

I am just getting back into still photography.  I have missed doing it for years.  When I demoed the Canon Markll 5D at the Dances with Films festival last spring, I got more excited by that camera than I have in years.  The camera does HD video as well as stills.  I have always used Canon cameras, loving the ergonomics for someone my size and flexibility of the lens system.  When I got the chance to move to NY in September, I bought the camera the first week I arrived.

You seem to have such a busy schedule, how do you manage to juggle family life with filmmaking and promotion?

I love what I am able to do and have wonderful people in my life.  My son turned 18 last June and went to college in August, freeing up a chunk of time this year.   During the production, he was the best, supportive from day one.  My friends are my family and they helped enormously.  In my film, Alyson Palmer restates Hillary Clinton’s “it takes a village” concept. I definitely know that to be true.

Any exciting new projects in the pipeline you can tell us about?

I would like to make a surf film that has an actual story line…I have something in the glacial works with George Clinton of P-Funk…I am developing several projects from books…Currently I have the opportunity to Executive Produce a narrative feature dealing with immigration in LA.  It’s with an A-list team, funding sources anyone?

What would you say has been your favourite memory from the whole process of making MOMz Hot ROCKs?

The best part is not over yet.  I have developed some lifelong friendships with some of the people in the film and because of the film. I will say that my son was key.  When I got home from first meeting Joy Rose, Lisa Ludwig, Jen/Ed, Alyson Palmer and Tina DeVaron, The Surreal World was a popular show that cracked my son and I up.  While viewing the footage of the Mamapalooza meeting, I noticed my son standing next to me; he watched the entire two-hour reels.  He was 13 at the time and was laughing out loud.  I realized that if a teenage boy could be entertained by these women, I had something special.

Deb Henderson is an Art Director with photo library moodboard in London.  Having studied film and photography at university she went on to pursue a career working with images and has previously worked at Getty Images as a Picture Researcher.  Deb has worked on moodboard’s blog the factory since October 2008 featuring interviews and showcasing the work of artists and photographers from all over the world.

Moodboard is a UK based stock photography company that delivers  simple search, clear price pointing and optimum quality images. It was launched by Mike Watson (who was CEO of the award winning royalty free agency Digital Vision which sold to Getty for $165m) and a number of other ex-Digital Vision senior personnel.

Deb Henderson

This article by Deb Henderson was first published on the Moodboard Blog. Moodboard is a UK based stock photography company that delivers simple search, clear price pointing and optimum quality images. It was launched by Mike Watson (who was CEO of the award winning royalty free agency Digital Vision which sold to Getty for $165m) and a number of other ex-Digital Vision senior personnel.