Filmmaker and Radio, TV Show Host: Tracy Schott, founder, Voices4Change
About the Voices4Change show: From teens to the brave women and men who survived domestic violence, you’ll meet them and experts who are working to end this premeditated crime.
Tune in: Every Tuesday at noon for another episode of Tracy Schott’s Voices4Change Radio Show
Scroll down to learn more about Tracy and What’s Next for Voices4Change!
Click here to read Tracy’s essay: I See You. I Hear You. And other lessons of 2020.
Check out all of Tracy’s columns on BeInkandescent Health & Wellness magazine on her Meet Our Columnists page.
About Tracy Schott and Voices4Change — It is a privilege to introduce you to documentary filmmaker and producer Tracy Schott. This former social worker is on a mission to give voice to the voiceless — and end domestic violence.
Her most recent film, Finding Jenn’s Voice, examines the breathtaking reality that one of the top causes of death during pregnancy is murder. “My goal with the documentary is to explore the nature of abusive relationships by looking beyond the black eye,” she explains from her home in Reading, PA.
“The documentary examines the fact that one of the top reasons for death during pregnancy is — MURDER,” Tracy said in her message, pointing me to more information about the film and this tragic problem that impacts millions of women and children each year.
Here’s the story: After Jenn, a pregnant woman, is murdered by her married boyfriend, Tracy gets a call from her aunt informing her of the horror. Dumbstruck that such a drama could be possible, Tracy began doing research that revealed homicide is a leading cause of death during pregnancy. Shocked, she sought to discover the characteristics of potentially homicidal relationships.
Conversations with experts and survivors of intimate partner homicide attempts provide a picture of the anatomy of abusive relationships, while law enforcement and the people who loved Jenn alert us to the signs that she missed. Along the way, the media is taken to task for its ineffective reporting of domestic violence homicides. Ultimately, it is the voices of survivors who help us to find Jenn’s voice, leaving the viewer with a message that is hard to forget. Click here to learn more about the making of the movie.
- Step 1: Click here to read more about Tracy, including her essay “Words Matter,” and meet some of the women in the documentary in The Survivor Issue of Inkandescent Women magazine: October 2020
- Step 2: Watch “Finding Jenn’s Voice,” a powerful documentary (available to view for free) on Tracy’s website: voices4change.net. You’ll also discover more ways that you can help!
- Step 3: Check out her important advice for women during the COVID-19 pandemic in the June 2020 issue of Inkandescent Health & Wellness magazine.
- Step 4: And be sure to listen to our podcast interview with this Truly Amazing Woman — download it now!
Click here to learn more: Voices4Change.net.
What’s Next: 4 Questions for Tracy Schott
An interview with Hope Katz Gibbs & Cynthia de Lorenzi, authors, Your 2021 What’s Next Journal
Hope & Cynthia: Tell us about your business/industry before the pandemic hit in March 2020.
Tracy: Schott Productions is a small independent production company based in Reading, PA, with a mission of “Finding and sharing the stories that matter.” Since completing the documentary film FINDING JENN’S VOICE in 2015, my work has been split between advocacy and education on intimate partner violence prevention, creating documentary and narrative films, and doing the commercial work that pays the bills.
I joke that Reading is the “other Hollywood.” Location means a lot in the production business. It influences budgets, opportunities, and the ability to connect with other professionals. So we get really creative – splitting our time between the jobs that we can do and the work we want to do. It’s a challenge in the best of times to stay engaged in the production world, find the paying gigs while still pursuing those ‘stories that matter.’ All of this was really impacted by the pandemic.
Hope & Cynthia: Where were you personally in your life when COVID-19 arrived in the US? What were your short and long-term goals at that time?
Tracy: I started 2020 with great hopes. 2020 was to be the year that we put Voices4Change (my platform for the IPV advocacy work) on the map with activities centered around International Women’s Day (March 6), many speaking engagements, and even a tour with the film in India. Covid-19 forced us to rethink our strategy to take advantage of the digital world. We know that the need is greater than ever for our work. The pandemic, economic collapse, and social unrest have heightened the dangers for women in abusive relationships. Still, we’ve found that the cacophony of a world in crisis has once again drowned out the voices of women.
In January, my writing partner, Sue Lange, and I rewrote our TV pilot LE BON CHEF into a feature film with plans to go to NYC and LA in the spring to pitch the film to investors. We’ve learned to use virtual platforms to make those contacts. We’re still hopeful that the dearth of major productions in Hollywood will help us get the attention of talent, investors, and distributors. I’m also convinced that our experience working with small budgets and crews will be a strong advantage in completing the film in 2021.
I was actually in Mexico with my family when the virus hit. I returned home on March 15th to a completely different world. Normally I travel a lot both for business and fun. I joke that I always have bags packed, ready to go. Ironically, traveling at 30,000 feet somehow grounds me. My world got very small in 2020, which was challenging on many levels. At times I was overcome by anxiety and even depression. Lately, I’ve taken to starting each day with a meditation of gratitude – reminding myself how fortunate I am in so many ways.
Hope & Cynthia: What are your thoughts now about your industry, your business, your personal life, your heart?
Tracy: Like many people, I spent a lot of time in 2020 thinking about what really matters. Staying close to my family was important, and I was fortunate that our adult children were close by. I spent a lot of time with my 82-year-old mother, who is battling cancer. And I acutely felt the loss of being with my friends. I also thought a lot about legacy. If the virus took me tomorrow, would I be satisfied with what I’ve left behind? What else do I need to do to earn my space in the world?
I’m a storyteller and an educator.
Schott Productions has done some good work since its inception in 2011. And as a producer, I have a large body of work behind me. But I’ve only scratched the surface of telling the stories that matter to me. I realize that I have a unique skill set – as a social worker, I connect with people on a heart level that effectively tell their stories. It makes me a good documentarian. But I also have my own stories to tell. It is why I’ve written a narrative feature film that is a comedy-drama and have ideas for a television series. These mediums touch people in ways that documentaries do not. I love finding the cross-section between educator and entertainer.
Production essentially shut down in NYC and Hollywood for most of 2020. Big movies and TV sets hire a ton of people. It’s a lot of people to monitor, organize, and keep safe. Independent film companies like Schott Productions tend to work small. A crew of 5-10 people is pretty normal in my world. I’m now working on Le Bon Chef’s budget that is considered very low by industry standards. Lower budgets force us to be more creative, tighten up the storyline, and make every second screen time count. I’m going to stop apologizing for being small and just get it done.
Hope & Cynthia: Now the big question — What do you see coming next?
- For your industry: Small films will be taken more seriously, and big studios will maybe stop gobbling up all the screen time at the theaters and in the streaming world.
- For your company: Schott Productions will focus more on the “what matters” part of my business.
- For yourself: I pledge to have more faith in my ability to raise awareness, funds, and an abundance of caring. (In other words, I’m going to stop taking jobs to pay the bills and make the stories that matter do that instead.)
- For the country: Women’s voices MUST be heard to save our country from an abusive, patriarchal retreat into authoritarianism. It’s that important.
- For the world: There is no “us” and “them” anymore. The pandemic has shown us that unless we are all well, none of us can thrive.
- For women: I’m so over waiting for permission to change the world. Power is taken, not given.
Hope & Cynthia: One more question — now tell us the one question we didn’t ask you.
Tracy: How do you feel about having all this attention from Inkandescent Women? Humbled, grateful, and determined to deliver a message of hope and change.