She Magazine—The Source For Women
June 2003 w Vol. 5 w Issue 5
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By Roanne Cleveland


Pronunciation: 'pau(-&)r
Function: noun

1 a (1) : ability to act or produce an effect

2 a : possession of control, authority, or influence over others b : one having such power; specifically : a sovereign state c : a controlling group : ESTABLISHMENT — often used in the phrase the powers that be

3 a : a source or means of supplying energy; especially : ELECTRICITY b : MOTIVE POWER c : the time rate at which work is done or energy emitted or transferred

Early May, Miami Florida , warm, hot and wet.  A gaggle of girls (filmmakers, artists, creators) from POWER UP were there.  It was the 5th annual Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and ten members traveled from Los Angeles for a weekend of films, fun and festivities.

Late, the women ran toward the Jackie Gleason theatre, pulling at their sticky clothes as the excitement mounted.  In just two years this non-profit organization, made up of mostly volunteers, was taking the industry and community by storm.  Carol Combs, executive director of the festival ushered the girls into the theatre, it was award time and they had traveled across the US to pick up the Planet Out Grand Prize Award for the second year in a row.

POWER UP, the Professional Organization of Women in Entertainment Reaching Up. “It was an idea that came to me as I was trying to merge my professional and personal worlds together” stated founder and executive director Stacy Codikow, a writer/producer. “The time was right and I felt we needed a community of empowered women, working together toward common goals”.

So the time was right, as we can see from the overwhelming success and response POWER UP has encountered in its infancy.  Women were connecting, working together and encouraging one another’s ideas, hopes and dreams. Careers were being launched, propelled and reaffirmed by the whose who of gay Hollywood , the whose new in gay Hollywood and the whose going to be the next coo in Hollywood . 

So much of the success and notoriety comes from the film grant program.  A truly unique take on making movies, emulating the “big boys”. POWER UP develops, finances, produces, and exhibits the material much like the studio’s do, only one real difference here is the goal of POWER UP films is to encourage the membership to express their creative endeavors while in Hollywood it’s all about making money.  

The Gleason theater was packed with filmgoers from all over the world.  POWER UP’s D.E.B.S. starring Tammy Lynn Michaels, the tale of four high school girls recruited through the S.A.T. test to join a secret, elite, crime fighting team had the audience rolling.  Writer/director Angela Robinson wasn’t able to make the awards because she is shooting D.E.B.S., the feature, based on her POWER UP short for Screen Gems starring Jessica Biel (7th Heaven). When asked how POWER UP has supported her Angela unabashedly exclaimed, “It’s been really fucking amazing!  POWER UP has been phenomenal.  Not only do they give you grant money but they give you support.  The problem with being an independent filmmaker, and for shorts forget about it, is it’s usually a one woman show.  It’s a full time job and you already have a full time job, sometimes two.  It’s hard and it’s expensive to do. This was a totally different experience.  First, I had real producers.  Andrea Sperling (Pumpkin) and Jasmine Kosovic (“The Adventures of Sebastian Cole”) were phenomenal. It was the first time I ever just got to direct.  It was amazing working with a professional crew, working in HD, having a casting director; what a concept.  Lee Rose (2002 film grant mentor, “The Truth about Jane,” “A Girl Thing.”) was incredible. I had a great experience because I felt very supported.  I could actually realize my vision as opposed to consistently compromising due to exhaustion or lack of resources.”  Her career has catapulted overnight since the premiere of D.E.B.S. at the 2002 Power Premiere in Beverly Hills. Angela has been hired to write on the new Showtime Lesbian series The L Word formally Earthlings starring Jennifer Beals.

In fact all three of the 2002 grant directors are currently embarking on their first feature film, an unheard of feat..  Lee Friedlander’s POWER UP short Give or Take an Inch starring Amanda Bearse and Michele Greene was also playing in Miami and Lee was there to cheer it on. “I’d been a POWER UP member from the beginning and I saw just how professional the first year’s winner’s films were.  I couldn’t pass the chance up.”   Lee’s advice to anyone who aspires for a career in the industry, “The last person standing gets the job.  Take chances and work each day to advance your career.” Lee is currently in postproduction on Wasabi Tuna a feature shot in Los Angeles starring Antonio Sabato Jr. and Anna Nicole.  Give or Take an Inch is also an official selection of the 2003 Cleveland International Film Festival, Frameline Film Festival and London Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.    

The third grant director Jessica Sharzer is in development with a screenplay for Universal and currently is in New York prepping her feature to shoot for Showtime Networks.  Her POWER UP short Fly Cherry starring Sharon Lawrence is an official selection of the 2003 Cleveland International Film Festival, Outfest and the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen Germany .  Sharzer won her POWER UP grant based on her Thesis film, The Wormhole, which received the Student Academy Award and the NYU Tisch School of the Art $10,000 Award.

Last December, POWER UP released it’s first DVD, Girls on Film a collection of nine shorts made by members with a celebrity cast that includes Radha Mitchell, Rose McGowan, Leisha Hailey, Clea DuVall, Patrice Donnelly, Alexandra Paul, Ione Skye, and Megan Cavanagh. The DVD has the first year POWER UP grant shorts Chicken Night written by Deidre Strohm and directed by Lisa Ginsburg and Breaking Up Really Sucks directed by Jennifer McGlone and written by Pamela S. Busch along with last years Planet Out Grand Prize winner Jamie Babbit’s Stuck. The DVD is a gift with membership.  It also features Gay Propaganda’s The Gay Graduate, Goodfaigolas, Meep Meep! written and directed by Jenni Olson, creator of the “Popcorn Q” gay movie web site, directeor Chris Russo’s Size 'Em Up, Jamie Babbit’s Sleeping Beauties an Official Sundance Selection, and Lee Friedlander’s The Ten Rules.

In December of this year POWER UP’s Girls on Film II will be available and if you missed the Miami screenings you can catch these shorts by the new directors of tomorrow including D.E.B.S, Give or Take an Inch, Fly Cherry and  other members films.  Girls on Film II will also be the gift with membership to POWER UP. To get these films or further info on POWER UP please visit the website

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