Lakeville’s Anne Makepeace has been a producer of award-winning independent films for more than twenty-five years. Her films have been screened at festivals from Sundance to Munich and have been broadcast on many networks including PBS and HBO. Her work has been funded by the Pulitzer Foundation, the Sundance Documentary Fund, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and others. She has twice been a writer/director fellow at Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute. Anne has served as a resident of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio center, the MacDowell Colony, and Blue Mountain Center and on the Sundance 2001 Film Festival’s documentary jury.
BerkshireStyle had the good fortune to contact her on a quiet day last week as she rode the train home. What follows is a remarkably personal and honest reflection of her thoughts about living in the Berkshires.
What are you working on now and what do you have planned for the immediate future?
Right now I’m on a train returning home from the First People’s Film Festival in Montreal where my film, “We Still Live Here”, screened last night. It was a really interesting festival, with indigenous filmmakers from all across Canada and films that one doesn’t find anywhere.
I have been spending a lot of the past year and a half traveling with “We Still Live Here” and it’s not going to end any time soon. Next screenings will be at the Whaling Museum in Nantucket and the Payomet Center for the Arts in Truro, MA (August 24 and 27 respectively). Fall travels and screenings include Brazil and Bosnia/Herzegovina!
I’m also writing proposals to raise development funds for a new documentary, tentatively called The Madness Project.
What do you most like about returning to this area? What drew you here?
There are so many things that drew me to my home in Northwestern Connecticut - the lakes, the music nearby, the spirit of community, the hiking and cross country ski trails, the feel of a small town full of so many interesting people.
I grew up in Middlebury CT and left for California aged 18 to attend Stanford University. I spent nearly three decades in both northern and southern California but always felt New England was home. In 2001 I moved to New York for a year to produce and direct a film on Robert Capa, the famous war photographer, for the American Masters series at WNET and realized that I felt very much at home on the East Coast, especially when I visited relatives in Connecticut. I bought my Lakeville house in 2003, love living here, and don’t miss California one bit!
When you have guests, what’s the ultimate entertainment venue/resource you like to share with them?
In summertime I always take guests to the town beach on Lakeville Lake and up to Mt. Riga. We take walks right out my door and up the dirt road to Selleck Hill where lovely trails go on forever through woods and meadows. With guests we tend to stay around Lakeville, but my husband and I especially love going to Tanglewood, the Berkshire Shakespeare Festival, Infinity Music Hall and all the great restaurants in the area.
Who do you most enjoy spending time with when you are here?
We live in Lakeville full time, so we engage in all of these activities with pleasure, including hibernation, being alone with nature, meeting friends at restaurants or having them for dinner. Since many of our friends are artists and writers, we get to have it all!
What’s your favorite Berkshire ritual?
I didn’t know there were any! One of my favorite annual events is the Memorial Day parade in Salisbury. It’s so low key and sweet with the firetrucks and old cars full of veterans from many wars, the children and adult marching bands. The parade lands at the Salisbury Cemetery, seeded with sweet smelling thyme. A highlight of the ceremony is the child’s recitation of the Gettysburg address, followed by a far-off trumpet playing taps and an even farther off trumpet echoing the sound.
Who is your favorite movie director? And why? What are your favorite films both past and present?
I don’t really have a favorite director, although I do have favorite movies. I love Ross McElwee’s deadpan documentaries, especially ‘Sherman’s March’. Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s film ‘Brother’s Keeper’ is another favorite. I generally prefer documentaries because so many narratives in featured films are boringly formulaic, but the astonishing feature film, ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’, which I saw last weekend in Millerton renewed my faith in the narrative form. I was amazed at the courage of the filmmakers who took huge risks to make a film of astounding beauty, poetry, and drama. Bravo!
How do you feel that living in the Berkshires informs your work?
Living here gives the peace and beauty I need to open my mind and let the ideas come in, the quiet to live with those ideas until they form into something coherent. A lot of what I do entails writing and editing, which I can do anywhere; and production is always wherever the story takes me – to Africa, China and the Middle East. I am always so happy to come back to my home in the Berkshires.
Do you find there to be shared characteristics among the people drawn to this area?
There are an awful lot of creative people here – writers, filmmakers, painters, actors. Many of us work freelance, which often means we’re free to live in places we love. What better place than here?
When not here, where in the world do you most enjoy spending your time?
Anywhere near water, ideally ocean beaches. The one thing I do miss about not living in California is easy access to the ocean. I lived for seventeen years in Santa Barbara before moving here; at the end of the day I could ride my bike or drive down to the beach to swim in the surf and walk for miles. On the East Coast I love Truro, Wellfleet and Martha’s Vineyard. One of the wonderful things about my last film was that it was set on the Cape and on Martha’s Vineyard, so I got to be there a lot.
Berkshire Style is…………….. smart and casual, easy and fun.