Being a Maine filmmaker means following your dreams, wherever they take you — film school, the local public access station, humping coffee on the set of a low-budget horror film in Wyoming.

Even Irkutsk.

Maine moviemaker Hannah Weddle’s story has taken her from Brunswick to film school at New York University to remote Russia and back again, as she joined an all-woman crew filming the documentary “Glasnost Coda.”

The film is the inspiring story of the Massachusetts-based chorus SNAS (Sharing a New Song), which brought its mission of “promoting closer relationships between peoples of different countries and cultures” to the former Soviet Union.

Weddle, who studied sound and animation at NYU, networked with fellow film school students when they all served on the FUSION Women’s Film Festival there. And while the all-female ensemble that eventually reunited to film “Glasnost Coda” wasn’t planned as such, it was certainly welcome to Weddle, who explains that a film set is most often “a big boys’ club, especially in the sound, technical and direction” arenas.

As to her experience in Russia, Weddle enthuses that her first professional film experience was thrilling and educational, where encountering Russian culture meant shedding old stereotypes, learning the language, bonding with the (mostly elderly) chorus members, and trying to explain to people what she was doing with an imposing-looking shotgun microphone. “I’d let the kids try on my headphones,” she says, “then they understood.”

And Weddle explains that like most independent films, “Glasnost Coda” wouldn’t have happened without support from her community — in this case, her hometown of Brunswick, where family, friends and local businesses such as Bart and Greg’s DVD Explosion, Wild Oats Bakery and others responded to her appeals for help.

As she waits for the 45-plus hours of footage that was shot to be edited and plans for “Glasnost Coda” to be submitted to film festivals this fall, Weddle is planning her next project. Will it be Maine-based animation? Or film archive preservation?

Whatever her plans, she is encouraged by the assistance of Mainers when it comes to the arts.

“I was surprised because of the tough local economy, but that’s the way people are here,” she said. “They want to help you.”


Dennis Perkins is a Portland freelance writer who works at Videoport.


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