Workin' It

photo by LUCAS ROY
Before Merrill Sterritt launched Film Presence, a marketing and outreach company that combines event-based theatrical screenings with strong outreach partnerships, she had to let go of her sense of security. Just prior to founding her own business in 2010, Sterritt spent three years working with Women Make Movies, a leading distributor of films by and about women; she also worked as an editor on films that have premiered at Sundance and the Palm Springs International Film Festival. She felt the next step was to branch out on her own. “Making the choice to give up a lot of stability to do something I really wanted to do felt very proactive and satisfying, so I just went for it,” she says. Since then, Film Presence has been busy managing outreach projects for Frederick Wiseman’s La Danse, Nicole Opper’s Off and Running and Lucy Walker’s Academy Award-nominated Waste Land. “Sometimes you have to take projects you don’t love to pay the bills,” says Sterritt. “But my partner [Sara Kiener] and I decided our cut-off would be if a project was offensive to us. It’s very empowering to say, ‘I can’t get behind that, so I won’t.’”
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