Ian MacKenzie is a media activist and filmmaker from Vancouver, Canada. He produces short films, feature docs, and original webseries, with a focus on “new paradigm” thinkers, artists, and activists. One of his current projects is the featured documentary AmplifyHer, an empowering film coming in 2016 exploring the rise of women in the electronic music industry.
“Women hold the key to transcending our destructive culture into one that balances the archetypal polarities of the masculine and feminine once again – an evolution our world so desperately needs right now.”
We had the good fortune to pick Ian’s brain and get a feel for the heart behind this production.
Where did the idea for the movie grow from?
The seed for AmplifyHER took root at Burning Man 2012. It was my fourth visit to the playa, and one evening I witnessed the performance of AppleCat, who piqued my curiosity with the way she wove her set. The experience on the dance floor (or dust, in this case) felt entirely different than many male DJs and Producers I’d experienced, leaving me with a mystery and a question: what unique and necessary expression can women electronic artists offer this time?
Following that thread, I began to meet other women, like the incredibly talented CloZee, who were consciously crafting music and performances that led to transformative moments of catharsis and healing for the audience. I also discovered the challenges each woman had to navigate in their own lives, from illness, to sexism and beyond, as they dared to forge ahead. Many in the emergent culture scene have come to recognize the future as led by the feminine – AmplifyHER is my attempt to contribute toward this unfolding through the lends of electronic music.
What was your favorite part of the process?
I love travel. It was amazing to visit so many beautiful places like the lush forests of Shambhala in the British Columbia interior, to the snow-capped peaks of Boulder, to a convent/turned music studio in San Francisco. Yet my favourite part of filmmaking has always been the interviews. Everyone has a story, and having the space and time to dive deep with another human being is always beautiful and often surprising.
Can you share any major challenges or funny stories from the process of making the movie?
We returned to Burning Man the following year in 2013 to shoot a major story point for AppleCat, along with a few other interviews. That was the intent… though Burning Man had other plans. The playa is famous for messing with one’s ability to stick to a clear schedule – and this time was no exception. Dust storms, broken-down bikes, missed interviews, faulty gear, and more plagued my small production team. At a certain point, we realized we had to surrender to the magic and trust we would capture what was needed for the film.
Upon returning home weeks later and sifting through the footage, I wasn’t sure I had what I needed – until I began editing. Soon after, the scene with AppleCat at the Temple came together, and it remains one of the most powerful moments in the film.
What do you want people to take away from “Amplify Her”?
AmplifyHER originally focused on the gender disparity of women DJs and Producers in the electronic music scene. This mirrored much of the feminist movement’s demand for equality – that is, the right for women to gain access into the realms of power enjoyed by men. This has resulted in many important gains, though much of the necessary wisdom and power of the feminine has been sacrificed.
As our film developed, we realized the power of letting these female artists speak for themselves, sharing their own stories of wounding, and how these experiences have become a source of their greatest strength. A true evolution will occur when we no longer define the feminine as oppositional to the masculine, but rather a unique polarity that holds the key to a future in balance once again.
Follow along with the build to the release in Spring 2016 amplifyher.com