Madison Park director making documentaries with impact

IndieFlix co-founder addresses social issues in films, writes book to encourage better mental health

Madison Park director making documentaries with impact

Madison Park director making documentaries with impact

IndieFlix co-founder Scilla Andreen shifted her focus to social-impact films a decade ago, after watching the “Finding Kind” documentary about girl-on-girl bullying from the solitude of her home.

“I thought, ‘This needs to be watched in a group, not screened in a living room,’” she said.

Not only did Andreen see the importance of the topics films like “Finding Kind” addressed — as someone who had been bullied growing up — she also wanted to create the tools for facilitating the conversations that should follow.

“With each movie, we always leave behind materials that can keep conversations going in a classroom or a board room,” Andreen said.

Andreen started IndieFlix in 2005 as a global screening service that would later add online streaming.

“In those days, it was DVD-on-demand,” she said. “Streaming didn’t even exist then.”

Andreen is proud to offer 5,500 independent film titles available to stream globally through IndieFlix, but her work producing, directing and facilitating dialogue around her social impact films is where her passion lies these days.

“It was a natural, organic fit for me,” she said. “I love producing and directing. It was more of a bandwidth issue.”

Being able to focus on her film projects, IndieFlix company and IndieFlix Foundation was no easy task, and now she’s making documentaries in-house with a dedicated team from her Madison Park studio.

Andreen’s films are made for audience’s as young as fifth grade, but address topics that affect people at any age, she said. Her hope is to reach children and their parents, so they can be proactive.

“I think the struggle for your identity, and learning how to deal with your feelings and your hormones and all that stuff inside, one thing that has been paramount has been the relationship between children and parents,” Andreen said.

Andreen said she likes to infuse her films with hope and to show people that they’re not alone. That message continues in the discussions that happen after groups screen her social impact films, through the complementary materials provided that help with engagement.

Many schools in the area have screened her films and led panels afterward, including Bush School, Garfield High School, Epiphany School, Roosevelt High School and McGilvra Elementary.

“We’ve screened all our movies there,” Andreen said, “sometimes multiple times.”

Andreen and her partner, Eric Winn, raised six children, and she would often use them as a sounding board as she worked on films.

Her IndieFlix Original documentary, “Like,” explores the impact of social media and the effects of technology on the brain.

In making her “Angst” documentary, which raises awareness around anxiety, Andreen realized she also experienced those same symptoms. When public speaking, Andreen said she can have issues with remembering her name, her company and what it’s all about, but has come up with coping mechanisms that help.

Andreen put these hacks and more brain science into her first book, “The Creative Coping Toolkit,” which provides exercises people can do alone or in a group to share ideas and address feelings as they relate to improving mental health.

“Honestly, I was going to start out with a pamphlet, and it ended up being much more involved,” she said. “I’m hoping it will be a good tool for the stressful holidays.”

Andreen is having a book-release party for “The Creative Coping Toolkit” from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, at Madison Books, 4118 E. Madison St. She is already working on a second volume.

Twenty-five percent of the proceeds from the book will be donated to Seattle Children’s Hospital, Child Mind Institute, Z-Cares Foundation and the IndieFlix Foundation, which supports putting programs into underserved communities with Title I schools.

Andreen’s films rely heavily on the mental health experts at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the Child Mind Institute, and she serves on the board of the Z-Cares Foundation, which was started by the parents of Zachary Nimmo following his suicide; he suffered from severe anxiety.

The film producer and director acknowledges she’s not a mental health expert, and she works hard with those professionals when putting together her documentaries, and while working on her book. While a person may need therapy, medication and other supports to improve their mental health, she said, it’s also important for people to equip themselves with the tools to help themselves and others.

Andreen’s documentary, “The Upstanders,” is due out in January, and it addresses cyberbullying.

She is also executive producer for director Sarah Moshman’s upcoming documentary, “Never the Less.” That film explores ending sexual harassment, and is a new category for Andreen, she said, giving her insight into topics that include gender equity, intersectionality and power struggles.

“It’s very eye-opening,” she said. “There’s a lot of self-reflection.”

That film has been screen tested in Los Angeles, and the trailer has garnered interest for screenings in 11 countries, Andreen said. The audience for “Never the Less” will be older than previous IndieFlix Originals, starting at the junior high level.

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