Beyond the Beyond Sixty Project, Melissa Davey
For the first time ever on The Second Chapter, I have a guest back for an update. Back in Season One, I loved talking with Melissa Davey, who left corporate life at 65 to become a filmmaker.
When I heard Melissa’s film had been officially released, I jumped at the chance to speak with her again. Today, we talk about the film, our shared loved of ensuring women of all ages have a platform to tell their stories, and what’s next for the now 70-year-old filmmaker!
Kristin: Melissa! Hi, it's so nice to have you back. How are you doing?
Melissa: I'm good. How are you doing? It's good to see you.
Kristin: It's really good to see you and, and for everybody to hear you, it's great to be recapping on a project that I was so, so excited to hear about the first time. And now you have updates and I can't wait to share them with the listeners and to hear how everything's going for you as well.
Melissa: Great, wonderful.
Kristin: I can see into your home that looks very sunny and gorgeous.
Melissa: Um, it is, you know, what, it actually was raining most of this morning, so it's just beginning to lighten up again .
Kristin: Were finally getting some summer in the UK, but I have to say that it has been, terrible,
Cold, finally, some warm weather. So my mood has improved dramatically
Melissa: does. It really helps the sunshine helps.
Kristin: Yeah. So you're back because Beyond Sixty is now available to watch, not just on the festival circuit. Give us a little catch-up on where everything is with the project.
Melissa: Yeah. A little catch-up at the end of last year. After I had been sitting here for 12 months, COVID land, couldn't do anything distributors, weren't taking phone calls. And I thought that the film would never get out there. I did receive a call from a distributor who had seen the film and said, let's do this.
Between the end of the year, last year and April 6th, we got everything together. The way they needed it to be from a technology standpoint and it was released on April 6th in North America. So It is now available here on just about every streaming platform that's out there as well as on demand television.
So if you were in the States or Canada or Mexico, and you had a cable provider. And you have an on demand service. You could just go on demand like you would for any movie that you wanted to rent or buy. So It's been out there since April 6th. And it's exciting and nerve wracking um, because you have no idea who's watching it or how many people have watched it.
The distributor doesn't really give you a feel for that for a few months after it's been released. So sometime this summer, I would think I will have a feeling.
Kristin: It's funny because it reminds me of, it's not dissimilar to having a podcast, whereas I can see pretty quickly how many people might be downloading it. But I don't know where these people are finding me who they are necessarily. Some of the demographic stuff, because of course you're curious, and of course you want to be able to say, okay, these are the people who are listening and this is what they might like.
And it's a lonely road when you know that. You're putting all this work out there and it's hi, are you watching? Are you listening?
Melissa: I know um, it's an odd thing because if you're used to regular work you do something and you see the result right there. Or you get feedback as to the work that you just provided somebody, but this is a mystery. One of the great things that's been happening are many podcasts like yours.
I've been on at least a dozen, I think at this point. And then groups of women are getting together and watching the film. And then they bring me on at the end on zoom to do a Q and a.
Kristin: oh, I
Melissa: I've, yeah, I've done a whole bunch of those. I did one last night and it's just really been exciting.
Like one group was a film festival group, in New Jersey, and they had 83 people on the Zoom asking questions, and so everybody rents the movie and then they have me come or they watch it all together for free, and then they pay me to be a speaker for an hour. So it's been really interesting that way.
I've actually been surprised by the number of requests that I'm getting and they're ongoing.
Kristin: It's funny because I was thinking I wanted to ask you about, I was lucky enough to watch the film, even though I'm not in north America. I'll talk about my reaction in a moment, but I did want to ask you because you make it, you're not. How, what's the word you are in the film?
Let's just put it that way instead of me trying to make whatever the, you're not a, you're not an impartial observer, you're there, you're sharing why you're making the film as you're watching the film. We see you, we hear you. So these groups must be really interested as well because they've gotten to know you maybe a little bit through the film. Have you found that they relate to you in that
Melissa: they do. And they, it doesn't matter where the group is or how large or small it is almost all of them start with questions about me. And how I, got up the nerve to leave a corporate job and become a filmmaker when I was 65. And so there's all of these questions and these are
some younger women and some even older than I am at 70. They're all very curious about how I made that decision and what the process was. And in those conversations I'm hearing women say, because I want to do something else. I want to think about what I'm going to do in the future or next week, or, whenever, so there I'm meeting so many women that have this
desire and excitement about doing something new. I think they're just curious about, how did I make my path and how hard was it and what were the pitfalls? So there's a lot of that. And then they get into the women and they clearly everybody seems to align with one or two of the women having the same experience or could relate to them better than some of the others.
And it's just across the board. People have very inspirational things to say about the women. And that's how I feel. I'm extremely inspired by all of these women and completely humbled that they gave me the chance to tell their story. They trusted me to do that when I was a fledgling novice at filmmaking.
So I will forever be humbled by that.
Kristin: Well, I feel the same way because I've been lucky enough to talk to you and talk to other women who have inspired me. And I think it was interesting watching the film because you have, we talked about this a bit last time you were here, but you have the younger women in the film as well, who are asking you about, why you're telling the stories and then go on to say how the stories affect them, or how older women affect them. And I felt very firmly in-between kind of some of the women that were much to the older side and some of the younger women .
But it is really humbling to be able to speak to people and have them just trust you with their life story or with their career journey or whatever that might be.
Melissa: Yeah. It's been remarkable and yeah, so the feedback is excellent. I can't wait to hear your feedback because I, it touches everybody a little bit differently, but what I've gotten comfortable with just recently, and when I say comfortable, I don't mean in a cavalier way. I mean that, it took me a long time to be comfortable in knowing that people really like it and that they appreciate it and that they're connecting to it in some way.
So that was my goal. I wanted to challenge people to think about aging a little bit differently, challenge women specifically to think about that and to listen to stories and maybe strip away some judgment that you might have about any particular subject that any of the women talked about.
Yeah. My hope was that there would be some feeling that you would get from these stories that would make you think about yourself.
Kristin: Definitely because I feel like the oldest woman is 85 in the film, or was she a bit 85 in the
Melissa: Yeah, I think she was 86. at the time. Yeah.
Kristin: And I just, she was one of the I don't know, it's just so much personality. And, ranging from just above 60 to 86, there was not one woman that I would listen to their stories and think “that's an old woman”.
I guess that's one of the things I walked away with. I mean, From looks, they were all some of them looked quite young. Some of them looked quite old, but every single one of them, I would never say, oh, she is a stereotype. She's an old woman. And if nothing else, I would say the people, anybody who watches it has to say we don't stop living just because we turn a certain age and every single one of those women is living, like living their dreams, trying new things and just vibrant, which gives me a lot of hope for hopefully a very long time to come.
me too. Me too. It really does. And to keep in mind that those were just nine women that I ended up putting into the film because I just connected with them so deeply, but there were, I talked to about 80 plus people over a year's period. So I heard so many more stories that were. As good as if not better than some of the stories that you heard, meaning that they were just full of life and they were, much older and continuing to do really cool things and, going back to school or starting a business or whatever it might be.
And they, it does give you this hope for the future. Even if. Our looks go away or whatever it may be that the marketing companies want us to feel old. We don't all wear diapers and, we don't all just sit back and, take medication and that's our life and, and that's, what's portrayed so often
on television commercials, especially here in the US I don't think that it is bad as bad in the UK. I may be wrong, but in all my travels to the UK, they didn't have the amount of drug, pharmaceutical commercials that we do. And they're just, it's awful here. It's awful.
Like drug peddlers.
Kristin: You say about the looks and everything too. And I don't really think about it anymore, I because I've been here a while, but I'm always surprised when I come back to the States watching even just like news and stuff, how everyone looks so similar and surgeried and within an inch of like, I am always surprised there is a lack of growing old at all. And of course, we all want to say, you know, I want to look a little bit nicer, a little bit younger. I'm gonna color my hair. I'm going to wear, whatever that is. But I've been surprised how yeah. Really fake some of the people
Melissa: And that's the I believe that's the US in general. And one of the things that in this film that people will see when we set up each of the days that we were going to be interviewing, I said, come as you are. I don't want you to make yourself look Like someone else. I want you to come as you would come to work.
And I was sick during, I had Lyme disease pretty bad during a couple of years and I was not always well when I was on camera. And I remember that feeling of, oh my gosh, this is terrible, but then it was, that's just who I was at that time. And if you look at Paula, the veterinarian, she just, she's this is me.
I said, I love you just the way you are.
Kristin: Cause she's always in the pool, she's you know, working with animals and yeah, she didn't have a lot of makeup on,
Melissa: she doesn't do makeup.
Cause she said, do I have to put on, I said, you come as you would come to work today. I want you to all be comfortable in your own skin and be yourselves. And I was so they were, and I think that we showed real people. You know what I mean? We showed not one of them has had facelifts and nose jobs and they're just beautiful people just. the way they are with their own stories to tell.
Kristin: Yeah. The other thing is, you said something about losing looks, but I was reading an article the other day about people's somebody had said something about Bob Dylan losing his voice, or it's not his voice anymore. What happened to his voice? It's still his voice
Melissa: his older voice.
Kristin: his voice now. Maybe we want to hear the voice he had when he was 25 or whatever, but he's not 25 anymore.
So the same with looks, people talk about women losing their looks. They didn't go away. They just changed.
Melissa: But you don't hear that about men.
Kristin: Nope. Silver Fox.
Melissa: Silver distinguished, oh, he must be very experienced or whatever, it's okay for the men, but we still have this issue with women aging and being written off or becoming invisible. And that was one of my goals I wanted to pick everyday people like me, average women who are doing incredible things, meaning that they haven't made it into, the television shows at night, they're not celebrities, they're just people, regular wonderful, extremely beautiful women who have stories to tell.
And I wanted those people that you would pass on the street and not know who they are, but when you stop and listen, it's oh, so that's Siri. No kidding. So that's, I, it's just, it is just amazing. And again, there's millions of women that could fit the bill to be in any kind of a film that was around storytelling for older women. There's so many stories out there.
Kristin: I don't think anybody would be surprised based on how I'm talking about it, to say that I loved it. I first, when I first started watching, I felt like I was like, I don't know. I felt like I was your mother I was like, I'm so proud.
Melissa: Thank you so much
Kristin: I know that sounds so weird, but I was really emotional because I felt like after talking to you before, just, we had a great connection and then to see it, and I know you were working so hard to make sure that more people would see it. And I knew there were some things rolling in that were seeming positive, but it was one of those things like, oh, I know how hard she's worked on this.
Please let it happen. And then to see it, I really did. I felt like a proud mother.
Kristin: my God. You're welcome. I'm glad I raised you so well,
Melissa: Oh, thank you so much. but I want people to feel good after they, I want, I want it to be uplifting for people,
Kristin: and it definitely is. It definitely is every story there was, it's exactly what I say about the podcast. I want the tough stuff. I want the inspirational stuff, but ultimately I want people to walk away like I could do something different. I could change my life and all these women have. You said that some people had specific stories they related to you. And it was really funny because I felt like it was the two stories we pulled out the first time we talked just coincidentally, but I love seeing the voice of Siri because she opened her mouth and I was like, this is so weird.
She really is the voice of Siri.
Melissa: I know. It's amazing just when she speaks with you,
Kristin: I just went, I can hear it. I can hear it. That's and just because it was such a funny story that, and, really interesting to hear how that kind of affects the person to be the voice , how it affected her work that, now she's got this recognizable voice everywhere
Kristin: and I loved Madame Walker's great- or great great granddaughter.
Melissa: A'Lelia Bundles. She is an awesome woman. I love her.
Kristin: just hearing her. Yeah, it just was. And seeing all the records, I'm saying all those people have to watch it so they know what I'm talking about, but seeing all the records of her family and the fact that she was so resistant to be part of a family, that was so well-known,
Kristin: it was really interesting.
Melissa: And then just the whole full circle and how it all worked out is pretty amazing.
Kristin: Yeah. Yeah. So I definitely had my favorites. I loved seeing the now I'm going to completely forget their names, the cheerleaders,
Melissa: Oh, the Poms.
Kristin: the Poms.
Melissa: they great.
Kristin: They're so great. It's so degrading, I guess, to say that people are cute. Cause like when they get older. Oh, they're so cute, but they're cute. They'd
be cute when they were 20.
They'd be cute. And now they're in their eighties. I loved
Melissa: were hysterical. We spent two days with them. Marching in that parade behind them for two and a half miles while they're twirling batons and jumping around and the crowd was going nuts because they were in the parade every year in Wickenburg, Arizona.
And they've, I think they've won five times in a row. It's a huge parade, Rodeo Days. The crowds went nuts when they came by. I mean, chanting and it was wild.
Kristin: I always said until the day my grandmother died, I was envious of her legs. And I was the same with some of these women, they're in these little costumes. And I was like, oh, I did not have legs like that when I was 20, this is not fair. But so glamorous and so fit and just like the moves they were doing.
Oh, I loved it. Like I said, nobody was the stereotype of an old woman.
So I'm not the only one who loves it. Cause I know right now it has a 9.7 out of 10 on IMDB. So about that. Let's get that back up to the 10, because that's what it deserves,
Melissa: That's yes. I think there were, I think a man gave it a four stars instead of five or nine instead of 10, but he wrote this wonderful review, but he gave it a nine and I, so I was like, oh, that's Okay.
I'll take a nine. I think a nine is
Kristin: Edit tense. All right. I would take that too. Yeah, definitely. Especially when there's a wonderful review.
I'm very curious if you have reached out or if anyone has told M Night Shyamalan...
Melissa: No. I think he knows, I know that he knows that I was doing this because his wife sent me a note. Maybe it was a year ago and just said, congratulations, we heard what you're up to and good for you. And. All the best, that kind of thing. But he has been making a film every single year and putting out a film once a year, since the time I first met him.
So I have felt really weird about, I don't know, I don't know, jumping in and sending him the movie. I'm hoping that someday he watches it when he has time. But yeah, I, he knows that the old woman that came to his shoot, years ago, quit her job and decided to make a movie.
My thing with him is at some point, I'll write him a note because I really do want him to know that he was the catalyst, that his simple little joking words about well, you better hurry up is what really made me do it that day. And again, we weren't having a serious discussion. We were just having a banter that took a few seconds, you know, what do you really want to do?
I want your job. Well, You better hurry up. So he's the one. I put them in the credits. Special thanks. Yeah. He's in the credits.
Kristin: If anyone knows M Night Shyamalan and happens to be listening, please do tell him that Melissa's film is out Beyond Sixty Project. Make sure he watches cause he's gonna love it.
Kristin: I think we also talked about last time that you had this kind of idea for maybe a documentary about border control. There was some really interesting ideas brewing... what's next?
Melissa: COVID really goofed me up and I really just, it really did. So I feel like, okay, that year was... that's gone. So I have been looking into two or three different opportunities and one didn't pan out at all. I was ready to do one and the people decided they weren't ready to tell their story.
And it was a very difficult story. The border control stuff, I'm on a doc group and I've talked with a lot of the filmmakers there and they're warning me that there are a lot of films. In that genre that are being made right now or have just come out. So to really try to find a different angle. And the angle semi-related to that, not border control, but immigration is something I'm very interested in.
And there is an opportunity right now where I'm beginning to talk with a woman about her immigration story. And coming as an undocumented immigrant to the United States and what that was like. So hopefully that will get legs. But what I've learned is you have to have a lot of irons in the fire too, and then pick the one that says yes.
So that's where I am right now. And I hope to begin another one, soon.
Kristin: So is this something, I mean, obviously ,even the first time you decided to start making a film, you were at an age that you could have said I'm going to retire and, you had a good career, made a lot of money. Is it something that this is just going to continue until you absolutely can't do it anymore?
Have you quenched any of that thirst or is it just the
Melissa: quenched yet. I feel like I just graduated. Okay. Now I know how to make a film. So now why don't I try to do it without as much help from the production company, where I manage the production as well?
Um, yeah. I really want to do that. Not that I wasn't involved in the production, I produced it as well, but I had these people to lean on and they were wonderful. And I learned so much from them again, intergenerational. They were all in their twenties and thirties and they taught me how to make a film. They taught me that what the pitfalls were and how to get around them. So I almost feel like this next one, I need to really control it.
The way I want it done not to hand it off to anybody and to bring in people that I hand pick to help me do this. So I hope I do five more. The process is so exciting and so much fun. I can't imagine not doing it. So this is my retirement. It is making films.
I hope with an S and not "
Kristin: I'm also intrigued because the only criticism I would have about the film was that I, there were so many women, just the ones you ended up keeping in that I kind of went, oh, I could have used a little bit more about each one or, you know, if there them , then I would have known a little bit more about them or whatever.
So I also wonder if it's, worth, because you said you had, hundreds of people that you had, all these stories. Beyond Sixty 2, the Electric Boogaloo.
Yes. Yes. Funny you should ask because there was always this discussion that I was having with my production team about, should this be some kind of a series or, do you want to podcast? Do you want a web series? We threw that around and I didn't do anything with it.
And it just went, the film became so big and so it took up so much time that's what it became and that's what it was. And I wouldn't want to recreate beyond Sixty, like Beyond Seventy. I don't that I don't want to do, but I absolutely agree with you. And many women have said that to me, I wanted more, I wanted to hear more about Sarah or Susan or whoever it might be.
I wish that there was more time, but I'm glad I got to see that there were so many women that have so many interesting stories. I was recently introduced to a person in India. She lives in India and we had a chat last week and she was looking at my film and saying, you have something here and you could do something international with older women.
Having some type of a web series, some kind of a platform on the web where these women were either answering the question of the week and they come from 10 different countries, or you have them talking with one another and giving their experiences around a subject to show people how differently all of these women have lived and how they deal with issues.
So I am starting to think about that as well. The whole web series to keep it going. And I've just started doing some research into how that would be done.
Kristin: I can see it too, because of having seen you in the film and how you interacted with everyone and the questions you were asking, I could just see you surrounded by women and from around the world,
Melissa: I would love it.
Kristin: Yeah. I could just picture it. It would be really good. That was not a prompted question, by the way.
That was just a question I was curious about. So I'm so glad there was an answer that
Melissa: It's interesting because many people have asked that same question and that's what started putting it back into my mind about maybe there is more that people would want to hear. This was just the tip of the iceberg. It may be encouraging people to go talk to older women and hear their stories.
But to be able to include women from around the world who have entirely different experiences based on where they live. I think it would be cool. So I am knee deep and trying to find out what types of platforms on the web you might be able to do this on. What are the legal ramifications?
How would you deal with the actual filming? So I'm going through all of that. And then how do I find the women? But everybody I talked to says, oh, you have so many connections with people like you where I would say what women do you know?
Kristin: I know a few
So I think that's a possibility and it seems to me that there is this real need for more web content, which, people look, especially younger people look to the web for a lot of their information and a lot of their films and a lot of their, they look for shorts, they look for things that they can consume quickly that are meaningful. And I'm finding that by talking with much younger documentary filmmakers and people involved or interested in women's stories. So I'll... stay tuned on that one.
Kristin: Even though you said about COVID really screwing things up. One of the things that I saw with COVID is that, everybody took things online, including me for Slackline and it was something that everybody had to get really creative. Theatre professionals and people that normally would be doing live events.
So I do think that's the one thing, of course we all know zoom, but I think there are so many different ways now that we're seeing to put things online and I fear that once we get out since we're back doing things live again. So much of that will go away. And the accessibility, especially if you're looking at older people, cause I filmed a lot of videos for a group here that does fitness for over fifties and it was things they could do at home. So you think of somebody who doesn't have that accessibility. You hate to think that just because COVID goes away and a large percentage of the population is back out in the world that we lose what we've gained with accessibility and global conversations.
Melissa: I agree with that. I worry about that. But the younger individuals who are in the film world are telling me this is how people we're going to sit in their beds at night and watch, short films, long films dialogue between different people. They don't think it's going anywhere. They think it will always be there.
They think that business to business might change where businesses have been all the work has been done online that might go away and people might fall back into their office positions and using the phone and flying to see people to have a conversation, which in a sense is pretty crazy.
When I think back to the thousand times I got on an airplane to go see a customer.Why did I have to see them face to face? We could have done it this way. And I know that they have done that very successfully in this last year because I stay in touch with them. So to see that go back. I think, I don't know.
There seems to be a need to maybe marry both and have a little more balance so that people aren't on the road. So often
Kristin: Yeah. Even
Melissa: won't like it. Yes.
Kristin: so much of that, the environment got so much better because people weren't in cars and on planes.
Melissa: Can you believe that?
Kristin: That's crazy.
Melissa: And now we're going to go dirty the air again overnight.
Yeah. So it's all interesting, but yeah. So I'm trying to learn something new again about web offerings and what that would look like, but what it immediately does for me, which it didn't do
when I was thinking about the film, it allows me to access women from around the world. Whereas when I was thinking about, Ooh, I wish I could talk to her, but she's, in Uruguay or wherever she may be. There were a lot of women that I was very interested in that weren't in North America that I, couldn't get to very easily or it would have been such an expense.
It would have been ridiculous to think about getting a crew in a far away country to sit down for a few hours and then come back and edit that into the film. But how fascinating would it be for us to hear not only what it's like for American women as they get older and what their experience have been, but women from all over the world, because they have the same experiences,
but they're very different. So it's, very similar, but very different. And some of that may be political in nature or, what their family makeup is or how marriage is perceived from one country to the next. And I think that women need to support women in understanding that they're not all just like me.
And what could I do to help them get their stories out and feel better about where they are . I don't know. I don't know, but I find that very interesting.
Kristin: Well, I'll do the other call-out because I know we have listeners in Europe and I'm always getting on the charts in Kenya. So if any of you out in the world are listening. And want to talk to Melissa or want to talk to me for The Second Chapter that would be amazing because we obviously, we both very much love hearing stories of women past a certain age with very interesting lives.
Melissa: Absolutely. That would be awesome.
Kristin: So where can people watch?
Melissa: If you're in North America, it's easy because it's on all the cable channels, as well as all the streaming platforms like Vimeo, VooDoo, Microsoft, Google, Apple TV, iTunes all of those are available from Canada down to Mexico. Right now in Europe we don't have that, but we're working on a Vimeo a European V Vimeo link. And hopefully that will be available soon. And if people get connected to our website, Beyond Sixty spelled out S-I-X-T-Y dot com, you will be able to find out when that is available. but I will put those announcements out and you can shout it out and everybody can shout it out and we'll make sure that we'll make sure that our other continents get to see it as well.
Kristin: I feel so strongly about telling women well, 35 and up, but Beyond Sixty, even better. So thank you for sharing the Beyond Sixty Project with me and thank you for sharing it with the world.
I think it's a really amazing film and such a great concept.
Melissa: Thank you so much. I really appreciate your support. And I loved getting to know you so I guess we'll be chatting again, not necessarily on a podcast, we do have a zoom or whatever, where we can stay in touch.
Kristin: Yes, definitely. We have kindred spirits.
Kristin: Thank you for coming back and joining me again. It was really nice to see you.
Melissa: Thanks a lot.
Kristin: Take care.
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