Independent filmmaker Jenn Potts speaks about shooting her short film ’The Extraordinary World Of Cecily Blinkstop’ at her Fitchburg home on
Independent filmmaker Jenn Potts speaks about shooting her short film 'The Extraordinary World Of Cecily Blinkstop' at her Fitchburg home on Wednesday, July 11, 2017 (ASHLEY GREEN)

FITCHBURG -- Independent filmmaker Jennifer Potts doesn't just want to tell a story through her new short film, which started shooting at her Fitchburg home this weekend.

She wants to provide opportunities to women who work in film, both in front of the camera and behind it.

"Coming out of film school right now 50 percent of students are female," she said. "On a particular film set you will see maybe 20 percent, and that's on a good film set."

Of the 30 people working on her new short film "The Extraordinary World of Cecily Blinkstop," about 65 percent are women, she said, exceeding her goal of splitting the male-to-female ratio on set.

1970’s decor fills the Fitchburg home of Independent filmmaker Jenn Potts as she prepares to shoot her short film ’The Extraordinary World Of
1970's decor fills the Fitchburg home of Independent filmmaker Jenn Potts as she prepares to shoot her short film 'The Extraordinary World Of Cecily Blinkstop', as seen on Wednesday, July 12, 2017. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green (ASHLEY GREEN)

Ava Gaudet, who will play the mother in the short, said she has noticed a lower number of women on sets, especially behind the scenes, during her career, which includes television shows like "Ugly Betty," "NCIS," "Private Practice" and "The Exes."

"The issue is two-fold," Gaudet said. "It's a matter of women making it a goal to get into that side of the industry, and it's also a matter of people hiring them."

Potts -- who formerly ran Cornerstone Performing Arts Center in Fitchburg -- is trying to break into the film industry herself after a mid-life career change.

At 41, she started studying film at Fitchburg State University and graduated with a master of fine arts in writing for the stage and screen from the New Hampshire Institute of Art.


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The feature-length script of "The Extraordinary World of Cecily Blinkstop," which tells the story of a 7-year-old girl grieving the loss of her baby sister, won the grand prize at the New England Spotlight section of the Rhode Island International Film Festival's 2016 Screenplay Competition.

The script was a finalist to receive funding from New York Women in Film and Television, Potts said.

"It's very hard as a first time feature director to get funding," she said.

Zoe Cohen paints a toy box to match the 1970’s decor that fills the Fitchburg home of Independent filmmaker Jenn Potts as she prepares to shoot her
Zoe Cohen paints a toy box to match the 1970's decor that fills the Fitchburg home of Independent filmmaker Jenn Potts as she prepares to shoot her short film 'The Extraordinary World Of Cecily Blinkstop', as seen on Wednesday, July 12, 2017. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green (ASHLEY GREEN)
"Even harder as a woman."

Potts was ultimately not awarded the funding, but she hopes this shorter film based on the same script will act as the "proof of concept" that the New York organization and other funders look for when supporting new creators.

The film, which runs less than 15 minutes, is based on the first 14-pages of the "The Extraordinary World of Cecily Blinkstop," and will act as its own self-contained piece, which she plans to show at high-profile film festivals.

In the film, 7-year-old Cecily and her family are grieving the death of her baby sister when an imaginary friend appears.

"Sometimes stories come from a lot of different places," Potts said.

Independent filmmaker Jenn Potts stands in front of a neighbor’s home that will be used for exterior shots for her short film ’The
Independent filmmaker Jenn Potts stands in front of a neighbor's home that will be used for exterior shots for her short film 'The Extraordinary World Of Cecily Blinkstop', as seen on Wednesday, July 12, 2017. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green (ASHLEY GREEN)

Early in her marriage, Potts, now 46, said she had three miscarriages, which, in part, inspired the film.

Will Bouvier plays Kevin Blinkstop, the father in the story.

"He's really just trying to hold it together for his family," he said.

Bouvier, who previously worked with Potts through Cornerstone Performing Arts Center, lives in Shirley.

Potts said her goal was to hire at least 80 percent New England cast and crew for the production, which she is filming at two homes on Alpine Road in Fitchburg.

Several days before the filming, the period-1974 sets were already in place complete with paneled walls, brown sofas and a colorful painted chest.

Bouvier and Gaudet said they were looking forward to getting started.


"I'm really excited to finally do it and get there," Gaudet said. "(Potts) really has a great handle on the scheduling, and the whole process just looks really put together. It just looks like it's going to be a really great production."

Follow Elizabeth Dobbins on Twitter @DobbinsSentinel.