The Heroine’s Journey of Melissa Davey

What is the best thing that I love about my work?

That it allows me to use my creative skills and, in the process, offers a multitude of learning experiences about myself and others.

What is my idea of happiness?

I equate happiness with peace. When I feel the most peaceful I enjoy true happiness. To create my happiness I have learned to balance all of the activities that I must do with all of the activities I want to do. Many times they are diametrically opposed so I keep that in mind when planning my days. I have become much better with this balance as I have aged.

What is my greatest fear?

My greatest fear is not living long enough to get through my bucket list!

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself?

My lack of patience related to my expectations of myself and others. I work on that every day.

Which living persons in my profession do I most admire?

In the world of independent filmmaking I admire many but I will pick one, Sarah Polley, a much celebrated actor and filmmaker (Away from Her, Stories we Tell, Women Talking) who is innovative in her approach to storytelling and so relatable.

What is my greatest extravagance?

My greatest extravagance is funding my own films. Being a newbie to the industry of filmmaking at 65 I did not have the name recognition nor time to try the slow approach of finding funding so I did it myself. Now at 72 and in editing on my second film, I have once again gone headlong into the project with my own funds. I call it an extravagance because I am not wealthy and I suppose I could argue that the money I am using could be put to better use in my retirement years.

On what occasion would I lie?

I suppose I would lie to save myself or a family member if the occasion required it. Hopefully I will never find out.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work? I dislike the time it takes to edit a film. Remember, I talked about patience? Well, my patience is tested often when making the film come alive. I would prefer to have the process fast tracked and without much pause. That, however, is not how it works.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work?

As a 72 year old who didn’t enter the filmmaking world until age 65 I had two major careers prior to filmmaking. Non-profit management and corporate executive management. I have found” happiest occasions” in all three. When I think about the happiest times, they are all related to me creating something. In the non-profit world I represented individuals before administrative agencies. Nothing made me happier than helping someone obtain benefits through the creation of legal arguments. In the corporate world I was happy when creating solutions for customers. In film, I am happiest when creating and completing a film and receiving feedback from viewers that what I created is inspirational. Creating positive experiences for others makes me happy.

If I could, what would I change about myself?

I would like to change/improve my physical activity levels to try and extend my healthy life as long as possible. I know what I need to do but don’t follow routines religiously.

What is my greatest achievement in work?

My greatest achievement in work has been my ability to create the teams of people I needed to ensure goals were achieved or surpassed. As a filmmaker with no experience or training I was able to create and complete a film that went on to distribution. Trying something new, sticking with it to completion and having it be a success is the greatest achievement.

Where would I most like to live?

I would love to live in Europe with access to all the cities and countries just a train ride away.

What is my most treasured possession?

My most treasured possession is my home. I am acutely aware of how lucky I am to have a roof, running water, heat and air conditioning.

What is my most marked characteristic?

If curiosity is a characteristic I would say that is it. I am very interested in exploring new ideas and experiences and learning about other people’s thoughts in an effort to challenge my own.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city?

The most inspirational location in Philadelphia is City Hall with the iconic figure of

William Penn standing tall above the building. I think of my ancestors looking up at or walking past this architectural marvel and wonder what their lives were like and what they were thinking when they stood in this spot.

What is my favorite place to eat and drink, in my city?

I live in the burbs of Philadelphia but going into Philly, which is a foodie’s paradise, I tend to try different restaurants each time I go. Tria for wine and cheese and Fork for dinner are among favorites.

What books influenced my life and how?

Catcher in the Rye: it made me really think about the protection of children and the struggle and resistance to growing up.

The Red Tent: It is a story that challenges you and offers deep and rich views into the magic of womanhood, quite profound.

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day?

Robert Johnson-the original voice of the Blues-Crossroads is a favorite.

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction?

Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. The six year old narrated the story and was a feisty heroine who pushed up against all the adults in defense of her father, Atticus Finch. She also tackled the issue of racism which was admirable for a girl who may not have been able to spell the word!

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life?

My heroes and heroines in real life are the doctors and nurses who save lives, the teachers who make a difference, the leaders who set aside politics to protect their people, the military and police that work to protect us and the everyday people who put themselves in harms way to help another.

Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime?

Rear Window, Alfred Hitchcock, director. I consider this to be one of Hitchcock’s best. Beautifully acted and directed, all from one room. Brilliant!

What role play stories in my life and work?

Stories have been one of the most important aspects of my life and work from the time I was a child. I grew up reading and fantasizing about the characters. Movies became part of my life very early on and I remember the feeling of being transported as a viewer. I thrived on other people’s stories. Still do.

Story telling and work are one in the same. When I was advocating for disabled or marginalized individuals I was telling their stories to a Judge or other administrative decision makers. When I was in the corporate world I was telling the stories of our services in order to secure new business. As a documentary filmmaker I am listening to and telling the stories of women in an effort to inspire others. Storytelling is a part of my makeup.

What do the words ‘You are the storyteller of your own life’ to me?

I believe that we each get to create our own story no matter what our upbringing was and no matter what expectations were placed upon us to be who someone else thought we should be. It takes years of curious reflection and honesty to decide which paths in life we will take. Recognizing free will and the things in life that bring you joy should lead you to where you want your story to take you. We must not be afraid to create our own story.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?

My husband John. He has supported me for decades as I continued to grow and change and then grow and change some more. He is a steady force, a safety net and usually willing to follow me on any adventure. He lets me be me. A great gift.

Which people or companies would I like to work with ?

I would love the opportunity to work with Geena Davis of the Geena Davis Institute to create more opportunities for bringing women’s voices forward. Oprah Winfrey who is one of the greatest storytellers of our time. Her ability to connect people and offer the stories of everyday people is inspiring and to be able to work with her to promote women’s stories would be amazing. Greta Gerwig, Sophia Coppola and Ava DuVernay, all remarkable directors who have amazing skills in their craft. A dream would be to spend a day following each of the women mentioned to observe and learn from them.

What project am I looking forward to work on?

I am currently in the throes of editing my second film, Climbing into Life. This is my second film and it is the story about the oldest woman to ascend El Capitan in Yosemite. I am looking forward to stitching her life story together and seeing where it lands! Trailer:

Where can you see me or my work?

My first film, Beyond Sixty, is currently streaming on AppleTV, Prime Video, Vimeo, Vudu, Tubi, GoogleTV and cable OnDemand. The trailer for the film can be seen:

Facebook: @BeyondSixtyDocumentary



Instagram: @gettingoldbutwhocares



LinkedIn: @MelissaDavey

Twitter: @DaveyLissa

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me?

The words Passion Never Retires is one of my mantras. Nearing 73 years old I am passionately making films about other older women. Listening to their stories, and reflecting on my own, I know that as long as you find the things that give you passion it will sustain you no matter what your age.

Which creative professionals should Peter invite to tell their story?

Diana Dunbar Place

Michelle Fishburne

Sky Bergman

Bonnie Marcus

Franne McNeal

Visnja Clayton

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