1. From fairy tale to fairy godmother

    Princess Anne Banton-LoftersWhen I first interviewed Princess Anne Banton-Lofters I felt her life read like a modern fairy tale. She had been a young single mother from Toronto who worked in a bank.  Then, she met a handsome man, fell in love, got married and moved to Atlanta. Shortly afterwards, she created and produced one of the hottest shows on Bravo TV, The Real Housewives of Atlanta. You can read all about it my original interview. http://www.dolcedolce.com/?tag=princess-anne-banton-lofters

    A year later, I met with Princess as she launched her new production company, Loft 22. A lot has changed in that time. Princess is the still the same outgoing, friendly women I first met. In case you are wondering about the lady behind The Real Housewives of Atlanta, she is attractive, well-spoken and not remotely wild or crazy acting. Princess Anne is her real name. She has a sense of humour and there is no doubt she loves her adopted southern home.
    Beneath her mild-mannered exterior, this transplanted Canadian is ambitious. She is building her own film and TV empire here in the south. She has a spanking new production facility in hip midtown Atlanta. There is also an exciting new project called Boy’s ClubATL in development. It sounds like Real Housewives with a cast of high-status men.
    So, Princess is also holding the first Southern Television and Film Summit (STAFS) this October in Atlanta. She is very excited about it.
    Her enthusiasm for the region is hard to contain. She explained that, as we spoke, there were 265 productions shooting in Georgia. She rocked back and smiled as she delivers her coup de grace; there is a 35 percent tax break on all types of film and TV production in the state.
    Princess wrangled some impressive talent for the STAFS. Her keynote speaker for the event is independent film and television producer Monty Ross. He is best known for his work with Spike Lee on films such as She’s Gotta Have It. He has 27 years of experience the industry.
    Attendees will also hear from and have access to an impressive list of industry insiders. They are all listed on the website.  But most important to those who aspire to write, direct, or produce, is the opportunity to pitch. For a small additional fee, participates will get to pitch their projects one-on-one to an appropriate industry insider. I asked Princess point-blank whether these would be legitimate opportunities. She answered me with an emphatic ‘yes’. She told me that one of her main motivations in starting the STAFS, “is to give someone else the opportunity I had. Not everyone gets the opportunities I have had,” she said ruefully.
    Princess has very clear ideas about how her weekend of television and film mentoring will run. The summit will take place in one big room – even food and drink will be available there. “I didn’t want anyone thinking they missed anything or that they were left out of anything”, she explained. “This way, if they miss something, it is because they chose to leave and miss it.” She also accepted only experts who agreed to interact with the attendees. She told me she did not want anyone to speak who wanted to just speak and leave. She still has high hopes of getting Bravo’s Andy Cohen to participate. But because of his heavy work schedule, she won’t know until closer to the date. Andy Cohen is Vice-President of Bravo, the cutting edge realty TV network, as well as a popular on-air personality.
    As she spoke, I remembered our first interview. She described her initial life-changing meeting with a television executive; it was facilitated by mutual friends. She also described her access here in Atlanta to a much flossier lifestyle than she had in Canada. The women she met at parties here became the inspiration for The Real Housewives of Atlanta. This was followed by many months of travel between Los Angeles and Atlanta
    Princess laughed when I said she had come a long way from working in a bank in Toronto. She candidly shared that she had also worked very hard as a single mother attain her position in that bank. I don’t doubt it. In of spite of her success, there is something real and refreshing about Princess in her aspirations for herself and others. It could also explain why she has kept the cost of the summit very affordable. A student pass for all three days is $150, and an advance registration pass for all three days is $249.
    She also told me that her teenage son, Anthony, was working at Loft 22 for the summer. “He gets the perks, so he has to know it isn’t all for free”. She said with a laugh. The mother and son clearly adore each other. But I could tell she meant business. As we chatted, it became clear that Princess has no intention of bringing up a spoiled child.
    I am interested to see how the next chapter of Princess Anne Banton-Lofter’s modern fairy tale plays out, as she transforms herself from the woman who got her fairytale dream-come-true, to a fairy godmother for television and film hopefuls.
    The Southern Film and Television Summit in AtlantaOctober 15-17, 2010 information: http://www.stafsummit.com/index.html