Three time Telly Award winning filmmaker, Sue Vicory was born in DeKalb, Illinois and grew up in the Midwest. Sue and her husband of 39 years have raised two daughters and are now first time grandparents.
She began working at her family business, W.F. Norman Corp. in Nevada, Missouri in 1987 where she continues as co-owner and CFO. She received a Master's Degree from Webster University in Computer Resource Management. Sue is a long time runner and has completed three marathons. Her other life passions are film, music, travel and anything outdoors. Since 2003 Sue has been creating community-based films and projects within her not for profit production company, Heartland Films, Inc.
Her first film was entitled Homelessness & the Power of One. The film debuted in 2005, shortly after Katrina hit New Orleans. It raised $200,000 for shelters, won numerous awards and screened from coast to coast. The ten-minute documentary took three years to make as she traveled to 15 cities across the U.S. Sue screened the film at a luncheon for Steve Lopez (The Soloist) and won an emerging filmmaker grant sponsored by General Motors and Women in Film. Sue won the Spirit Award in 2007 from Kansas City Women in Film & TV and the Angel Award in Harlem, NY. She served on the Board of Directors of KC Women in Film & TV for five years.
Sue's next film took five years to complete. This feature documentary, Kansas City Jazz & Blues; Past, Present & Future debuted as a sneak peek in 2010 at the Gem theater on 18th & Vine in Kansas City with Marilyn Maye headlining the VIP red carpet event. The full release of the film was in 2011 as it aired on PBS in June of 2011 and January of 2012.
On the heels of that film's release came another short film titled 1898, The W.F. Norman Story. The 20 minute film tells the story of Sue's family business which has been in continuous operation since 1898. It is a historic look at a manufacturing process that has stood the test of time while creating products for movie sets, Disney World, casinos, celebrity homes and historic preservation projects worldwide.
Sue's fourth film One a feature documentary film premiered in July of 2014. One is a film about global humanity. It won a 2014 Telly Award. She then published a companion book, After the Question, which was written and illustrated by her daughters. Sue also commissioned a bronze statue named Humanity by artist, Maidy Morhous. A video called The Making of Humanity narrates that journey.
In 2015 Sue created Team XX, an all-female team of filmmakers. Team XX was the first ever all female team to enter the 48 hour San Diego film project. A team of 25 women created the film "Down Stage". It was nominated for the Spirit of San Diego award and won a 2016 Telly award. Sue's short narrative film Absent was made in late 2014. Absent had its world premiere in San Diego and won 1st place in the Audience Choice Awards. The film was then nominated for three awards at the San Diego film festival and won a 2015 Telly Award.
Women Documentary Filmmakers is a web site Sue created for the global visibility of women documentary filmmakers. To learn more, www.womendocumentaryfilmmakers.com In 2016, Sue traveled with her husband and golden retriever on a 12 month 30,000 mile tour through 48 states called My Power of One 12 Acts of Kindness promoting her brand My Power of One. To learn more, visit www.mypowerofone.com
The summer of 2017 Sue served as Associate Producer for the reality show Win Place Show. Season One aired in the fall of 2017 on TVG and TVG2. For the past three years Sue has been Co-Producer of the San Diego film awards. She is a presenter and judge for the awards. Sue has been an Emmy judge for the past six years and she is a member of the LA based, Alliance of Women Directors.
1. When did your dream of becoming a filmmaker begin?
In 2002 I asked myself who I wanted to be the second half of my life and within one hour I was signed up to film school. I was 48 years old at the time.
2. Why did you choose to start your own company, "Heartland Films"? If a filmmaker would like to start their own production company, what would be some advice you'd pass along?
I’m not sure why I got so clever and started a 501(c) 3 production company but it has served my films very well. Not only can I fund my own films and write it off but, additionally the travel and expenses connected to each film. It has also helped us raise money for lots of good causes. Many of my film premieres have included a major fundraising element. It just seemed like a formula that worked well. Do some research and make a decision that suits your style of filmmaking. This one worked for me.
3. What has been your greatest achievement as a filmmaker?
That’s a great question for someone like me who feels all things are relative. I guess at this point I’d say helping other women find confidence in manifesting their personal dreams. I’m a self- starter and generally nothing gets in the way of completing what I set out to do. It’s been a fun journey and that’s available to everyone.
4. Tell us a little about the process and the experience of making Homelessness and The Power of One.
I love that question and it’s one I’ve spent a great deal of time talking about in public. My first film was so successful in terms of what it did for my filmmaking trajectory and in many ways it was the most transformational experience that has ever shown up in my life to date. Where do I begin? It took me three years to make this film which was only ten minutes long. Keeping in mind that when I started I barely knew how to turn a camera on. Over those three years I traveled bravely to 15 cities to meet our nation’s homeless. It was very purpose driven and light bulbs went off within me throughout the process. I was reading everything I could get my hands on about homelessness and took it on like a thesis for graduate school. Honestly, I fell in love with this community. It represented humanity and each of our potential for vulnerabilities. I learned so much about mankind but I was also available, willing and ready to receive the stories these souls sat before me to tell. I’d sit in parks in Washington D. C. and would venture under bushes to tour someone’s make shift home. I’d feed the homeless, meet the homeless, befriend the homeless and it sparked so much curiosity within me that finishing the film and calling it complete was almost as difficult as beginning it. When I look back at this accomplishment in my life it could definitely qualify as a pinnacle experience.
5. How did this lead to the TV Movie, My Power of One?
Well, MPO1 began as a web series based on the experience I had meeting a homeless gal in Kansas City. Then it evolved into a feature documentary film titled One about global humanity, whereas I had the opportunity to film in South Africa. And from there it evolved into a life style brand called My Power of One which now sells inspirational shirts and merchandise all over the world. I’ve mostly followed the lead as this has continued to morph into more and more of my life’s destiny. I don’t know how else to explain it.
6. Tell us a little about the work you have done with TV series such as Film InDiego and Win Place Show? How is this different than working on a film?
I have at this point Executive Produced a dozen or more films which includes Film InDiego. I was Associate Producer on Win Place Show which is a reality TV show. I learned so much from that experience. Continuing to expand my knowledge within the craft of visual storytelling is why I do what I do. I love to learn.
7. You've started in the film industry later in life. What would be some words of wisdom you'd like to share to those doing the same?
At each chapter of our lives we have the opportunity to begin again or recreate. That is true for each and every day until we are no longer here. I’ve not been able to steer away from filmmaking in 15 years even though after every film I say “this is my last film”. Opportunities continue to show up and I continue to say ‘yes’.
8. What has been the greatest lesson you've learned during this journey?
I’d have to say trust your intuitive self. Say no when you mean no. If I hesitate about accepting an invitation that means no for me. I only say yes to things that fill me with passion and purpose. Life is too short for anything else.
9. Did you ever imagine your “Power of One” initiative would take off as it has, and where do you hope to see things in five years’ time?
The bottom line for me is that I LOVE adventure which equates often into destination unknown. It keeps even me guessing about what’s next. I trust that the universe knows far more than I do, and the timing of everything is always one hundred percent perfect if I trust that. I started MPO1 with the intention of it being a global brand. It has to date far exceeded what I could have ever imagined. I’m in for the long haul and I love surprises.
10. The film industry changed drastically over the last decade with modern technology. If you could share some words of wisdom for a young filmmaker just starting out, what would you say?
Sure, it’s not that hard. Change is one thing we can count on. I embrace change. Jump in with both feet and don’t look back. It’s the most invigorating experience you’ll ever commit to.