MOTHERSHIP, the documentary

Sacramento, California | Film Feature

Documentary, LGBTQ

Beth Nelsen

1 Campaigns | California, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $7,165 for post-production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

128 supporters | followers

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Women's festivals have been critiqued harshly and are becoming extinct. Sharing the word about this kind of event is bold and in the spirit of feminism, we are calling on collaboration from our communities. We invite you to be part of this extraordinary journey to launch these voices into the world.

About The Project

  • The Story
  • Wishlist
  • Updates
  • The Team
  • Community

Mission Statement

The film covers MOTHERSHIP, the “safe space,” that is an all women's, trans inclusive, three-year young festival that spans three days in the Coachella Valley. Themes of intersectional feminism- those of gender identity, race, and other topics unique to this four wave of feminism are explored.

The Story

At the end of 2016, MOTHERSHIP founder Laura Wise contacted me after seeing CAMP BEAVERTON: MEET THE BEAVERS, the film Ana Grillo and I made about Camp Beaverton, the all women's, trans inclusive, sex positive camp at Burning Man in 2012, and asked if I'd be interested in making a film about her festival, MOTHERSHIP, which would take place in October, 2017. My partner was pregnant then and due in February 2017, so I knew that logistically, the timing could work. After further discussion with Laura, I was hooked on the idea of looking at feminism today because I am curious as to where the thoughts and feelings about feminism stand with the young women and queer folk coming into their own voices now. I've always been passionate about seeing all voices have equal platform to being heard and I suppose this a a huge reason why I've chosen documentary as a means to give voice to the unheard. MOTHERSHIP was an easy Yes and what we discovered was that today’s generation has a lot to say about the intersections within feminism and that even the mere act of attempting to highlight these voices is empowering; this film is an act of empowerment, in and of itself, and we invite you to be a part of it.


Tegan & Sara with crew members Kristina Rodriguez, Beth Nelsen, and Victoria Rodriguez-- our twins captured their twins!


Participants listen to one of the many panels happening at MOTHERSHIP.


I came out of the closet in 1994 and went off to UCLA for college, where my coming of age was fostered by the likes of West Hollywood in the 1990’s: though a lot of fun, it was very male, very body focused, and very white. Where there were female spaces, they were not always very diverse and they didn’t last long. Little Frida’s coffee shop in WeHo closed down. The women’s festivals of my time had reputations for not being terribly inclusive, particularly around trans issues. MOTHERSHIP just IS trans inclusive; gender expression is up to the individual and  what I loved about MOTHERSHIP was that everyone we spoke too felt held in who they are. 


MOTHERSHIP particpants cool off in the shade.

Similar to MEET THE BEAVERS, which did go on to enjoy a long shelf life on video on demand platforms like Hulu and Amazon, MOTHERSHIP is a passion project by female filmmakers that is fueled by the desire to center women's stories in a feature documentary. In 2012, Ana and I  jumped in a vehicle to go make a film about Camp Beaverton, a women's community at Burning Man, and this time we did it similarly, only we had a few more team members with us. With only 48 hours to capture MOTHERSHIP, we knew we needed a team who was strong, had the stamina, and didn’t mind partaking in a run-and-gun style of filmmaking. The financial component was also important: I did not have a ton of funds to pay people for their time, so I had to choose people who have a similar passion for women’s stories and who also were willing to support the project by donating their time. I knew I probably also had to know these people personally, so I called upon the some of the strongest female filmmakers that I love: Ana Grillo (my co-director of MEET THE BEAVERS, then based in Thailand), Marcela Coto (a Los Angeles based filmmaker and my sister-in-law), and my favorite twin dynamo team from Sacramento, Kristina and Victoria Rodriguez, one of whom I met five years ago on OKCupid, (we won't tell you which one!). Despite no payment being guaranteed, all four gave a resounding YES and on their own funds, gathered their equipment, and agreed to meet in the Coachella Valley for the festival that would take place October 13-15, 2017.  


We spoke to some who had never pitched a tent before but made a lot of friends learning!


At 3am on October 9, 2018, less than a week before we were supposed to head south for MOTHERSHIP, I woke up to the strong smell of smoke in my home in Napa, California, and hours later, California Governor Brown declared Napa County to be in a state of emergency. With a seven month old baby and an asthmatic partner, I quickly chucked all of our MOTHERSHIP gear into the car and fled town with my family. The event is meant to be 21+ only, but our baby was permitted to join the crew, given the unique circumstances. It was all a bit more rushed than we would have preferred, but in the end we all made it safely and set up our HQ.


Renting an RV was our best bet for our camera gear in the desert conditions.


The gates opened to the public on Friday, October 13th, just before noon and we hit the ground running, talking to the participants about safe space, brave space, gender identity and expression, race, body positivity, and other aspects on intersectional feminism. Before we knew it, we were shooting the final group photo on Sunday afternoon, just 48 hours after the gates had opened. All the crew had an amazing time at MOTHERSHIP and we gathered more than enough footage to give the audience a visually satisfying experience of what happened at the event. We met some stellar talent, including Tegan & Sara, Faarrow, Madison Paige, Madame Gandhi, and Whitney Mixter. Additionally, we got to engage in conversations with people from many chapters of life, not confined to just millennials.  


Rodriguez twins, Victoria (left) and Kristina (far right) with Madame Gandhi.


What I loved about MOTHERSHIP was that people felt really free to voice their opinions, knowing they'd be held in respect, and it was an incredible gift to bear witness to person after person stepping into their own power to share their thoughts with us. I think that all too often our voices our squashed, so to be in a space where we all felt brave, was truly inspiring. The last day of the festival, October 15, 2017, #metoo had gained a lot of traction and so I knew that the timing, coupled with our current political climate, was also right and that featuring these voices, through an intersectional lens, could also potentially contribute to change on a larger scale, beyond a festival in Southern California: a world where women feel safe enough to experience bravery; solid in their self worth to know their value; and the ability to walk through the world in their most authentic self expression, knowing they’re loved and truly seen for who they are as human.  


Anna, one of the participants you will meet in the film. 

At the end of the festival, we could not return just yet, with the fires still burning and the bad air quality, but eventually we all landed in our respective homes and I went to work transcribing the interviews and the twins went to work organizing the media. 130+ pages, a few months, and many hours of effort from the twins and myself, the team was finally ready to start piecing together rough cuts. Nobody was paid, everyone put in their own time because we really believed in the project.


Chi, one of the participants you will meet in the film.


Like anything in life, a project is only as good as the team and I feel so fortunate to have the team that we have. We’ve been granted some music at a heavily discounted price and we are so grateful to Madame Gandhi for letting us use her song, The Future Is Female, for our first trailer, as well as to the Los Angeles based band WASI, for use of seven of their songs in the film. Yes, I said SEVEN of their songs. Amazing band! We want to pay them more! We are so grateful all of the people who contributed their voices to this film. Everyone was truly generous with us.


Shana, one of the participants you will meet in the film. 


On December 24, 2017, we released our trailer on social media. People were really responding positively. We still had a long road ahead of us, but we knew where we wanted to go and we knew we would have an audience. The most challenging aspect has been time; coordinating schedules, volunteering our time to come together and work on the project. As a new parent and being married to a working partner, I found this particularly challenging, but we've managed to come this far and finally, an end is in sight. There are a just a few of the bigger expenses ahead of us, things we need actual cash for and so we've decided this is our platform. We really believe that crowdfunding is a collaborative experience and collaboration is a key ingredient to feminism. We would love to have you on board the MOTHERSHIP!



Women await this film. Queers await this film. Feminists await this celebration of our ultra inclusive sisterhood and we cannot wait to share it with you.


-Beth Nelsen



Use the WishList to Pledge cash and Loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an Incentive directly.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

Color Grading

Costs $2,200

We're at 60 minutes of picture to be graded. We want to look good for you!

Sound Mix

Costs $2,200

We got some good sound, but we really want to rock you!

Music License Fees

Costs $2,000

Artists deserve to be paid for their work. We've got some great music!

Digital Cinema Package

Costs $1,000

DCP's are becoming the festival standard for screening. We need a pro's help for this.

Festival Fees

Costs $1,000

Submission, postage, and travel add up fast, but it's the cost of connecting to our audience.

Graphic Design

Costs $500

We don't do this, but Sarah does & she's incredible! We want to pay her so she can feed her monkey!

About This Team

from left to right: Victoria Rodriguez, Kiran Gandhi (Madame Gandhi), Kristina Rodriguez.



Victoria is an Emmy nominated editor who is based in Sacramento, California. She worked for PBS for over ten years and now currently freelances as an editor and shooter. When asked to join the MOTHERSHIP documentary team, she was an emphatic YES and also put her hand up to do the editing. I picked Victoria because she is organized, creative, reliable, and has an eye and ear, as well as the passion, for cutting video and music together. She has been working incredibly hard for months now and we are so close to finishing!



Kristina Rodriguez has been working in “all thing’s production” for the past 20 years doing tv/video, theatre, and live events. She worked at an affiliate for PBS for over 10 years where she designed sets and lights for a variety of events and national television shows. Being creative for work is something she enjoys and is beyond thrilled to be aboard the Mothership. She is the twin to Victoria, which has been very convenient for all the hard post production work we've been putting in over the last several months. 


Christina and Beth Nelsen


Beth's mom likes to say she fights for the underdog. As a storyteller, she is passionate about using the documentary platform to build bridges of understanding into worlds that are still working to be seen. Beth's last film, CAMP BEAVERTON: MEET THE BEAVERS, gave voice to the LGBTQ community, worldwide. Of Tewa heritage, Nelsen also serves as the Technological Elder and produces films for the Suscol Intertribal Council as well as serving on the Mental Health Board of her community in Napa, California. 



Relationship therapist by day and production crew by circumstance, Christina is passionate about what this team is trying to do and so when Beth asked her to join this campaign team, she was an easy Yes. She is a clinical psychologist who has never been part of a film crew but she brings organization, a marketing mind, and the cheerleading we need to get through this final push. 


Current Team