One of the great things about being an artist is getting the opportunity to create something that is totally authentic, totally and completely aligned with your personal vision. The irony in filmmaking is that unless you are going to run the camera, hang the lights, run the sound, and do all the acting, (which is impossible) it is a completely collaborative process.
Personally, I love collaborating, but there is an art to it, just like there is an art to conversation. In my opinion, the art lies in one single element: listening. You must be able to listen deeply, not just to the words someone is saying, but to their body language, their energy, and all the little hints in how they choose to share with you. If you focus on connecting, and not on “being right,” or “having your say,” then collaboration becomes a beautiful dance – an experience of connecting within an energy field toward a particular goal. I have worked hard at this art, and feel that it is one of the reasons I make a good director.
I had the great pleasure of experiencing this transcendent connection with not only my lead actor, Julian Elfer, but with my DP, Alex di Suvero. Each person has a different way of connecting, a different way of communicating but both are intense and beautiful.
Julian is so soulful all you have to do is look in his eyes and you can see his understanding and compassion for the human condition, but you can’t just jump in there, you have to earn his trust. Conversely, Alex is always looking out at the world (natural for a Director of Photography) and we tended to communicate via the visual of the shot. He, too, required me to earn his faith. I believe that I did so. As the director, my job was to pay attention to their communicating, to earn their respect by being humble and showing them respect… and theirs was to respect and listen to mine. Once we all made that leap into trust because we were all equally passionate and devoted, I believe a greater conversation began to unfold: we were listening to more than one another, we were listening to the work.
On the last day, the three of us, with our fourth amazing, silent, and essential AC (assistant cameraman) Nikita Carpenter, and our fifth incredible team member, gaffer Christopher Bye, the five of us danced together with the Steadicam (a camera attached to the DP that allows him to move with the actor) up, down, and around Riverside Drive. It was a magical moment and the shot was (if you will forgive me) magnificent, almost transcendent of time. This, I believe, was a direct result of co-joined LISTENING.
(Not to be forgotten, we were also blessed with AJ Wilhelm, who ran sound AND did our production photos. AJ’s energy is that of a complete artist and I am so grateful for his presence, his creativity, his passion and compassion for the work. In addition we had the brilliant Nick Stergiopolous as our script supervisor (essential for the amount of continuity issues we were dealing with), the amazing Julie Lucas (“Belle” from “Flip Fantasia” as our associate producer, the hilarious Chris Nunez (“E” from “Flip Fantasia”) and the incomparable Eliana Mullins (our PA and appearance as “the girl on the street” in “Flip Fantasia”) on board running one million PA duties as well as other Secret Stuff.)
This is the ecstasy part of filmmaking: having a great cast and crew, feeling like everyone is behind your vision, and getting to be in the presence of “the extra element.” It cannot be compared to, in my opinion. It is exquisite.
The agony belongs to the physical toll the work takes. Hours and hours on your feet, lack of sleep, lack of rest, and an emotional exhaustion that is hard to describe. The cost is that you’ve laid yourself out 100%, spending vital emotional energy that will now no longer be with you. In short: it takes everything you have to give, right from your guts and your bones. That said, it is worth it. Completely.
I am very, very proud of “Flip Fantasia,” and so grateful for the incredibly support you have all given it. I hope that you will come with me again for “The World of Fuh.” My goal is always to make beautiful stories that will touch your heart and hopefully expand all our ideas about what it means to be human. Stories about love, loss, and loneliness mean a great deal to me, as well as stories about how important we are to one another and how hard it can be to allow love in. I have the deepest respect for humanity and for you, the audience, and will always strive to give you the very best of myself, my art, my thoughts, my words, and my visual expression. You are here. You are human. You suffer, you pine, and you love. You deserve it.
I am lucky to make the work I do. Thank you for joining me and connecting with me to the greater human story. Thank you for coming with me on this journey. I could not do it without you.
PS: You can see more photos on our Instagram page: #worldoffuh or follow our progress on Twitter: @WorldofFuh https://twitter.com/WorldofFuh
Tomorrow I get on a plane to shoot my second short film in NYC. I love directing my own writing. It feels wonderful to be able to put together a team and create a vision that feels authentic after many years of serving other people’s vision. I feel joy when I make these stories, and have many stored up from years of jotting down notes and ideas about things that matter to me. I don’t think of myself as a “female filmmaker” I’m just a creative artist, making work. Painting, writing, making music, directing… it’s all the same at a certain level.
This is not to say that I don’t realize how much the world of film can be a “man’s world” or a “boy’s club,” I simply choose to ignore it. Perhaps it’s all my years of being an actress, but I think I have quite possibly have heard and chose to ignore some pretty heinous comments: from burps as useless as “Nice ass” to lovely sentences like “Keep your bimbo emails to yourself.” That and much much worse. Smart ass comments about my being a woman are something I loathe, frankly.
But I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to contemplate the possibility that I am being constantly judged differently because of my sex. As Kimberly Pierce mentions in this article in the NY Times, it is just the same as telling a black person they weren’t invited to a party because it was an all white event. Call it racism or sexism, it’s all a form of bullying, really. Bullying based on fear and ignorance. Not only that, but thinking about such meanness in the world can actually stop a person from creating great work, work that deserves to be out there.
If I spend a lot of time thinking about the daunting power of “the boy’s club’s” or believe that I will never be anything more than second fiddle to a man, then that’s what I will be. And I refuse to live that way. I am a person. I like to work. I have ideas. I am of worth. Furthermore, I refuse to believe that a man can’t write a woman’s story, or that a woman can’t write a man’s story. I choose to believe that deep down, under the skin and beyond the genitalia, that we are far more similar than we are different.
It may be a fact that it’s tougher out there for women, but it’s a fact I’d like to live in denial of, thank you very much. And denial has been working for me, so far.
I make my little stories for the people who “get” them. Who realize that I am not talking to their bodies, I am talking to their hearts. I make them so we don’t have to think about why we are so awful to one another, but so we can keep remembering our shared humanity.
Yesterday I decided to take the plunge and debut my short film, “Flip Fantasia” on VIMEO. It’s taken a lot of hemming and hawing to make this choice, a lot of listening to experts and not listening to people who say they are experts. Frankly, there is simply no “right” way to share a short film. These are the facts I had to consider:
1) I am a first time director with NO record of this kind of visual work except a play I wrote and produced in the late ’90′s. Although I write and paint and make music, I never went to film school, nor do I have any “connections” in the film business.
2) Film Festivals have become notoriously difficult to get into because there are so many films being made now. Some of these festivals are now saying that they FIND their short films online. Others don’t want to show a film that is available online.
3) I want to share with people who have supported my work over the years and have connected with me online. The longer I wait to share with you, the more the film becomes irrelevant, “yesterday’s news” so to speak.
4) I am about to make another film and I want people to KNOW…. I can do this.
So… HERE IT IS.
THANK YOU for watching.
Warning: this film is about urban youth and therefore contains harsh language and adult situations. It is NOT INTENDED FOR CHILDREN.
So as promised, here is the next video about the world of ”Flip Fantasia,” where you get to meet the actor who helped inspire me to both write and direct this piece.
Anyway, I got a chance to put together some of his insights into what the movie is about with some images from the film. I hope you like it! Here is a link for those of you who read this via email, because the YouTube links don’t show up so well there.
Again, the film will be up on my VIMEO page, for FREE, Tuesday September 17th, 2013.
THANK YOU for your continued encouragement and support!
First of all, if you have been following me because of my work on “All My Children” or “As The World Turns” I thank you. I am deeply blessed by your support. I must tell you that all my work, including my acting work, is deeply personal to me. I put every bit of myself into everything I do. Why else do it? That’s just how I feel.
So I am very proud of this very personal little movie I made this summer. So much so that I really WANT you all to SEE IT. I was told “Do the festivals, it’s important” only to find that there is so much strum and drang around them all. So many films want “in” and the rules are all over the place. I respect those that make an effort to bring small films more recognition, but I have decided to only focus on those that allow me to share this film WITH YOU, ONLINE. Because YOU are who are who I made this film for- the REAL people of this world. Not to impress a judge or another filmmaker.
Please note: there is swearing in this movie, and some serious situations. That said, it’s a COMEDY about one of the hardest parts of life. DEATH.
In the spirit of sharing is caring, I am making some short videos ABOUT making FLIP with the OTHER amazing people I was blessed to get the chance to work with. There will be 5 DAYS of videos, starting today, followed with a release on VIMEO, for FREE. If you feel compelled to give there will be a “tipjar” for you to share but my goal is simply for you to encounter and get involved with the fantasy world of this film, because it IS a fantasy… based on reality… a “Flip Fantasia.”
Please check out this look at the wonderful actor who plays SMEG (his real name is Greg, but nobody calls him that) EDEN MARRYSHOW.
I love creating characters. It is one of my very favorite thing about acting. So I spent a lot of time thinking about who the characters were for my short film, “Flip Fantasia.” I want to introduce them to you now, so that you know a little bit about them and can “know” them better when you see the film!
Note: these descriptions are out of my mind, my fantasy about who these people are. Each actor when playing the part brought even more to them. You can also check out our Pinterest page, where someone who knows the film as well as anyone has let her imagination go as to who she feels these characters are, based on the original descriptions from the script, which you will also find on that page! That is the GREAT part about collaboration, it’s like a painting or a mural that just grows and grows! If you want to add your own imagination to them, please feel free to do so right here in the comment section on the site!
Let’s begin with the two lovers, as “Flip” is a romance at heart. Ernesto and Belle are each other’s true love. It doesn’t matter that they are very young, they have found home with one another and make each other’s world worth living in.
Ernesto, or “E” as his friends call him, works at Starbucks, but that’s not who he IS. He is a poet, a romantic, a reader, a singer, a dreamer, a believer. Someday he is going to make it big at something, he just doesn’t know exactly what that is yet. Meanwhile, he knows how to enjoy his life. He is a great friend and an amazing lover. He understands intimacy, what love is, how it feels, and how to give it, which makes him a pretty amazing and dynamic person. He doesn’t like to look at the negative, for example, not having money. It’s not how much money you have that matters in his mind, it’s how you spend your time. He was born in the Bronx, but his Latin American parents have kept him in touch with his roots. His favorite movie is “Romeo and Juliet” by Baz Lurhman.
Belle, Ernesto’s girlfriend, had a much rougher upbringing than “E.” Born into a working class family on Long Island to an absent father and a critical mother, she started partying hard in her early teens, until she found herself in a really bad situation on her 16th birthday. That night she was gang raped on a pool table by a group of older boys from her high school. Afterwords, she ran away from home, keeping herself alive by working for an old folks home in NYC. She never thought she would find a guy like Ernesto. His love changed her whole world. Formerly a tough cookie, she was able to finally laugh and relax around him, even party and have fun. She loves unicorns, the movie “Chinatown,” and the Riot Grrls.
Smeg (whose real name is Greg but nobody calls him that) was also born and raised in the projects down near the Lower East Side, called the Henry Street Settlement, in NYC. His father worked making donuts at Donut Plant (before it got cool) but he was mostly raised by his open-minded Aunts. They gave him all kinds of books on world religions and spirituality, which he devoured far more than his school books. He spent a lot of time in the Chess Shops on Thompson Street in Greenwich Village honing his ideas of what mattered in life. It was just a matter of time before he discovered the marijuana being sold in Washington Square Park. He dropped out of Hunter College and now hangs onto a temp job at Sounds, one of the last shops that sell records and CD’s on St. Mark’s place. He met E in High School and they have been great buddies ever since.
Sheik was also born and raised in NYC, up in the Bronx near E. He and E have been friends since childhood. His parents were hard working middle class people who wanted their kids to have the best shot, so they made sure Sheik finished school at Hunter College, where he and E met Smeg. Sheik is the “mother” of the group because he has been raised to embrace being a responsible adult. That said, he loves hanging around his wild friends, because they still have a freedom and innocence he has less of. He is a bit of a ladies man, and loves the Blacksploitation movies of the 1970′s. Both proud and frustrated by his job as the manager at the Union Square Best Buy, he dreams of having a white Porsche, and owning his own Shake Shack. He is a terrible speller.
Bird has issues. A LOT of issues. He is tormented by the unfairness in the world and what he sees as his own inadequacies. He still lives with his mother, who is an art dealer, on the Upper West Side but doesn’t see this as a problem as the cost of rent is so high in NYC. He met E and Sheik at a bar in the East Village during their college years, and liked them so much he transferred from NYU to Hunter, much to his mother’s angst. He makes a meager living as a writer for the Village Voice doing mostly movie reviews but also the occasional Op-Ed piece. He is terrible with women but great in a bar fight and kills it at Trivial Pursuit. He also has the largest collection of antique Playboy magazines on the East Coast.
So there you have it! I hope you feel like you “know” these characters a bit better. Do you know anybody in your OWN life like these guys? Hmmmm…. do I?