Today we’re joined by Liv Cohen. Liv is an amazingly talented filmmaker who is currently studying film at Emerson. She currently specializes in camera work and is incredibly dedicated to the art of film. She has made a couple of shorts, which are definitely worth checking out. This is an artist with a very bright future ahead of her. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I am a film major at Emerson College. My focus is in camera work, so operating and taking care of the equipment. Filmmaking is very difficult and very fun. It’s also impossible to do alone, so it’s a very team-oriented art, which you can’t say about too many other artforms. Right now my reel consists mostly of footage from the haunted attraction that I both film and act at. I started acting in the haunt when I was 16, and I’m now 21. Acting was never a huge interest of mine but I’ve gotten to perform as a lot of interesting characters (zombies and cave-dwellers, insanity patients, and murder victims) and film even more interesting and beautifully macabre characters.
What inspires you?
The owner/director of the haunted attraction has been an inspiration of mine since I met him. His name is Wayne and he is the type of visionary director that I’m hoping to be able to work with for as much of my career as possible. I know not every director is going to have the sense of artistry and vision that he has, but they all better know that they have big shoes to fill. I’m also inspired by nature. When you’re out on a hike or just a stroll downtown and you see all the colors that the sun produces naturally, it makes me want to use those colors in my own work and find ways to bring them out so others might be able to feel the way I feel when I get to see such beautiful hues.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
Nope! I was not headed down a path that was even remotely related to art until my junior or senior year of high school. I signed up for a photography class my sophomore year of high school, and by complete accident I had signed up for film (35mm) photography instead of digital. But my mom had a 35mm camera that I could borrow so I figured why not I’ll stay in the class, and I fell completely in love with it, but it stayed a hobby in my head. Then my senior year of high school I took a “student news” class, where we filmed and edited little pieces that would appear on the student news channel inside the school, and I fell in love with video even more than still photography. So I didn’t make the decision to pursue art as a career until senior year of high school when I realized that I would never be able to stay away from cameras.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?
Signatures and symbols are hard to sneak in to film unless you’re a director, but I usually go for a more high contrast look with all of my stuff, so someday I’d like to be known as a “go-to” person for directors who are looking for a high contrast look.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Don’t give up. Whatever anyone else tells you, do not give up. Go to art school if you want to go to art school. Don’t worry about the cost and about the loans and about job security. No one has job security anymore. Follow your heart, not your head, because your head will be happy with any sort of income but your heart will be miserable if it doesn’t get to express itself. Never stop practicing, never stop experimenting, never let the fear of failure stop you. Keep going. You’re going to be amazing.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I identify as a heteroromantic asexual.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
In my field, not really, but I’m not “out” in my field. I prefer not to mention my sexuality because of the fear of dehumanization or objectification or backlash as a result of voicing my orientation. Those things have happened to me many times.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
So many people seem convinced that is a phase or something that I will “grow out of” or that will fizzle out once I “meet the right person” or that I’ll change my mind “when I want kids.” I’ve identified as asexual since I was 17, but before that I always felt the same way I just never had a word for it. Before I knew the word “asexual” I identified as “straight but really bad at it” or more simply “broken.” I know that I’ll never want kids because when I was a child I didn’t want kids, when I was an adolescent I never wanted kids, and now as an adult I still don’t want kids, and when I’m an older adult with a significant other and more years behind me I still won’t want kids and I’ll still be asexual.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
People seem convinced that asexuality is something one can change or grow out of, or something that one should want to change or grow out of, but I wouldn’t change a thing about myself, and you shouldn’t want to change a thing about yourself either. There is nothing wrong with the way you feel. You are perfect and valid and a whole, complete, wonderfully complex human being just the way you are. Don’t let anyone convince you that you are “missing out” on good sex, or that you’re somehow incomplete or invalid because you don’t feel sexual attraction. There is absolutely nothing wrong with or missing from you. You are a beautiful person and I love you.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
YouTube! I have a few personal and haunt-related projects on my YouTube channel. A few of my pieces are also on my haunts official channel. Their stuff is scattered across multiple channels because we’re really disorganized. There are a few pieces that are unlisted so you need the links to view them. I’m providing links to all.
48 Hour Film Festival submission [I was director and cinematographer]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jqUOdbFf4I
In-Class film [I was editor]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDRkje2W2NY
Thank you, Liv, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.