Interview: Meredith Dobbs

Today we’re joined by Meredith Dobbs. Meredith is a phenomenal filmmaker based in London. She specializes in narrative films, particularly improv drama. She currently works on short films and web series. Meredith hopes to get into indie features eventually. It’s very clear that she’s an incredibly passionate and talented artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a writer, director, and editor of narrative films. I’m working on shorts and web series now, and I want to make indie features long term. As a writer and director, I work primarily in improv drama.

What inspires you?

I’m really interested in relationships, and I’m interested in space between reality and fiction. Films can feel so realistic, so much like life, without ever being truly real because at the end of the day, film is still an artistic medium. And that line between film and reality that you can strive for but never cross is really interesting to me. Not in terms of pushing people to that edge, but pushing the art to it. So I think my stories will always be about relationships, and my techniques will in some way explore that edge.

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What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I always loved movies. We watched a lot of movies together as a family when I was a kid, and we still quote movies all the time.  When I went to college, I knew I wanted to take some film production classes, but I only saw them as fun electives because I felt I had to do something “serious” like biology.  So I arranged my classes to do a film degree alongside my biology degree.  But after one semester, I completely fell in love with film, and I really found myself in it.  I dropped the bio major and never, ever looked back.

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?

I use an improv technique that I didn’t invent exactly, but I really had to work out for myself, so there isn’t anyone else that does it the way I do.  My scripts don’t have any dialogue at all — they just describe the characters’ thoughts and feelings — and the actors have to improvise their own dialogue.  I like how it requires listening and responding (the two key tenets of improv) between actors, but also between director and actor.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I think the best advice, which is also the hardest to follow, is to do whatever you want to do. If you’re interested in something, try it out.  I wanted to do this film production summer camp when I was in high school – I really, really wanted it – but I was afraid to ask my parents to pay for it, so I didn’t go.  It makes me wonder how much time I lost not doing this thing I love so much.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Demisexual.  I have a long term partner who has helped me explore my sexual interests, but I also know I would happily be on the asexual side of my spectrum if I were single.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Not in my field, no. Honestly, my work has been the most accepting place for me to talk about my asexuality.  I’m currently working on a short film about a woman trying to tell her boyfriend that she’s bisexual, which was inspired by my experience telling my boyfriend that I’m demisexual.  (I hope to explore asexuality directly in a longer piece in the future.)  Everyone on the project has been nothing but engaged and accepting.

All the resistance and prejudice I’ve experienced has come from family and close friends.  I also struggle a little internally. Understanding the in-between nature of demisexuality has been hard, because I don’t fit in either camp: ace or allo.  I have to remind myself that fluid doesn’t mean unsure, because I’m certain demisexual is absolutely the right term for me.  So I work really hard to understand myself and communicate to my partner.

4. Sam and August Theater

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That it’s not a sexuality; that it’s just my opinion, or just a phase.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Just knowing that a definition existed for me made all the difference in the world.  There’s nothing wrong with who you are, and there’s nothing wrong with defining yourself differently tomorrow, or next year, or 10 years from now.  It’s all fluid.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

www.meredithdobbsfilms.com

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Thank you, Meredith, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Jessica

Today we’re joined by Jessica, who also goes by stormleviosa online. Jessica is a wonderful up and coming writer who recently had a short story published in an anthology. She’s currently a student studying English and writes in her free time. Jessica hopes to write longer narrative forms, such as novels and novellas, in the future. She’s clearly a dedicated artist with an incredibly bright future ahead of her as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a writer when I have time but mostly I’m a student because education is important. I’ve written a few short stories and I’m currently working on longer pieces (novellas or eventually a full-length novel). I also write a lot for my college newspaper which I am also an editor of.

What inspires you?

I don’t really have a specific inspiration for my work. Some of what I write is heavily based on current affairs, particularly those I have an invested interest in such as the refugee crisis. I also write from prompts or based on other author’s works which includes dabbling in fanfiction. For my most recent piece of coursework, I wrote a short story based on 1984 with heavily implied connections to the Brexit situation in the UK.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

It sounds cliché but I’ve been writing since I was a young child. I read a lot of books (and still do) which helped develop my skills and it escalated from there. I’m also useless at art so being able to express myself with words rather than images was important.

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?

I like to write about things I am passionate about and problems that need to be resolved. Often, I try to include characters that are marginalized or misrepresented by the media to spread the issue to a wider range of people. It is something that challenges my writing but is very rewarding for me.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t stop writing! If you truly feel passionate about it, write about it and don’t let anyone convince you it’s worthless. If you hit a writer’s block, work around it by writing something else. But at the same time, it’s OK to take a break if you need to. Your writing will only suffer if you work yourself into the ground.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m an aromantic asexual.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I haven’t encountered any yet although this may be because I’m not out to many people. My sexuality does make it difficult to write romantic subplots between characters because I don’t experience those kinds of feelings.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

Mainly that asexuality is something you will grow out of. My parents don’t know I’m asexual but whenever I mention that I don’t want a relationship they tell me I’ll change my mind. It’s not a phase to grow out of and that’s perfectly alright.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Don’t worry about figuring it all out right this second. You have all the time in the world to sort out what you feel and if you never find a label that fits that fine too. Any feeling you have is valid so don’t worry about categorizing them all right away.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

I don’t have much published work but my most recent is in the DoveTales anthology (published later this year) which is compiled by Writing for Peace. There is more information on their website or you can ask me questions directly via my blog (stormleviosa.tumblr.com). I sometimes write fan fiction on AO3 under an account with the same name (StormLeviosa).

Thank you, Jessica, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.