Interview: Bri Castellini

Today we’re joined by Bri Castellini. Bri is a phenomenal filmmaker who specializes in short films and webseries. She’s the creator of Sam and Pat are Depressed, a series that follows depressed roommates Sam and Pat as they help each other navigate the inherent awkwardness of therapy through profanity, humor, and take out. Bri has gotten a lot of attention from the ace community for the short film Ace and Anxious. Bri is very dedicated to own voices and in both these works, there are explicitly ace characters. It’s clear she is a dedicated and passionate filmmaker, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Bri

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a writer and filmmaker, based currently out of Brooklyn, New York. My first web series, Brains, has two seasons plus two extended universe projects (a miniseries and a short film), and is about a college student post-zombie apocalypse who’s obsessed with getting her 5 year plan back on track, starting with a boyfriend. I wrote, produced, and edited the series, as well as played the lead character Alison. You can find Brains at brainswebseries.com. My second web series, Sam and Pat are Depressed, is actually in the process of “airing” right now on SeekaTV (Seeka.TV/samandpat– free to view but you have to make an account). It’s about two roommates who deconstruct their therapy together in funny ways to find humor in their mental health journeys. I wrote, produced, and edited this series as well, and play the character Sam, a biromantic asexual woman. I also have a short film that’s made quite a few rounds on Tumblr- Ace and Anxious, about an asexual woman named Emma with generalized anxiety disorder who, in attempt to curb her anxiety without paying for medication, places a “free sex” ad on Craigslist, because she learned of the stress-relieving “powers” of sex and wanted to test that out. I wrote, produced, edited, and directed that film. You can watch the full film on the LGBT+ streaming service REVRY or for free on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/215587592. I’ve also produced half a dozen other web series and shorts for friends and fellow filmmakers.

What inspires you?

Tons of stuff! I’m a big fan of apocalypse fiction, people arguing, and characters put in situations at odds with their comfort zones. Sometimes a friend will make a joke and that’ll become a web series (as in the case of Sam and Pat, which is based on conversations I’ve had with my good friend Chris Cherry. He’s at truestoriesaboutme on Tumblr). In terms of people who I consider career inspirations, I really look up to multi-hyphenates like Mindy Kaling, Amy Sherman-Palladino, and the indie filmmaker Kate Hackett, all very funny women who do a little bit of everything.

Also, if I could ever direct something as snappy and stylized as Edgar Wright, I’d consider myself a success.

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

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but up until my last year of college, I wanted to write prose. Novels, short stories, that sort of thing. It wasn’t until I listened to the podcast The Nerdist Writer’s Panel, a podcast of TV writers talking about making their shows, that I realized I wanted to get into screenwriting. I applied to exactly one grad school in New York (I was in college in Oregon at the time), got in, and moved across the country as soon as I graduated from undergrad. About eight months later we made the pilot episode for Brains for a class, and I loved independent producing so much we decided to keep going and make the whole first season. The rest is history. Indie filmmaking has made me very, very broke, but happier than ever before.

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 don’t know if I’d say I have a signature, but I like to think I have a very distinct writing voice. I’m a fan of when characters speak in really long, unnecessarily complicated sentences at very quick paces, and I love writing arguments, because I think they’re the most fun version of human conversation. So if you’re watching a Bri Castellini project, there’s likely at least two arguments and there’s definitely a long, anxiety-ridden rant by one character who speaks very quickly like they’re afraid they’ll burst otherwise.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t wait for permission or wait for the perfect conditions- the conditions are never perfect and the only person you need permission from is yourself. Figure out what you enjoy doing, and then do that as often as possible, trying to improve a little each time. And even though doing everything yourself seems easiest and most impressive at first, asking for help is the mark of a true artist, especially in film.

IMG_0148

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a heteroromantic ace, probably whatever the step right below gray ace is. There are a lot of differing opinions on what the spectrum is and what the different labels are, but in general my opinion on sex is between “shrug” and “oh, yeah, that’s a thing people do outside of movies.” I’m in a long term monogamous relationship with an allosexual man.

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

My field is indie media right now, which is, as you can imagine, a much more progressive arena than mainstream Hollywood, so I’ve never experienced ignorance directly. I also didn’t realize I was asexual until about three years ago when I did some research and all the insecurities I had and confusion I was experiencing finally clicked. I’ve been remarkably lucky about the circles my work has ended up in, though, and I am aware of what a privilege that is.

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

That asexual people don’t have sex. I’ve been with my partner for five years now, which is the first thing people know about me in regards to my romantic life, and when they find out I’m asexual afterwards there are a lot of very awkward, personal questions I get asked as they puzzle out how to categorize me in their minds.

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

Do your research! When I was figuring out my own sexuality, I read every article I could find and watched every video available on asexuality, and eventually, I had enough information to confirm what I probably always knew, somehow. Research also helps when coming out to people closest to you, especially if you’re in a relationship (as I was when I came out). I’m a very pragmatic, analytical person though, so the takeaway for someone who doesn’t want to write themselves a sexuality dissertation (I wish this was a joke, but, well, here we are), labels aren’t written in stone. Just communicate with yourself and with your partner (if you have one) about how you’re feeling at different moments, and let the label evolve until you feel it expresses what you need it to.

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

Following me on Twitter and Tumblr (BrisOwnWorld on both) is a great place to start, because I’m very active on those sites, but you can get a complete look at what I’ve created on my website, BriCastellini.com. I’m always available if you need advice on a filmmaking or writing problem!

Sam and Pat 2017-09-15 at 8.43.49 PM

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

Interview: Vic

Today we’re joined by Vic. Vic is a phenomenally talented filmmaker who specializes in narrative shorts and micro-documentaries. She’s currently raising funds for an awesome new webseries called I Don’t Give a F*ck, which promises to be absolutely hilarious (seriously, please donate if you can: fundraising page). Vic is an exciting filmmaker with an incredibly bright future ahead of her. She’s very passionate about film, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. IDGAFcakeposter
IDGAF Cake Poster
2. main
IDGAF Main Cast

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I make narrative shorts and micro-documentaries that often have themes surrounding family, blackness, and the mundanities of everyday life.

3. CAST N CREW
Cast and Crew of “IDGAF”

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by so many things. Nature, family, friends, directors like Ava Duvernay and Hirokazu Koreeda. I love their work. I get inspired by LOTS of TV… But I can draw inspiration from almost anything really, and usually I tend to focus on overlooked details.

4. davinci skit
Da Vinci Skit

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

I think I’ve somewhat always wanted to be a storyteller. I used to write quite a lot when I was younger. Just short stories and poems, so I feel like I’ve always had that artistic blood in me, however, I didn’t start entertaining the idea of being an artist or filmmaking specifically until around high school. I saw a movie called Raise the Red Lantern by director Zhang Yimou and fell in love cinema all over again, but for a different reason, I think.

5. davinci skit 2
Da Vinci Skit 2

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 don’t have signature symbol in my work that says like “hey I made this”, but I supposed I do have a bit of a specific style in the way I edit videos or create title designs.

6. got milk commercial
Got Milk Commercial
7. got milk commerical
Got Milk Commercial

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Be vulnerable. I don’t think I can stress that enough. I think many of us think that’s a given when you’re making artwork, but you’d be surprised how hard it is for many artists to get personal in their work when they know they have to show it in front of an audience or hang it in a gallery to be critiqued. But being vulnerable in your work can often produce the best pieces. So don’t be afraid to tell people who you are, what you’ve experience, and how you see the world through your work. You can’t let fear of criticism control you.

8. power hunger animal MV
Power Hunger Animal MV
12. skinisblack_documentary
“Skin is Black” documentary

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I just recently realized I was demisexual about 5 months ago and as of now I’m even possibly considering that I might just be asexual all together. In the process of trying to figure that out.

9. zamir fantasy narative
“Zamir Fantasy” Narrative

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

Oh gosh, yes, it’s been a very bizarre and interesting ride ever since I started telling people in my life that I’m someone on the asexual spectrum. I remember having to pitch the idea for an upcoming web series featuring an asexual character 17 times to different colleagues! And when I pitched the idea I basically had to give a 101 crash-course on asexuality each and every single time. Some people learned something others even considered the possibility that they actually might be someone on the asexual spectrum as well. Like me, months ago, it never occurred to them that that was even an option. And seeing that sense of validation flash over in their eyes made me feel like I was doing something good and important.

10. zamir_fantasy narrative
“Zamir Fantasy” Narrative

It hasn’t all been peaches and cream, however. Some of the people I know who are LGBTQ filmmakers or artists seemed to be unsure of whether asexuality is even a real thing, let alone demisexuality – which I abandoned even trying to explain at one point because I could sense the immediate invalidation when they looked at me sort of like “…Really? OK believe whatever you want.” You know, that look that kind of makes you feel like you’re a child again when people look at you so condescendingly.

11. valid_docuseriesaboutasexuality
“Valid” docuseries about asexuality

For demisexuality I get a lot of “isn’t that just what everyone goes through though? Everyone takes time to connect before they actually have sex in a relationship.” But I’m like no it’s different, and it’s a bit more complicated than that, haha.

13. 3c4adocuseries
“3C4A” docuseries

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

That asexuals don’t have sex or that they don’t want to be in relationships at all (including romantic ones). Huge misconception.

14. 3c4adocuseriescaps1
“3C4A” docuseries screencap 1

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

You are valid. Everything that you feel is valid.

You are not obligated to take on the emotional labor of trying to explain to every hard headed person why what you feel is real. So, if they ask and you’re exhausted from explaining, you don’t have to tell them. Google is their best friend OR just show them by living boldly and unapologetically asexually.

15. 3c4adocuseriescaps2
“3C4A” docuseries screencap 2

If you’re struggling to accept that you are asexual, it’s OK. Take the time you need to grow into yourself and parts of your identity. Talk to people you trust whom you can confide in.

It’s OK.

16. 3c4adocuseriescaps3
“3C4A” docuseries screencap 3

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

As of right now I don’t have a portfolio up, and I currently have a website that’s WIP. For now if people want to they could follow me on my Instagram at soeulcinema sometimes I post previews of my work there.

Or if they’re really curious and can’t wait they can simply ask me and I can send them a private link.

And I’m also currently in the process of creating a web series called “I Don’t Give A F*ck” that focuses on the lives of two WOC, one who is a asexual Filipina, and the other who’s a black pansexual and sexually liberated woman. As of right now we’re raising funds to get the project off the ground but if anyone is interested in following the journey of our production they can follow us on Facebook or Twitter and if they want you can support us on our Indiegogo page by donating or sharing!

All links are below:

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/soeulcinema/
TUMBLR:  http://kodacchromes.tumblr.com/
FB: https://www.facebook.com/idgafwebseries/
TW: https://twitter.com/idgafwebseries
INDIEGOGO: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/i-don-t-give-a-f-ck/x/15958859#/.

17. skinisblackdocuseries
“Skin is Black” docuseries
18. skinisblackdocuseries2
“Skin is Black” docuseries

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

Interview: Francesca Mylod-Ford

Today we’re joined by Francesca Mylod-Ford. Francesca is a wonderfully talented author who is currently working on a fantasy trilogy aimed at a YA demographic. It sounds like a fascinating story about life and death. Aside from writing, Francesca plans to study film and hopes to be a full-time film director in the future. She clearly has a very 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 am currently writing a book trilogy called The Thanatology Series. I have finished the first installment (The Trials of Mr. Reaper) and am now coming to the end of the second novel, On Behalf of the Universe. The third book is in planning stages, and I will begin work on it soon. Although I am currently unpublished, I am seeking agents and if all else fails, I plan to self-publish the first book to gather interest, before sending it and its sequel to a new set of publishing houses.

The Thanatology Series is, to be blunt, a story about Death. It’s a fantasy novel, aimed at an adult and YA demographic. The story commences as a comedy, but as the book progresses, it turns to a darker narrative altogether, exploring the true nature of life and death … and where we go when we die.

Death – a harassed bureaucrat with a scythe – has only two desires: to be able to get on with his job, and for people to stop asking stupid questions. But life (or death) is never that simple for the Grim Reaper. From stubborn ghosts to the Demon Nicotine, everything in the universe seems to be out to get on Death’s nerves. The other three Horsemen of the Apocalypse have forgotten his birthday, the Seven Deadly Sins have proven to be incompetent beyond belief, and on top of everything else, Life is determined to be friends with him again. As Death continues to carry out his duty, he must consider this: What really happens when you die? And once Life is gone, what will happen to Death?

I am currently studying Film and Television Production, and in the future, I hope to be a full-time film director and write in my spare time.

What inspires you?

I have always preferred creative arts to academia, and being able to write and film allows me to express my creativity productively. One of the key things that inspires my writing is wanting to understand the universe around us; to take it apart and try to put it back together again. What if Death did have feelings? What if Life isn’t quite the way we imagine it to be? I think that the best part of writing (and filming, for that matter), is taking a trope and flipping it on its head.

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

As it happens, I never wanted to be an author. I thought that you had to write the way they taught us to in school: beginning, middle and end, carefully preceded and followed by meticulous planning. When I got older and began experimenting with my writing, I realised that structured writing belonged where I was taught it: in the classroom. Now, if anyone asks, I tell them that being a full-time author is my dream job choice.

My uncle is a director, and that’s pretty much what got me into the film business. From the day I first picked up a disposable camera to now, enrolled in film school, I have been falling down the magical rabbit hole of movies and film. One of my favourite aspects of film-making is the power to make simple ink and paper leap off the page and into real life. It’s like having a magic wand.

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?

In film, I have a very particular lighting style I like to use, but if I told you then I’d have to kill you! Seriously, though, most of what makes up my work is just pure, solid research. Nothing gets done without a bit of good-old fashioned book-bashing, I’m afraid.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Practice! It doesn’t matter what you’re making or how bad it is at first, the more you make, the better it gets. When I first started writing, it was absolutely awful. But now I write nearly every day, and my skill increases the more I practice. Be prepared to put the work in – research is a bitch but trust me, it’s so worth it in the long term. Finally, you need to learn to accept criticism. If you argue with everyone who tries to help improve it, it’ll just make you look like a bad sport. There’s nothing wrong with receiving pointers!

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I have never experienced sexual or romantic attraction – I just prefer to have platonic relationships.

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

I have been asked how I can expect to write/direct sexual or romantic scenes if I have never experienced either. My answer is this: have you ever been shot? Fallen down a cliff? Had a concussion? If not, then you RESEARCH IT. I don’t experience sexual or romantic attraction, but I have plenty of friends who do, and I’ve seen more than my fair share of rom-coms. Research is the key to literally every artistic problem.

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

Since I’m quite sociable and enjoy making friends, people often have trouble understanding that I don’t want to seek any other kinds of relationships. Many people believe that asexual/aromantic people are antisocial, or that we’re closeted gay people (not true!). I’ve also had people tell me that it’s just “a phase” or that it’s a medical issue.

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

Seek out other asexuals! We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re always ready to talk to anyone who might be struggling. Although some members of the LGBT+ community may be somewhat exclusionary, the asexual/aromantic community is welcoming and friendly, and there’s always someone ready to talk about dragons. Don’t be shy about who you are, own your asexuality! And remember, it doesn’t define who you are: only you can do that. Stay ace, friends.

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

Feel free to check out my Tumblr (burnt-confetti), or my Twitter account (at burntconfetti). Hopefully when I’m published (or when I release my first film!) you’ll be able to see what I’ve been working on! Have a good one xx

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

Interview: Dominique Rea Parent

Today we’re joined by Dominique Rea Parent. Dominique is a phenomenal filmmaker who edits shorts. She has had two short films screened at the Digi60 Film Festival in Ottawa, Ontario: Follow That Melody and Something Beautiful. Both are available to watch online. Dominique is an incredibly passionate artist who loves film, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

mud people

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Well, cinema is a very collaborative art in which I participate as an editor. It’s a lot like cooking, nothing comes together until you add 3 spoonfuls of garlic or you know, a star wipe here and there. In all seriousness though, I really like making people cry and laugh and shiver with fear.

I have participated in the Ottawa Digi60 Film Festival twice. The Digi60 gives you 12 days to create a 3 minute short film based on a theme. It’s a really fun process and a very satisfying goal to achieve.

Our 2016 short Something Beautiful was shot in one night and I edited it in 4 days. I had fun playing around with masking and pacing. Delivering an emotionally complex story in 3 minutes was very tasking as well as the night shoot. Thank the film gods for the pizzeria that was open at 2am when we were wrapping production. For this year’s short Follow that Melody my co-filmmaker and I decided that we wanted to centre the plot around happy lesbians and that we wanted it to be visually sound and easy to understand without any dialogue. This short pushed me further into colour coding and 3 dimensional tracking. Not gonna lie, I awed a little while editing.

What inspires you?

Cult films about a team of ragtags coming together as a family, but honestly so many things. Comic Books for when I am storyboarding, music and musical theatre for pacing and delivery, other movies and series for when I am looking for new ways to tell stories. LGBT stories and documentaries are always inspiring. The mixed tracks and moodboards that my co-filmmaker makes for me are super inspiring when I edit. Also baths . . . whenever I am feeling unproductive and need inspiration 1 hour luxurious baths do the trick, shout out to Lush.

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

So there are three movies I can thank for getting me into cinema™ and those are Alien, School of Rock and Back to the Future. But really what got me into making movies is kind of ridiculous. I was about 10 and obsessed with Nightmare on Elm Street and I had just been introduced by my brother to Windows Movie Maker. Tiny me decided that my hyperfixation could not be satiated with the existing fan content for Nightmare on Elm Street in early YouTube, specially not after Dream Warriors. With that mindset I decided that I would rewatch every movie, mark down the usable clips and make a music video of Nightmare on Elm Street to the beat of Wake Me Up Before you GoGo. The moment I finished I knew this was my true calling.

ftm

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?

It’s all pretty gay for the most part. Very non-sexualized relationships and horror are big parts of it. Heavy colour coding because messing around with colours is fun.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Other artists are your friends and you should always try to connect with them and treat them with respect. Much like business networking and community are very important to success. Don’t undermine your own work, exposure doesn’t pay rent so don’t work for free, especially because this also undermines the work of your peers. Volunteer opportunities and internships very rarely pay off and unless you are in a position where living expenses are paid for you I would strongly advice against them. Be presentable when meeting clients. Have a contract ready, even if you are working with friends, this protects the both of you. Practice every day, eat your veggies.

ftm 2

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am asexual and bi

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

Not really, in my experience the few people who know I am ace were just curious and asked pretty general non-intrusive questions. My co-filmmaker is also ace so I am lucky in that way that we are always in tune.

If I did come across prejudice I would try to work it out with that person, most likely they are oblivious as to how they are being offensive or rude. If they were being malicious in any way I would bring it up to a superior or refuse to work with that person. If you are an artist in any workplace you are protected by worker rights and harassment laws protect you from prejudice.

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

I haven’t really gotten all that many misconceptions to be honest. I feel like mostly people are confused as to whether I actually want a relationship or not or if I like people romantically or not. How does it work? or How does it feel? is the most common question I get.

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

Nothing is set in stone. Labels are here to help you and if they fit that’s great you have a community here for you. If they don’t fit then that’s okay too, you really don’t have to explain anything to anyone about yourself. If you’ve perceived yourself as someone different your whole life, but this new identity seems to suit you, well there’s no one here to tell you who you are but yourself.

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

I have a Vimeo www.vimeo.com/domreapar a Twitter at DomReaPar and also an Instagram at domoonyque.

sb poster

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

Interview: Kris

Today we’re joined by Kris. Kris is a phenomenal filmmaker who specializes in short films. She has done both narrative films and documentaries. Currently working on a feature length script as well as a webseries, Kris is an enthusiastic and dedicated filmmaker who has an incredibly bright future ahead of her. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

EWTitleCard

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a filmmaker. These days that is mostly writing and directing, though when friends have projects on the go sometimes I’ll produce or be director of photography. While most of my films are fiction, I do the occasional documentary when the right story presents itself. To date I’ve done exclusively shorts. I do really enjoy the medium of short film, the challenge of getting an audience hooked, engaged, and happy with the resolution all in 10-15 minutes is very satisfying to me. Lately though I’ve been branching out. I’ve got a feature length script that I’m working on, and also a 9-episode web series that I recently started to write. I also do a bit of photography, but that is much more as a hobby to entertain myself.

What inspires you?

Life. The world. When I first started taking photographs as a teenager it was all about looking at the light, looking at the world and thinking, “wow” and wanting to capture it. When I became a storyteller, it was sort of that, but with people. I love being out in the world – at a coffee shop, at a museum, at a park – and just watching people, listening to how they talk to each other, seeing what kinds of things make them go “wow.” I love playing the what’s your story game. Seeing someone, especially when they do something unexpected, and thinking who are you, and what’s going on with you that made you do that. And because I make fiction I can just make up an answer.

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

I always wanted to be behind a camera. I can remember the first time I ever took a photograph. It was with my Dad’s big heavy SLR shooting slide film. I still have that slide in a box in my attic. There was always art going on in my family when I was a kid, but I can’t draw so it started out as a way to make a picture. But then it became a way to capture a bit of the world and share it with people. And then I went from photography to video in college because it seemed like a better way to make a living.

I have always been creative, but I don’t think it’s accurate to say I always wanted to be an artist. I loved having a camera in my hands, I loved making things. But for 20 years the things I was making professionally I didn’t consider artistic. I was making training videos and other corporate/industrial stuff. But after a while I thought, I want to tell my own stories. I started doing film as a hobby. Getting my friends together and goofing off in my back yard, or making silly videos of my dog. The more I did it the better I got until I thought, you know maybe I could do this creative stuff for real. Now I’m a professor and it’s part of my job description to keep making films. It is possibly the coolest thing ever.

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 went through many years where my dog would get a role, or at least a cameo in most of my films. Usually one of the extras would be walking her. She died while I was in film school though, so in my thesis film there’s just a photo of her. My new dog isn’t trained well enough yet, so for the time being it’s likely to still be pictures of Blue hiding among the set dressing.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Ira Glass has the best advice, which is to make a lot of work, especially if you feel like the work you’re making isn’t good enough. It will never get good enough without a boatload of practice. And that’s true no matter what kind of art you do. Also, it’s important to get out in the world and have a life. My students often ask me if they should go to film school and I always tell them not right away. Go and experience a bit of life first because that’s what’s going to give you your stories to tell.

Sarah and Esther working on the step afternoon
Sarah and Esther working on the step afternoon

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am asexual and aromantic.

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

I haven’t. On set we’re busy working and it would be unprofessional to be discussing our sex lives. And it’s really easy to be invisible as an asexual, which is both good and bad. I am unlikely to get harassed on the street because you can’t tell by looking. I’m not holding hands with the wrong person or whatever. People will assume you are like them until proven otherwise (about all sorts of things) so if I don’t bring it up it doesn’t come up.

Lately I’ve been realizing that invisibility is also bad. That it has a lot to do with why I spent decades trying to be something I’m not. Why it wasn’t obvious to me that there was nothing wrong with me. So I’ve started kind of coming out at work, identifying myself as a queer filmmaker. Universities tend to be supportive of that kind of thing though so nobody has given me a hard time about it. Maybe it would be better to battle the ignorance if I identified as an asexual filmmaker, but a) I don’t really have the energy to have to define it every time I say it, b) it’s not actually my colleagues’ business what flavor of not-straight I am, and c) I would really like to broaden the definition of queer film and queer filmmakers. We shouldn’t have to only tell coming out stories or dying of AIDS stories. I should be allowed to tell whatever stories I want and still be free to be myself.

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

The common problem is that it’s not a word your average straight person knows. We come so far down on the alphabet soup of the acronym that people give up trying to figure out what all the letters mean before they get to us. So if I use the word then I’ve got to explain it and then you get that little head tilt of “huh, I didn’t know that was a thing.” And if I don’t actively explain it then the misconception is she’s just single and eventually Mr. Right will come along and solve that problem. Or, among my sister and the rest of the lesbians in my home town, then Ms. Right will come along. But nobody ever thinks she’s single and that’s how she’s happy being.

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

There is Nothing Wrong with you. Many people won’t get it, but they don’t have to. You just be you and they can figure themselves out. For me the best part of being asexual is that nobody else really has to get it. The only people who need to understand the details of my sex life are the people involved in it, which, by definition, is nobody. All the well-meaning but annoying people who insist that there is someone out there for you, you can feel free to ignore them. Unless you actually want that, some asexuals do and that’s fine, you be you. But be unapologetically you. You don’t owe anything to anyone else.

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

If you’re interested in my work my company website (https://heronmedia.wordpress.com/ ) is the best place for that. New work has images and trailers, when things are on the festival circuit I keep that up to date on screening locations and times, and when they finish the festival run I put them up entirely.

stickspostcard

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

Interview: Electrospectrum

Today we’re joined by Electrospectrum, who also goes by Chase. Electrospectrum is an incredible videographer who specializes in Cosplay Music Videos (also known as CMVs). He’s also a dedicated cosplayer. He is an incredibly passionate artist and the love for his medium of choice shines through in his work. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

14440673_10205547445364537_4371913954354713908_n

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a videographer from the UK who mainly makes Cosplay Music Videos (or CMVs for short!). I started this back in 2013 at MCM Comic Con in May and haven’t been able to stop since.

I love capturing the details and hard work that goes into every cosplay, the characters that people have so much fun portraying and the different atmosphere each event I go to has.

Cosplay is for everyone and I want all sorts of people to feel like they can be included in epic and fun CMVs!

What inspires you?

The cosplayers I film, mainly. I’ve been lucky enough to film some amazing and highly skilled people from all over the world, as well as the EuroCosplay finals a couple of times now and the level of detail that cosplayers put into their work never ceases to amaze me. Also Beatdownboogie has always inspired my work and my great friend Littlegeeky. They both make such fun and unique CMVs that I would definitely recommend watching.

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

I was really into Media Studies at GCSE and A-Level and wanted to get into the Film Industry for a while because of it. My friend Littlegeeky started making CMVs back at the end of 2011 and since I was already well into cosplay at the time, I thought that would be a great way for me to fuse my passions, plus I had a friend to give me tips from the start.

I’ve always wanted to do something artistic and whilst I’m not as interested in getting into Film anymore, this is definitely the art I want to create.

12291981_1214564375226146_1688038229521700200_o

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 think I have some fairly unique features to my CMVs! Or at least ones that I’ve only seen a few other videographers add in.

I like to put in close up detail shots of costumes, fun shots from around the event and candids of people enjoying themselves as I think it really shows how fun the hobby is. My favourite ‘Electrospectrum feature,’ as some of my friends have called it, is planned out scenes that capture an interaction or scene with a few characters (Check out the Borderlands shot at 0:19 from my London Comic Con video from this May!). This is usually intercut between a few separate shots to create a nice flow and plus I just think it looks cool. I always want to create something visually interesting for people to watch.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If you want to get into videography or film work of any kind, don’t be afraid to just try it. So you don’t have expensive equipment? That’s fine, I started out on my family’s handheld camera, just try it. You don’t have any equipment at all? Make videos of your phone, people are telling visual stories and jokes through apps like Vine and Instagram everyday! You’re worried no one will watch what you make? We all start somewhere and building an audience is part of that! It’ll be OK, just keep making what you love and people who love it too will find their way to you.

I fully believe anyone can get into videography with a bit of hard work, determination and an eye for shots. If you want to ask me anything personally, my ask box is always open!

img_4696

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Sex-repulsed asexual!

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

Not particularly as it doesn’t really come up much. Passively though, there’s a few things I’ve noticed, such as the cosplay videography field mainly being taken up by straight men. There can be a bit of a ‘sex sells’ mentality in some people’s work that I don’t agree with, but my asexuality has never been targeted.

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

That ace people are broken. It’s a horrible thing to think about someone that just because they don’t experience the same level of sexual attraction, or any at all, that they need fixing. People have made me felt like that before, but they’re wrong and I’m a-okay just as I am! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being on the ace spectrum and you’re not broken at all.

12977056_1302130823136167_6215283264861228650_o

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

Just take it slow, please don’t stress yourself over things and your sexuality is valid. I know it’s hard to find where exactly you fit in as not all safe spaces feel entirely welcoming, but you’re still valid and it’s okay to be ace. If you know anyone else on the ace spectrum, have a chat with them as they’ll be more likely to understand what you’re going through. If not, there are plenty of people online that I’m sure would be more than happy to talk to you about what you’re feeling (or not, as it were) and give you some more detailed advice on the subject.

But overall I think you just need to think it through without stressing over it. There’s no need to force yourself into a label, but if you’re comfortable identifying on the ace spectrum, then you’re most likely on the ace spectrum.

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

I have plenty of social media links!

Naturally my blog here is electrospectrum ( http://electrospectrum.tumblr.com/ )
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC07LOm9dv-lQDFHZF0KJCmQ
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/electrospectrum
Support me of Patreon – https://www.patreon.com/electrospectrum
Twitter – https://twitter.com/electr0spectrum
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/electrospectrum/

27643223156_10f11e1b91_k

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

Interview: James Hastings

Today we’re joined by James Hastings. James is a phenomenal filmmaker who also dabbles a bit in music and comedy. He’s a freelance cinematographer, though he has a wide range of interests (and also happens to be a fellow fan of the great Buster Keaton). James is also working on writing a feature. It’s always fantastic to see aces in film. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

headshot-self-portrait

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Oh man, I do all kinds of stuff. My main bag is my work as a freelance cinematographer, but I also do covers and write comedy music for fun. I run a sketch-comedy YouTube channel called Cinema Wagon on which I do videos with my improv and industry friends, and in addition to all of that stuff, I’m currently in the writing phase of a feature film that I hope to produce independently in 2018.

bagman-production-shot-1-photo-by-chris-ertman
Bagman, Production Shot 1, photo by Chris Ertman

What inspires you?

A lot of my sketch-comedy work comes from the mildly obsessive way my brain works. An idea or an interaction that I had will get stuck in my head for a while, and I’ll replay the situation that created those ideas over and over again in my mind, but with something going differently each time, and it either becomes really entertaining or I just stop thinking about it until it pops up as part of another cycle of that process. That, or I’ll see a cool shot or think of a visual, then knock out a story to fit around that shot so I have an excuse to try it out. The people that I’m friends with also bring really good, creative stuff to the table all of the time as well.

bagman-production-shot-2-photo-by-chris-ertman
Bagman, Production Shot 2, photo by Chris Ertman

My visual style is really informed by the works of Julian Smith, Edgar Wright, Ciaran O’Brien, the Kids In The Hall, The Coen Brothers, Charlie Chaplain, and Buster Keaton. I think the Edgar Wright and Julian Smith influences come through a bit more in my visuals than others. I’ve also been trying to look at and learn more from renaissance art and how the visual composition of those pieces worked.

bagman-production-shot-3-photo-by-chris-ertman
Bagman, production shot 3, photo by Chris Ertman

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

I initially wanted to be an animator. I grew up watching cartoons from the 50’s-90s, and I thought that it would be super cool to make things like them. As time went on, I got more into the theatre world, and that lead me to an interest in special effects makeup. Because of this, I found the Indie Mogul YouTube channel back when they were doing Backyard FX, and as I learned more about the rest of the filmmaking process, I went from wanting to be a special effects artist to wanting to direct my own films. Around that time, my dad gave me his old Mamiya ZE Quartz film SLR, and I started learning to take pictures with old photographic lenses, and I realized that I really love the process of working with a camera. I also finally accepted that I’m a terrible animator around that time, and my career trajectory was pretty well set.

bagman-production-shot-4-steadicam-photo-by-christina-estillore
Bagman, production shot 4, steadicam, photo by Christina Estillore

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 have a prop zombie head named Thomas that I made in my time learning FX makeup that I like to hide in the background of the occasional shot. It’s not a consistent gag, but it pops up in most of my indie projects. There’s also a running joke amongst my peers about my propensity for shooting with wide-angle lenses. (12mm and 28mm are two of my favourites.)

On the post-production end of things, I have a set of “woosh” sounds that I recorded at the age of 14 in my bedroom that I have used in almost every project on which I have been in charge of the sound mix. Sometimes, it’s subtle, sometimes it’s very noticeable.

bagman-still-1
Bagman, still 1

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

This one is tough since I’m still pretty young myself, but I have two pieces of advice that really helped me.

The first one is specific to cinematographers. It is not your job to make the images of a project look the way that you want them to. It is your job to help the director get what’s in their head onto the camera’s image sensor. You’ll be bringing ideas of your own to the table for sure, but at the end of the day, unless you’re also the director of a project, you don’t get the final say. The sooner you can learn to collaborate effectively, the sooner you’ll start to get called back to work on more projects.

The second one is a little more general, but it was important for me to hear. If you’re just starting out, you probably suck at what you do. That’s okay. Everybody sucks at first. The important thing is to power through that sucking and never stop trying to learn how to be better. As long as you’re trying to improve, you will. It may take a long damn time, but it will happen, and you won’t even notice until you look back at your old work and see your progression.

contract-killer-frame-grab
Contract Killer, frame grab

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a grey-romantic, sex-repulsed asexual.

dead-end-town-2012-35mm-photo
Dead End Town, 2012

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

It really depends on the crew that I’m working with.

Some of the older, more established people in the industry aren’t really familiar with the concept of asexuality, but it also never really comes up when I’m working with them. If it does, I tend to blow it off by saying something like, “I care more about my craft than relationships.”

on-set-relentless-my-first-short-film-out-of-high-school-photo-by-dan-chomistek
Relentless, on set, photo by Dan Chomistek

Younger crews that have been coming up at the same time as me have been far easier to explain asexuality to if it comes up, but again, it’s pretty rare. People hire me because of the way I make things look, not the way that I feel (or don’t feel) about other people.

It’s probably easier for me as a white, cisgendered man in the industry to deal with it than other groups of people, though.

pee-break-frame-grab
Pee Break, frame grab

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

I think the most common one that I’ve encountered has to be the idea that asexuality is just a lack of maturity. I’ve also heard a lot about it, “going against human nature” as well. Standard stuff. It got old fast.

realistic-musicals-frame-grab
Realistic Musicals, frame grab

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

I actually had a pretty easy time coming to terms with my asexuality, so I don’t have much advice specific to asexuality.

I was a bit of a social outcast when I was younger, though, and when I finally did develop a group of friends in my high-school, it turned out that I had a lot of other stuff to work through. It really helped me to talk to them about those things. If you can find an outlet like that in real life, great! If not, there are all kinds of resources about asexuality for you to check out.

If all else fails, just know that you’re not broken. You’re valid, and there’s a veritable crapload of people like you. We’ve got your back. Take care of yourself.

recalculating-frame-grab
Recalculating, frame grab

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

I take set-photos on Instagram,
http://instagram.com/jawmsie

I tweet about all of my finished projects, as well as the occasional BTS schennanigans,
http://twitter.com/jawmsie

And I release all of my comedy sketches on the Cinema Wagon YouTube channel.
http://youtube.com/c/cinemawagonvideo

Thanks for checking out this interview, and I hope you enjoy my work if you do check it out.

bagman-still-2
Bagman, still 2

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