Interview: Shannen Michaelsen

Today we’re joined by Shannen Michaelsen. Shannen is a phenomenal filmmaker and podcaster who has a number of projects. As a filmmaker, they specialize in webseries, which are produced through RSC, an affiliate of ParaFable. As a co-founder of RSC, Shannen has been able to produce four webseries and two podcasts. They have a few podcasts that they participate in, including a Dungeons & Dragons one. It’s clear they’re a passionate and talented artist who loves what they do, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a co-founder of Remarkable, Singular, Curious Productions, and an affiliate of the collective ParaFable. Through RSC and ParaFable, I have produced four webseries and two podcasts.

My first webseries was “The Adventures of Jamie Watson (and Sherlock Holmes)”, a literary-inspired webseries based on Sherlock Holmes. I co-wrote the series and played our aroace Sherlock Holmes, and was therefore the first Holmes in film to be canonically aroace. After two years of “TAJWASH”, I decided to work on a few short-form shows. I wrote, produced, and starred in “Hamlet the Dame.” I then co-wrote and co-produced “Eddy Rex” (Oedipus Rex) and “Dear Natalie” (A Christmas Carol).

With ParaFable, I produce and DM the dungeons & dragons podcast, Daring Fables. And with RSC, my sister and I occasionally host Pop Culture Pie. I’m also a host of MuggleNet.com’s Fantastic Beasts podcast, SpeakBeasty.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by classic literature, obviously. Sherlock Holmes has always been a particularly important character to me. I’ve identified with him as both an asexual and autistic person, and that’s why making “TAJWASH” was so important to me. In Daring Fables, I take a lot of inspiration from old fairytales and myths. I’m also inspired by all the music I listen to, and like to create playlists for different stories and characters.

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

I have always been creative. My dad has worked in TV news my entire life, so I was always interested in filming. My friends and I made music videos and vlogs when I was a kid. I’ve been writing stories since elementary school. Webseries have been a great way to combine both art-forms. I got interested in literary-inspired webseries specifically after watching “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries”, and then working on “Notes By Christine.” As for podcasts, I joined SpeakBeasty when it first started and never looked back. Podcasts are an entirely different kind of art, but I’ve found them to be a great way to just talk to friends every couple weeks.

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?

Well, almost all of my main characters are asexual, and most of my stories are about friendship. Most of my webseries have a reference to another one of my shows or one of my friends’ shows, either with a line of dialogue or some kind of imagery.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep consuming the kind of art that you want to create. Keep reading, watching, listening, and admiring. The more you understand how other people create their art, the better you’ll understand how you can create your own. And just remember that everybody’s process is different, so don’t worry if you’re going about it in a different way.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as aromantic and 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 prejudice, but I have encountered a lack of representation. That is part of the reason it has been so important for me to create shows with ace characters. Not only am I creating representation for myself and others, but I’m showing other creators that ace characters can have great, engaging stories.

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

The most common misconception I’ve encountered is that asexuality means not having sex. Of course many ace people have sex or want sex, and many ace people don’t. Many ace people are uncomfortable hearing about sex, many ace people aren’t. We’re just like everybody else, with our own individual needs and desires!

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

Ignore the discourse. Remember that there are people who accept you. Don’t feel the need to come out if you don’t want to. Focus on yourself and not everybody else.

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

They can visit remarkablesingularcurious.tumblr.com, theadventuresofjamiewatson.tumblr.com, or parafable.tumblr.com. Or they can search on YouTube for my various webseries, and iTunes for my podcasts.

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

Interview: Marzy Hart

Today we’re joined by Marzy Hart. Marzy is a phenomenal filmmaker who recently founded a production company with her best friend called Besties Make Movies. She’s currently working on a film that she describes as a “genre-bending ace film” that she wrote and is acting in. She’s currently building followers for the film, so I highly recommend clicking on their links and showing them some love. It’s clear Marzy is an incredibly bright and dedicated artist with a very bright future, 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 an actor and a filmmaker. I recently formed the production company Besties Make Movies with my bestie Stacey Maltin to have more say in the stories we tell and the cast/crew we bring on to bring them to life. We’re currently working on the genre bending short film called 2 Weeks, which is inspired by my experiences with asexuality. Our director describes it as “crazy dream logic about a woman who begins to wake up to who she really is and what she needs.” We successfully crowdfunded the project on Seed & Spark but we are building followers (free) which not only helps us unlock free tools provided by the platform’s partners but it helps buyers see that there is an audience for this content. You can follow the film by going to 2weeksmovie.com and hitting “follow” to the right of the video (desktop) or below the video (mobile).

What inspires you?

Both in acting and more behind the scenes filmmaking, I’m inspired by connecting people. I like to explore topics that are surrounded by shame like asexuality, sobriety, homelessness, mental health. I’m also inspired by thinking of what life could be like so fantasy and scifi are high on my list. I want to make the world a better place whether that’s through laughter or tears.

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

I have to say, I’ve always known, even before I understood what being an artist was. TV & films served as a way for me to travel through time and live lives that weren’t my own. It’s funny that what started as an escape has very much turned into using my experiences and my stories to excel in the industry.

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?

Ahh!! I don’t but now I totally want one!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Be kind to yourself. Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t let it stop you. Put yourself out there. There will always be haters but your art isn’t meant for everyone.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Grey Ace/Demi Sexual

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

I’m making 2 Weeks because my field has been very slow to give any representation to the ace community. Most people I’ve shared the project with have been very supportive and curious about it. We’ll see what happens once we film and play at festivals. 2 Weeks really is my coming out. I’ve told some close friends but most people find out when I tell them the film is based on my life. A few people have asked me if I just haven’t had sex with the right person yet.

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

That it’s temporary or that people that just haven’t had sex in a while understand what it feels like.

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

This is one of the most complex identities. You are not alone, you are not broken. It’s different for everyone. You can be ace and have sex. You can be ace and not have sex. You can still have meaningful romantic relationships with/without sex if you want that. The world is not as black and white as society would like us to think that it is. The “A” in the LGBTQIA is for asexual not for ally!

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

Follow me on social media!

Instagram/Twitter: at marzapproved (Twitter)
Facebook.com/marzygotyourhart
Instagram: at bestiesmakemovies
Twitter: at bestiesmovies
Facebook.com/bestiesmakemovies
bestiesmakemovies.tumblr.com.

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

Signal Boost: Another Book Trailer

Hello all!

April was an incredibly rough month for me and it just seemed to drag on. It was one of those months where almost everything went wrong and I was just miserable (I’m still having difficulty wrapping my head around my late friend’s passing). There was a bright spot though: I was able to collaborate with Britty Lea again to make another book trailer, this one for the 2nd book in my series.

The trailer for Through Storm and Night debuted yesterday:

I love the spookiness and I’m just super happy with how it came out (and one of my dear, dear friends, Robyn Byrd, did some of the voice over).

Britty and I have already scheduled a brainstorming session to plan the trailer for From the Ashes. I’m looking forward to that.

I know some authors follow this site. If you’re looking for a badass ace filmmaker to make a super cool trailer for your book, I really recommend Britty. She’s fantastic. If you’re interested in commissioning Britty, check out her personal site (https://www.brittylea.com/) or her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/brittyleafilm/).

And, of course, if you’re interested in helping out an indie ace author, you can always pick up a copy of my books. More information can be found at my personal website (https://laurenjankowski.com/) or my publisher’s, Snowy Wings Publishing, site (https://www.snowywingspublishing.com/).

I just wanted to share this because I’m super proud of it and I really appreciate the kindness of the artists and followers this site has. You all are amazing 🙂

Thank you, everybody!

Interview: Shelly

Today we’re joined by Shelly. Shelly is a wonderful performance artist and writer. She is studying to be an arts educator, focusing on drama and filmmaking. When she has spare time, Shelly writes. She aspires to be published one day and writes LGBTQ YA fiction. It’s very obvious that she’s a dedicated and passionate 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 finishing my studies as an arts educator, in the areas of Drama and Film making. In my spare time I also write YA fiction with LGBT voices as a primary focus. Hopefully I’ll get something published in the future. This is a space that’s getting more attention but our young LGBT people deserve stories that have romances, not just characters struggling with their sexuality and that’s what I hope to bring to the table. I’ve also started dancing recently and I really hope to incorporate this into my arts education practice in the future.

What inspires you?

The world around us. Truth is stranger than fiction.

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

I’ve always loved telling stories, whether it be through writing or the stage. As a child I wanted to be an actor, then I studied producing at uni but I realized I could bring art to more young people through education.

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 my writing definitely. My characters are artists even if they don’t realize it. Creativity is so important to me and that’s why my characters are always involved in dance or cheerleading as a sport. I know there’s been a recent push towards STEM subjects of late, but I think that’s made the arts even more undervalued than they already were. That’s why I’m trying to push back. I want young people to see the value in their art.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Play and explore your art, mix styles. See other artists. Network with artists (this one is so important) you might meet a future collaborator. Learn entrepreneurial skills. In this industry you need to be able to create a job for yourself.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a Demisexual, Bisexual.

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.

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

People think you’re not just there maturity wise or you just haven’t met the ‘one’ who’ll change how you feel about sex, which I really don’t like because it suggests that we need rescuing and that reinforces the patriarchy’s status.

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

Find a support group. You are not alone. We’re not expected to go through life isolated, so don’t isolate yourself while you figure things out.

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

https://dancetheatrestories.tumblr.com/

I’m planning on growing this platform further once I’ve completed my arts education studies.

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

Interview: Elaina Lee

Today we’re joined by Elaina Lee. Elaina is a wonderful up and coming filmmaker. They’re currently writing a webseries entitled Nyte’s Edge, which is a fascinating spin on the superhero genre. It sounds intriguing and I’m definitely going to check it out when it’s released. Elaina is a passionate and talented artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I mainly describe myself as a writer. I went from attempting novels, to writing and completing screenplays for film. My favorite genres are sci-fi, action, suspense, adventure, and I mostly write in those categories as well.

I’m currently working Nyte’s Edge, a webseries about a superhero who must save his alcoholic ex-boyfriend from the grips of an elite crime organization that has taken over their city. It explores good verses bad, and the grey area between. It also explores forgiveness and redemption.

What inspires you?

In the least cheesy sense possible, people inspire me. My favorite part of the writing process is probably creating realistic characters that people can empathize with. I love listening to people’s stories, big or small.

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

I originally wanted to write novels, but I didn’t have time patience to sit down and write over 50,000 words. Instead, I turned to film. It’s funny because it turns out that I don’t have enough words to fill a novel, but I have too many words to fill a script so these last few months working on Nyte’s Edge has also been about finding some kind of happy medium between the two.

But I’ve always known that I was going to create and be creative. Nothing else stuck, especially in school. I thought I was doing something wrong in not picking a “practical” career, until I chose a creative field. Since then, I’ve never felt more on-track in my life, and that brings so much peace of mind to me.

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?

Not currently, no.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Stay true to yourself, and don’t follow a path that’s going to make you dread waking up each day.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual, somewhere between sex-neutral and sex-repulsed.

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

Thankfully I haven’t yet. It’s not necessarily something that you just bring up on set at any time, but the people who work closely with me know about me being ace. I’m not necessarily “out”, but I’m also not hiding it and am fairly open about it.

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

That I can’t be asexual because it’s not scientifically correct. Or that I just haven’t found the right person yet, so I can’t be asexual.

I did have some guy tell how I had a kind of superiority over allosexual people because my mind isn’t focused on sex, and therefore able to focus on other things more acutely. Still, I couldn’t help but laugh, and be kind of weirded out.

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

I think what’s helped me the most is knowing that I identify as I do for myself, not for anyone else. Keep allowing yourself to grow, and if you grow out of one identity and into a new one that you feel is a fuller explanation of yourself, then embrace it.

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

I’ve got an official Facebook page, which is where you can find updates about Nyte’s Edge. I share all my film endeavors on there, so if you’re interested in seeing the short films I’ve been involved in, that would be the place to look. I’ve also got my film Instagram that anyone and everyone can follow. As for Tumblrs, I’ve got my film one at raggedybun, and a specific one for at nytesedge, but neither of them are particularly active currently.

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

Interview: M. Rubio

Today we’re joined by M. Rubio. M. is a wonderful student filmmaker who specializes in short films. His films fall into a variety of genres: comedy, horror, drama, and even surrealism. When he’s not working on films, M. is writing, mostly nonfiction essays. It’s clear he’s a passionate artist with an incredibly bright future ahead of him. My thanks him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Well, I make short films and I write a lot. I guess category wise, I would be considered a student filmmaker. The stuff I publish are usually nonfiction essays about my life or thoughts. In terms of short films, I post occasionally, sometime random stuff, on my YouTube Channel. I intend to release a four-episode miniseries sometimes this summer though.

In terms of the art itself, the stuff leans towards awkward, dry, and self-aware comedy. Occasionally I lean to some drama or just pure surrealist comedy, it mostly depends on my mood or if I am assigned to make something that requires that tone.

My personal favorite work so far is this short where I put a voice over to a college horror film. This film is pretty much my style in a nutshell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ioj8HpSc6k&ab_channel=CannonBlasterakaM.Rubio

What inspires you?

Depends on what you mean specifically. In terms of the stuff I make, I am inspired by the things around me. I have a very Seinfeld mindset in that I write and film what I know.

In terms of inspiration in general. I admire people that have a strong moral ground or are amazingly creative. Bonus points if you are both. Examples include Jim Henson, Fred Rogers, Hayao Miyazaki, Fumito Ueda, and Lemony Snicket.

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

The turning point was watching Roger Ebert’s commentary on Citizen Kane. Citizen Kane is great, but the commentary adds a whole new layer for me. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of storytelling. I watched it when I was a junior in high school, and I thought film was simply pointing a camera at something. The Roger Ebert commentary completely changed that.

I always wanted to be a story teller of some kind (I always had an active imagination), and that commentary convinced me that the film medium is the one I should pursue is film.

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?

Not really. I guess there was always a layer of self-awareness, awkwardness, or dryness to my work, but there was never a unique signature of some kind.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It is okay if you don’t know everything or aren’t good at everything. No artist is an expert on their craft. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be good and strive to be better. That was a hurdle that I wished I learned early in my life. Art can be an intimidating field to get into.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as hetero demisexual.

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

No prejudice, but tons of ignorance. Thankfully, it wasn’t the toxic ignorance. But almost everyone I talked to about my sexuality, I had to explain to them what asexuality/demisexuality was. This is not a problem for me, since I love explaining my asexuality. It never gets tedious. Mainly because, I love seeing the light bulbs light up when I do explain it.

That said, I am particular with who I come out to out of fear of prejudice. I live in the South, so certain people have a more hostile ignorance. You can usually tell which ones are which just by having a five minute conversation with them.

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

That asexuals are all frigid. One of common things I have to clear up are the fact that asexuals can be sex positive. I have to explain that there are a variety of spectrums with asexuality, and with sexuality in general. Not only is allosexual/asexual a spectrum, but how we view sex is also a spectrum.

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

Sexuality is an identity and identity is very fluid. That said, there are a lot of people, some of those people aggressive and toxic, that don’t know it or don’t believe it. There will be times where YOU have to clear up misconceptions. With that, you have to be an expert on sexuality.

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

There is my YouTube channel, which I put all of my stuff on. Give it a look: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCha-tfYIjwdzylWfcz1BDGw?&ab_channel=CannonBlasterakaM.Rubio

I also blog on occasion. I usually put it on this site: https://themrubio.blogspot.com/

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

Interview: Noreen Quadir

Today we’re joined by Noreen Quadir. Noreen is a phenomenal filmmaker, actress, and writer. She has acted in stage productions and short films. Noreen also writes screenplays and has written a feature length script about an asexual character. When she’s not working on film or stage, Noreen also writes in other forms too. She has written a children’s book, which she plans to self-publish soon. Noreen is an exciting artist and definitely someone to watch in the future. 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 an actress, writer and filmmaker with a background in theater and media studies. Aside from having acted in stage productions, I have also acted in short films and did background work on TV. I have also written and produced my own projects. I wrote a feature length script which is still in works, but I’ve produced a short scene from the script. The film is about a high school girl who is discovering that she’s asexual. And as she is realizing this, she is struggling with feeling like an outsider, especially when no one around her believes that she is asexual or that asexuality is even real. In addition to screenplays, I write in other forms and have written a children’s book which I intend to self-publish soon.

What inspires you?

I get inspired by so many things. I certainly get inspired by bits and pieces of my own life, but I have never really written or produced anything that exactly mirrors my life and experiences. It’s a little too intimate for me and I value my privacy. The feature length screenplay I wrote has certainly been inspired by my experience as an asexual, but it is still a very different story. The character is a bit different and how she discovers, processes, and handles her self-discovery is extremely different than my own story. That of course made it more fun to write because I got to invent stuff and had to look for inspiration from other places. I do get inspired by other artistic works including music, books and other movies. Inspiration is something that just happens organically for me. I can’t force it, which can sometimes be frustrating because when I want to write something, I am out of ideas. But when I do get inspired, I am able to put the words down which is always a great feeling!

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

I suppose it all started when I took dance classes around the age of 5. I loved performing and being up on stage. And then as I got a little older, I developed an interest in singing and music. I sang in my school’s choir and I also played the flute. Sadly, I cannot play the flute anymore. But, I remember it was a lot of fun. I also learned a little bit of piano. So, I had a huge appreciation for the arts at a very young age. And eventually, I got interested in acting and performed in plays in high school and then decided to study theatre in college. And then from there, I wanted to create my own projects. I was also a writer from a young age. I remember I used to write a lot of short stories and poems in elementary school and my teachers would compliment me on my works. I was not getting high marks in math, but I found my skill in writing. And in fifth grade, my teacher encouraged me to become a children’s author and that always stayed with me.

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 think I have any special symbol, but I love the color pink. It’s my favorite color and it is what I wear in my headshot. My room back at my family’s home is also pink. And it is often that you will see me in that color. 🙂

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I would say to really invest in yourself and in your dreams. Whatever it is that you want to do – be it writing, filmmaking, performing, drawing, singing, etc., make sure you’re really committed to it and spend time each day on your craft. If you want it to be more than a hobby, then you have to do more than just dabbling in it here and there. It’s good to invest in adequate training, be open to feedback and learning, and exercise your artistic muscles daily.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m an aromantic ace.

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

A little bit, but not any more than I’ve encountered in other areas of life or in general. Since most of the people I meet in my field are professional contacts, my personal life isn’t much of a topic anyway. Occasionally, people have said ignorant things because sex is a big part of the film industry and it has been kind of implied that if you don’t fit in with that, you don’t fit within the industry. I suppose the only way I handle stuff like that is by calling people out on their ignorance and letting them know that despite the sexual liberation, there is still hypocritical close-mindedness when it comes to sex.

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

It’s really hard to pinpoint one, because there have been many. I think probably one of the most common ones is that asexuality is impossible or that if you claim to be asexual, you either have experienced abuse or trauma, you have a medical disorder that is causing you to feel that way or you’re repressed. Some people think it’s just a phase and that you haven’t met the right person yet. I used to get a lot of comments like that when I was a teenager and when I was in college. There’s also this view that if you dress and act very feminine, wear makeup and perfume, etc., that you can’t be an asexual. I think some people equate asexuality with unattractiveness and a neutral gender expression.

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

I would say to know that asexuality is not abnormal and that they are not the only ones in the world with this orientation. And even though it is still not widely acknowledged, it really will take people being confident with their orientation to make the difference and to change how people view asexuality. So I would say to embrace yourself and that your orientation is just one aspect of you. It doesn’t define your entire self and there are so many other interesting aspects of a person. I tend to define myself and other people by choices and how you treat and interact with others. That’s what really matters at the end of the day.

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

Here’s my YouTube channel:  https://www.youtube.com/user/ZizzyNQ

And this is my actor’s website: https://www.noreen-quadir.com/

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