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 Although I am currently unpublished, I am seeking agents and if all else fails, I plan to self-publish the first book to gather interest, before sending it and its sequel to a new set of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: Chuang Wang

Today we’re joined by Chuang Wang, who is also known as millenniumfae online. Chuang is a phenomenal versatile artist who works in a number of fields. They mostly do digital illustration and animation, but they’re also working on a short film and do a lot of painting and drawing. They also happen to be a fellow Guillermo del Toro fan (be still my heart). Chuang demonstrates an amazing amount of talent and there is so much emotion and beauty in their work. I was amazed at how they use color and lines to draw the viewer’s focus in. This is an artist with an incredibly bright future. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Acesurvivor
Ace Survivor

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a fourth-year full time student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, working primarily digital illustrations and animations. I make movies, paintings, comics, and drawings, and I write my own scripts and stories. I’m currently making a short film called The Amber Witch, which has been over a year in the making, and will be finished within the next six months. I’ve also worked with phone game app developer teams. You might have also seen one of the pop-up ads that I’ve animated.

What inspires you?

Not any one thing. I’ll definitely say horror has always been a fascinating genre and source of inspiration. Good horror is successful because it’s entertaining enough to capture an audience, and terrifying enough to stick with someone after the story is over. Horror is a great catalyst for critical thinking and audience interest.

So my visual and storytelling style definitely draws from Konami’s Silent Hill series, manga artists Nakayama Masaaki and Junji Ito, Guillermo del Toro’s horror films, and others. Real life definitely offers the most inspirational horror – decay, corpses, and death particularly terrifies me.

My current Amber Witch film, a story about a witch that preserves ‘beautiful’ fresh corpses within orbs of amber, was inspired by National Geographic Johannes Bojesen’s photograph of a sheep corpse frozen in a pond. The top section of the sheep’s body had decayed to bones, and underneath the ice the sheep was perfectly preserved.

AmberWitch1    AmberWitch2

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

I didn’t take art seriously until my first few years of high school. On a whim, I began making fanart of my favorite video game and decided to join an internet forum fandom community. A pre-teen submitting their beginner art to an online forum of not-so-friendly adults went … as badly as you could imagine. I dedicated myself to improving out of pure spite. I quickly developed a work ethic, and decided to take my art skills to college, and beyond that.

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 every comic I’ve ever printed and distributed, there’s at least one onion sitting somewhere. Don’t tell anyone, but that onion is my avatar persona. Because I have an unholy love for onions. Especially raw and eaten like apples.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

‘Constructive criticism’ is 98% garbage. The only way to truly improve is to make and make more art, and to keep sight of your enjoyment. You develop a working rhythm within days, and that steady level of production is what’ll give you skill. Correct anatomy doesn’t actually exist, color palette and theory changes from person to person. ‘Good art’ goes in and out of fashion like everything else.

Not every artist draws every single day and works themselves to the bone while subsiding on cigarette smoke and pinot noir. I never did, and neither do my professional associates. This isn’t the Olympics. Improvement is sometimes just this one new technique that you decided to try on a whim, sometimes it’s you drawing this exact same pose over and over, until you couldn’t possibly mess it up ever again.

It’s not cheating if it works. Selling and crediting stolen art as your own is one thing, but using Photoshop filters, drawing aids, tracing and copying, anything that shaves off time and energy is what art has always been like, and what your idols and role models have always done. You’re only shown a carefully picked collection of finished art, and not the piles of garbage that led to it.

Iknowingme
I Knowing Me

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Panromantic asexual. My agender identity definitely muddles the ‘romantic orientation’ part, which has caused me enough drama to last my sad, queer little life.

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

Definitely not in my field of art … but my asexuality has been a rocky road from start to finish. Me being a young, brown (then-identifying bisexual) teen led to years of self-neglect. I had no reason to say no, so I always said yes. As far as I knew, my strange neurosis and underdevelopment could be solved if I ‘powered’ through it.

I knew asexuality existed, but never thought it could possibly apply to my life. What possible benefit was there in being asexual? There’s no role models, no pride, no happiness in that life. It was a tough time. I ignored my body’s various aches and pains, and it ignored me. Then I made that conscious effort to reclaim asexuality, and that fog finally began to clear. My asexuality was my way of growing into myself, in a completely different way than what I was taught.

My asexuality definitely affects my art, though. One of my popular, earlier stories was about a mythical figure called The Crypt-Delver’s Maiden, whose physical appearance was designed after the famous Xiaohe mummy, which is known for its long, curly hair and beautiful eyelashes. The Crypt-Delver’s Maiden was a story about falling in love with an emancipated (sentient) mummy, and now that I look closer, this character was very much designed in an asexual light. There’s no hint of her body or her figure, and she emits no sexual energy. Falling in love with no sexuality in the relationship almost seems like a learned skill for most people, but for me, it’s all I’ve ever known.

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

That it can be changed or compromised. I can predict these kinds of responses the minute before it happens. Sometimes, people voice some plan to change me. Sometimes, it’s subtle actions like invading my private space or belongings, or trying to ‘guide’ my thoughts and opinions. Sometimes, people get angry, because I ‘lied’ to them, or that I’m not involving them.

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

Keep it positive. Distance yourself from anything that rubs you the slightest wrong way. You aren’t owed any explanation, or behavior. Your comfort and safety is that much more important.

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

I’ve got an artblog on Tumblr, millennium-fae-artblog. I also offer art commissions, and I’m currently making various Ace pride merchandise to be sold on Redbubble and Storenvy, so keep an eye out for those!

Fenharel
Fenharel

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