This post is the first in a three part Shorts of All Sorts NYC conversation series.
The 4th annual #DirectedbyWomen Worldwide Film Viewing Party wouldn’t be complete without a celebration organized by Jennifer Dean and Eric Rice of The 2nd Sex and the 7th Art. This year their screening—formerly known as NYC Short and Fun—has been renamed Shorts of All Sorts NYC and moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn.
If you are in the NYC area, I hope you’ll head to Videology Bar & Cinema at 6pm this Monday September 3rd to relish this truly global collection of documentaries, narrative fiction, animation and experimental films. Stick around afterwards for Q&A with some of the filmmakers. Though not all of us can be attend this screening, we CAN celebrate these directors from wherever we are. That’s what the #DirectedbyWomen Worldwide Film Viewing Party and #WomanDirectorAwarenessMonth are all about—weaving together community and building a culture of appreciation within the global film community.
To help film lovers discover and appreciate these filmmakers’ work, #DirectedbyWomen invited them to contribute to the Conversation series by responding to just one question…
“Could you please tell us about a moment during the making of your film when you could feel your vision coming together or when you overcame a challenge in a satisfying way?”
Many of the women with work screening in Shorts of All Sorts had a chance to respond. Here’s what Jungmin Cha, Jennie Meadows, Jessica Irish, Jessica Hudak, Agathe Bernard, Filiz Kuka, and Stephanie Maxwell had to say about their filmmaking processes. Stay tuned for Parts 2 & 3 of this series Sunday and Monday.
Where I Was Born directed by Jungmin Cha
As a woman, I’ve always wanted to make a film that delivers the real story of the society where I live. So when I first planned this project, among lots of scenes, I wanted to focus on scenes about crimes against women (especially about hidden camera photos taken and spread online) because these are real and serious crimes Korean women always fear about in our daily lives. However at the same time, I didn’t want my film to be too dark or serious. I wanted people to enjoy watching my film and that is why I added a lot of humorous aspects, trying to make a balance between fun stuff and dark stuff. By combining humor with serious social issues, I intended audiences to interact/ learn about these issues, and have some opportunities to think about those incidents in a less offensive way.
Due to my intention mentioned above, editing and making a balance between dark and fun sides was the most challenging part while making this film. My film doesn’t have one narrative line. Instead, it is made up of lots of short vignettes and I’ve never tried this kind of format before. (To help your understanding, I was highly inspired by a Hungarian female filmmaker Réka Bucsi’s ‘Symphony no.42’. It also takes the same vignette format as my film does.) So the hardest part was to ‘make my film make sense’ and let people know what I’m trying to say through my film. If edited badly, audiences might get all confused and not understand what kind of message or thought my film is trying to deliver. And it was such a devastating work to cut off or add scenes while editing because it made me feel my film was heading toward a wrong direction, different from what I first intended. However after wandering around, I finished editing somehow and surprisingly, it ended up having the flow as I’d originally planned. I was just afraid of uncertainty and something new I’d never tried. And I think by realizing this anxiety is a natural feeling that every filmmaker suffers from I was able to overcame this challenge with satisfying result.
Twitten directed by Jennie Meadows
Looking back, I’d say the moment when the vision came together was the realisation I could be quite playful with the narrative. For example, the shot with the bus featuring the words ‘Get On, Go Somewhere’. This was followed by the person getting on the bike and scooting off. It was also when I started working on the sequence of the people transforming into each other as they walked past the camera. By rearranging the shot sequences and combining images in a different way, it creates a whole new perspective on the reality.
The Phantasmagoria of Offense: the male version
directed by Jessica Irish
The idea for this project came to me when I was tasked to write a lyric essay — I had these ideas rumbling around in my head for several months, and that non-linear form was the perfect venue to give them a voice. Given the nature of the subject matter, it really needed to become visual in some way, and I wanted to avoid a stodgy art history lecture approach. What proved challenging later was finding the right amount of limitation, both for the subject matter and the visual style. In choosing to limit myself to “the male version” I felt more free to explicitly focus on the issues that were relevant to the artists I chose. Because I intended it to be something of a collage history, finding the unifying element was important. This came for me in the simple form of a color palette. Once I found a set of colors that could work for the entire piece, then it was just a matter of putting it all together.
Jessica Irish is scheduled to be at Videology on September 3, 2018 for the Shorts of All Sorts NYC screening.
Follow The Phantasmagoria of Offense: the male version on Facebook.
Inseyed directed by Jessica Hudak
My 3D animated film Inseyed was my thesis project for my last year at art school which we were given a little under a year to complete. I started on it May 2017 and completed my film by April 2018 so there was a lot of stress and doubt that along the way that I wouldn’t be able to finish or that I would be unsatisfied with the finished film. I’m so grateful that early on I managed my time well and was able to go through iterations of my characters and sets. Originally it was supposed to take place in a bedroom and the corpse was on the verge of being cartoony, so once I changed the bedroom to a bathroom and the corpse’s look changed, I saw the piece starting to really come together. Things were making a lot more sense. This whole process showed me how important reaching out and being open to critique really is, especially learning how to filter through feedback and improving my film without ever losing sight of my vision.
Carving Landscapes directed by Agathe Bernard
In order to be compliant with the production deadline we had to film the last week of June but since the whole film was going to be on a glacier, we needed the snow on it to be melted otherwise it would look like a big, giant snowbank. The week prior we had a crazy snow storm and we could not see any blue ice, which was essential for the filming. I was quite nervous about the upcoming production. The following week the temperatures became tropical! After 6 hours ascend to the glacier, we were happily surprised to see how much the snow had melted. The wind was extremely strong and the dress of the actress was flowing exactly in the way I had it described in the shot list. The production week was extremely successful and a few days later, another snowstorm hit the mountains and buried the glacier. We were so lucky!
Bejlereve Begova Beyler directed by Filiz Kuka
1980s are my childhood memories. I always wanted to shoot full-length film for these memories. I waited too long and at the end I decided to shoot as a short film. By going to the land of my birth and the house in which I was born, I made this story eternal. Of the cast and crew only my cinematographer husband and I were professionals. Everyone in the movie saw the camera for the first time and memorized the lines of film. It was really hard for me to shoot but it added another beauty for the film and a good experience for me. In the 1980s every child had right to choose to go to school in his/her mother tongue. In the first scene in the picture Josip Broz TİTO the leader gave this opportunity to the community. Now he is gone. The name of the movie is Street address in three language, but today everything changed. With that this movie feels like history to me.
Aquarium directed by Stephanie Maxwell
I am a diver and it is a beautiful experience being underwater. Shooting in water has its own unique challenges, but with experience and experimentation there are many possibilities for discovery and focus in making a film. The motion of ocean water, the unending choreography of nature, and the interplays of light and the changing optics of water became the dramatic visual expressions in my Aquarium. I had the music score (Sant Saëns’ Aquarium, arranged by Max Berlin) playing in my head throughout the shooting of the work—underwater and in breaking waves and tide pools. I pursued shots and moved my camera as if in a dance, allowing myself to be tumbled by waves, bracing myself for poses of stationary organisms moving in currents and surging waves, drifting and floating like plankton or jellyfish, and mimicking movements of fish combing the reef or darting from danger. I found that the music informed the content and cinematography in very pleasant ways. When I reviewed a day’s shooting, I could see the work emerging and would hone the following shoots on lessons learned and the gathering of more shots for variety and to complete a satisfying and growing final film/music composition.
Stephanie Maxwell is scheduled to be at Videology on September 3, 2018 for the Shorts of All Sorts NYC screening.
I hope you are following Jennifer Dean and Eric Rice’s work. Find out more about their documentary film project THE 2ND SEX & THE 7TH ART: WOMEN DIRECTORS IN FILM—Female filmmakers: Investigating their works, history and advocacy in the U.S. from 1896-present—on their website.