“My Dear Arthur” is heading to Cannes this spring. Filmmakers Eli Bevins and Lu Bevins shared some thoughts with #DirectedbyWomen this week about the importance of having their filmmaking team represented at Cannes, how they engage with each other and their creative teams in their filmmaking process, and what’s next on the horizon. These two talented, generous young filmmakers have been active in the #DirectedbyWomen Worldwide Film Viewing Party and ongoing celebration from the beginning! Check out what they have to say, enjoy the film, and help out if you can. Their crowdfunding campaign is active now!
DBW: You have a short film screening at Cannes this year. That’s very cool. Where’s it playing? And how did that come about?
Eli: Thanks, Barbara. We’re extremely excited! And thank you so much for taking the time out to have this discussion with us. It all started from the Campus Moviefest’s film competition that required a film to be created in a week’s time. Campus Moviefest (CMF) is also the largest student film festival in the world. My Dear Arthur won the Jury Award for Indiana University’s (Bloomington) campus and was able to compete at the national level in Hollywood in July, where we won Best Picture for IU’s campus. So in December, we were selected to represent CMF at the Cannes Film festival in France, May 2016. Campus MovieFest will host a screening of the CMF Cannes movies in the Marché, on the big screen. Because it’s a short, it will also be in the Short film corner.
DBW: Tell us about the film. What’s it about? When did you make it? Is it streaming online?
Lu: “My Dear Arthur” is about a woman, accused of witchcraft, and her son in the 17th century. In order to escape the townspeople, the mother stores herself and her son’s soul into a painting, which is later bought by a couple in present time.
Eli: We created the film in March of 2015 for the Campus Moviefest competition, where you are challenged to create a short film in a week’s time. We actually wrote the script in one day, filmed it in one day and edited it in another – so it took a total of three days to complete. And yes, it’s currently online; you can actually go to campusmoviefest.com and search for “My Dear Arthur” or you can find it on Youtube…
DBW: You’re running a crowdfunding campaign right now to raise money to send someone to represent your film in Cannes. Why is it important for someone to be there in person? And how did you decide who gets to go? And of course please share the details so film lovers can contribute.
Eli: It’s very important to have a representative present at the Cannes film festival for a variety of reasons. One reason is networking. This is an opportunity to network on a global scale at the world’s most prestigious film festival. There are industry professionals, production companies, and even up and coming filmmakers that will be in attendance. Another reason is that this opportunity is rare and one that’s hard to come by. Cannes is basically invitation only, so who knows when or if we’ll ever have another chance to have a film of ours screen there.
Lu: On deciding who goes, Eli & I looked at the overall situation. The CMF Cannes Film Festival program is a 2 weeklong event. Eli & I would only be able to attend for a week. We’re unselfish people, so, we took to our team to see who would be available for the entire 2 weeks time. Heather, who played the witch, was able to go for the entire 2 weeks. So we decided to raise money for at least one person to go (Heather) and then once we reached our first goal for one person, we would focus on trying to send Eli and I. CMF Cannes allows us to send two members from our team through their main program, and an additional member through their sister program (which cost a few hundred more dollars.)
Link to our Gofundme page: https://www.gofundme.com/8khrtzgs
DBW: You are sisters – twin sisters – making films together. Can you talk about that process? When did you first begin movie making? How do you share the creative and technical aspects of the work? Are there practices that help you open the creative process up for cast and crew to collaborate on the development of your films?
Lu: Eli and I have been writers since we were kids. We were introduced to screenwriting in the 11th grade at Overbrook High in West Philly. We ended up putting on two stage plays at Elizabeth City State University in NC, which led us to start a web show based off one of our plays, and eventually that led us into filmmaking. We were already writers and working on screenplays, but it was then that we picked up a camera and decided we would film and edit our own work.
Eli: We both usually write the scripts together. During production I usually end up editing and Lu usually films – we didn’t decide this, it just sort of happened this way. Nonetheless, we can both film and edit, and sometimes we switch it up.
Lu: Eli and I are actually very open to what our cast has to add to a film or project because we value their opinion. Sometimes you get on set and someone says something and you wonder, “Why didn’t we think of that? Okay – let’s add it!” If someone on the crew or cast has a suggestion we definitely take it into consideration.
DBW: What drives you to create through moving images? What other media or forms do you explore as creative artists?
Eli: That’s a great question! We are very artistic. We grew up drawing, painting, creating comic books. We loved arts and crafts. Today, we are heavily involved in poetry and spoken word. As a matter of fact, sometimes we may write a poem and end up turning it into a movie script. Each medium involves imagery through words.
Lu: Life’s a movie. We look at the experiences we’ve had and the people we’ve come across and the stories sometimes build themselves. Other times, we often create stories from an imaginative space. We try to look at the movies that are out there and ask what hasn’t been done yet?
DBW: Have something new in the works?
Lu: Yes! We have a 50-minute thriller called “When Karma Calls” coming soon. It’s been a long road. We started it a little over a year ago but ran into so many problems – from scheduling conflicts, to two hard drive failures and a laptop failure. But, we can proudly say that it will be dropping soon. Our objective for the film shifted. At first we just wanted a short film to submit to festivals, but now we hope to build our audience enough to eventually receive funding to reshoot “When Karma Calls” on a larger scale with a budget that can encompass special effects and better film equipment.
Eli: For upcoming projects people can visit us at eliluproductions.com or visit us on Facebook via Eli Lu Productions’ page.
DBW: When you open up to dream expansively, what do you see yourselves creating? Who are you working with? What themes are you exploring?
Eli: You know we hope to build up our repertoire by being versatile in film. We want to visit varying genres from Thrillers to comedies, to Sci Fi to documentaries. We’re looking forward to exploring these other genres. It’ll be a way for us to challenge ourselves creativity.
Lu: We also look to grow Eli Lu Productions, and build a team for our projects so that it’s not always just the two of us working. We love to collaborate with others.
DBW: I’ll always be grateful for your early support of the #DirectedbyWomen and I loved the film viewing parties you threw last September during the first Worldwide Film Viewing Party. What are you thinking about doing this coming September for the 2nd global celebration of films #DirectedbyWomen?
Eli: No problem, we were glad to have been apart of the #DirectedByWomen campaign. This year we would like to host a physical screening with maybe some local women directors out here in the Philadelphia or the tri-state area. That way, we will not only celebrate women directors but it would allow us to network and empower one another as well. It’s important for us to support each other’s work.
Lu: Yes, I think hosting a physical event will allow people to be more active in supporting the #DirectedByWomen Campaign.
DBW: Good luck as you move forward. Keep us posted.
Lu: Thank you again for interviewing us.