MAMACHAS DEL RING: Interview with filmmaker Betty M Park

BIOGRAPHY

BETTY M PARK is a Korean American filmmaker based in Brooklyn, New York, and makes her debut as a feature film director with Mamachas del Ring. She works as a producer and editor in TV, and her work as an editor includes the documentary The Innocence Project, which screened at the 2003 Hamptons International Film Festival.

Betty was born and raised in New York, and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a double major in English and Philosophy. In addition to making films and TV, she continues to encourage others to resist the urge to punctuate her name.

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Her Film:  You work as a television producer and editor, with Mamachas del Ring being your directorial debut.  How did you draw from your producing and editing experience to inform this film?

Betty M Park: Being in the daily grind of telling stories for TV is definitely a kind of bootcamp for storytelling, and while I can’t point to specific links between that work and Mamachas del Ring, I’m sure it has helped develop my craft.

Photo courtesy of Noah Friedman-Rudovsky

HF:  Inevitably, filmmakers learn something about themselves in the process of making a film.  What have you taken away from your experience making this film and what did you learn from the women whose lives you documented?

BMP: One of the things that struck me the most is how similar Carmen Rosa’s experience as a struggling wrestler is to that of an independent filmmaker, or anyone who has an all-consuming passion for that matter. There are distinct choices we make in terms of prioritizing our personal lives versus our work, and these are the choices that in part define us and make us who we are.

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“The film landscape is constantly evolving, and there will always be an infinite number of ways to approach it.”

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HF:  There is a strong theme of self-empowerment in Mamachas del Ring while also showing the cholitas’ reality of “gendered responsibilities” as you say on your website.  What do you think the legacy of the cholitas will be?  

BMP: My hope is that the cholita wrestling revolution has forever challenged and changed the stereotype of Bolivian indigenous women for both Bolivians and those abroad. I also think that, due to media-interest even outside of this specific documentary, cholita wrestling has provided an entertaining and interesting entry-point into a country and culture relatively unknown to your average person.

Photo courtesy of the filmmaker

HF:  Mamachas has screened around the world in front of culturally diverse audiences from Buenos Aires to Montreal, Austria to Uruguay and many places in between.  Do you notice differences in how audiences interpret the story or their attitudes toward the film’s themes?

 

BMP: While I think each audience comes with a different background of information, I’m not sure I could speak to region-specific reactions. 

Generally speaking, I think what initially attracts people to Mamachas is the opportunity to peer into what appears to be a strange and exotic universe of women wrestling in indigenous clothing, but what they take away is a more personal connection with Carmen Rosa and her struggles. 

HF:  Did you have a film festival strategy and if so, how did you decide on where you wanted it to premiere and screen?

 

BMP: The general rule of thumb for me (and for most people, I think) was to try to premiere at a festival that was well-known enough to provide the opportunity to generate some press and “buzz,” in addition to having a strong market where there would be buyers and industry folks in attendance. The regional premieres that followed were also guided by a similar principle. 

I had always thought that Mamachas would have an audience outside of the US, and so for me international festivals were as important as the domestic ones. It was also extremely important to me to have a strong Latin American premiere, since this is a film about Latin America.

HF:  How have you utilized social media and new/online media for Mamachas?

 

BMP: Facebook and twitter have been invaluable in connecting with both fans of Mamachas, potential fans of Mamachas, and the film community. I reached out to a lot of pro-wrestling fans online, and diva-dirt.com was especially supportive. The site focuses specifically on female wrestling fans, and they were extremely generous in helping to promote the Indiepix DVD and VOD release of Mamachas earlier this summer.


Photo courtesy of the filmmaker

HF:  Can you describe your marketing and distribution plan for this film?

BMP: The marketing and distribution for this film relied heavily on connecting with folks in the film community through festivals and general word of mouth. There were a few identifiable audiences that I tried to reach out to, including fans of wrestling, fans of Latin American film/Latin American audiences, and the more general arthouse film crowd. Of course distribution comes down to having the right platform through which people can access the film, and right now it is available in its most democratic form–DVD and VOD.

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“There are distinct choices we make …that in part define us and make us who we are.”

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HF:  Are there any lessons or skills — technical, financial, creative — that you picked up along your journey making this film that you will apply to future projects?

BMP: One of the most valuable experiences I’ve had in this process is connecting with other filmmakers, many of whom have grappled with similar hurdles in the ups and downs of indie filmmaking, some of whom who have become dear friends. The film landscape is constantly evolving, and there will always be an infinite number of ways to approach it. To have a few trustworthy sounding boards within the community is priceless to me, and will be especially helpful moving forward with future projects.

Photo courtesy of Noah Friedman-Rudovsky

HF:  What’s next on your slate of projects?

BMP: I’m currently working on an animation, and exploring a few documentary ideas.

To connect with Betty M Park and learn more about her work, check out the following:

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No Sleep ’til Fruition: Interview with 18-year old filmmaker MJ Slide

Read MJ Slide’s biography and her first Her Film interview (“Staying True to Yourself”) from September 2010 here.

Her Film: It’s been about a year since your first interview with Her Film when you discussed your film, The Saving, and you took it to the Seattle True Independent Film Festival this June.  Can you talk a bit about your expectations you had for the film and what’s been happening with it?

MJ Slide: The release and reception The Saving has received has far exceeded my expectations. It’s been screened in dozens of the theaters across the US and in the UK. As awesome as getting into festivals is (5 to date for this film) more importantly for myself as a Writer/Director would be the fact that individuals have really connected to the film’s message and passed on the word that this upstart 18-year old filmmaker is serious about making films and making them with quality generally not associated with my age.

Filmmaker MJ Slide at the premiere of her first film, The Saving, in South Carolina. (Photo courtesy of the filmmaker)

HF:  What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in making your first film and navigating the festivals?

MJS: Do your research and if you can, snag a personal contact with someone within the festival structure even before submitting to it. It will go really far once you’re ready to submit. There’s nothing wrong with having an “in.” Be personal and go the extra mile to convince the fest your film is one their festival NEEDS. Also Watch Paul Osborne’s Official Rejection, a documentary on the politics of film fests, and go ahead and buy Chris Gore’s Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide. Both are invaluable resources to any independent filmmakers prepping to take on the fest circuit.

“Give back to your audience…because honestly, without them, your film is just that, a film…”

MJ Slide with STIFF student block director, Daniel Hoyos, at Seattle’s True Independent Film Festival (STIFF) 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo courtesy of the filmmaker)
HF:  What tools or skills have you found to be the most effective for building an audience?

MJS:  First and foremost, (and it’s kinda sad how many people overlook this step), have a quality film.  Second, know your demographic, and third, be personable. People like to deal with real people; be genuine, know your stuff, and continue to build relationships with those who are in similar situations. Reach out and connect, it’s a two way street. Give back to your audience, treat them like royalty because honestly, without them, your film is just that, a film…that no one is watching. Cultivate your image both on and offline, and I can’t stress enough how important social media is. It’s one of a filmmaker’s strongest tools. It’s free but it is an investment. Your audience is waiting for you. All you have to be willing to do is put yourself out there in creative engaging ways.

Official development one-sheet for Fruition Hard Line. (Image courtesy of the filmmaker)

HF:  What are you working on now?

MJS:  Several different projects but garnering most of my attention is my very first feature film, an indie steampunk movie entitled Fruition Hard Line.

From the Fruition Hard Line screen test (Photo courtesy of the filmmaker)

 I’m both co-writing and producing. It’s a truly amazing project and the group of people we’ve already assembled in development is by far the strongest, most versatile, and talented set of individuals both myself and my director, Timi Brennan, have worked with in either of our careers. We’re working very hard to push the envelope and raise the bar on what people would consider possible for an independent film shot in what would be considered a less than ideal filmmaking climate.

From the Fruition Hard Line screen test (Photo courtesy of the filmmaker)

The story itself is about a young girl, haunted by immense psychic abilities, who becomes entangled in a bizarre underworld of machinery and magic. I can list on one hand the amount of properly made sci-fi fantasy indie films, and my sincere hope is that Fruition Hard Line will be able to join their ranks. It’s going to be a long haul but I most definitely think it would be worth you guys coming along for the ride. As we say at Magnolia Hideout Pictures, it’s all indie film world domination up in here 🙂

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To connect with MJ Slide and learn more about her work, check out the following:

Junk Ink Films

Fruition Hard Line (film)

The Saving (film)

@MJ_Slide on Twitter

Interview with Screen Stockport

Living an inspired life

If you’re anything like me, sometimes you need a real kick in the ass to get going and recognize the power you hold and the talent you possess.  Today, I’m inspired.  I’ve been reading a blog lately that really lights a fire under me to get up off my keister and get sh** done!  Just Add Cape: adventures in becoming a real life superhero (see blog roll on right), a blog by L.A.-based writer-director-producer-actress Kai Soremekun, is all about finding inspiration, becoming empowered and finding your voice.  Her web series CHICK is all about that, too.  It’s definitely a package deal you get with the blog and show, a full-on brand that focuses on empowerment.  Wow, we need that! (Do we ever! I hope you’ll say.)

I love Kai’s positive take on life, fears and dreams, not only on this blog, but also in her web series (about a woman who becomes a superhero).  Just Add Cape is much more than just a support or supplement to her series, it’s an incredibly nurturing space where people are called upon to be their best selves — superheroes, in fact!  THAT, yes, that, is something the world needs more than ever.  Check out Just Add Cape, and stay tuned for the second season of CHICK

Watch the video interview, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway,” with Kai Soremekun done for Her Film in 2010.

Stay tuned…

This blog has been on hiatus of late due to this author’s studying in Vancouver, Canada (go Canucks!) in a wildly intensive four-month entertainment administration program.  While it’s awesome to now understand how film distribution works, what a “nut” is (hint, it’s not a nut, and it’s often preceded by “house”), how to prepare a cash flow, understand a cost report, and what goes into prepping for a pitch, and then doing a story pitch to a panel of industry folk, needless to say it does not particularly help me when it comes to writing this blog!  But this blog is about to reboot and get crackin’ with more interesting stories from filmmakers.

Coming soon are a number of interviews with incredibly varied and multi-talented filmmakers — doc, short and feature filmmakers — who live and work in different areas of the world, all in keeping with part of the mission of Her Film to engage in discussions with women filmmakers and crew members from all over this blue and green globe.  Topics to be discussed include navigating film festivals, comedy, women in sports, women making movies about women, and much more.

Her Film is growing! 

Begun in collaboration with Marian Evans, author of the Wellywood Woman blog (of which Her Film is a sister blog),  writer/cultural activist and inspiring tweeter @devt, the Her Film blog is now growing into a global effort to build audiences for films that are by, for and about women.  We’ve joined google+ (if you’re not on Google+ yet and would like an invitation, please send an email request or simply find us on google+), and Marian, especially, is developing some fascinating and inspiring ways to engage with people across the world.  Stay tuned for more news on the expanding horizons of Her Film.

In the meantime, as you await new posts, here are a few links to blogs, articles and websites that have particularly inspired me of late and demonstrate some commendable development within the filmmaking industry worldwide:

African Women In Cinema Blog

Discusses topics affecting African women working in film.  Affiliated with the Center for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema.

The Case for Global Film: Discussing everything that isn’t Hollywood (and a little that is).

Gender Across Borders: a global feminist blog

India’s Portrayal of Women in Media

Blog post on the Women’s Media Center website.

Older Than America (2008)

First feature film directed by a Native American woman (Georgia Lightning).

The Pink Gorilla (Tuesdays with Lucy)

Tribute to Lucille Ball by actor and her former student, Taylor Negron.

Women Film Critics Circle

Women’s Film History Network – UK/Ireland

Women Talk Sports: media coverage of female athletes

Zen Producer

Written by filmmaker Sheila Hardy, past guest blogger here on Her Film.

If you know of any new films by women filmmakers, blogs about independent film (especially films by, for or about women), or awesome women’s film festivals, please send me an email with a link and I’ll post the link here on Her Film.

Feel the Fear & Do It Anyway! A video interview with Kai Soremekun, creator of the web series CHICK

Kai Soremekun is the creator-writer-director and star of the web series CHICK about a woman who wants to be a superhero.  She’s based in Hollywood, California and has recently finished the first season of her show — an ambitious 20 episodes! The second season is currently in development.

I met Kai in May 2010 at a seminar on internet marketing for filmmakers and then we met up again during my trip in August to Los Angeles. ( The all-day seminar was well worth it!  Note the section in the interview in which Kai talks about the mastermind group she’s just finished, all about the artist + entrepreneur model of filmmaking.)  She’s one of the most inspiring and positive people I’ve met, despite the fact we’ve only spent a few hours together!  CHICK is all over the web, so check out the links below the video to learn more.

Watch episodes of CHICK.

Follow Kai Soremekun on Twitter @kaisoremekun.

Join the CHICK page on Facebook.

Watch the CHICK channel on YouTube.

Join CHICK‘s MySpace page.

Check out Kai Soremekun’s website.

Read an article about CHICK on We Love Soaps TV.

Read about Kai Soremekun and her show CHICK in The Washington Post.

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Sincere thanks go out to Kai Soremekun for doing this interview!  Her patience during my camera troubles was admirable.  Toward the end of the interview, we were shut down by bookstore security for “customer filming,” so we relocated down the street to a hotel courtyard.  Much better atmosphere…

We Always Do It Nice & Rough: Guest post by filmmaker Sheila J. Hardy of Eve’s Lime Prods.

Los Angeles, California —

Sheila J. Hardy

People often ask me the meaning behind the unique the name of my production company.

Eve is the first woman, mother of every race.

Lime:  An “ism” I picked up when I lived in Barbados.  It means to watch the movements of the people, usually done from a porch or a stoop:  a party.

This West Indian term is used in the Caribbean both as a noun and verb:  “Come lime by me.”  Or “I’m having a lime this Saturday night.”

So much is changing and has to change in our world.  In order to continue to inhabit this planet, we are really going to have to do things differently.  This is just one of the many reasons why I am committed to growing ideas about how we, as an industry and community, can better maintain a balance between what we take and what we give back.  That way we can have longevity in the work we do, as well as an impact that goes far beyond our original circle of collaborators.  I believe the first step in this is to open the dialogue on what “real” collaborative work is, as it relates to filmmaking.

Nice & Rough: Black Women in Rock (Poster features Starr Cullars)

I believe that with the right combination of collaborators, you can do anything!

This is why collaboration is such an important part of Eve’s Lime.  We are able to see just how prolific the concept of collaboration has become by just looking toward the Web and social media.  LinkedIn blows my mind daily, as it continually affirms that there are only six degrees of separation between me and those I need to connect with to get my work done.  We have everything we need at our fingertips to complete our projects.  Once we embrace that fact, it’s easy to move forward. There is an audience for every film; a community for every project and this is the approach I bring to my work.

Still from the "ecosystems production" for the California Science Center TV ad campaign, produced by Sheila J. Hardy

Eve’s Lime represents a convergence of collaborators – uniquely gifted directors, writers, producers, crew, industry executives, vendors, corporations, and non-profits committed to this mission, to bring real stories and authentic voices into the limelight via documentaries and commercials.

Last summer, I was given the nickname, “The Zen Producer” because of the energy I commit to build the right team, and to create a production environment in which people have the freedom to do their best work.  This experience, and others like it are the result of my need to create a framework that reflects what I want to do – work that is collaborative, humanistic, sustainable, enjoyable, and creates value.

I come to production as an entrepreneur and journalist/author. After researching writing my first biography collection, I decided I wanted to learn how to retell these stories through film, so I enrolled in the Writer’s Bootcamp two-year screenwriting program.  After I graduated, I realized that I was still very green.  I had never even been on a film set.  So I looked for work on various productions – first as a location manager on a PSA.  Then I began to associate produce, and on to taking the lead as Producer.

Part of the team from the Daniel's Place PSA, produced by Sheila J. Hardy

Often after a production I would feel wiped out … No.  Not from the 14 hour days, but from all of the drama and politics. I was determined not to let the madness of others control my experience.   The work had become dissatisfying because the voice of the project or creative brief would get lost in translation because of politics and egos that we are all too familiar with in this industry.  That’s how collaboration became the cornerstone of my production model.  In collaborative production everyone is equally valued.

My goal in creating Eve’s Lime was to develop a new paradigm and to create a space where talented people can come together and truly collaborate.  Collaboration is accessible, and solution-focused, to fill the needs of the project or situation.  I have had the opportunity to witness, first hand, how crucial collaboration is in my work with non-profits.

In this shifting economy, non-profits need to do far more with less.  Because of Eves Lime‘s collaborative production model, I am able to draw on a community of resources built through like minded individual, businesses and organizations, to produce an ad campaign for a non-profit, at a fraction of the usual cost. It is so satisfying to watch this work.

Camera crew from the California Science Center TV ad campaign

This philosophy lays a solid foundation for how the work gets done, creates a dynamic interpersonal space in which I interface with my clients, and it is a perfect methodology for creating real stories, authentic voices.  As a historian I cannot stress enough the importance of telling our own stories.  This model provides a framework for story-development that ultimately conveys the DNA of the community it’s depicting. – not someone’s fantasy of that community.  For example, in the research for one of my recent commercials we interviewed members of the organization being depicted and incorporated elements of their day-to-day activities into the story, providing a genuine feel that engages viewers.

Opening opportunities for new dialogues and new possibilities is a wonderful by-product of collaboration.  I am on the warpath to connect with people who want to support my doc project.  Nice & Rough celebrates black women in rock.  These women dare to do their thing – no matter what the norm dictates. And I am taking my lead from them.

I decided to direct this doc as well as produce and write it, because I have such a strong sense of what I want this film to portray and why it’s so important.  Plus, I was simply no longer willing to expend my energies convincing another bull-headed director that Melba Moore is not a black woman in rock. (Long story. . .but true.)

The best part of the work I do is to help people make connections.  As we drift through our lives, we come across countless others whom we don’t believe we have anything in common with– until we experience a story, a film that uncovers the human journey that we all share. It connects us through the universal themes that are revealed. Film has the power to bring people together. That’s what I love to do.

Nice & Rough has literally become a metaphor for my own process.  It’s the sweet satisfaction of doing the work I love, coupled with the imperfect scenarios I am challenged to rise above in order to continue this insane journey called filmmaking.  I remember shooting the initial footage for the trailer.  With not much more than $150, I was able to make what appeared from the onset impossible possible, and to secure the resources for a small crew to shoot in Boston.

The night of the closing concert I cried because all I could think of was that if I had given up, I would never have been able to witness a beautiful and ageless, Nona Hendryx climb onto Cindy Blackman’s designer drums and jump back to the ground in hard rocker fashion, sporting thigh-high, stiletto boots, and swaying her hips in African dance movements.

ZEN Production anyone?

A Facebook fan commented “I don’t even know these women, and yet they speak to me.” It’s because these women are warriors and represent the power and freedom we all want –  especially as women filmmakers – to be ourselves, do our thing, and not be restricted by race or gender.

“Come lime by me:”

www.eveslime.com

Read more about collaborative production.

View Nice & Rough trailer and join the behind-the-scenes journey.

Become a Facebook Fan!

Follow me on Twitter @eveslime @niceandrough.

Check out Eve’s Lime’s YouTube channel.

Read about the Daniel’s Place PSA.

– Sheila J. Hardy is President & Executive Producer of Eve’s Lime Productions, Inc.

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Many thanks to Sheila Hardy for writing this guest post!

Interview in three parts: Hillary J. Walker, filmmaker

An improv comedian, writer, former military sergeant and broadcast journalist has turned her eye toward film and is currently on the festival circuit screening and promoting her new film.  Hillary J. Walker is the writer, director, co-executive producer and star of ACTION!!!, a new mockumentary film about what really goes on behind the scenes of a Hollywood film.   I found out about Hillary by googling for news of women filmmakers, and read a feature in a Florida newspaper which had given her project some good coverage.  (See below post.) I approached her and she was kind enough to do this interview (to be posted in three parts) through Facebook.

Trailer for ACTION!!!

ACTION!!! website

Broad Humor Film Festival

@Hillary_J on Twitter

Altering Reality: The 2010 Project (Hillary’s blog)

On to the interview…

BIO: Hillary J. Walker is the president and a co-founder of Poison Oak Inc. a Florida-based production company whose inaugural comedy feature ACTION!!! has already won three awards and is currently being screened at a number of different film festivals worldwide.

Founder and director of the Daytona Beach comedy improv troupe Random Acts of Insanity, Walker obviously likes to start things! Having survived cancer, military separation and marital separation, not much scares her any more, so filmmaking was a logical choice for this singing, dancing, acting, writing, blogging, self-proclaimed average goddess.  In her spare time she loves fostering new talent and encouraging people to follow their dreams.

PART I

Q: You have an interesting background having served in the U.S. military and worked as a journalist. What led you to become a filmmaker?

A: In truth it was actually my desire to be a filmmaker that led me to pursue journalism in the military. Before I was anything I was an entertainer. I started singing at two, dancing at four and had my first speaking role on stage at six.

In my 20’s I got frustrated by the fact that there weren’t a lot of good roles for women my age in film and television and I decided to try my hand at writing. But as I started to create these stories and characters on paper I found I wanted to be more involved in production to ensure the stories were told truthfully. I considered going to film school in Orlando, but it was very expensive and I wasn’t sure how to pay for it.

I finally decided to join the National Guard (a decision I’d considered on and off for years having grown up in a military family) about a year after 9/11. I was thrilled to find out there were openings in Florida for Broadcast Journalists because it enabled me to serve my country, earn a paycheck, assist with my education and give me a solid foundation for a career in media arts. When cancer cut my military career short (the amputation of left great metatarsal restricted me from the rigorous field work required in that career) I felt somehow it was a sign that it was time to go back to my initial goal of writing, producing and acting in films.

Hillary J. Walker at the Broad Humor Film Festival, June 2010. Photo courtesy of James Bok.

Q: How do you see, or plan for, your filmmaking career (or in old timey speak, “your future in pictures!”)?

A: I love to do EVERYTHING! I’ve been directing my Daytona based improv troupe Random Acts of Insanity for five years now and of course I still love to act. I have several completed scripts that are ready to shoot as soon as we secure funding for them and several more “in development” meaning that the ideas are rolling around in my brain just waiting for me to sit down long enough to write them. So – I guess I’m shooting for a future in which I get to continue doing what I’ve already done – only making more money.

Admittedly my first loyalties are going to be producing the projects that I’ve written on, but I also write for hire and I would definitely love to mix it up by producing, directing and or acting in other projects as well. It’s just really tough to audition for outside projects right now since I’ve been so busy promoting ACTION!!! and working with my other Executive Producer Adam M. Richardson on future projects for Poison Oak Inc.

Hillary J. Walker with Adam Richardson at BHFF, June 2010. Photo courtesy of James Bok.

Q: Your directorial debut came in the form of a mockumentay, Action!!! How did the film come to be and what were your experiences directing a feature for the first time?

A: ACTION!!! was actually the third project in as many years that I’d tried to produce. In fact it was only a few weeks before our first pre – pre – production meeting that I’d told co-producer and long-time writing partner Tami Anderson that I wasn’t going to work on any new projects until I got one of the old ones made. Of course, we’d been talking about ACTION!!! for a few years, but I hadn’t actually written the script yet. I guess she didn’t quite understand what I was saying because she set up a meeting with Adam to discuss the possibility of him coming on board to help produce the film before we even had a script. And then, in this little impromptu meeting in a Winter Park coffee shop he inadvertently threw the gauntlet down. He said he thought it was a great idea but we’d probably need a few months to get together the funding and resources required. I suddenly felt like that was some kind of dare and was compelled to prove him wrong. Don’t ask why – I guess after three years of coming REALLY close to getting a few projects off the ground it took just one more person saying “wait for it” to annoy me into action.

The inspiration for ACTION!!! came while I was working on film sets in Utah. I was a stand-in FOREVER (or at least that’s how if felt.) But it was a great job to learn about film. I was there in the middle of everything and I saw all this drama and comedy unfold everyday at work. Lots of times I felt like the stories going on “behind the scenes” were far more compelling than the actual script we were shooting! I became kind of obsessed with DVD extras and realized quickly that Hollywood never tells what REALLY goes on behind the scenes and I would watch people get up and walk out on the credits at the movies because – let’s face it – who really knows what a dolly grip or a gaffer does anyway? So I thought a Christopher Guest-style mockumentary that could entertain AND educate might be really fun to produce. I always saw improvisation as being a crucial element for that style of story telling and it was my insistence on using improv that got me “nominated” to direct it. Honestly, I hadn’t really considered directing it until that first meeting, and all of the sudden I felt like – yeah, I AM the best person for this job. It was exciting and scary and empowering all at the same time.

It’s not that I hadn’t considered directing. It’s just that I figured I’d do things in steps.  You know, write and act in one, produce and act in another and then EVENTUALLY direct. This just sort of put me on the “mega-fast track.” But hey – if you’re waiting your whole life to do something, when the opportunity finally arrives, you just HAVE to go for it. I’m so glad I did!

Hillary J. Walker (center) with Action!!! team at the Broad Humor Film Festival, June 2010. Photo courtesy of James Bok.

Q: As a first-time feature filmmaker, what were you most confident about going in to the project?

A: I was so very blessed with this project for a number of reasons. First of all, I had an AMAZING cast! I had worked with nearly every single member of the cast in some capacity prior to filming. I didn’t hold auditions for ACTION!!! – people had already auditioned while they were working with me. That’s something for all actors to keep in mind. Always do your best and be pleasant to work with. You never know when that PA bringing you coffee or that stand-in over by the craft [services] table will be the person you’re auditioning for on your next project! Always – ALWAYS put your best foot forward.

So I showed up on set knowing that if we could stay on schedule we’d have a great film. Luckily I managed to secure the help of one of Central Florida’s most experience Unit Production Managers, Craig Richards, who among a plethora of credits worked as the UPM on the Academy Award-Winning film Monster. He wrangled an amazing crew – some of the most experienced technical professionals in the business. I think a lot of them couldn’t believe that I was trying to shoot an entire feature in just three days and wanted to see if it could even happen. Thanks to their skill level, professionalism and work ethic we made it happen!

We also had an amazingly talented driven Director of Photography.  Scott Toler Collins was a Full Sail [film school] grad who helped with one of my prior projects (that is still awaiting completion) who I knew had good instincts when it came to filming improvised scene work.  I was also pretty confident that he had good improvisational skills himself. I met with some resistance when I insisted that our actual DP play a role in the film.  Several members of my production team tried to talk me out it, but I wanted a certain air of realism with the documentary element of the film, and I felt having the camera guy really interacting with the actors while he was shooting would be a better sell. Luckily my gamble paid off and Scott multi-tasked like a pro! So I guess the short answer to your question is I had confidence in every person doing their job which made my job way easier than it probably should have been!

Part II to follow next week…

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News articles on ACTION!!! and Hillary J. Walker:

Orlando Sentinel

The Daytona Beach News-Journal

Florida Guard Online

Hometown News