Tell us about yourself. What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
My love of cinema was first cultivated by my incredible mother, who from an early age exposed me to international music and cinema from all over the world. She always pushed me to take in and see new things, textures, and cultures. She also taught me the importance of seeing one's own story on screen: visibility is a form of survival, and the cinema is an extremely powerful medium to make one's voice be heard. Our team for CAPSULE is composed of a group of friends & colleagues from an acting a directing program in the United States – one in which collaboration and trying new form was encouraged.
Talk about your last work. What are some of the challenges you faced during production?
CAPSULE was a labor of love. I feel so fortunate to have been able to bring that work to life with some of my closest colleagues. We went into production at the height of the pandemic and most of our challenges came from the constraints necessary to keep us all as safe as possible. We had to get creative, work with a skeleton crew, schedule remote work sessions and more. I'm amazed by the team's creativity and problem solving. Creativity and will were the only things that got us through the process.
What makes you want to tell stories? In other words, what are the themes/issues you want to incorporate into your work?
Storytelling allows me to examine the many unanswered questions I have about the world we live and our shared human experience. I never feel like I have answers-- but it is through story that learning is possible. When I enter someone else's story, I learn how to empathize, consider and if I am lucky-- understand. The stories that speak to me and my colleagues right now are the exploration of impossible connections-- between people, among strangers, across political lines and experience.
Please tell us about your vision and your method of approaching a new project?
I try to start with a key image, and usually look to the world of photography or art. Any non-moving image. And then a story starts to come. My guiding principle when considering a new project is if it makes me feel something. And if I have a hint of sensation, I know I can move forward.
Who are your filmmaking influencers? What are the films that were influential for you?
Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Jessica Kingdon, Spike Lee, Terrence Malik, Jordan Peele is a few that have inspired me for their bold storytelling and stunning visual work.
Our team for CAPSULE was influenced by music videos and more abstract, non-linear works – everything from TikTok to Barry Jenkins to Nine Inch Nails.
How do you think the industry is changing? How has COVID affected independent filmmaking/creation?
Covid reminded me that incredible work is possible with small teams. I think it also encouraged the industry to reevaluate what is necessary to make the work happen. Change comes slowly, and I am always wary of change that feels surface or immediate, but I hope that Covid also has pushed the industry to reconsider the stories that get greenlit and encouraged us all to make room for more voices. Because of the glut of streaming options, there also seems to be an increased demand for “content”, which hopefully means more opportunities for smaller, independent filmmakers to get their work shown and celebrated.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists? What are some of the things they must follow/avoid?
Don’t wait for permission to create. Keep going and keep making. Start making things, even if you have no money and little resources. All work is a learning experience. It will never be perfect, but just keep trying and learning. Find people who have a similar passion for creation and hold on to them tightly. There is nothing better than long-time collaboration. And when you can, dive into the themes and stories that really drive you.
Do you think films/stories can bring about a change in the world?
Absolutely – yes. And I believe this fiercely. Seeing and being immersed in another point of view is the closest thing we have to experiencing something else. Shared experience brings about understanding, and with understanding there is the hope of change.
What do you think people like to watch these days? Has the pandemic changed people's taste?
I think the most radical thing we can do right now is to have hope and optimism. I think audiences are hungry for spectacle, entertainment, and work that defies to show possibility.
Please tell us about your upcoming projects.
I was a writer on Boots Riley's I'm A Virgo which is coming out next year on Amazon. The show is incredible and genre defying. I am also working on a short film that explores a Black woman's experience when she is invited to the love of her life's wedding...and let's just say that piece will defy genre too. My CAPSULE co-star Peter just wrapped on Netflix’s Kaleidoscope, and you can also catch him in the cast of MAVERICK. Our directors Tyler and Taibi are a married couple and both very entrenched in the American theatre scene.