By Sujewa Ekanayake
While gender should not be an issue when it comes to making movies, unfortunately, at this point in time, women have a relatively more difficult time launching and sustaining their filmmaking careers (see here, here, here, also here). No doubt this situation will be corrected in the future and most likely that will happen with the help of the next wave of female filmmakers - as they figure out what works for each of them, what doesn't, and how to improve the overall situation. Alexia Anastasio is a female independent filmmaker who has made several films and is nearing completion on her new film Little Fishes. I spoke with her recently about her past projects, the current project, and future challenges.
Sujewa - Alexia, thanks for taking the time out for this interview. Let's jump in to the subject that I mentioned at top, why do you think, at this point in time, it appears to be more difficult for female independent or Hollywood filmmakers to launch and sustain their filmmaking careers? And what are some future solutions that you see on the horizon?
Alexia - Thank you Sujewa. Pretty ridiculous right that we even have to have a conversation about it being difficult to be a women making movies? I actually think it is finally becoming an option when it was so hard being a filmmaker that past 100 years because it was so expensive. Now women can raise a reasonable amount and do it themselves. I think the future is the audience choosing more of what they want to see and experience. I think that there will be less movie theaters in the future and more ways to connect movies to games and to each other in the movie watching experience.
Sujewa - How did you get started with filmmaking? Why did you decide to do it?
Alexia - I got started in filmmaking through my love of acting. When I was 11 years old I knew I wanted to be an actress and when I was 16 I had an amazing teacher that introduced me to making a short film with a small team in two high school afternoons. That teacher was Louise Millmann and I will always be grateful because it was then that I knew that I wanted an art and family type experience from the process. You can see that film on my YouTube channel it was a remake of A Girl and her Trust and I played the girl. From then I went on to SUNY Purchase where I was in the first class on the New Media major. I was able to take film history, Video Art, Creating Digital Video, Photography and Computer Graphics classes and I use all the skills I learned there in my chosen career as a filmmaker.
Sujewa - What were some of the major obstacles that you had to overcome on your earliest projects? Production and distribution wise?
Alexia - The biggest obstacle was stress related. When I was fundraising for Adventures in Plymptoons! and I didn't know if I was going to make it. I was breaking plates. Thankfully I learned Transcendental Meditation and that helped me through the crowdfunding process and also with staying focused while finishing the film. The film is now available on Hulu, Amazon and Vimeo On Demand.
Sujewa - Can you talk a bit more about your most recently completed project - Adventures In Plymptoons! - how did you get started on that project?
Alexia - That project started with me watching Bill Plympton's master class at my home town movie theater the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, NY. I was looking for a subject for my first feature documentary so it was all about timing. I asked Bill if he would like a documentary on him, he told me to submit a proposal and he accepted and we were off to the races. Two and half years later I had a feature film that became 'Adventures in Plymptoons!'
Sujewa - What was the distribution process like on Adventures In Plymptoons!? Were you happy with how many people were able to see it in festivals and are you happy with the current availability of that film?
Alexia - The distribution process included the 40 plus film festivals that played the movie and I am happy with the availability of the film online but I really would like more people to see it around the world and be inspired that they can become full time artists like Bill Plympton.
Sujewa - What is your current film Little Fishes about?
Alexia - Little Fishes is a film about girls in love inspired by the poetry of D.H. Lawrence. I am very excited about it.
Sujewa - How can interested people become a part of your Little Fishes production & distribution journey?
Alexia - It is best that people watch the trailer and read about the film on the Kickstarter page. That is where they can get original art by me, perks and be a part of the process including getting updates for the film. Our goal is to bring the film to the Cannes Marche du Film in May and use Tugg.com to tour the film throughout the world with films like this with the Mumblecore Film Festival.
Sujewa - What, if any, other projects do you plan on pursuing after Little Fishes?
Alexia - I am also finishing up a documentary about girls with natural red hair called Ginger Girls: The Secret Lives of Redheads. That project is a feature documentary, photo book and art show and my goal is to have a gathering and premiere in Las Vegas this fall.
Sujewa - What helpful advice do you have for new filmmakers - both male and female - and for filmmakers who are considering becoming active again after a long break?
Alexia - Get connected to everybody in your life. Throw a party, have people come and celebrate your decision to be a part of the film community again. It is important to know that you can do it and that there are many ways that you can do it with others.
Sujewa - Any other thoughts that you would like to share with the world?