Stand Up, Take It Down
What qualifies you to be a filmmaker?
The short and the long answer is that everything and nothing qualify me. For the past three years, I’ve been working on several screenplays and completed two of them, while also working on the ideas for two more. I’ve also been teaching myself how to best use sound in film, and I watch films almost every day. So far I’ve worked on two short films because I wait until I feel passionate enough about an idea. Once I produce something I put it online, so I want to be proud of it (at least for a bit).
Why are you directing/producing Stand Up, Take It Down?
I was extremely baffled when I first saw the Confederate Flag in Buenos Aires and always wanted to do something about it ever since I first saw it. Having lived in Mississippi for three years, I felt I was in a unique position to do so. In addition, although I’ve learned to be proud of my culture I’ve also seen how anti-black Latinx/Latin Americans can be. I want to add a bit of this in the film while pointing out that there are also groups that want to change this, and that they fight white supremacy and the ideas represented by the Confederate Flag as well.
Finally, I wanted to point out the irony that The Confederados were a group of 10.000-20.000 immigrants to Brazil who fled after the American Civil War. Or rather, they migrated illegally and infused a small part of Brazil with their culture. Though I won’t discuss immigration to the US in the film (but plan to interview immigrants in Mississippi), I want to point out this fact to those in the US South who consistently criticize immigrants to the US while ignoring large mass immigration in their own community. The irony, right?
Where can I see previous samples of your film work?
Why didn’t you try to find someone who would finance your work?
I don’t have too many connections to Hollywood or any other cities that are major hubs for cinema in the world right now. I wanted to wait for the right time to start, and this year I felt I was finally ready and that it had to be done. If I knew someone that could do this for me I would’ve done so already.
The statistics on the amount of women whose projects are greenlit are also quite low.
Why did you apply for any film grants?
I was rejected from all of them. I can’t speak to why, as they usually don’t tell you. However, when I looked at people who received them, many of them had worked for a significantly longer period of time, had their films shown in festivals already, and overall seemed like they had more experience than I do right now. I just know that not everyone can afford not to be tenacious.
I’m going to reapply as well.
What are the main obstacles you face as a filmmaker that you feel will have a major impact or cause delays on your project?
My finances. I’ve been doing my best to nail consistent work as a writer but this does not always happen. The amount I requested for my Kickstarter goal does not cover a wage for me and may not be enough for me should the worst-case scenario occur. If something should happen to my computer or equipment, I may not be able to replace it if I only receive what I set as my minimum goal.
Furthermore, I have to write and some clients don’t offer me consistent work or their needs change. When this happens I have to scramble to secure new work, cut my spending as drastically as I can, and even cut down on social activities. This is often not enough, and I live on a frugal budget as it is. I did; however, recently enlist the assistance of a coach so I can better organize myself and figure this out.
However, on occasion I may have to pause this project or work on it significantly less than full-time should I feel that I am not able to sustain myself enough to be healthy and productive. I also want to be honest about the human element: when my finances aren’t in order I get extremely stressed and it puts a strain on anything and everything I do. Much of the reason why I haven’t been able to produce work so consistently is that I’m often spending every day figuring out how to make ends meet.
Do you plan on returning to organizing once this film is over?
No. This is something I plan on writing about later if people keep asking, but I do not plan on seeking employment as a community organizer or in any capacity in non-profits. Instead, I plan to keep writing and working as a freelancer while attempting to work as a director for hire.
Who is going to edit Stand Up, Take It Down?
That depends. If I don’t surpass my goal I won’t be able to enlist the support of a more experienced editor and will have to purchase better software (I use iMovie) and do it myself. There’s also the minor fact that it’s best to pay a good film editor what they ask, but if that’s not a possibility then I’ll have to tackle this slowly when the time comes. I do not accept offers from people who want to work for free unless I know said person has the funds to live sustainably whle doing so, and even then I will expect top-notch work (so it’s best not to offer. Seriously).
What cloud software do you use to back-up your files at the moment?
I can’t afford one right now. My iCloud is running on low.
What do you plan to use the funds for?
- A DSLR and portable microphone. I currently have a GoPro but I desperately need something where I see what I’m doing (GoPro is what I used for about 90% of the footage on the trailer). I would also prefer a small portable mic system that has a lav mic, especially for loud areas.
- Flights and other transport, including gas
- The cheapest (but safe) housing options during my stay in Brazil and Mississippi.
- An interpreter for Festa Confederada
If filming a documentary is going to cost you more than US$6,000, why didn’t you ask for more?
I can’t run the risk of asking for what someone deems as “too much” and have the project fail. Documentaries are also some of the least profitable films to release, so it’s best to work my magic with a low budget that will seem like millions to me. Surpassing the goal would make me incredibly happy though, and will definitely help me hire the best help I can.
Do you have an agent?
No. I hope to get there someday.
¿Por qué no tienes toda la información traducida al español?
Porque por lo general trabajo sola. Aunque hay varias personas que me ayudaron con entrevistas y otras cosas, he hecho el 80% de la producción y dirección totalmente sola. Hice toda la investigación sobre el tema yo sola también. Aceptaría algún voluntario que quiera hacer la traducción si alguien se quiere ofrecer, pero esta persona debe saber que tendrá que trabajar rápido y bien.
Thank you for reading. Feel free to ask questions in the comments.