Twitterverse brought our attention to another gem! Or Die Trying. We were honored to interview Mayah Hollis and Sarah Hawkins about their influences, their message, and what this project is about. Women producers, writers, directors, and all around bringing attention to WOMEN IN FILM! Basically fierce women being awesome and real! Here is the scoop! Enjoy!
L21L: What brought you to this project?
SH: OR DIE TRYING evolved from a minimal dialogue, split-screen concept short that Myah and I were developing, following the highs and lows of a day in the life of an actor and a writer in Los Angeles. A few weeks later, Jenny Austin (who plays “Amelia” in ODT) and I were also discussing wanting to get a project off the ground. I brought the three of us together and we restructured the short into a series, looping in Chelsea London Lloyd to play “Bailey”.
What is your favorite part of producing, acting, writing?
SH: I love seeing the big picture amidst the little details. Producing is like a game of chess meets professional matchmaking; seeing how different personalities, skill sets, and details fit into a larger whole.
Acting-wise, there’s nothing quite like being vulnerable onscreen. It’s magic.
MH: With writing, you’re creating real, complex people with thoughts and feelings and problems out of thin air, and then building a whole world around them. Producing is an extension of that. It’s creating this alternate universe to the one on the page, because now you have other actors and filmmakers working together to lend their visions to your story, which develops the story into something that, as the writer, you couldn’t have conceptualized by yourself.
Acting for me means forgetting everything that I know as a writer and producer and letting go of that sense of omnipresence that comes with having created a world, and forcing myself to see things through the narrow and limited vision of that character. That to me is probably the hardest.
L21L: Since OR DIE TRYING is a female-driven project, how does it differ from other projects you have been a part of?
SH: There was a deep level of camaraderie from hiring a predominantly female crew. I’ve felt camaraderie on other sets, but being that the series is about our peers, I think everyone took more ownership of their role to ensure their story was as authentic as possible.
L21L: Here at Lost21Losers we are against bullying and we always ask, what adversities have you had face and how have you overcome them to be where you are today?
SH: Moving to Los Angeles initially to pursue acting, I’ve heard the word “no” more times than I can remember. The moment I realized that it wasn’t about me (or something I did or didn’t do), I felt an immense amount of freedom, not only in auditions, but to start producing my own projects like ODT.
MH: I’m a black female in an industry dominated by white dudes, so you name the adversity and if I haven’t faced it yet, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. Since I have been both black and female my whole life, and that isn’t likely to change, I’ve developed a pretty thick skin when it comes to being told what I can and can’t do. I’ve learned that the key to being happy is knowing what you want, working for it, and not letting anyone stand in the way of getting what you’ve earned.
L21L: Who are some of your influences?
SH: Amy Sherman Palladino, Judd Apatow, the Coen Brothers, and coffee.
MH: Shonda. Shonda Lynn Rhimes. Queen.
L21L: What types of subject matter can we look forward to seeing in ODT series?
MH: Career drama. Relationship drama. Parental drama. Financial drama. Existential drama. Drama, drama, drama.
L21L: I am in love with the concept of ODT, and wonder if there are any parallels between the characters and the actors who portray them?
MH: Well, I’ve accidentally been writing the future, so there are way more parallels at this point than were initially intended. But, yes, the four leads were written with the actors portraying them in mind, so there are a lot of similarities in voice and personality. We also each have the same or similar careers as our characters. Other than that, Ellie, Amelia, Raegan and Bailey are definitely their own people, and often make choices that even baffle me. So the similarities kind of stop there.
L21L: Do you have any advice for those who are trying to follow a similar path?
SH: Be confident in what you’re building.
MH: Surround yourself with talented people who share your vision. You can achieve your goals on your own, but you don’t have to.
L21L: How has the Seed & Spark campaign helped and would you recommend it to others?
SH: Seed&Spark was absolutely pivotal in our success. Through Seed&Spark we were able craft a solid message and build a distinct and powerful audience: our fellow women in entertainment. Seed&Spark also has some great tools for emerging filmmakers such as how-to videos, twitter chats, a “loan” function, etc. Would highly recommend it to anyone looking to crowdfund for a film project.
L21L: Where can we watch and is there an ultimate dream place you would like to see the ODT series ending up?
SH: We’re still wrapping up post production, but we’ll be looking to start pitching soon. We’d love to be on a highly accessible platform (name your favorite, we’ve likely dream of it!), but in the meantime, stay tuned to our progress at odtseries.com and on Instagram & Twitter @ODT_series.
L21L: What is your favorite all time movie?
SH: Tough call! It’d have to be a tie between Amelie & Little Miss Sunshine.
MH: Girl, Interrupted. But, like, ask me again tomorrow.