We were honored to interview with Carlotta Summers about The Butterflies Movie. A couple of months back we had heard about this upcoming film via Twitter. I was honored to tell my story on their Facebook page about being bullied during high school. Here is the interview! Enjoy!
L21L: Tell us about The Butterflies Movie and how it will shed light on bullying.
CS: Butterflies chronicles a young girl, Melanie, as she enters into her freshman year of high school and is verbally and physically abused.
The short film, which we are shooting this May, is a condensed version of the feature film I am raising awareness for. It deals with the harsh psychological ramifications of bullying and what that does to a young girl’s mind as she is entering into adolescence, as well as the effect it has on the people around her. Will she choose to fight her way out, or be consumed by her tormentors? The answer will surprise you.
L21L: Can you tell us about your team?
CS: So far, I am working with two-time Emmy award winner Cady McClain as a producer and director to help bring the short film to life! We are assembling our team as we speak and more information can be found on our website at www.butterfliefeaturefilm.com under the short film section.
L21L: Was there a moment that pushed you towards this concept? A defining moment that made you say, we need to do this?
CS: A lot of pieces that I write have to deal with facing adversity and finding identity. I wrote the feature film script for Butterflies over 3 ½ years ago. Since then, it has gone through multiple revisions. I have always had the impulse to write something that appeals to a universal audience. Bullying has always been close to my heart, from both personal experiences and those of my closest friends. I think our political climate, now more the ever, is reason enough to want to push the envelope for creative storytelling. We need to propel the idea of empathy and recognition of other cultures. One of the most powerful ways to do this is through the media.
The short film, Butterflies, is a condensed version of the feature but it deals with the same core principle themes of forgiveness and how to overcome oppression.
L21L: Can you tell us what kind of adversity you have had to face and some things you have done to overcome it to be where you are now?
CS: Well…I am mixed black and white, but you really can’t tell that by looking at me. I have been stereotyped, judged, and picked on for various reasons. I remember being teased on a daily basis for one thing or another. One example would be when my mom worked at my elementary school. She was a single mom and had to take a job to support me and at the time they were looking for a teacher. Because I got really good grades, I was consistently on the honor role, and teacher’s recognized my achievements, students would comment that there was a conspiracy and that my mom was somehow rigging the grading system to propel me forward.
I have had many experiences of bullying and painful moments in my life, where I have felt less then worthless. All I can say for anyone going through any of these issues is to hang in there. I used to get lectures all the time that, “everything will be ok” and “eventually it will get better.” I didn’t believe them at the time, because it was still so raw and I had to face another day at school. Words hurt. And they can stay with you for years to come eating away at you. It is still a process for me even today, but I would say, know who you are and chose to continue to be that person.
There will ALWAYS be someone who doesn’t like you. It’s statistically impossible for everyone to like you. Keep exploring who you are and what you want to be. Ignore everyone else around you trying to pull you down. Because in the end, they have problems too…it’s not just about you, people are dealing with their own issues.
L21L: Are there other projects you are working on?
CS: I am. I haven’t really told too many people as of yet. But lets just say, there is a bigger piece after Butterflies ;)
L21L: What is your favorite part of filmmaking, as in directing, writing, producing?
CS: This is a really hard question for me, because there are many different hats you have to wear with each profession you described. I like telling stories. I like making people think about their own lives and perception of reality through the stories that I tell. I like watching cinema, I like reading about cinema and I like creating cinema. I have always enjoyed everything about film, since I was a little girl. To say that I like only one process of filmmaking is hard.
CS: I love writing because you get to really get out what you feel onto paper. Writing is a very cathartic process for me, as evident from the many diaries I have kept throughout the years. Producing is time consuming for sure, but to have that creative control over your work, and to be able to say, “this is what I want made,” not “this is some Hollywood version of the story,” is quite empowering. I haven’t had much experience directing, but I hope that will change, sooner rather then later.
L21L: Who inspires you?
CS: People who continue to push past the bounds creatively and think unconventionally. I love watching other artists work and learn from everyone I meet.
Beyonce is one of my favorite artists. Her business sense and ability to reach a wide audience while sending a powerful message, is awe-inspiring. Filmmakers that have grabbed my attention more recently are Jordan Peele, Barry Jenkins, and Damien Chazelle. I have seen a number of works from all 3 artists (A HUGE Key and Peele fan!) and not only are these people good story tellers, but they are fantastic writers.
I love multitalented female artists as well: Ava DuVernay, Karyn Kusama, Cady McClain (who I am working with) are all inspiring and are doing some very interesting things in film.
The list goes on! I am always looking at everyone around me for new inspiration!
L21L: What is your favorite all time movie?
CS: I mean, I have a lot of movies that I like. I would say, my all time favorite is Mad Max: Fury Road, for sure. I didn’t really have a “favorite” movie until then. I also do fight choreography and some stunt work in my spare time so it was nice to see a movie with females doing kick ass stunt work. I saw it in the theater opening night with a few friends and I was like YES!!! This is what a strong, bad ass, female protagonist looks like. Although, there has been much controversy from feminists as to whether or not it could be considered a feminist piece, all I’ll say is that if it left me feeling more empowered leaving the theatre, then the movie did its job.
L21L: We want to help spread the word! What sites can we pass on to our readers to check out more information?
CS: Watch out for our crowd funding campaign!!!
We are planning to crowd fund around April 1st (no it is not an April fools joke ;) to help raise money for the short film. Updates will be posted on the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/butterfliesmovie and on the official website for the feature film: www.butterfliesfeaturefilm.com. The ultimate goal is to shoot the short this May, submit it to festivals this year and then raise awareness and possible distribution for the feature film.
We also have a Twitter account: @butterfliesmovie and Instagram: @butterfliesmov.