Jessica Erin Martin reached out to us to tell us about their project Abby and Tabby Alone in the Desert. Once I watched their pitch reel I was hooked! This story is a hilarious look of two women helping each other through horrific situations. Jessica was awesome and did and interview with us to tell us more!!
L21L: You guys are hilarious!! I love the promo video! How did this story come about?
JM: It came from a scene that Ashley (Abby) and I did, and was actually going to be a different story all together. But that project was a little too large in scope, so I kept the relationship between our characters and the sc-fi aspect, added some comedy, and made it into a feature film. It’s really a story about the power of women helping other women.
L21L: Tell us a little about yourselves!
JM: Absolutely! We’re a group of actors who are also filmmakers. You may have seen us in The Vampire Diaries, Criminal Minds, Grimm, The Last Ship, Bonnie and Clyde, Dallas, Starstruck, Z Nation, and a variety of other shows and films.
L21L: When and where can we see this movie?
JM: We are hoping to have our festival premiere in early 2018, so you will have to wait a little bit to see it. After our festival run, we will be putting it online to rent/buy/stream. In the meantime, you can follow us on Seed&Spark to stay updated on our happenings.
L21L: Are you hitting the film circuit?
JM: That’s the plan. Right now we’re focusing on making the movie. Once it’s completed, we’ll make a list of the festivals we think would be best suited for the film. Then fingers crossed we’ll be accepted!
L21L: Your film deals with two very serious topics, but in a comical way. Are you hoping to shed light on these issues?
JM:You nailed it. Often times, we can be more honest in comedy than we can with drama.
The film will be primarily humorous, but have some more serious scenes. Though the story and the action will be comical, all of the motivations are coming from a much darker place.
L21L: Here at lost21losers we are huge on the anti-bullying issue! Have you all had to face adversity and how did you overcome it?
JM: I had an unfortunate experience with a psychologically abusive relationship about ten years ago. What got me through it was my best friend. Which is one of my inspirations for this film. It was the women in my life that helped me get through that dark time.
L21L: What advice would you give others who are wanting to pursue the same path?
JM: Practically speaking: save a lot of money, and learn how to take care of your physical and mental health. A creative career is a long and sometimes punishing one, so know how to take care of yourself.
Aside from that, take classes. Get to be really good at what you do. And be open to meeting people. You never know what great connections can me made, or collaborators you’ll meet.
And remember that the things that make you different are the things that set you apart. In this town, that’s a really good thing.
L21L: Who are your inspirations?
JM: Helen Mirren. She’s my idol. Her class, confidence, and candor (not to mention her plethora of incredible performances) are a source of constant inspiration.
Another complete badass is Ava Duvernay. Not only are her films amazing, she is sending the elevator back down for other women directors.
L21L: What is your favorite part about the filmmaking process? Writing, acting..ect.
JM: I’ll always be an actor, first and foremost. That is my true passion. I love coming up with ideas, but actually hate sitting down and writing a script. Treatments and shorts are fine, but you won’t see me writing a feature. My favorite part about producing is making a thing happen. Putting the team together. Knowing you put something out into the world that wasn’t there before. And as a director, it’s really about surrounding yourself with the right people and the right cast. I love just letting people do what they are really good at. Someday I’d love to direct something I wasn’t also acting in or producing - it is pretty exhausting to do both!
L21L: What are your favorite movies?
LM: My desert island movies are: Princess Bride, Moulin Rouge, Spirited Away, Casino Royale, and Gone with the Wind. However, my favorite performances are a little different and I wrote about them here. And as a director, I love David Fincher.
L21L: Please give us any links to Instagram, twitter, Facebook, websites, just tell us all the ways we can help you reach your goal and see what’s next!
JM: You guys are the best! You can visit our campaign page here. On the “Story” tab, there are links to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And you can visit my website, www.jessicaerinmartin.com, to view my past films and stay updated on all of my happenings!
The ladies with My Roommate's an Escort have some exciting news! Their webseries launches TODAY! So in celebration here is a follow up interview we did with the shows creators and talent Katie Uhlmann and Trish Rainone! Enjoy and be sure to watch!!
L21L: Where did the idea of My Roommate's an Escort derive from?
K&T: Initially when we started writing together, our series was about dating in the city. However, whenever we met up to work we would just end up swapping roommate and friend stories so we decided to write something that really focusses on the relationship between two women. When you live with other people, whether it be friends, family, or someone you met online, you learn a lot about them- sometimes too much! It can be hard to share your personal space with someone else, and we found comedy in exploring a nightmare roommate situation, where two women have polar opposite values.
L21L: How many episodes do you have planned out so far?
K&T: We have completed eleven episodes, and they are all four to five minutes in duration. Each episode leads into the other and the entire first season is approximately one hour of content.
L21L: Seeing as you are about to release what would you like audiences to know about your series?
We would like audiences to know that the series is formatted for binge watching. We hope our audience consumes the entire show in one go which takes a total of one hour.
It was also very important to us to hire a 50/50 male and female cast to create equal opportunities for men and women.
We also would like audiences to know that this project really wouldn't be possible without an incredible team in front of and behind the camera. We would like to make a special shout out to Joey Nixon at Adrenaline Toronto (Executive Producer), David Carruthers (Executive Producer), Stephanie Baird (Producer), and Julian Adderley (Producer, Editor, Composer).
L21L: Where can we watch My Roommate's an Escort?
K&T: My Roommate's an Escort is available at www.myroommatesanescort.com starting April 3rd, 2017!
L21L: Tell us a bit about yourselves.
Katie Uhlmann (Co-creator, Producer, Director)
Katie Uhlmann is a director, writer, and actor and was born and raised in Trenton, Ontario, Canada. After graduating from Queen’s University with a degree in drama and psychology, she started pursuing a career in film and moved to Toronto. Katie has acted in countless shows (Workin’ Moms, Just Passing Through, Paranormal Witness), commercials and independent films (Kingdom Come). She is also known for her work as a host on her web show entitled Katie Chats where she completed over 3000 interviews with guests including David Cronenberg, Atom Egoyan, and Shannon Tweed. Katie has now turned to focusing on creating female character driven content. Her first short film entitled Pyramid Scream is an absurdist comedy about a woman who will go to any length to recruit a new member to her pyramid scheme business. The film has gone to festivals internationally, and won several awards including The Festival Director Award at the Toronto Independent Film Festival.
Trish Rainone (Co-creator, Producer)
Trish Rainone is an actress, writer and producer from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. She graduated with a degree in Psychology from Laurentian University.She moved to Toronto to pursue a career in film a few years ago after appearing as a Sunshine Girl in the Trailer Park Boys’ film Swearnet: The Movie, directed by Warren P. Sonoda. Trish was inspired to study film following her part in Swearnet. She has appeared in several commercials, short films and feature films since, including The Void, Brother(s), and Constance. Following earning a series of acting roles and with a desire to create, Trish began writing and producing. Her first short film, Constance, had a successful film festival run, earning her a Best Actress Award at the Horrorizon Film Festival. Trish met Katie Uhlmann in January of 2016 and they began writing together immediately.
L21L: What is your favorite part of filmmaking and why?
Katie: Directing is my favorite part of the process. It's so interesting to work on all of the different components telling the story. It's also great to get to collaborate with all of the other departments to really bring the vision to life.
Trish: I like to act and be a part of the creative team, as a writer and producer, because you really feel a great sense of accomplishment. You get to enjoy the entire journey from conception to filming to post-production and marketing. Watching the edited version that you share with viewers feels so special. You realize how much hard-work went into the project from start to finish from everyone involved and really feel like it's your baby.
L21L: What advice would you give to others following in your footsteps?
Write and produce your own work. Don't wait for somebody else to give you a job- it could take years or might never happen. The sooner you take control and start to work hard and make your own content, the better.
L21L: Have you ever had to overcome adversity to get to where you are today and how did you overcome it?
K&T: Sometimes as a young woman people don't take you seriously. Hard work definitely helps us overcome this particular obstacle.
L21L: Who are your influences?
K&T: Our influences are Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Kristen Wiig, and Amy Schumer.
L21L: What are your favorite TV series?
K&T; Seinfeld, Schitts Creek, Love
L21L: What are your favorite movies?
K&T: Bridesmaids, Home Alone, Mean Girls
Thank you both for this interview and we wish you the best of luck on your launch!!
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.
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.
We were introduced to the Hard-ish Bodies project through Twitter. We love the concept! Own your body no matter what! Mike Carreon was gracious enough to answer some of our questions! Be inspired!! I know after this interview I couldn't help but be! Thank you Mike and to all your team!
So without further adieu here we go!
L21L: What was the inspiration for Hard-ish Bodies?
MC: I initially created Hard-ish Bodies as a live theater show. It came from my own struggles with body image and trying to find moments where I felt sexy.
My dream is to be the lead in a romcom feature film. Growing up with four girls, I grew up falling in and out of love with this dream because of the countless hours of romcoms we all binged. I’m a big guy and always have been. Coming in at around 285lbs, there were no romcom leads that looked like me…and were also taken seriously. You look at Chris Farley or Kevin James and the majority of the time the comedy in those movies is essentially “fatty falls down.” Basically, the comedy was to watch the big guy do this thing big guys aren’t supposed to do, but in a way where their bodies and what they did with them was the joke. I could be wrong, but I saw it as people weren’t laughing with them as much as they were laughing at them. I’m definitely not discounting their work as it’s instrumental in who I’ve become, but I’ve always wanted to too see someone like me be sexy without it being an origin story or fish-out-of water story. I found it on Halloween 2014 when I dressed up as Chris Farley from the SNL Chippendales sketch. It started as a joke, but by the end of the night I was actually feeling sexy. From that moment, I knew I wanted to share this moment and help others feel this way too. It took a while to fully form, but before I knew what was happening we put up the first live Hard-ish Bodies shows in early 2016. During the live show, I found that not only were we, as cast members, owning our bodies in a way we never had before, but audiences were connecting with these vulnerable stories in a way that took Austin by storm. After winning the B. Iden Payne Award for Outstanding Production of an Improv Show, both the cast and audiences wanted more so we brought it back to the theater. For the first time in my life, I felt like a project was a pure reflection of what I envisioned for my voice as an artist. So, after two sell out runs of the live show, Hard-ish Bodies was ready to bring it's message of body positivity to film.
L21L: Can you tell us a bit about the plot?
MC: Sure. Set in present day Austin, Hard-ish Bodies is a comedy that follows the chubby and charming, Mitch "The Midnight Train" who struggles to believe in himself as a lead dancer at a strip club called Stoney’s Rock Hard Palace. While the owner of the place, Stoney "Tex Longride” (played by James C. Leary from Buffy), must come clean and tell the dancers that club will be torn town to make way for condos...like every other good thing in Austin. With some strong supporting female characters, both men find themselves struggling to keep it together during a busy Friday night.
L21L: Is this a pure comedy, or does it help address the negative self-image that many people face on a daily basis?
MC: I’m hoping it’s both. The film is rooted in comedy and I’d be heartbroken if no one laughs while watching it, but it is also about body-positivity. The way that we’re addressing body-positivity an self-image is by not mentioning it at all. I know that sounds a little backwards, but hear me out. I believe that if a film has a character doing something that they normally wouldn’t be doing (according to societal norms), it’s very easy to fall into the trap of making it an origin story and explaining the “how” rather than the telling a good story. Instead of saying here is a big guy and here’s why it makes sense that he’s considered a sexy stripper, we’re going straight to the story of what makes this day different for this sexy stripper.
Also, I don’t want to toot our horn, but we have a sexy cast. They range from size and shape, but that’s perfect. My hope is that by seeing different types of bodies owning their sexiness without calling unnecessary attention to it, audiences will not need to find a reason for themselves to feel sexy. They will feel empowered to be be sexy just as they are.
L21L: Where are you looking to showcase this short?
MC: While our primary audience is women, I’d really love to showcase a new wave of body-positivity messaging geared towards men. It’s something few guys bring up, but men experience body-image insecurities too. I 100% understand there are systematic difference that separate a man’s experience with body-image compared to a woman’s experience. Having said that, I know that I’ve felt similarly shamed for my body because of how media portrays “sexy” men. I’m not looking to change the world with this project, but if one guy sees this and cuts himself some slack for how he looks (and maybe even starts to think positively about himself) this project will have made a difference.
This film also takes a stab at condos ruining all of the originality and the local places that make Austin, Austin. I’m a firm believer that change is almost always good, but it’s been disheartening to see a few of my favorite places close their doors or have to relocate because of greedy developers and city counselors that see dollar signs from people moving here more than they do a community. That said, I’m a transplant to Austin as of 2 years ago and because of that I am definitely part of the problem…that’ll be our little secret though. Ha.
L21L: Are you considering the Film Festival circuit? And if so which ones?
MC: Yes, our hope is made the rounds in the Film Festival circuit. It sounds goofy, but I’m a little superstitious to say some of them. I will say though that one of our big goals would be to get into one of our top local festivals (SXSW or Austin Film Fest). Of course, we also have our sights set on a a couple other top tier festivals and a bunch of national and international ones. Right now, if a festival is known for giving great feedback for submissions, leans towards comedy and/or social movements then they’re on our list. Ha.
L21L: What kind of budget does Hard-ish Bodies have?
MC: Right now, we are crowdfunding on Seed&Spark for a budget of $8,500. As I write this, we’re on Day 4 and we’re closing in on 60% of our $8,500 goal met with another 26 days of the campaign to go. My hope is that we reach out goal and are able to add a stretch goal to the $12k so that we can add an extra day of production and get the coverage we need on our dances.
L21L: How can we help spread the word?
MC: My crowdfunding manager, Elena Weinberg, gave me some things you can do that will make a huge impact - two of the three are free to do.
1. Log into www.seedandspark.com, make a profile and FOLLOW our campaign. We’re on the front page and if we keep going like we are, we’ll stay there until the end of our 30 days. You then get us one step closer to our 500 followers goal. Once we reach 500 followers, we gain access to a free "Filmmaker Gift Box" from Seed & Spark which contains $8,000 worth of filmmaking tools that we can use for post-production and marketing the film.
2. SHARE our campaign. Here's something quick and to the point that you can just copy and paste.
“Real men. Real dancing. Real Sexy. Support @HardishBodies's @seedandspark campaign http://bit.ly/FundHB #crowdfunding"
3. If you do have some funds, consider making a contribution. Anything small or big helps us get closer to our goal.
We know you're looking at this huge number and thinking "All I can do is $5 right now - how is that even going to make a difference??" Trust me: it does. Every dollar helps the momentum propel forwards and people don't like donating to a stagnant campaign. They like donating to a flourishing campaign. So, even a couple bucks from you will probably generate a couple more from a stranger.
L21L: Do you have any other projects on the horizon?
MC: I have a couple other short films in the works. One’s a dramedy that’ll hit on LGBT family dynamics called “Last Night” that’s a glimpse into my own relationship with my mother and her wife. There’s also a goofy web-series that James C. Leary and I are writing called, “Texas Zombie Removal.” It’ll be Reno 911 meets Billy The Exterminator, but for zombies. Ha.
L21L: Please tell us a bit about you, and your team!
MC: …where to start?
I grew up on a goat ranch in Lytle, Texas. I was young, maybe 4 or 5, but I remember wanting to get involved in movies because of Jim Carrey in “The Mask”. I would hop on our vacuum and do my best impressions of him - complete with “telling Scotty I do give a darn.” It wasn’t until my first year out of college when I attended SXSW. I learned that people just like me were taking a risk and living their dream. It wasn’t until a 48hr Film Project that I realized my passion for writing and directing. Out of necessity, our small crew held multiple positions and I was writer/co-director/producer/actor. It was a lot of work, but so much fun. We ended up winning the festival and that launched me into directing, writing, and starring in everything from commercials to music videos to shorts. From then on everything has been leading me to Hard-ish Bodies.
My team is amazing!!! A lot of people say that out of necessity, but I 100% mean that. They’re funny and charming and so freaking talented. I truly don’t know how to talk them up without writing way too much, so I’ll let you know that on both our Hard-ish Bodies website and our Seed&Spark campaign page, we have everyone listed out with a bunch of really cool stories and write ups.
I will also point you to my love letter to the women of HB. After marching for Austin Women’s March, I put down my thoughts about the women that have made this project what it is today. You can check it out here.
L21L: And last but not least, were you ever bullied, or dealt with negativity? How did you overcome it?
MC: Damn…good question. Yes, I was bullied quiet a bit in school - for being overweight, for living with my grandparents, for not really knowing where I belonged, and for a bunch of other stuff. It got to the point where I started to believe them. For years, I would just go along with their “jokes” because I didn’t understand how damaging it was for me. Of course that lead into a need to be a people-pleaser because if they only wanted to hang around me when I was making them laugh, then I would find a way to do it all the time - even if it was at my own expense. Later, I would do the exact opposite and close myself off to the world because I didn’t want to give them a reason to make fun of me. I would do anything to make sure that no one saw my shortcomings or saw me fail. Until about 3 years ago, that meant not being brave enough to even try most times.
It’s taken me years of therapy and physical/emotional struggles to know that I am enough. It wasn’t until this realization that I needed to start living life for me and no one else, did I start to move away from that mentality of self-humiliation and self-doubt. Knowing I needed self-care, but not knowing how to find it I asked for help. It was extremely vulnerable and terrifying, but I went to a therapist. Coming from a hispanic family, therapy is seen as a negative thing or as my grandma would say “something white people do for pills”, but I can 100% tell you that seeking help saved my life. There’s never going to be a “right time” for you, but there might be a time when it’s too late. If you are thinking about going to seek help, please go! If you don’t know where to go or who to see, that’s ok - neither did I. I asked. It was someone in this cast and crew that pointed me towards my first therapist and I will be eternally grateful.
On another note, meditation has been a huge help for me. If you’re like me, my mind has 1000 different thoughts all at the same time and all of them worrying about the future. Meditation has helped keep me present. I know that sounds super cliché, but being present cascades into a new understanding of the world around you. A classic example for me is failing. (Yes, even though I go to therapy I still fear failure. Ha.) Normally, I think “what’s going to happen if I fail” or “I know it’s going to fail because of (insert any excuse)”. But when I meditate, it helps me realize that the process that gets me to either failure or success is what’s really important. Where I am I am right now and what I am doing right now are neither good nor bad, they are part of the process. Don’t know where to get started? Do what I did, type “meditation” into any podcast service and find a guided mediation that works best for you. I love me some Deepak Chopra.
We reached out to Tinisha Brugnone after visiting her webpage. Her artistic statement really resonated with me so we knew we had to reach out and find out more!
L21l: I watched a couple of your short films. Two very different dynamics in stories. What qualities do you look for in a film when choosing a project to produce?
TB: I have not produced many films and unfortunately, none that I have chosen to date. The few I have had the opportunity to produce, were assigned to me through a film alliance I used to belong to. In the future, I would like to produce films that are aligned with my own interests and only projects where I have a creative in addition to business role in the overall project. People hear the word producer and sometimes think “secretary or flunky”. Well at least in the small community of local filmmakers I have met in Michigan.
L21L: Who are your influences?
TB: I have not really found an influence as far as film making goes yet. I like a lot of different types of films, mostly foreign films usually. I am a fan of many filmmakers to include; Aronofsky, Steven Spielberg, Ava Duverney and my new favorite is Michaela Coel. I think that I love story more than any other aspects of the filmmaking process, so I tend to be drawn to films that have stories that keep me thinking about them and of course comedies. I love to laugh.
L21L:Besides producing, what is your favorite part of the process? Writing, directing, acting?
TB: My favorite part of filmmaking would be writing. I love to see a story come together on paper. From the moment, it starts in my head and grows into a screenplay is very exciting to me. It’s an opportunity for me to be as honest with myself as possible and dig in deep extracting life’s pain and joys to bring a story to life. I like my stories to be brutal and sometimes use some of those embarrassing moments in life that we try to suppress. I think that makes for great stories.
L21L: I read in your bio that you wanted to bring the inner city stories that no one really talks about to life. Are there plans for a feature film to tackle this or are short films better for telling these stories?
TB: Yes, I am working on an episodic series that explores the life of a young inner city child growing up as a minority in a community that ultimately raises him. I am in the early writing stages of this project but I have already begun submitting the project to various screenwriting competitions.
L21L: What type of budget do you usually work with and do you utilize crowdfunding?
TB: As far as budget goes, I am still really green and the largest budget I have worked on would be $30,000. This was for the project “Downriver” that I produced that is on my website. This project I raised around $13,000 on kickstarter. It was very stressful and intense. I do plan on doing other crowdfunding campaigns in the future.
L21L: What type of adversity have you encountered when setting out to make films? In what ways did you overcome them?
TB: The biggest adversity would be getting together a team. I know most people would say money, but I think once I have my team the money will follow. Living in the Metro Detroit Area presents a different set of challenges as opposed to some of my film friends who have left Michigan to places like Los Angelas or New York. Our community has taken a huge hit since the incentives were taken away so I am finding that it’s harder to get people on board. Even I was not enthused for a moment and took a sort of hiatus from filmmaking. But of course, I really started missing it and now that my youngest child graduates, this is the perfect time for me to delve back into it. My ways of overcoming it is simply to remain vigilant and keep trying.
L21L: Lost21Losers is a big advocate against bullying and we always ask when you were growing up did you always know that this is what you wanted to do? What obstacles if any did you come in contact with that you overcame?
TB: When I was growing up, I knew I wanted to write but I did not even consider filmmaking as a medium for my art. I did not figure that out until well into my adulthood and once I started learning about it, I was sure this is what I want to do. The main obstacle is time. Having to work a “regular job”, and trying to find time for my art is challenging, but I decided to make the time by allocating some amount of the day towards it. Even if it’s just filling out this questionnaire helps me reach my writing quota for the day. All writing stimulates thought and ways to express yourself.
L21L: What advice would you give others who are looking to pursue a career in filmmaking?
TB: As far as advice goes, I would say keep evolving! Learn as much as you can every day. I listen to podcasts about filmmaking, (Indie Film Hustle is my favorite) I read a lot of articles, watch tutorials and I am now getting into the online workshops. I feel like you can never know too much and everything is changing super-fast. I am not the most technical person, so I have a
basic understanding of what technology is out there. Only way I can keep up is by staying connected.
L21L: What is your favorite all time movie?
TB: Choosing a favorite movie is hard but if I could I’d say Love Jones and Forrest Gump. Love Jones because it’s a true love story that shows real complexities of falling in love when the time is not right and Forrest Gump because you know… It’s Forrest Gump.
We send a huge thank you to Tinisha Brugone and please check out her sites!! Spread the word!
Lost21Losers knows how hard it is to get the word out on new projects and to get funding for these projects. We want to help others in the same boat, who have intriguing stories to tell! So we started a new Indie Showcase section! We will be interviewing different producers, directors, and actors about their upcoming indie projects and sharing them with you! I hope you enjoy this series!
Our first selection has woman power all over it! We of course support strong women!! We were excited to talk to Stephanie Baird who is the producer for My Roommates an Escort. When I watched the trailer, the story had me intrigued. Stephanie was gracious enough to answer some of our questions!
L21L: What inspired you to do My Roommate's and Escort?
SB: Katie Uhlmann and I had worked together a couple times in the past. Katie starred in a short I produced called Politics (2016) and she did an amazing job in a guest role on the web series “IRL the Series”. I already knew that I liked working with Katie, so when I heard about her new project with Trish Rainone I was already interested!
After I had seen the prequel and heard the story behind MRAE I became very interested. I loved that two strong, outgoing women were going after what they wanted for their careers and creating real roles for themselves.
These two were 100% in control from the beginning! They wrote the script, raised the money, directed the series and acted their own starring roles. As a result anything that you will see in the series is their story that they built from the ground up – I really respected that.
The series itself focuses on the relationship and conflict between these two female roommates – which you don’t see a lot of in mainstream television.
L21L: I see that it is a webisode series, do you have an idea of where you would like it to end up?
SB: The vague answer is simply: in front of people! Our current plan is to launch it online this spring. However, the end goal for MRAE is to pitch the show as a 30 minute television series with broadcasting on Netflix or on a major television network.
L21L: What type of budget did you have?
SB: Katie and Trish worked their butts off in their crowdfunding campaign which raised over $25,000! Compared to mainstream network series, it doesn’t seem like much – but through careful planning and extreme generosity from our veteran teammates (David Carruthers and Russ Goozee), Adrenaline Tattoos, our amazing group of cast and crew, ACTRA Toronto and our product sponsors (Casa Dea Wines, Canadian
Technical Solutions, Narces, and so many more) we were able to produce MRAE with exceptional production value given our budget!
L21L: How many episodes are planned and or written?
SB: We’ve actually just announced picture lock on 11 five-minute episodes for season one of My Roommate’s an Escort!
L21L: What is your favorite part of the process? Filming, writing, producing?
SB: This this actually a really hard question for me to answer… I love all of it, but at the end of the day I love directing. I love collaborating with other people’s talents and pulling the best out of each other.
L21L: Did you ever face adversity growing up, and if so what are some ways that you overcame?
SB: I experienced a lot of people telling me I couldn’t do things “because I was a girl”. I’m not necessarily talking other children – I mean grown adults, implied or straight-out telling me that was inferior to the boys my age. I spend a lot of my time trying to prove to people around me that I was smart enough, strong enough and driven enough to play on the same playing field as the boys my age.
I noticed very early on in life that life was different for girls than it was for boys. One of the first instances I remember was in girl guides. I remember being so extremely bored sitting in the same room doing the same arts and crafts week after week that I asked my mom if I could join boy scouts with my brother.
At the time, there were no girls in boy scouts and the idea was just starting with the idea of making it a co-ed program, but the group welcomed me with open arms. I became one of the first girls to be in the Cubs Program in Ontario. It was something that I am super proud about today, and something that I never thought about the impact at the time. I was doing what I wanted to do – learning to camp in the winter, tie knots and build survival tools, and then I did ballet on the weekends – because I wanted to. I never lost sight of who I was, despite those around me telling me what I should or shouldn’t be doing as a girl.
As many independent artists see, we get a lot of negative remarks and people saying "You can't do that." What things do you do that keep you going?
It’s not that often in the past few years that I’ve ever felt like quitting or that I couldn’t succeed. I’ve been very fortunate with the opportunities that have presented themselves to me recently (and hoping they keep coming haha!)
But there have been times in the not so distant past where I felt lost and wondered if I’m cut out for this. Part of it is having an awesome support team that will tell you that you are being silly. Another thing that helps is to think about where I was 5 years ago versus today. If I can accomplish as much as I have in the last 5 years in the next 5 years and at the next “level up”, and then 5 years after that – the momentum is boundless!
The best advice I can give to people who feel lost or are just starting out is – don’t wait for someone else’s permission to earn your place in this industry. I see so many people sitting around waiting to be discovered – that only happens in a very small percentage of cases. Write, direct, produce – join groups, classes, networks - find other people who have the same goals as you and leverage each other’s talent. Make partnerships, find mentors, and most importantly – work hard and be reliable. The chance of you making it in this industry by riding on the waves of other people’s successes is minimal. They will keep improving and moving forward and you will stay the same – and you will get left behind.
L21L: Who are some of your influences?
SB: I’m a big fan of Sarah Polley. Some people know who she is, but sadly many people don’t especially outside of Canada. What I respect about her career is an actor, director, writer and producer she simply creates.
Sarah Polley seems to be drawn to create art that she really believes in. And she is one of the most humble, helpful and caring people I have had the fortune of meeting in this industry.
Thank you Stephanie Baird and MRAE! We appreciate your time and are looking forward to watching!
To contact Stephanie Baird please see these sites:
My personal social:
For more information on My Roommate's an Escort see these sites:
MRAE can be found at: