Published on March 7th, 2018 | by Biz Books
2018 VIWIFF Interview: Wendy D
BizBooks.net is pleased to showcase a few of the local filmmakers at the 2018 Vancouver International Women in Film Festival.
In this interview, we talked to Wendy D about directing Mind Stories.
Can you start by telling us a little bit about you and your VIWIFF film?
I am a full-time photographer specializing in marketing and communications, who has a passion for the language of dance. Mind Stories is an improvisation collaboration between myself and Tara Cheyenne Friendenberg (dance and theatre performer), inspired by a true story of one person’s mental breakdown. The idea was to get together and create something, but not put any labels or expectations on what it would turn out to be – not fitting what we created into any sort of expected box, just create.
What does this film mean to you?
I had the idea for Mind Stories a few years ago when a friend was going through a very rough time and actually tried to (unsuccessfully) commit suicide. I set the idea away for awhile, then along came my own onset of menopause and it was brutal. It effects every woman differently and for me, it was my brain, Depression hit and mood swings would be instantaneous. So the story that Mind Stories is inspired by is actually my own story of a breakdown caused by the onset of menopause. I hope that other women will see this and start a dialogue about how menopause affects them. Nobody seems to be talking about it.
What can audiences expect from the film?
This is definitely an experimental film, so it’s unusual. Tara’s movements, combined with video, stills, and myself, mixed together is pretty compelling.
What was the biggest challenge for you in making this film and how did you overcome it?
Because this film was created out of existing material and not pre-planned, the only major obstacle was editing it together. I tried to do it myself but I couldn’t get it the way I wanted. I approached Scott Belyea (writer, director, editor, producer, cinematographer and post-production supervisor) whom I’ve worked with many times over the years, and I love his vision, his voice. I showed him the tiny bit I had done, explained the idea, and told him he had creative freedom to edit it as he saw fit, again, no expectations, just create. He said he enjoyed working with stills like this, hadn’t done it before.
“Going after what you want is not easy, but just keep doing it. Keep learning, keep meeting people, keep honing your craft, whatever it is.”
What’s the most important lesson that you’ve learned in your career so far?
Oh there are so many! Persistence, patience, kindness, treat absolutely everyone the same (as you would want to be treated), respect for others. Do the work, it’s not going to come to you, you have to go after what you want, surround yourself with like-minded positive people. Most of all, take care of yourself. Look after your body, spirit and soul.
What would your advice be to women who are aspiring actors, writers, directors, or producers in the industry today?
Going after what you want is not easy, but just keep doing it. Keep learning, keep meeting people, keep honing your craft, whatever it is. If there is someone you admire, reach out to them and ask if you could meet, if asked in the right manner you would be surprised at the Yes’s you can get. Taking a line from improv, say “Yes and…” even if its something you hadn’t planned on, say yes and enjoy the ride. You can learn something from every experience even if its not directly related to your chosen field.
Who are the women in the film and television industry who have influenced you the most?
I can’t say any one woman but I can say the organization Women in Film & Television Vancouver has been the most influential. I have been a member for, yikes, 16 years now. I have met so many incredible women over the years and have witnessed their careers take off. Those women, this organization, always inspires me.
What film and television-related books and authors have been influential in your career?
Most of the books that have influenced me have been either photography-related, self-help, or biographies.
Yosouf Karsh has a series of books that I still today can pick up and be inspired by. Each portrait in his books is accompanied by a short description of what happened during the photo session. His biography, Portrait in Light and Shadow: The Life of Yousuf Karsh was also a great read.
Any of Annie Leibovitz’s books – Susan Sontag (was Annie’s partner) has an amazing book called On Photography. It’s a feminist look at photography.
Thinking Body, Dancing Mind: Taosports for Extraordinary Performance in Athletics, Business, and Life by Chungliang Al Huang and Jerry Lynch is an older book that I keep in sight all the time. I pick it up and read a paragraph or two just as a pep talk.
What other projects are you working on right now?
Right at the moment I’m working on life projects, I just had to move because my landlord decided to move back into his space. After 17 years of being in a live/work studio, I have just moved into a small, but cozy, apartment. Big changes to work and home, so that’s where my brain is right now. I definitely want to explore further the process of Mind Stories.
Where can we find out more about you and your film online?
I don’t actually have a lot about the film out there yet as I hadn’t really expected it to be so welcomed out there! My website would be the spot though WendyD.ca.
Thanks to Wendy D for speaking with us!
You can check out Mind Stories at the 2018 Vancouver International Women in Film Festival as part of the From Haunting to Horrific Shorts Programme which screens on March 9th at 5:30PM.
For more information the VIWIFF, please visit WomeninFilm.ca.