Date: Saturday, April 19
Time: 2 pm
Place: Tapps Art Center
1. What is your connection to the South?
I was born in New York City but my parents decided to raise my brother and me in Charleston, SC where my mother was from originally. One of the famous stories from my childhood is that that I was scared of grass when we first moved here; I was very much a city child. However, my family, The Pearlstines, is one of the founding families of Charleston, and I am seventh generation Charlestonian. Numerous historic buildings in town have a woven Pearlstine connection- including our famous Dock Street Theatre. One of my great-great-great-great uncles won it in a poker game and donated it to the city.
I spent eight years traveling between New York, Colorado, and California, but the South is my home. I moved back to Charleston last year after a stint in the Los Angeles film industry. Coming back to Charleston, seeing the ways that the city is changing is really amazing to watch. It’s an exciting time to be here because there is what I would call a cultural revolution going on. From music to food to film to design, Charleston is becoming a mecca for creative industry.
2. Where did you get your inspiration for this work?
Rachel Kate Gillon is an extremely talented local artist that I met through my group of friends. I saw her play a few times before we decided to work on the video, and I was completely blown away by her voice. Rachel Kate gave my directing partner, Landon Phillips, and I free reign to come up with a concept. Landon and I both have an affinity for visual storytelling- he is a photographer and I am a filmmaker, so we meet in the middle with our stylistic eye.
The story was inspired by the song- we felt that it had this gothic Southern soulfulness that we wanted to capture. We used Bible and mythical references to add to this long Southern tradition of country and folk music’s relationship with God and the Devil. We wanted to create something that matched Rachel Kate’s power and presence, and so we decided to make her like the Marie Antoinette of the Depression Era. It was a really fun concept, and the beginning of a lot of work for Landon and I, who go under the name, The Royal Wild.
3. How did you start making films?
I came from a theatre background- I had studied at the Charleston County School of the Arts and had been doing the theatre scene since I was a kid. However, by college I figured out I didn’t want to be an actress.
There’s actually a pretty funny story about how I became a filmmaker. I was in my freshman year of college at University of Colorado at Boulder, and I had rolled out of bed to make an early morning theatre class. I had on these ripped up jeans that I had thrown on as I was running out the door. After the class, I was sitting on the quad talking to my dad on the phone and talking about how unhappy I was with my theatre class. All of the sudden, a yellow jacket crawled up my pants and stung me as close to my bikini line as humanly possible. I didn’t know what to do, and being a goodie-two-shoes freshman, I decided I needed to tell my professor that I wasn’t going to be in the next class. I hobbled up four flights of stairs and got to his door- burst out into tears and yelled, “I just got stung by something and I think I want to change my major!”
After three days on Benadryl, I ended up talking to a teacher who taught my Women and Film class. I hadn’t ever considered that being a filmmaker could be a career. However, I had a background in photography (my dad’s girlfriend is a photographer in NYC and had allowed me to assist on her shoots since the age of eight) and my theatre experience lead me to realize that it was the perfect career for me.
4. Did anything interesting or funny happen on set during the shooting?
Our most talked about section of this video is actually the most complicated- the part where Rachel Kate and her muse are being pushed along by hands coming out of the river. During our shoot days, the weather was awful- cold, slightly rainy and overcast. All of our extras are good friends of ours, and they were kind enough to get in bathing suits and jump into the freezing water. They were all getting cut up by oyster shells and no one could hold their breath for long enough, so we just kept getting them to dunk under like 100 times.
In the meantime, I was on a canoe with our DP, Zac Breitengross, with $15000 worth of equipment. The tide picked up and we were suddenly like a football field away from the dock. We both were panicking while holding all the gear and canoeing back up stream.
But, we got the shot. However, I am pretty sure all of our friends were going to kill us. It’s something we can all laugh about now, but I don’t think we’ll be doing it again anytime soon.
5. What do you look forward to the most during Indie Grits?
I am so excited for Indie Grits because I love meeting other filmmakers. There’s not enough downtime in our industry where we can come together and appreciate each other’s work. There are so many talented people in the South, and I am always looking for people to collaborate with. There’s a special magic when you get a bunch of people together who are passionate about the same things.
6. Why should someone see your film?
Come see our video to hear Rachel Kate’s voice! That girl’s got some pipes!