Friday, July 29, 2011

Filmmaker Rebecca Davis

Rebecca Isbill Davis is a filmmaker based out of Greenville, SC. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Film from Bard College and a Master's in Entertainment Business from Full Sail University. She has 10 years of on-set experience. In the past year, Rebecca has completed two short films. She produced MJ Slide's "The Saving," and wrote and directed her own short film, "Paradox in Noir." She is currently in pre-production for a web series entitled "Twilight of the Gods." In her spare time, Rebecca enjoys playing music and singing and making things, mostly out of duct tape.

What is the current project you are working on?

I'm working on "Twilight of the Gods." It's a web series that's a modern-day adaptation of the same Norse mythology Richard Wagner used for his epic Ring Cycle operas.

Did you always want to be a filmmaker?

No. The first thing I wanted to be was an FBI agent. Ever since I visited the FBI building in Washington D.C. And that was the plan up until about Junior year in high school.

What inspired you to become filmmaker?

Actually, it was probably Tim Burton. He was the first director whose style I could really identify film to film. It made me realize how you could express yourself through the medium, and, being both a visual artist and a musician it seemed like the right fit. It combined everything I loved to do.

What is the best thing about being one?

Filmmaking makes me feel TRULY free. I can imagine whatever I please, without limits or rules.

What is the worst thing about being one?

It costs. A LOT. And I have to get very creative in funding productions.

What is the estimated number of projects you have worked on?

I'd say 12 or so. Every role from PA to Camera Department to Wardrobe to Producing/Directing and Writing. I've done a little of everything!

Who is is your favorite filmmaker?

Orson Welles or Jean-Luc Godard. Maya Deren was pretty badass. Werner Herzog is crazy, but pretty awesome. Coen Brothers and Christopher Nolan are fun.

How has your life changed since you became a filmmaker?

I have far less time. But I feel much more fulfilled.

What is one piece of advice you can give to someone who also wants to make it in the movie business?

Just start making films. Write. Shoot. Shoot all the time. Crew other's films whenever you can. Network yourself! Just keep moving forward. And shoot! I learn something new each and every day through one part of the creative process or another. Eventually, I'll figure it out!

What do you like to do besides filmmaking?

I play the piano and the ukelele. I call myself Geekelele and play really geeky songs. In general, I'm a nerd.

Have you had any other jobs before you decided to become a filmmaker?

I still have another job! But, no, I have always seen filmmaking as my career. I have an impressive retail resume, though.

What are some of your favorite American films? Foreign films? Television shows?

Call me cliche, but "Citizen Kane" blows my mind every time. "Wait Until Dark" still gives me chills. Also in my upper ranks: "Silence of the Lambs," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," and "Blade Runner."

As for foreign films, pretty much anything Godard has made, especially "Breathless" and "Alphaville." I also love Japanese cinema. Kurosawa's films are amazing.

And since I'm doing the whole series thing now I have to cover the TV shows! I'm pretty much straight sci-fi/fantasy when it comes to television. "Doctor Who," "Star Trek," "Stargate SG-1," "Battlestar Galactica," "Firefly," "Torchwood…. need I go on? I also love British Comedy ("The IT Crowd," "Ab Fab," "Spaced"…)

I could go on about this all day.

How would you describe your film education?

I studied film in high school through a public school program at Greenville, SC's Fine Arts Center. I attended Bard College and graduated with a degree in Film and Electronic Arts. I also graduated from Full Sail University with a Master's in Entertainment Business. I have been working on sets from college on. I also aspire to go back to school for my doctorate in Film History.

How would you describe the film "scene" where you live?

Small, but ambitious. A lot of people in the area want to get more involved in filmmaking, but many are not quite sure how to go about it. But the upstate of SC has some amazing resources and locations.

How has social media changed the independent film industry?

Social media is the reason I could move back to my hometown from NYC and still make films. It has singlehandedly grown the independent film community to the global effort that it is today. I have never known so many people that I've never met in real life. Social media has opened so many opportunities for alternative ways of funding productions, screening them, and distributing them. It's really amazing how the industry has changed in such a short period of time.

What's your opinion on crowd funding?

Having just successfully funded the pilot ep of TOTG, I have to say I'm a fan. But make no mistake, pulling off a successful campaign is pretty much a full-time job on its own. You have to put the time in to get the results back. Toka Kokan. Equivalent Exchange.

How does independent film differ from the mainstream?

The answer to this question largely depends on your definition of the two terms. I'm going to go for the more cerebral definitions instead of the cut and dry ones for my answer.

I think most people don't know what independent film really is. I think the internet is changing that slowly. Mainstream films are products, plain and simple. Some of them are pretty neat. Some of them actually have some substance. But they're products in which every detail has been determined based on how much money it could bring in. Take the inverse of that and you get indie film. Indie films are made because a group of people wanted to express something. And sometimes some of them make a profit.

This is not to say that, hands down, indie films are better than mainstream ones. I've seen my share of poor indies as well. In fact, I think that this very question is one of those argument starter questions that they wouldn't let you ask in elementary school.

But that makes it fun.

You could go back in time and see any classic film being made. Which film would it be and why?

"Citizen Kane", of course. Not only is the cinematography unbelievable, Orson Welles was larger than life.

What's your favorite movie quote?

"Six years ago, I looked at a picture of the world's greatest newspaper men. I felt like a kid in front of a candy store. Well, tonight, six years later, I got my candy -- all of it." -C.F. Kane (Orson Welles) from "Citizen Kane"

What is your opinion on movie remakes and sequels?

I think they are relied too heavily upon. Some of them are lots of fun, but I'm concerned that it has made story-tellers lazy. That being said, my series is a sort of remake/adaptation itself. I think sometimes you can remake a film in a really compelling different way by taking it and really making it your own. When it feels like a straight remake, though, it feels like a waste.

What is your opinion on book to movie adaptions?

I'm very open to them. And I'm definitely not as picky as some about staying true to the book. Books and movies are completely different mediums. Some things that work in books just don't translate to film. Sometimes it takes making concepts more relevant to a mainstream movie audience. I remember plenty of instances where I saw a movie, found out it was based on a book/comic/etc, and then rushed to find and devour the source material. Sometimes an adaptation can open the door for a whole new audience for the book. It's a symbiotic relationship, really, even if liberties are taken in the shift from book to movie.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I'm really enjoying figuring out how to get a web series off the ground. I think the transition to web-based entertainment is the way of things, and I'm excited to get going on this project. It's been a steep learning curve, but totally worth it. Look for the pilot episode mid to late September.





Thanks Rebecca for doing the interview. Good luck with you webseries. Please send me a link to the pilot when it is on the web.