Sunday, August 7, 2011
Filmmaker Chloe McFeters
Chloé McFeters is a writer and documentary filmmaker based in Boston, Massachusetts (USA). In 2008, she founded Tortoise and Finch Productions with actor and director, Kevin Cirone. Her first film, “You Look a Lot Like Me”, a feature-length documentary focused on the issue of intimate partner violence, is presently in post-production.
What is the current project you are working on?
I am currently in post-production on a feature-length documentary, titled, “You Look a Lot Like Me”. The film focuses on raising awareness about the issues of intimate partner violence and domestic abuse.
Did you always want to be a filmmaker?
No. Not at all. I have always had a love affair with film, but never had the desire to create films myself. I did, however, have the desire to write them. That desire is not nearly as strong these days.
What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
I don’t know that I had any interest in becoming a filmmaker. I still have trouble thinking of myself in those terms. I don’t feel I’ve really earned that title yet. Time will tell, I guess…
What I did have was an incredible passion regarding the issue of domestic violence. I wanted to create something, something that would allow for individuals whose lives had been affected by this issue to have a voice, and a voice that could and would be heard by many, many people. Creating a film on the subject seemed like a very effective way to achieve that aim.
I had a friend who owned some camera equipment, and who was kind enough to let me use it for this film. With that key aspect covered, I wrote up a project overview, and began approaching organizations. I guess you could say that I haven’t looked back since. That was more than four years ago now.
What is the best thing about being one?
In this case, it has been the connections I have made, both with the incredible and courageous individuals I’ve interviewed, and with the crew I’ve been blessed to gather around me along the way. I can’t say enough about the people I have worked with these past four years. I have made lifelong friendships with these men and women. We have shared in a very powerful experience together and that sort of thing bonds you forever, I think.
What is the worst thing about being one?
In thinking about this project in particular, I’d say it’s having to make difficult decisions with regard to editing in order to comply with very reasonable, well established, and specific time constraints. Almost all of the footage we have shot is footage I feel needs to be seen. It’s challenging to effectively explore just a fraction of what needs to be said on this issue in an hour and a half or two hours. It’s just not enough time. So, that has recently been a frustrating element for me and for those who know the footage as intimately as I do.
What is the estimated number of projects you have worked on?
As far as film is concerned, I’ve worked on a handful of narrative indie projects, as either a writer or producer. I’ve found that I love to produce. This is the first project, though, where I have served as writer/director/producer.
Who is your favorite filmmaker?
There are definitely a few for me. Kieślowski, Wong Kar Wai, Spielberg, Pedro Almodovar…anything by Wes Anderson or Noah Baumbach…
How has your life changed since you became a filmmaker?
Apart from the traveling (and there is a LOT of traveling), I think most of the changes are internal, emotional, almost spiritual changes. You can’t spend four years listening to the stories I’ve listened to, meeting the amazing people I have met -- hug them, eat dinner in their homes, hold their god children or their grandchildren -- and not come away from those sets of experiences profoundly altered in some way. I wouldn’t know how to begin to describe it. But it’s a difference, for sure.
What is one piece of advice you can give to someone who also wants to make it in the movie business?
I don’t know that I’d know anything about how to “make it” in the movie business. I think I would say, no matter what you are doing, to work hard, to find something you care about deeply, something that inspires you in some way, and then dedicate yourself to it. Commit to your dream becoming a reality. That’s a lot easier said than done, I know. And luck and timing have so much to do with it. But, that would be my advice. Work hard, and enjoy your work. Oh! - and only floss the teeth you want to keep; don’t waste your time on the others…
What do you like to do besides filmmaking?
I write. I write a lot. I love to cook. I love to garden. I sit home and watch movies. I am a pretty boring lady, truth be told.
Have you had any other jobs before you decided to become a filmmaker?
Ha ha – yes. Oh yes.
What are some of your favorite American films? Foreign films? Television shows?
American films…Schindler’s List, English Patient, Royal Tenenbaums, Squid and the Whale, Half Nelson, Hereafter, Elegy…
Foreign Films…Three Colors: Blue, In the Mood for Love, The Adventures of Antoine Doinel, The Secret in Their Eyes, Habla con Ella…
I don’t generally watch television, ever. But whenever I’m on a flight, the only thing I want to watch is Curb Your Enthusiasm. It’s genius. I love it. I laugh before it even starts. I laugh in anticipation.
How would you describe your film education?
What's your opinion on crowdfunding?
Given the pretty incredible run we’ve had so far on Kickstarter, right about now, I’d have to say I love it! Joking aside though, I think it’s a really interesting and engaging way to fund your creative endeavors. I’m a fan. There’s a lot of really amazing stuff out there. Huge talent. And now people can really be a part of allowing that talent to blossom and grow.
In its design, a platform like Kickstarter allows for anyone, really, to be able to be a part of something creative, and that, I think, feels good. It’s really difficult for the average person today, for the average family. People are struggling financially all over this country, and so many others, and that’s an incredibly scary space to exist in. There is such uncertainty about their jobs, their homes, how they are putting food on the table from week to week, so I am very cognizant of that fact that it’s incredibly difficult for people to justify reaching into their pockets for something that is not an absolute necessity.
On the other hand, I think most individuals are giving creatures, generous creatures, and even given what is sometimes an immense set of financial challenges, we still want to feel that we can, and are in a position to, contribute to something outside of ourselves and our immediate sphere. It can be incredibly rewarding watching someone else’s dream become a reality, particularly when you believe in that dream. A platform like Kickstarter allows for active and affordable participation in that process. If giving $100.00 is not an option, then, you know, maybe giving $5.00 is, and if $5.00 isn’t an option, then maybe $1.00 will work more comfortably for you. Those are pretty liberating options. Anyone who has ever worked on an independent project of any kind knows all too well that that $1.00 is of great value, and it’s humbling for me anytime someone thinks enough of my work or my vision to contribute that dollar. I can think of a million other places it could be spent, especially today. That vote of confidence and support is definitely not lost on me.
I also think most of us understand the critical and invaluable role that art plays in any society. At a time when other, more traditional, forms of funding for artists are evaporating all across the country, crowdfunding platforms provide opportunity where there is otherwise none. I think the concept will continue to evolve, like anything else, but I don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon.
What is the casting process like?
I love it. I’ve always really enjoyed casting. The process was obviously entirely different for my current film, being a documentary, and also given the subject matter, but in terms of narrative projects, yeah, I enjoy it. There’s something really great about the fearlessness involved, and also the vulnerability. On those rare occasions, when you can feel that actor become someone else, it’s almost magical.
You could go back in time and see any classic film being made. Which film would it be and why?
It’s a Wonderful Life. That ear-to-ear telephone scene must have been something to observe. That and falling in the pool looked fun…
What's your favorite movie quote and why?
“Lloyd, Lloyd all null and void. Looking for the truth, but trying to avoid, Lloyd. Not sure what to do, dissed in the Malibu.” - Gas 'n' Sip Guys, Say Anything
Its profundity leaves me speechless.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I think that last response really says it all, don’t you? I don’t think I could possibly top that.
I would just like to mention that the Kickstarter campaign for the film, “You Look a Lot Like Me” runs until August 26th. I am really thrilled to be able to share that we are 116% funded after just three weeks, and we’re not done yet! Any additional contributions received between now and the end of the campaign will be used to help cover costs associated with distribution, advertising, marketing and promotions.
We have some really amazing and generous artists involved with this fundraising campaign, so I hope that people will stop by and check out the unique and creative wares being offered as rewards.
Your readers can also learn more about the film and my production company, Tortoise and Finch Productions, at www.tortoiseandfinch.com.
Thank you for your interest in my work and in the film. I really appreciate this opportunity and I wish you continued success.
Thanks for doing the interview. I wish you the best of luck with your film and future projects.