2016 marks the 25th anniversary of the 1991 release of Daughters of the Dust by Julie Dash, the first feature length film directed by an African-American woman to receive wide theatrical distribution. To celebrate and explore the film’s legacy, the Nickelodeon will present Daughters: Celebrating Emerging Female Filmmakers of Color, a three-day film festival featuring works by a selected group of contemporary female filmmakers of color. The festival will take place from Friday, November 11 through Sunday, November 13, 2016 at the Nickelodeon Theatre .

New Orleans-based, independent writer-director Garrett Bradley is one of the nine female filmmakers of color selected to take part in this momentous celebration, and is an up and coming director that you will want to keep an eye on.  Bradley earned her MFA at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television in 2012 and is the recipient of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Award, The Lynn Weston Fellowship, The Motion Picture Association of America Award, and The Mary Pickford Award.

On Friday, November 11th, Bradley will screen her critically acclaimed feature film Cover Me at DaughersCover Me is a powerful narrative that paints an intimate portrait of a young musician who is trying to find her place in New Orleans.  In addition to Cover Me, Bradley will also screen her short film Like, which brilliantly explores the multi-million dollar industry that grows social media followings for celebrities and brands.  The film takes a look at the “click-farms” of Bangladesh that increase the online popularity of some of the biggest online brands/personalities.  Please click HERE for tickets to see both of these award winning films.

HBR had the opportunity to interview Bradly to discuss her film career, challenges often seen in the independent film world, and her inspirations.

 

How did you get your start as a filmmaker?

My step dad bought me a high 8 camcorder when 16, for Christmas. I’d always been interested in photography and was fortunate to have a dark room at my school. The camcorder gave me a chance to experiment with movement for the first time which resulted in my bringing it everywhere I could – on my way to school, out with friends….

My parents divorced when I was 2. Their separation was unresolved in my mind – or at least I was at a point where understanding how I fit in between their distance was important to me. That resulted in my first film (Be-Bop Fidelity) which won a small award at the Bridge Film Festival. Winning wasn’t something Id thought about on any level but the recognition of my taking a risk created a great deal of confidence in the direction I was going – and I’ve stuck with it since. 

What are some of the biggest challenges that you had to face in getting these films (Cover Me and Like) made and how did you overcome these challenges?

Problem solving is an inherent part of making a film. The entire process from writing to fundraising to shooting, editing, deciding where it goes….there isn’t a stage that doesn’t present a challenge. And I think that process of materializing, seeing, adjusting, is part of what it means to be an artist. You sort of have to embrace it and consider it a key part of the end result. 

Aside from the logistics of shooting in Dhaka for one week with at first very few leads was a challenge in itself. But i think more interestingly, the editing process presented for me new ways of understanding short form content and the relationship between visual journalism and “movie making.” There are certain aesthetic signifiers with documentary which let people know what they are watching is someone’s reality. I was able to play with this in terms of how we worked the camera to navigate the market we were exploring and I think the result is somewhere in between the formal qualities of narrative and doc. 

Cover Me was shot as a film which juxtaposed the internal and external experiences of the main character. The form and structure were based in Walker Percy’s book, The Moviegoer which Franklin Sirmans  (who served as the Artistic Director for Prospect 3) had sort of prompted as an approach to the biennial. 

I think the biggest challenge with the film was figuring out how to gracefully transition from inner space to public space. A lot of this ended up being resolved through sound design which I think emphasized our use of zoom lenses and the feeling of a slow and long stare. 

How did you go about receiving funding to get your films made?

I’m not sure many independent filmmakers have a consistent source for funding. It depends on the project and whose interested at that given time. I think a lot of also has to do with what’s happening in the world around us – what the pulse and how ones work directly responds or connects with what is current. 

What would you like audiences to take away from this film?

Like was made with the intention of countering the misconception that the LIKE market is in anyway illegal or corrupt. It was important to put a face and life behind the work and I hope at the very least, that’s what the film does. 

Cover Me was a joy to make with the fullest creative freedom and very few resources. I’d like to think people are able to sit into the work and meditate in how space is used – again, at the very least. 

What has been your greatest reward as a filmmaker?

The relationships that have spawned from my work are the most valuable. I have a great deal of love and respect for the people I work with and understand that they make me better, the work better and collectively are able to move freely in a way that isn’t easy to come across. 

Are there any filmmakers/directors/authors etc. that inspire your work?

John Cassavettes 

William Greaves 

Wong Kat Wai 

Robert Altman 

James Baldwin 

The list is long….

But frankly the people and moments I experience on a daily basis in the most mundane level inspire me. The world is beautiful despite its terror. People are beautiful – their stories are valid. That my inner guide. 

Do you have any advice for a young up and coming filmmaker who would like to follow in your footsteps?

The only way you’ll find your voice is by making things. Don’t think too hard. Don’t freeze up. Trust yourself, make mistakes and keep going. 

 

For tickets and more information on Daughters: Celebrating Emerging Female Filmmakers of Color please click HERE.

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