Monday, December 19, 2016
Thursday, December 08, 2016
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Overall you have an elevated and sophisticated sense of cinematography, pace, and score that isn't normally paired with stories from "the streets" - so often it's completely on the nose - gritty style to show a gritty world --- and you know what? The effect of these overtly gritty "urban" movies is a sense of "other"ness -- we are more detached from the world and characters and entertained by them rather than brought into relating to them --- and I think this impacts both people who are and aren't from these worlds to see it so romanticized. The cinematography in Moonlight is beautiful but it's used to connect you to the humanity in the characters rather than objectifying them or being precious with how "beautiful" they are.
The script - each line of dialogue is perfectly paced, and certain lines are delivered with the utmost power they are capable of evoking. He uses the words. The words are essential. Certain lines will stick with you long after they've been said.
The ending is perfect largely because of the script. It's rare that a film, especially an emotional drama, has such a satisfying ending - and it's satisfying simply because the final line and moment ties everything together - and not because of an event, spectacle, or big plot twist. This perfect ending relies on performance and power of the words.
The performances are so spectacular across the board - it's clear director Barry Jenkins has found incredible talent to act in the film and the actors deserve credit where it's due - but you don't get that level of consistently great performance without the hand of a masterful director. The child, teenage, and adult version of this character -- are all masters of the dichotomy of what we say/do versus what we actually mean and feel.
In fact all of his characters put up fronts, and only let their guard down for very choice moments.
He opens with this exaggerated swirling steadicam shot delivering a massive pow of disorientation and movement - like we're being shaken on our heads inside a snowglobe. Barry Jenkins uses elements of misdirection and confusion perfectly. It's unclear we're in Miami until well into the movie. Choices like these feel germane to the character's experience. A child who hardly knows who or what he is. We've seen techniques like playing with soft focus, or drowning out vocals before --- but Barry has figured out exactly how to employ these choices with precise skill, timing, and placement in the edit.
I constantly felt afraid for the characters, I constantly felt connected to them and the movie never lets you go till the end - it uses emotional suspense, not plot driven suspense.
This movie told stories from a rough world. But it wasn't some gritty, sad, hopeless film that's all about how harsh the streets are.
What it IS about is humanizing characters that we never had the chance to see in this way before -- music choices and cinematography were especially about emotion, which is why this film works so well. Jenkins allows us to connect to his characters and access their soul in a way that reminds the audience exactly how powerful film can be. This movie is NOT about the streets. It's about masculinity, sexuality, ego, identity, self preservation, love, hate, and family.
Even when showing a homosexual act, he shows it in such a way that it's purely about sexuality and makes the experience universal and accessible -- once again cementing his skill at not objectifying what he portrays, but letting you in so you can relate. The end result is very powerful.
Another striking thing was in Mahershala Ali's performance. I know him as the smooth, calm, controlled Remy from House of Cards and as the powerful boss villain Cottonmouth in Luke Cage. I've never seen him as a dude from the streets of Miami as in Moonlight. Everything changed, from his voice to physical body and facial gestures. He made it so small and so natural, but it all felt so huge in the best way. His last line in the film was the first tear jerker for me, and the first major point of important punctuation in the story.
To the rest of the cast - I was just blown away. It's hard to know who gets the Oscar.
Maybe the teenage version of our protagonist Ashton Sanders?
All of them.
There better be some nominations.
Final side notes:
--- This movie is doing well ENTIRELY ON MERIT and not hype. Audiences are diverse and it's selling out. It's headlining major movie theatres and playing on their premiere screens - such as the cinerama dome at the Arclight Hollwood. Emotional dramas don't normally attract this kind of attention without major celebrity talent or without already winning Oscars.
- Seeing Mahershala play this character also made me wonder about how race factors in the role people of color play in professional versus private worlds in the entertainment industry- what is it like to have all these different sides of himself? If the streets are entirely foreign to him, what's it like for him to find that? How does he relate to the world? Or is that more his world and the person he plays in Hollywood is the act? Which is true to him and his life and family versus "just acting?" It made me think more about the elements of what the f*ck I do or don't know about being black.
--- Birth of a Nation isn't going to be the only powerful black voice in the film world this year, or next year, or the year after that, and Moonlight is proof of that, and I'm quite interested to see how this film impacts that conversation.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
You can reach out to me at email@example.com
In the meantime here's the stuff I'd love you to know about:
- Inside You: my first feature film as writer/director is complete and currently being submitted to festivals, the earliest of which is in January 2017
- Urban Teach Now: an indie TV pilot I directed is premiering at NYTVF and ITV Fest this October
As a filmmaker she's directed top comedy talents including Hannibal Buress, Zach Cregger, Angela Trimbur, Will Hines, Kevin Allison, Sara Benincasa, Will Janowitz, Curtis Gwinn, Bobby Tisdale, Slovin and Allen, and Ann Carr. Heather has been featured on MTV, the ECNY Awards as a nominee, as a IFC/Time Warner/Sundance competition finalist, Gawker, Adult Swim, Time Out NY, Dr. Phil, TV Guide Magazine, the LES Film Festival, DC Comedy Fest, Coney Island Film Festival, Atlanta Underground Film Festival, Atlantic City Film Festival, LA Shorts Fest, LA Comedy Fest, NY Shorts Fest, Santa Fe Film Festival, and on Comedy Death Ray.
Saturday, July 09, 2016
Monday, June 20, 2016
So excited - the movie is finally finished.
Had our first private screening for cast, crew and supporters and SO RELIEVED my parents both laughed and still love me. It's a sex comedy full of dirty jokes. Even if they aren't conservative and my mom's all european NOBODY wants their mom and dad to see them pretend to have sex and say the words c*ck as in "I want your ..." BUT ALAS yeah that's in this movie. It's not what the movie is about but still. MAJOR RELIEF and I can't wait to share with you!!!
Will be cutting a trailer soon and we are applying to festivals now :)
IMDB - INSIDE YOU
Saturday, June 18, 2016
Saturday, June 11, 2016
I HAVE IT ALL!
I have been unhappy, and let me tell you - this is not it. I have a shit ton to be grateful for.
1) I haven't done anything major in my life out of fear. I didn't settle for unsatisfying relationships or stay in bad ones. Being single at 35 does not feel sad, nor does it feel worrisome because of the babies thing.
In fact I still feel like a baby girl in many of the best ways, and an independent adult in the best ways as well.Your 20s is a fear based era of your life, inadequacy and the task of defining your adult self often pushes people into fear based decision making and undesirable life courses.
I believe that I'm living the life that I'm meant to be living. I had every capability to get through the hard times that would have been easier with a companion.
Now I reap the reward of every life decision I make being for myself and my own needs. This has been such an incredible gift of being single and I appreciate and embrace it. This shouldn't be squandered!
I'm not saying my life is better than anyone else's. I'm saying that I enjoy and am grateful for the way it's turned out - and that many of the things society says makes for a bad life, have actually made my life wonderful.
I have had many romantic relationships and have loved learning from them, getting to know myself and the world better through each one. My time both single and while involved with someone has been fruitful for its own reasons. I've had fun both ways, and adventure both ways. That makes me feel rich and free and grateful.
As for the babies thing, I once had plans with male friends of mine to "have friend babies" if we got older and didn't have kids yet. But I don't want to do that. I think I just want to keep living as I am and if making babies happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't. My heart knows that's the way to go. As for now, I love my daily Ortho Tri Cyclen and am really grateful for that too!
2) My career is everything I want it to be. I want more success that's for sure. I want to direct movies with real budgets and that's what I'm going after next --- but as of this year, I have DONE THE WORK.
There's a lot of people who've told me what I need to do: I need to do standup every night, I need to go to this and that school and get into this festival and win these awards and cast these famous people in my movie, I need a certain kind of headshots, I need to network and join societies. Well, I've made choices about what I really need to do and I've done a lot of different things my way, because hey - I want a path that not everyone is walking down - and I've done the work to walk down that specific path.
A couple years ago before I shot my first feature film, I was very depressed because I thought it wasn't going to happen and it was impossible. It has very nearly been impossible many times - mostly because of general rejections on top of financing and casting troubles. But I financed it and acted in it myself and so fuck it - it happened. It's 1 week away from done and paid for. There's things that were hard and things that are flawed in the final film- but I needed to make those mistakes - because they make me better at doing what I want to do.
I feel that part of success is luck and opportunity - but luck and opportunity cannot strike if you don't do the work - If you can't unequivocally show people what you are capable of. And I feel right now, I've done the work to show that. So it's entirely on me and my shoulders if I don't get what I want out of life. That's how I feel. But it feels really great to have done the work --- because I finally feel free and able to go after all my dreams.
This is the best year yet. I'm going after what's next, and going after things IS MY FAVORITE.
3) Feminism has, for the first time in my life, become understood and accepted.
There is still so much work to be done, but there is no coincidence in the timing of Hillary's success.Everything I've been hungry for in life feels more possible, in the vast and important ways.
The pain of being a little girl in a man's world - a pain you are met with by the constant disappointments in life of things that are not for you --- is being healed by each glass ceiling broken, each acceptance of female competence, each celebration and understanding of our experience.
Progress is still needed but women are today heard in a new and different way than ever before, and that's just a really loving thing.
4) I can look to my bad times and know with 100% certainty that things do get better.
Yesterday was the 6 year anniversary of my dad's stroke, which he survived but with severe handicaps, which has also considerably handicapped my mother's life who is his full time caregiver.
Living through this has been hard and sad and seemingly impossible - but I know that all things are possible. We are here, we are living with it and through it. We are all going to France on a vacation together in July. My parents don't really do things like "summer in France" - but they are doing it in a few weeks, and proving that there is more happiness to be had, and more wonderful life to live, in spite of tragedy and difficulties they face every day. The simplicity of being able to still have a lovely experience like staying in a Chateau in the Loire valley, when you can no longer wipe your own ass -- or when you have to wipe your husband's ass for him and afterwards place his jewels properly so he doesn't sit on them -- is perhaps what life is all about.=====
On top of all this I've lived a life of wild adventure and privilege - some I was born into and some I made my own. I'm lucky to be born as an American -- yes there is privilege in growing up here. There is privilege to being raised as a woman now, versus every previous decade. There is privilege to being raised in a beautiful suburban New Jersey town with seasons and safety, with hardly any cellphones or internet yet, graduating high school in 1999, and the with the shore in the summer, NYC access year round, and snow in the winter. I'm very lucky to be raised by parents who support and embrace and encourage me. I could go on, but yes, I'm lucky. My life has been filled with great depths of sadness and struggle but also met with outrageous reward and adventure. Here's to all of the things hopefully that we could all list as damn lucky from the day we were born.
Please let my own personal life lessons be a message to you about where happiness and fulfillment comes from-- and that is living from your heart, and following your own path sincerely - not giving up, and not giving in. You do you.
This is my favorite year yet.
Wednesday, June 01, 2016
Read more here: http://www.sjandginny.com/urban-teach-now-1/
Friday, April 08, 2016
The chillest Hillz event coming right at you for positive vibes right when we all need it most: The Upcoming NY Presidential Primaries!
Sat April 16
12 midnight - 4am
COMEDY SHOW (LINE UP STILL FRESH AND NEW HOT VIBEZ ADDED)
44 Wilson Avenue in Bushwick Brooklyn.
Hosted by Heather Fink
FOLLOWED BY DJ/MUSIC/DANCING! HOT SWEATY SESSY HILLZ LOVE THRU THE NIGHT
homemade Hillary treats, a Hillary drink special, posters/art or graphic design/best Pantsuit competition, best Hillary shirt competitionPlus a “why I think Hillary is so chill” spoken word open mic - in between comedians
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org*** Feeling the Bern but Hillary-curious? Bi-presidential orientations with chill attitudes welcome! ***
Monday, March 21, 2016
WILL BE FINISHED IN MAY! Undergoing major post production operations right now:
THE FOCUS GROUP
short film, I directed this short film written/produced by/starring Sara Benincasa
love how it turned out - hopefully makes the festicle circuit soon!
It was shot in October 2015 and has since been finished but not yet released.
URBAN TEACH NOW
It's currently being kickstarted!
We shoot in New Orleans in May and it's by these super smart and hilarious comedians SJ & Ginny and I love their script. I'll be Directing. It's a tv pilot but as it's written, can also be cut into a webseries and be released as such. WE SHALL SEE mmmm yahhhhss:
I love all of these here projects and officially endorse them all for Senator of Comedy Movies 2016.
PS yes I did sound on Daredevil Season 2 and the show contains the happy memories of my life July 2015- December 2015! Right now I'm in sound department on Baz Lurmann's epic new show The Get Down. THANKS NETFLIX for sustaining my existence!!
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
So when I made my first feature film, Inside You, I was especially concerned about diversity in casting, and at the end of the day, while we did alright and I have some fucking awesome actors of color in this movie, I feel my cast is absolutely not as diverse as I hoped. Here's what I learned about this from the process of casting and making my feature:
- I tried to cast actors of color many times and sometimes DID and then had them drop out last minute (actors of all colors need to drop out sometimes, especially when you are paying them low rates) and I sometimes ended up replacing them with someone white
- I couldn't find enough actors of color that I thought were good enough and experienced enough to act in the movie
PLEASE DON'T STOP READING THERE! Because here's why:
- I didn't know about them. Of course they exist! I just didn't FIND THEM.
WHY DIDN'T I KNOW ABOUT THEM?
- Actors of color get less work, and therefore are less visible and discoverable.
Since there's less roles for people of color, they are seen less, there's less on their reels, there's less ways for me to know about them. Casting also involves very specific needs - the actor must be right for that character so you need a wide talent pool to find the right fit.
- I couldn't afford a casting director to find this talent - which takes a lot of work and time but is possible.
- Holding open auditions is a nightmare (at least in NYC and LA) - it's hard to pull in capable talent without a casting director or agent sourcing them for you, the time and cost are prohibitive and when you're making a film you have very limited time
- I also didn't want to take a risk on someone without enough experience
- For many of the actors of color out there who are known - they are in demand and getting all the work, and I can't afford them.
Up and coming performers need a chance to be seen by taking on roles in independent films. These independent films need to be able to find and discover these actors.
If there was a resource to showcase performers of color that would be amazing. It's not simple, that's why casting agencies and casting directors exist - it's a TON of work to discover people - there's thousands of hungry performers out there but it's very hard to sort through the ones who are actually good and know their craft and are good to work with and right for the roles you are casting.
If someone can figure out how to better showcase this talent - it would be great - especially online (reels etc) - because low budget indie filmmakers don't have the time to be going out to live stage showcases and either way stage actor doesn't necessarily equal good film actor.
A curated online database, and agency initiatives for low budget films to have access to actors of color is what I think solves part of the problem. Also if more storytellers: writers, producers, and directors of color emerge and have their films financed- I believe just looking at the examples of Ava Duvernay and Ryan Coogler- you will also see more roles for people of color. And even those examples exclude Asian, Indian, and Latino success stories - so you know- there's a ton of room for growth!
Here's an example of a success story: The film "Attack the Block" was made for 8 million pounds
and was an indie film (sounds like a lot but it's actually low budget
for a sci fi feature!). They wanted to discover local talent and held
auditions. John Boyega, a young actor from a local theatre,
came to audition and landed the lead role. Today he is featured as the
first Black Stormtrooper in Star Wars. He's one of my
favorite young actors (though I felt his part was underwritten in that film). I believe he's the second coming of Denzel!
He would never be in Star Wars if it wasn't for the film "Attack the Block" discovering and taking a chance on him.
There's a lot of things I feel great about with my upcoming feature film. I love the cast, there's great performances. I wish I lived in a world where more performers of color had more roles and exposure so I can find them next time. I'm sorry if that sounds shitty. I did try. I was trying a lot difficult things with hardly any money or support- this kind of change requires a concerted effort from the entertainment community as a whole. Here's to that being the case for my next feature. Here's to - quite simply - more roles for people of color. And ya know, not just like, the maid, or crack addict number 2.
Friday, January 01, 2016
At 34, this has been the best year of my life so far for 2 reasons:
- personal career fulfillment
- being single and without kids (yet, if ever)
PERSONAL CAREER FULFILLMENT:
When, in my life, I did not feel connected to the ability to achieve my dreams, I was extremely depressed. This year, among other things I loved, I shot my 1st feature film. This was something I NEEDED to do. At one point I told myself that even if I do this and fail, I'll always know I took the risk - rather than wonder "what if." But at this point I can't in good faith say I failed, and I haven't even finished the movie yet. (We shot it in June and it's in post production. Should be finished in March.) No matter what happens with this movie, I feel great about it already, and energized and connected to what comes next. I feel enabled to take those next steps. In many ways I feel I've laid the foundation for doing what I want to do with my life, exactly as I'd always hoped and dreamed it would be. I've had great many failures and difficulties in my way. I've overcome them, and guess what ... you guessed it: it made me stronger! And better! That's really a thing.
BEING SINGLE AND WITHOUT KIDS (yet, if ever):
So sure I may get married and have babies some day - but I haven't yet, and this has turned out to be a very good thing for me in my life thusfar. There were times in my life that I judged myself and felt very bad and sad about being single, being dumped, being rejected (AKA my 20s AKA everyone's dumb 20s), and felt bad and pressured for not using tinder like a good girl - and I'm extremely happy that I dodged those bullets of fear to make it this far in life on my own.
I had a very bad ex boyfriend define much of my romantic life: past 8 plus years on and off. And I would keep seeing him, even when the bastard had a new girlfriend, like a damn addiction - because it was fun, because it was wrong, because he made me feel everything on the spectrum of human emotion and .. you know, like, in my down-theres.
It was hard for me to see what was wrong with it since I wasn't hurting anyone else. I still met and dated other guys over those 8 years, still lived my life. I've had people tell me he was getting in the way. At first I thought that meant it was getting in the way of me meeting someone new - but that wasn't it. It was getting in the way of meeting ME.
This is the year that I learned to not just be cool with it - but to be deeply happy and fulfilled in being alone. To be able to have happiness that comes from myself. To be able to know what I want. To be able to know who I am. To be able to know who I want to be. Though I have done therapy in past years, and yoga from time to time - don't misinterpret this as high minded hippy dippy speak. These feelings happened organically - not easily. Nothing about getting here was easy at all.
After years of confusion, drama, and odd circumstance - I found myself here, eyes open, accepting so many things about myself that I never did before.
And also, feeling beautiful.
Fears of aging and losing my looks have proven to be foolish. Even though my body and face has more flaws, I've come to notice that I have a much more powerful affect on others than I ever have. Right now, on a regular basis, people seem more attracted to me than ever. More attracted to me than when I was in my 20s, skinnier, with shinier hair, softer skin, higher heels, and with glorious youth. Even just this New Years eve some girls in their twenties were repeatedly chiming "Oh my god I can't believe you're in your 30s oh my god!" and a guy I wanted in my 20s but couldn't get, seemed to very much want to get me. This sort of thing has been happening all year.
And I shit you not I think these people are seeing my inner glow. They are smelling the confidence and peace that comes with shedding desperation. Sure - I really do take care of myself: exercise more now than before, fancy face creams, etc. But why now? Why this year such a big response more than ever? Why this year did so many exboyfriends even aside from the one I mentioned reach out?
Why did drowning out the noise of a tindering world pay off so well?
I know the answer is that I've learned to be alone. I know that I can continue to be alone and be happy and that spending time taking my solo journey is a precious gift. I'm sitting here on fucking Walden Pond - but I'M THE POND dudes!
I don't need someone else to make me happy
(note this doesnt mean I don't need people, I need people - friends, family, collaborators, etc, sure, It's just that I'm not getting my self worth, meaning in life, and value from them)
AND SO IN CONCLUSION:
This is the best year of my life not because I achieved everything I ever wanted, nor do I have it all.
I have a concrete foundation upon which the things I actually want - can all be built.
AKA I'm at the start of the party, more harder better quality partying is imminent!
To those of you who've had a bad year - I've had those too. Those bad years were essential stepping stones to this very very good year.
As Thales said, "All things are water."
Happy New Year!