A Brooklyn teen hides an important secret while on a quest for intimacy and inclusion. Some secrets we should tell. Some questions we should ask.
Director Andrea Williams is currently pursuing an M.F.A. in film directing at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, where she has produced and directed two 16 mm shorts. Prior to entering NYU, Williams gained film experience through work on independent films, music videos, and student films.
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What inspired you to make this piece?
As I was developing the script, which was originally about a teen's desire to lose her virginity, I learned about young people born HIV+ and was intrigued by their stories and their courage. I thought about their transition to adulthood and how their desires for intimacy are impacted by the disease. I felt it could be a very important and timely story to tell.
Briefly tell us about how you made your film or video: what camera and format did you use to shoot your piece, and what system did you use to edit it? What is your working process? Did you use any special techniques to make this work?
I worked with a talented team to bring this story to life. My DP, Rob Halper, shot on 35mm and my editor William Mack edited on Final Cut Pro. Our goal was to capture a blooming love from a city girl's perspective, and within that the mix of sensuality and grit that's in a New York City summer.
My overall approach to directing is guided by a commitment to truth. Every choice that I make involves asking if it maintains the authenticity of the characters and their world.
On a more specific level, my approach to directing moves from personal work with the script to interactive work with cast, crew and locations. As I move beyond the page, I think about how the setting and location of each scene can enhance the text. If I can, I like to spend time on the set where the shooting will take place. I also like to research the world of my characters by talking to real people who resemble them and visiting real locations that appear in the script. This allows me to bring a greater level of accuracy and authenticity to my work.
The next phase of my prep work involves conversations with my producer and creative team about my vision for the project and their ideas about its realization. This is always a great collaborative space when these folks bring their vision and talents to the table and heighten the creative possibilities for the project.
Shortly after, I begin intensive work with my actors. I start with a cold read of the material followed by a dialogue about what they might bring to it. Next, I'll work with them over time to sculpt the scenes more precisely: exploring key scene beats, character motivation, activity, relationships and blocking. Throughout the process, I take time to connect with them as individuals and to create an environment where they feel comfortable taking risks.
Do you have any interesting behind-the-scenes stories about the making of this particular work?
I was most excited by discovering my lead actress Noelle Gift. My other actors were equally wonderful and yet Noelle stood out because she had no prior acting experience but was able to bring the same level of professionalism, poise and creativity to her work as they did.
What is the relationship between your work as a video/filmmaker and life in the New York metropolitan area?
Unlike many New York City residents, I was born and raised here. I grew up in the South Bronx and Harlem, went to school on the Upper East Side and have worked and played all over the city. When I was young, my mother made a point to take my twin sister and I out to explore the city every weekend; this ingrained my love for the museums, parks, shows, and events that are distinctly "New York." I've also traveled all over the world and that's given me a context to appreciate how dynamic our city is.
What films/videos and makers have inspired or influenced your work and why?
I am influenced most by Charles Burnett, Spike Lee, Maya Deren, the Coen Brothers and Haile Gerima. Charles Burnett for the truth and poetry in his work. Spike Lee for being an innovator and an activist, and for the love of our people that's so evident in his body of work. Maya Deren for challenging the boundaries of time and space in her films and in her life. The Coen Brothers for the characters they conjure, their sense of humor and surrealism. And Haile Gerima, for first inspiring me to become a filmmaker and for opening doors to help me on my career path.
If viewers are interested in obtaining copies of your work for rental and purchase, whom should they contact and at what address and phone number?
They can contact me at: email@example.com