Filmmaker: Leah Meyerhoff
Run Time: 9:53
Film Festival Awards: Nominee, Best Student Short Film, Swansea Bay Film Festival (Swansea, Wales) June 2007; Winner, Honorable Mention, Calgary International Film Festival (Calgary, Canada) February 2007; Nominee, Best Mini Short, California Independent Film Festival (CA) Oct. 2006; Winner, Grand Festival Award, Berkeley Video and Film Festival (CA) Oct. 2006; Winner, Best Female Director, Westchester Film Festival (PA) Oct. 2006; Finalist, Boxurshorts Film Festival (CA) Sept. 2006; Winner, Honorable Mention, Rhode Island International Film Festival (RI) Aug. 2006; Winner, Best Experimental Short, Rebel Film Festival (TN) Aug. 2006; Winner, Best of Fest, Golden Star Shorts Fest, (CA) Feb. 2006; Winner, Best Student Short, Scottsdale International Film Festival (Scottsdale, AZ) Oct. 2005; Winner, 1st Place, Brooklyn International Disability Film Festival (Brooklyn, NY) July 2005; Winner, Best American Short, Avignon Film Festival (Avignon, France) June 2005; Winner, 1st Place, Ole Muddy Film Festival (Trempealeau, WI) June 2005; Best Actress Nomination, Trenton Film Festival (Trenton, NJ) April 2005; Finalist, 32nd Annual Student Academy Awards (NYC) April 2005; Winner, 3rd Place, Harry M. Warner Festival (Newcastle, PA) April 2005
Official Film Festival Selection includes: : London International Disability Film Festival (London, UK) Feb. 2008; Woodstock Film Festival (Woodstock, NY); Palm Springs International Film Festival (Palm Springs, CA) Sept. 2005; LA International Short Film Festival (Los Angeles, CA) Sept. 2005; Brooklyn International Film Festival (Brooklyn, NY) June 2005; Festival de Cannes (Cannes, France) May 2005; Brooklyn Underground Film Festival (Brooklyn, NY) April 2005; Clermont-Ferrand Film Festival (Clermont-Ferrand, France) Jan. 2005; Slamdance (Park City, UT) Jan. 2005
Twitch tells the poignant story of a young girl torn between two worlds: her domestic life where she must care for her wheel-chair bound mother and her escape into the emerging world of sexuality with her eager, hormone-addled boyfriend.
Leah Meyerhoff is a Slamdance Grand Jury prize winner and Student Academy Award finalist currently pursuing an MFA at New York University. Her short film TWITCH has screened in over 200 film festivals, won a dozen international awards and was picked up for distribution by IFC, Reelport and Skandinavia TV. Leah has since completed several music videos, including TEAM QUEEN, a Planet Out finalist airing on LOGO, and ETERNAL FLAME, on MTV Europe. Leah has received press coverage from The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, Film Threat, and numerous other publications. She is also profiled in the docudrama series "Film School" which continues to air on the Independent Film Channel. Leah teaches film courses at New York University and the New York Film Academy and has been a featured panelist at a number of film festivals. She often works as a festival consultant and recently served on the Slamdance narrative jury. Leah holds a BA in Art-Semiotics from Brown University. Leah is currently in pre-production on her first feature film, a Sundance Lab Finalist called UNICORNS.
What inspired you to make this piece?
The story for TWITCH was inspired by events from my childhood. My mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis shortly before I was born and I grew up taking care of her. I have always been interested in making a film exploring this mother-daughter role reversal and felt like my life experiences gave me a unique opportunity to tell a story I had not seen before.
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?
We shot TWITCH on the Arri SR3 on Fuji Super-16 and edited on an Avid Adrenaline machine. I like to do as much of my homework in advance as possible to allow for maximum flexibility on set. For instance, we not only did a tech scout of each location but also digitally storyboarded each scene and pre-lit the space. Since I was using non-actors, this allowed for more improvisation and spontaneity once we began shooting. The underwater scenes were the most technically challenging and required additional underwater camera housing, several wetsuits, and maximum breath-holding skills!
Do you have any interesting behind-the-scenes stories about the making of this particular work?
I financed the film by participating in a reality television series called “Film School” on IFC. This meant that during the shoot, there were several camera operators following me around at all times looking to create controversy. As you can imagine, this artificially-induced drama was an incredible distraction from the already-complicated process of making a film. Once it was over I learned to laugh about the situation, and my participation in the show ended up being great publicity for the film.
What is the relationship between your work as a video/filmmaker and life in the New York metropolitan area?
New York is an inspiring environment in which to make films because you are surrounded by an intense creative energy at all times. All it takes is a subway ride to come up with a dozen different character ideas or storylines. I am constantly taking notes on the world around me and incorporating them into my films. In addition, New York is an incredible talent base for actors as well as crew and I am lucky to call it my home.
What films/videos and makers have inspired you or influenced your work? And why?
I am inspired by artists who strive to show the world how it truly is – raw, gritty and real. Allison Anders and Gus Van Sant are great examples of this type of performance-driven filmmaking. I also admire Lynne Ramsay, John Cassavetes, Debra Granik, Joshua Marston, Catherine Hardwicke, and Catherine Breillat for similar reasons. At the same time, I’m drawn to artistically-minded filmmakers who live inside their imagination and have a particular eye for spectacle. I respect Jean Luc Godard, Todd Haynes, Michel Gondry, Vincent Gallo, and Julie Taymor and their to turn fantasy into reality. Finally, I am influenced by other artists, such as photographers Sarah Small, Ryan McGinley, Nikola Tamindzic, and performance artists Marina Abramovic and Cindy Sherman.
If viewers are interested in obtaining copies of your work for rental or purchase, whom should they contact and at what address and phone number?