Valenti Showcase

Last night I went with my friend to a project showcase at Valenti on University of Houston. I had the pleasure of seeing the hard work of many of my peers and those I had not yet met. I saw so much skill and passion in all of these projects. I’m definitely glad I was there, since there’s a few people I’m already planning to work with for a project next month I had not yet had the pleasure to meet. Now I’m definitely excited to work with them further.

Room 131 is officially locked down!

We just wrapped “Room 131” and while this was technically the last production I’ll be working on for a bit, I will certainly miss it and working with genuinely amazing people! See you guys soon!

Thoughts on my Past as an Artist

I’ve been thinking recently about how passionate I used to be when it came to traditional art and scenic work. It’s been years since I’ve drawn, so I don’t have the spatial awareness or even attention span for it, though I think it’s just through a new lack of interest as over my high school years, I became more and more focused on theatre.

Back then I thought I wanted to be an actress, and I worked my ass off every day in class and for every production we did. I was good—really good, even, by the end of my junior year. By the time my senior year ended, though, I decided I wanted to try film.

I think it’s one of the best decisions I’d ever made, and also one of the hardest. I spent my freshmen year going back and forth on whether I should stick to acting or continue with learning this new medium. I had good dramatic writing and directing experience through theatre, but moving to media production made me question what it was I really wanted. I didn’t even think I could be good at it.

Fast forward to now, almost 4 years have passed since I’ve acted onstage, and I could never comfortably say I’m good at acting now. But I realize I’m only really good at something if I want to do it, if I’m passionate enough to put in all my effort and love into my work. Maybe someday I could venture back into acting or drawing or scenic work/set dressing. I think I should find some hobbies besides consuming art. Film isn’t just a hobby for me. I want to screenwrite, direct, and produce for life.

Despite this, I’m grateful to have my past experiences in other arts, and they still affect and help me now as a beginner filmmaker. I was reminded of all my past interests because of this photo. This is the wall by my bed inside my dorm. It reminds me of the collage work and set design I used to do. I look back on it happily, nostalgically, but I still move forward.

 

 

CALLED UP | My First Short Film

Hi, everyone!

It’s been a long time coming, but I’m excited to announce that my first short film, “CALLED UP”, is finally out! I directed and produced this project, along with co-writing the script. A lot of work was put into this, and it’s been a very fun process, despite any difficulties that many have come along the way. I feel a weight lifted. I’m normally incredibly self-critical, and I personally know what could have been done better in the result or in the process, now, but I’m just grateful and proud of our work. I’m just glad the result of all of our time and efforts can finally be seen.

This story, this production, these people that helped me bring this to life–they all mean a lot to me. A special shoutout to Andro Salazar, who’s a familiar face in 4381 and stars in this film as Aurelio.

“CALLED UP”–After the passing of their best friend Aurelio, two friends play one last game with him at their favorite baseball field.

A story about joy, coming of age, and moving forward.

I hope you enjoy this piece.

Don’t be Forking Stupid.

Just finished this PSA work project, except instead of it being about something important or noteworthy that could help humanity out, it’s about not being an idiot.

So maybe the same thing. Enjoy watching us have fun with this idea.

Desert Hearts and Visibility

“My only clear memory is arriving. The rest is a blur. An absolute blur.”

It’s 1985: The push for gay rights feels stagnant. Aids is still “the gay plague,” ignored by the Reagan administration and taken seriously only in pockets of the U.S.. Slurs are commonplace, sexual education is limited, and, needless to say, it’s a difficult time to come out. It’s in this year that Desert Hearts (dir. Donna Deitch, 1985) is released – a criminally underseen American romance that deserves recognition for its craft, performances, tenderness, and defiance during a time of immense, sweeping homophobia.

The backdrop is Reno, Nevada, circa 1959: moments of silence on a dusty railroad are taken over by the distant squealing of tracks. A train saunters into the frame, crawling to a stop. Vivian (played by Helen Shaver) carefully steps off to see Frances (Audra Lindley), an older woman with a Southern charm, despite living in the Northwest. She’s arrived here to establish residency – after six weeks, this move will make her divorce swift. The distance, in theory, makes it less painful.

They set off in a truck to Frances’ guest ranch, where Vivian is staying before she finalizes the split. On the ride there, a dot forms on the desert horizon further down the road: a car speeds down the opposite side of the highway and jolts at their side, switching to reverse. Cay (Patricia Charbonneau) drives alongside them, backwards, shouting niceties at Frances and taking a welcome note of Vivian.

Vivian’s presentation and personality are a stark contrast to her new surroundings. She’s an English professor from the New York North her demeanor is suited, her attitude tact and proper. Straight-laced and decidedly straight. Throughout her time on the ranch, she doesn’t shy away from letting the emotional weight of her marital affairs be known. Still, she refuses to be vulnerable.

On the other hand, Cay wears her heart on her sleeve; she projects herself the way she likes, sleeps with whoever she wants (men, women, and swingers alike), and says what she means. She recognizes the loneliness in Vivian and becomes fixated on the idea of seducing her. The relationship between the two blossoms as they grow closer together, through cracked smiles and whip-smart dialogue (“I won’t take off my robe.” Well, we all have to draw the line somewhere.“)

The chemistry on display here is intoxicating. Whenever Vivian lets go and loses herself in Cay, it’s mind-melting. It’s like the film freezes and they’re each left entirely aloneindividualized, seen through each other. It’s so cathartic that it feels like voyeurism.

This becomes the place – in each other’s arms, away from their surroundings (though Cay would be much more content if they acted outwardly and held it on their sleeves). The two continue to meet. Frances inevitably catches wind of their relationship: “You people,” “sinning,” and “never understand it” are thrown around willingly, and Vivian’s time on the ranch, along with her relationship to Cay, is put in jeopardy. Cue the rest of the film.

While watching, it becomes apparent that there isn’t much support in their surroundings. The men are a negative presence entirely. Every man we encounter feels like an obstacle – the closest we get to a positive contribution is one half of a couple that Cay has sex with, who, bare minimum, genuinely listens to what the two have to say after asking about their lives. Otherwise, they leer, judge, and treat the two like objects. None have good intent in their interactions; they all assume that they exist for them.

Later on in the film, Vivian walks up to a gambling table at the casino where Cay works. Immediately, she’s pulled in by a wealthy, stump-nosed man who wants to “teach her the game.” She wins; he tries to congratulate her with a kiss. Cay, while tending the slot machines, is grabbed at, touched, and catcalled. At home, Vivian is pursued unconsentingly in her own room by Frances’ son. The family she stays with is judgmental and openly critical. Support is only found in smaller spaces from other women.

In the Casino locker rooms, Cay and her best friend Silver (Andra Akers) recount the long work days and make a point to check in with each other. Solace, still, is limited – the two work under the thumb of a male manager who constantly ogles his femme coworkers and continuously pursues Cay. Wherever they go, they’re bothered. Their existence and expectations are held to heteronormativity. Their only escape is in private. The relationship that forms between Vivian and Cay feels genuinely defiant and sacred.

This is an intimate story of love painted across rolling, dusty hills and pink sunsets, driven by a need for self-discovery. A film emblematic of both its time and now, Desert Hearts showcases the difficulty of projecting oneself openly  and acting as you are in a heteronormative environment. The complexity and tenderness of its characters are served graciously through the film’s meditative pace and the curated words that Cay and Vivian share with one another. It’s bonkers how well everything works together and how such complexity is found in something that, on paper, is straightforward.

The context of its release as an explicitly queer narrative emboldens what is already a fantastic film. Desert Hearts is a dream worth your time – and if the rawness of its romance isn’t enough, the smiles, timelessness, and sparse Nevadian scenery absolutely will be.

(Available on the Criterion Channel)

Back From Quarantine and Hiatus

Hi, everyone. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted on here. Honestly, the past month or so has been rough, as for the entirety of this semester, but these past few weeks have been like limbo for me. I don’t know how to describe it exactly. A couple weeks ago, I had to rush to quarantine after a possible COVID exposure at my work, and with that I was possibly putting myself at more risk since I was quarantining with my brother who has also tested positive at the time. With lack of access to my familiar resources, I attempted to stay up to date with my classes and production work, but felt myself starting to fall behind. I’ve found it hard to reach out lately.

Things could feel better.

Since I’ve gotten out of quarantine, I’ve been attempting to catch up, but have also been doing a lot of production work for CoogTV, which feels both rewarding and tiring. I like my job a lot and I love the people I work with–that I get to work with. There’s so much in store for us and I’m excited to have made it happen and make it all happen. Things pile up, though, as things tend to do. I enjoy the work more than anything, right now though. It’s a stressor for me, for sure, but a lot of the time, it gets me through the day.

I’ve felt weaker lately. Not really physically so much as mentally, but somehow I’m still here and still learning, and learning to do the things that I love. I get asked by my peers in my Entertainment branch how I’m able to balance running all three shows and maintain order for my teams, schedule, and make time for them and all the productions (I haven’t missed a single Entertainment production this fall/winter), and I honestly don’t know how to answer that. I think I’m able to because a part of me wouldn’t be able to function well if I didn’t, if that makes any sense. I’m grateful for all the experience and the work. It means a lot to me when my peers and co-workers take the time to thank me for the work I’m doing and the effort I put into them and it all.

There’s this pressure I’ve always felt, though, and sometimes it’s much lighter or heavier, but I want to put out the best possible products as I possibly can, when I can. I hate to be inconsiderate of others’ time or my own. I really do. I also hate making things that don’t feel right to me. So feeling set back so often by the twists of my personal life and health makes it all weigh a little more. When can taking personal time for myself stop feeling like time wasted?  I wish some things would alleviate so I could only focus on my craft and myself, just at least one thing. Whether it’s my financial situation, or my health or insecurities, or something. I just hope to accomplish what I’ve always set out to do.

Don’t mean to be too dramatic about all this, though. It’s just something, realistically, that I deal with from time to time, or maybe at all times like it’s background noise. Nat sound or whatever we call it.

I’m going to get back to planning for my next shoots and thinking deeply about… Something. I hope you all have a wonderful night, truly.

– Erin K. B.

Story Song with Leandro

Scouting for an outdoor night shoot

Location scouting is fun but it almost always promises a number of potential issues to be taken care of.

In an upcoming project I’m working on, there are scenes that take place in a forest at night. Though it sounds like a really fun and exciting thing to shoot, so many things can go wrong. I’m trying my best to make it work and hopefully, it’ll be a great experience to have with my amazing crew!

The Festival of Lights

Yesterday evening I had the pleasant ability to witness and partake in Diwali, the festival of lights, for the first time. The amazing food and beautifully bright and ornate dresses and kurta’s aside, the temple itself at night was absolutely gorgeous. The marble etched pillars and walls were an astounding sight to behold, and the beautifully designed lighting display to light the building with the colors of the flag. It was an absolutely amazing experience that I won’t soon forget!