Maria, tell us a bit about yourself. How did you become a producer and what do you love most about the job?
I was born and raised in Venezuela. As an adult, I moved to the capital city of Caracas to pursue my studies of architecture and graphic design. I became a freelance graphic designer and worked with an array of clients, among them museums, art galleries, and corporate accounts. In 1998, I made the decision to continue my journey by moving to Canada, it was there I married my filmmaker husband Ross. While working in the graphic design profession in Vancouver, over time it became obvious that Ross was in need of a producer to help him more successfully realize his passion to continue making independent films. I had been feeling a growing desire within myself to pursue my deep-rooted love of films and filmmaking, and just when I was ready to reach out and offer to team up with him, in a sudden instance of synchronicity he asked me to be his producer. What I love most about my role and experiences as a film producer are the opportunities I get to work and collaborate with so many amazing people. I love building the artistic and personal relationships that have been formed through our unified passion of making films.
You say that you strive for diversity in front of and behind the camera. What actual measures are you taking in order to achieve that?
Before every production that we embark on, Ross and I sit down and discuss and remind ourselves of the importance of creating a diverse film community for our intended project. We put into action the very real philosophy of hiring and surrounding ourselves with creatives that are underrepresented in the film industry. We take immense pride and satisfaction that in our three films so far, more than 50% of our cast and crew represent gender, cultural and LGBTQ collaborators.
Your husband is also the director of your films. I imagine working so closely together can be very creative but also very challenging. Tell us about it.
The most rewarding and effective aspect of working so closely together on our film projects is that we both bring our own unique and creative skill sets into the mix. Ross is a writer/director/actor while I’m well versed in production design, costume, graphic design, and marketing. This allows us to complement each other and create a better state of harmony and balance. Also, being married and therefore personally and emotionally invested in each other further strengthens our resolve to never quit. We always strive towards accomplishing our film goals and we always have each other’s best interests at heart. Conversely, the main challenge with being a married filmmaking team is trying not to become overwhelmed. We have to remember to include balance in our lives away from our work, and value the importance of maintaining our mental and physical energies to avoid the always-real potential of ‘burn out’.
We met while discussing females in film and the female perspective. What would you love to achieve with the films you produce? And what’s your dream project?
My hope is that our films will have a global reach, that the stories we tell will resonate universally with audiences. That other women can feel a sense of inspiration to share their voices and creativity and bring that to the world of filmmaking. Hopefully, my journey and accomplishments as a film producer can inspire them in some small way and lead them on their path, the same way I’ve been inspired by female collaborators and mentors along my film and life journey.
If you could say one thing to your younger self, what would it be? And when would you have said it?
I would have told myself when I was in my 20’s or early 30’s not to be afraid to trust your instincts and to just go ahead and pursue your dreams and passions. To give yourself the freedom to actually explore your ideas and, most importantly, give yourself the self-love that leads to being a more confident version of yourself.
Your newest project is just hitting the festival circuit. Tell us a bit about it.
Our latest film is a 15-minute short documentary called “European Tour ’73”. It’s a film we’re very passionate about as it takes a deeply emotional look back at a very important milestone in Ross’s personal family history. It’s the story of how Ross’s father took his wife and five small children on a trip to Europe in 1973 to connect them with his own memories of his father fighting for the Canadian military in WW2 Europe. Ross’s father actually took a Super 8mm movie camera to Europe, so we were able to build the movie around some of the amazing, personal archival footage taken from the trip itself. We then continued to build around this footage with original animation, family photos, stock footage from the 1970’s, as well as military archival footage and photos- and then Ross capped off the film with his very personal and moving narration. The film is a humorous, bittersweet, and emotive time capsule about three generations of a family connecting through the events of this trip. We just had the World Premiere at the Oakville Online Film Festival just outside Toronto, Canada, and we were overwhelmed by how strong and emotionally invested the audiences were. The film seemed to spark a lot of deeply profound and moving memories of their own nostalgia and family experiences. This reaction has been extremely gratifying and rewarding, as it took us nearly four years to carefully and lovingly piece together the multi-generational saga of “European Tour ’73”.
What’s your favorite film, specifically one made from a female perspective?
I actually find myself very inspired by many of the actresses from the early periods of Hollywood filmmaking. I’m a voracious reader of their biographies and autobiographies. People like Gloria Swanson, Mary Pickford, Judy Garland, Mae West, and all the other actresses and female creatives who had to really fight their way with a never-ending resolve to make their way in an industry that, to put it mildly, never made it easy for them. Their tenacity, drive, and spirit to carve out any kind of success for themselves is an inspiration all these years later as we move forward into the present and our efforts to continue to gain an equal foothold in not just the film industry but on all levels of society.
Anything else you want to mention? Where can people find your work?
I’m hoping that anyone reading this will find something inspiring even in a small way that will help inspire them and, hopefully, give them that nudge or confidence to take one step closer to pursuing their goals and passions both in or out of the film industry.
The three films that we’ve produced are:
“A Legacy of Whining”
“European Tour ’73″
Currently screaming film festivals throughout 2020/21
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Thank You !
Juliane is an award winning film director and producer, with more than a dozen short films and several features under her belt. She has given guest lectures on various filmmaking subjects in universities around the world. She founded this blog in order to connect with her ‘dream audience’, which is, if you read this far, you!
You can support her by signing up to her newsletter here, and watching her last films, the psychological thriller 3 Lives and 8 Remains, and the mockumentary Kinks.