Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dream to Dare: Five Dares for Making a Film by Alexia Anastasio (Guest Post)

Hey guys - just a bit of an editorial note from me here. Lately I've been a little busy settling into my new job/failing at university so I've been lacking on the time front. I will post soon! But in light of my last, and extremely popular (yay yay yay) post on feminism being hard in the film industry, I'm happy to introduce a girl who is doing exactly what I want to see: marching to the beat of her own drum and being the change we want to see! I'm really excited to introduce you to Alexia Anastasio and her upcoming film, Little Fishes.

What if we were so courageous in our art and in our lives that we are the envy of all the content creators around us? Suppose all of us are looking for connection to a courageous muse? It’s true.

This desire is the Goliath in all artists. It’s an unstoppable giant that demands more and more of us until we either put more of ourselves in the game or we give up trying to battle Goliath. This challenge is the essential driving force as artists. As filmmakers, we are artists. In the end, we will disappear, but the art will be left. The challenge is what makes us daring and grow. Making films is about risk, not knowing where the reward is going to come from.

Though I am in love with my new movie, LITTLE FISHES, being in love is scary. I want to share this story with my audience, but I know that I must take risks to do it. Truth or dare? Both!

In order to make art, we must take the dare and tell the truth. We may think that our project is an impossible uphill climb, until we examine it further. Many of my clients seem ready to give up before they even start. The artist inside beckons - but do we heed the call? How many of us will succeed in our quest and develop the backbone needed for our ultimate transformation?
I read a lot of blogs. What I found was a lack of application for most readers. It’s like so much candy. I guarantee that you will fail as an artist if you take advice at face-value. You must put ideas into practice, before discarding the key concepts. What is at stake here is that we need to fall down in order to learn. I can guess what you are thinking: Why fall down when I can play it safe? You are not wrong. Playing it safe can get you from A to B, but don’t you want to go further?

Provided below is a list of scenarios that I would at least like you to try out. They may seem a bit weird, but please indulge me. At its core, these exercises will help you to get to greater risks, which will seem easier after taking on these basic risks. Dare to dare!

1. The role of a lifetime. Ask yourself: What is the most uncomfortable event in your life? What made you scared or afraid to act? How can that be applied to your film? In a storyline, an audience expects a main character to overcome a series of trials and setbacks. Have you had a setback that seemed insurmountable? Try adding this event to your script. You don’t have to tell anyone why you added the event or that it is part of your own personal experience. Bring the story into your world.

2. Change up the setting. Does the script change if the confident guy in the bar is now a confident guy in a circus? Play with the setting and see where it takes you. If the same guy was in a burning building - would that change the circumstances and the outcome? Break the film into elements and examine the components. The overall piece may read entirely different. Get those people off their park benches and into a setting that causes them to react to something other than pigeons. Be adventurous!

3. Focus on inner interpretation. Very often we try to analyze why the story didn’t work. Wrong actors? Bad script? Bad director? Bad DP? No. Before we complete our film (or feel so depressed we want to scrap it), let’s focus on what kind of a story we want to tell and how we communicated the emotions in our characters. We may have never been in the situation depicted, but one thing is for sure: we have all lived and breathed. Did we leave anyone out of the joke? Being fearless is knowing that we can do analysis and that we can morph our films into better ones, rather than assigning blame. We want to see what making the film tick on the human level. Where is the heartbeat? Can it be stronger? Could it be that we have to break the rules of film language to tell this story at heart level? Look at juxtaposition in your shots. Move the shots around. Make reaction into action by flopping it around. Flip the script.

4. Get real about love. Most filmmakers I know tell me that this is their most sensitive area. Why? Love is close to home. Filmmakers can be shy, specially when creating love scenes that are believable. We need to step back. Love is a universal thing. It’s there and it’s not going away. It’s more powerful a force than hate. Often people are nude when they are intimate with each other. It’s part of life. If it’s in your script, chances are that there is a reason beyond titillation. I use nudity to wake people up that we are all beautiful expressive entities. If you are an actor also, put yourself in a scene where you are nude as the day you were born. I did this in LITTLE FISHES and I found the freedom in it to express myself without barriers. Find out if you can make a statement in the scene. Is it sexy and playful or a comment about society and censorship? Does it tell us how vulnerable the character is? Say it with love.

5. Have a good feeling about everything you do. Depressed people have a habit of thinking that they must be in that state to tell real stories. Not true. Ask David Lynch sometime if he’s happy. If you meet him and work with him as I did, you rapidly find out that he’s over the moon. He has been meditating for thirty years. My advice is to find your center of the universe and live there. The dare is be alive in your work and know in your heart that courage is unbounding. You will never run out of courage and hopefulness that you will get to the next projects. I find that I can’t help it and I am no different from you guys. Try being positive in the negative and elevate yourself into a filmmaking Goliath. Try it.

You can see my last film, Adventures in Plymptoons! on many platforms like Hulu, Vimeo, Amazon by going here:

You can sign up for my email list and get updates whenever I have a new project on my website:

And you can view the new trailers and sneak peak scenes and even give to the campaign for Little Fishes here:
BIO: Alexia Anastasio is an artist, actress and filmmaker. She was featured in HBO's Bored to Death, VH1 “If you like...” commercial and Vetiver "Everyday" music video. Her work on the feature documentaries includes: Editor of Vampira: The Movie; Associate Producer of The Wild World of Ted V. Mikels; Co-producer of Beyond the Noise: My Transcendental Meditation Journey; Director of Adventures in Plymptoons! documentary on Oscar nominated animator Bill Plympton; Director of documentary, Ginger Girls: The Secret Lives of Redheads and Director of narrative, Little Fishes.


  1. Thanks so much for this Alexia! This is super inspiring!!! And definitely what I need to look at from time to time =)
    - Alex S

  2. Than you for sharing information here. Your information are good one.
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