A PLACE FOR US, 6min,. USA
Directed by Leigh-Ann Esty, Ellie Gravitte
6 female cast members from Steven Spielberg's "West Side Story" play with a gender flip of the iconic prologue.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
The motivation behind this film came from the incredible experience of working on West Side Story with Steven Spielberg. It was so inspiring to be on set every day, working with such a giant of the film industry. When West Side was released in 2021, a couple of us were commissioned to perform a dance piece to Leonard Bernstein's iconic Prologue music. I had recently taken a course in cinematography through New York Film Academy, and wanted to play around the new skills that I had acquired. I turned to the choreographer, Adriana Pierce, and said, "We should totally make a dance film out of this." And here we are...our dream became a reality!
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
In total (from the initial concept to end of the editing process) our film took about 2-3 months to complete.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
In two words, I would describe our film as "powerful togetherness."
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
We didn't face too many obstacles during our shoot days, thank God! My biggest fear was actually centered around filming in public. We didn't need a permit to shoot at these different locations because we weren't closing down any streets or filming in front of businesses. I was worried that the locations would be overrun with people, or that our speaker was going to be too loud. What ended up happening was actually quite beautiful. We shared our art with a lot of pedestrians, and even had a couple who asked about the project with interest. They made background cameos!
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I had a huge sense of pride watching the audience feedback. It's also a little unnerving, because you have the realization that your baby is out in the world! It doesn't just exist in your living room anymore, and your only hope is that it brings people joy!
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
I have been making films since I was a child. My sister and I would set up our dad's video camera, and sit in front of there for hours. We would create dramas with our Barbie dolls, pets, and close friends. Films were ways to escape and make the creative worlds in my mind a reality.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
The film I have seen the most in my life would probably be Ben Hur, even though the Lord of the Rings trilogy, E.T., Star Wars, or Jaws are close seconds. I am a sucker for an epic adventure with big cinematic feats.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
This is the first time I have entered a film into the Festival circuit! So far, the experience has been quite seamless. I will keep thinking of feedback as my experience grows.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
Film Freeway has been incredibly easy to navigate. I've enjoyed scrolling through different pages, and appreciate the user-friendly elements of the site.
10. What is your favorite meal?
My favorite meal would have to be Chinese food. I could eat it multiple times a week.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
I am working on a documentary idea for my next film. This one is very personal, dealing with what it was like to become a professional athlete, and then retire, at such a young age. It may take some time to develop, but I am excited to dive in.