Today joining us in The Green Room is the lovely Alana de Freitas. Welcome!
Thanks for having me! I’m looking forward to the questions!
So Producer, Writer, Actress and most recently Director! How did you find the process of Directing your first project?
I loved it! I want to do a lot more of it! I was holding myself back from stepping into directing because I was insecure about my technical knowledge. At a certain point, I just decided that the best way to learn is to just do it. And I was lucky that I had a very supporting DP on ‘Nancy’, Will Carnahan, so we were able to work together to get the look that I wanted. I knew I’d be fine with directing actors, and honestly, that’s my favorite part – watching the monitor and seeing them nail a take. Very satisfying!
I guess you have to back yourself and believe in yourself but also use the advice you get from others. Tell us the best bit of advice you’ve ever had and the best bit of advice you would give others?
The best advice I have gotten, in relation to filmmaking, was from Jeff Wadlow. When I was making ‘Before the Dawn’, he told me that it helps to do a ‘painful cut’ – pull out anything that isn’t 100% necessary and then work back in from there. It just helps to tighten everything up and ensures you have the most powerful scenes and performances in the cut without anything detracting or slowing it down.
The advice that I would give: Just be the person who makes it happen. Too often we sit around and wait for someone else to give us permission to get things started. Just do it yourself. You’ll be amazed how quicky people follow suit and want to collaborate. Sometimes you have to make your own opportunities instead of waiting for them to come to you.
What’s your thoughts on women in film…should there be this apparent divide or does the industry need to just get with the times?
There shouldn’t be a divide at all, but we are still quite away off from that being the case. Organizations like Women in Film are fantastic at fostering a community of female filmakers so that we can move further towards equal opportunities and representation. The industry definitely needs to be more inclusive, of all people, not just women. We are making progress. I wish it were faster, but slow progress is still progress.
When it comes to being creative and writing how do you get in the zone, where’s your place of inspiration?
I generally toy with an idea in my mind for the longest time slowly building it, and at a certain point I’ll get this zap of inspiration where I know I’m ready to start typing.
I’m quite regimented with my writing. I don’t just sit and write. I will do a beat board and map out every scene before I start writing the screenplay, that way I know exactly what I’m doing and it’s just about fleshing out action and dialogue.
I write at my dining table. I wish that were more interesting, but it’s just the least distracting place in the house.
You’re originally from Australia but moved to The States! Was it a scary transition or did it all work seamlessly?
Honestly, I hated it at first. I felt like I had no life: no friends to do anything with. It wasn’t until I started in acting class that I started making friends and building a community that I really started to feel like I’d made the right decision.
I wasn’t scared about the move at all. I’d thought about it most of my life, and I think I just got to a point where I was finally ready and all the stars aligned. It wasn’t totally seamless though. I fell and broke my wrist 2 weeks after getting to LA, so I had to go back to Aus for a few months for surgery and recovery before coming back.
Back in 2007 you worked on LifeFunk TV- would you say the skills you developed whilst there helped really define you and give you the confidence to reach new ground in the industry?
It certainly forced me out of my confort zone. I had never done presenting work before, and this definitely kept me on my toes, especially live interviews with the public.
I honestly think the job that gave me the best skills was working in finance when I was younger. I really had to grow some balls to combat the boys club of the corporate world, and then moving into people-leading roles and project management positions gave me a lot of transferrable skills that have helped me immensely with producing. I very much found my voice, so to speak, during that part of my life.
So to acting…. getting to play different characters is great but is the best person to be Alana? or have you ever played a role and fallen in love with who you were?
I’m pretty happy with Alana. It’s taken me a long time to get there, but I’ve learned to be gentler with myself. I’m pretty unapologetically Alana now. But they joy I find in acting is getting to live so many different lives and experiences. I’ve always had a very healthy imagination and played out scenarios in my mind. Acting allows me to play it out outside of my head. I will say this though, I miss myself when I play a role for a long period of time. It’s nice to shake it off when it’s done and be myself again.
Your recent film ‘Nancy’ covers the LGBTQ subject matter! As a group of festivals we recognise this topic with an award! Do you think more films need to be telling stories highlighting issues in society?
I definitely think representation matters – for all genders, nationalities, sexualities, etc. Not just so that people of all walks can see themselves on the screen and relate to stories, but to educate everyone about people who are different to themself. I think it just helps to create a more inclusive, understanding and accepting society.
What’s next for you with regards to projects?
I play the lead in a feature called ‘Before the Dawn’. It’s a great story about a forbidden teacher/student romance. That should be released within the next few months. I shot a horror film called ‘Bashira’ a little while ago. I’m really excited to see the finished product. That should be released in February. And I’m about to start shooting a comedy feature called ‘Cash Collectors’ alongside Michael Madsen, Angie Everhart and Johnny Messner – so I’m looking forward to that. I also have ‘Nancy’ currently doing the festival circuit, which is keeping me pretty busy!
In terms of writing and producing, I have a #MeToo-themed documentary in development which addresses the reasons why survivors don’t immediately report sexual assault; And I have just finished a horror screenplay that I’m quietly excited about. It’s getting a lot of interest which is very flattering.