It’s Erica Tremblay’s Turn (and America’s, too)


After Friday’s historic US Supreme Court ruling legalising gay marriage in all US States, it’s time to share my interview with Erica Tremblay. Erica is the director of the feature-length documentary film IN THE TURN that just won Best Documentary at the Transgender Film Festival 2015 in Kiel Germany. The film has had several screenings and I expect there will be many more people lining up to see this topical story.

Erica-Tremblay

As film makers have access to cheaper equipment…you don’t have to be in LA to make documentary films (Erica Tremblay).

A couple of weeks ago I published an industry analysis about why there are fewer female scriptwriters in the film industry. The interview that follows relates to my Masters degree project.

Three years in the making and now on the festival circuit, IN THE TURN is a heartwarming story about a 10-year-old transgender Canadian girl, Crystal, who experiences prejudice to a point of despair before she is able to find acceptance and friendship with a roller derby team, the Vagine Regime. You can watch the trailer here on YouTube.

Erica spoke to me from Boston earlier in June about her experiences as a female film director, celebrating 10 years of being a member of the Boston Derby Dames, and moving to Boston after living in LA for eight years.

How do you find Boston compared to LA?

I feel I learned as much as I could in LA. I’ve found that Boston isn’t saturated with people trying to ‘make it’. It’s more relaxed and there are some great groups such as Open Screen. Once a month you can show up to 10 minutes of a film with no censorship . It’s a hodgepodge, a stream of consciousness as you jump from project to project. As expected, some is crap, some is good, some is weird, but it’s interesting to see what is going on in other people’s minds.

What is the appeal of making documentary films compared to fiction?

I started doing documentary films because it was accessible to me, but I’m also interested in fiction. My first film [in 2007] was called Tiny Red Universe. It got accepted to festivals and screened on the IFC [Independent Film Channel]. I was just out of college and after this success I packed up my bags and moved to LA thinking it would open doors for me to become a film director there.

I learned quickly that (A) it’s really hard to make it in Hollywood and (B) it’s even more difficult when you’re a woman. There are just not as many opportunities open to you. I decided that if I wanted to tell stories, I’d have to do it on my own.

I think this is why female filmmakers are drawn to documentaries; it’s accessible. I didn’t need a huge production company to back me, all I needed was passion… and a few thousand dollars for gear…and to find a crew who believed in the stories.

Sitting on the Creative Side of the Business Table

Erica’s day job has given her insight and experience valuable to her and her business partner, Bernard Parham, as they develop their production company, HomeSpun Pictures.

What has kept you going?

I work in advertising as a producer, which is a great challenge and wonderful way to learn. I know how to plan and cut corners, how to squeeze the money out of a shoot and make it last. As a producer, I work “across the table” from so many creative minds but I always thought I was on the wrong side. I want to be the one coming up with the ideas, I want to be in charge.

EricaTremblay Interivew

I want to be the creative drive for projects as opposed to someone realising someone else’s creative vision.

What are some of the challenges of being a female director?

Quite often people make mistakes with my name, call me Eric instead of Erica if they haven’t met me. Is it really so hard to imagine that a woman can be the director of a film?

One example, which happens a lot, is that people offer my producing partner [Bernard Parham] a business card but not one to me. He and I have also been in situations where I have to ask him to talk to suppliers, for example, to get something done. The minute he talks to them they do what they wouldn’t do for me. They lose because I write the vendor off and never use them again, but I’m finding more women to work with because of that.

Proof of a Slowly Changing World

We were shooting scenes all day with a family with an eight-year-old boy. He watched me all day, directing the film, calling the shots, telling people what to do. It just happened that day to be an all male crew. At the end of the shoot, the boy asked what my role was. After I told him I’m the director, he asked ‘Can boys do that job, too?’. It was amazing.

Amanda’s Two Cents

With gay marriage being debated across America, it’s films like this that need to be screened at every movie theatre in as many countries as possible.  There are still millions of people who continue to use religion as an excuse to persecute people when the time should be spent on other things. How about teaching our children tolerance and how to be inclusive instead of growing up to become politicians who stifle and block a person’s right to choose who they love?

Contact Erica

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