In Session: Ember AutumnSkye

TROY – Not even the pandemic can keep some creatives from pursuing their dreams. Certainly so, Ember AutumnSkye, a budding filmmaker, is pushing forward with her passion to create a body of work that delves into the much needed narratives of humanity, and various social issues. Discussing topics that are no less relevant today – one could make a rather facile argument they are growing to be even more prudent – AutumnSkye’s first foray into film making, You’re So Shy, makes quite a mark in just ten minutes.

For those interested in watching the short film, they may do so by clicking the link here.

Ember AutumnSkye. Photo provided.

Lucas Garrett: Ember, I want to thank you for taking time out of your afternoon. How’re you doing? It’s nice to meet you.

Ember AutumnSkye: Nice to meet you. Thanks for having me.

LG: Tell us about yourself.

EA: I was born and raised in Troy. I would say, creatively speaking, I’ve always been into storytelling. I’ve probably played with toys for way too long.

LG: I still play with toys, so there ya go.

EA: Good! Hahaha. It’s important! I’ve always been a fan of storytelling: I was always writing stories; always playing.

LG: What got you into filmmaking?

EA: I got a flip camera when I was 12, and I really liked editing. So, I was like, “I need to make things so I can edit!” Definitely made a lot of little movies with my sister. I didn’t really see it as something of a lifestyle until high school. I took a film class for a few years. I didn’t consider it a career path until senior year.

LG: Walk us through the work-lifestyle of someone who is getting started in the industry of filmmaking.

EA: Stepping into the world of being a filmmaker and being in that community is very new to me. It really is about finding that balance. A lot of creative people can say that a lot of artists need to find that. Maybe you never get it down to a certain science. It’s about being persistent [with it].

LG: How many hours a day are you devoting to it?

EA: Not enough! Hahaha, I would say that. I took a little hiatus over the summer. Definitely stepping back into it now. I tried to stay persistent doing some kind of film work for myself. I’d say at least an hour a day.

LG: What does that hour look like for you?

EA: For me, it’s mostly writing, and not writing scripts. Not that I’m not into writing scripts – I definitely am – but it’s more playing out new ideas, or working out old ideas; connecting to that creative side of my brain. If that makes sense. Devoting that time to delve in deeper to projects that I feel passionate about.

LG: What types of projects are you passionate about?

EA: I’ve been very drawn to human rights, women rights. Most of my first projects had to do with those things. Things that make me emotional, that I’m passionate about. I like all genres, though, so that’s tricky. I definitely need to connect with what I’m making. Something that connects to me is important for my creative process.

LG: Have you ever worked on a project that you aren’t passionate about?

EA: Definitely. I love watching horror, but I’m not into writing it; I’m not connected to it that way. For me, when it comes down to that, I just enjoy being on set. Even though I’m not connected to the genre, I just like to be part of the team. To be part of that community is when I feel really connected to life.

LG: Do you have any favorite movies or filmmakers?

EA: I’m a sucker for science-fiction. Coming-of-age is my favorite genre of movie. Recently, I liked Midsommar, Hereditary, Get Out, Sorry to Bother You. Those are films in the past few years I felt connected to. For the past, I’d say my childhood movies were Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal.

LG: I love that movie. It’s amazing how many don’t know about it.

EA: I know! To create a whole world like that is just… that gets me. All the practical effects and everything fills me with joy. That definitely inspired me: watching all the behind the scenes of how they made it. I want to be a part of that.

Even though it’s a bit corny, the Toby McGuire Spiderman movies got me as a kid.

LG: What are you working on – if anything – right now?

EA: I’ve been sitting on this idea for a while. When I went to Hudson Valley, I got really into the video art class. It’s time for me to reconnect with that. I’ve been sitting on this idea for a while. It’s a more experimental video art. It’s relying more on symbolism than the more conventional art.

LG: What is that project you’re working on?

EA: It connects to that part of ourselves when we’re coming-of-age. I think I was 18, 19, at the time, so I felt very strongly about being a young adult, having these bigger ideas and concepts to work through in life, and not being heard. I feel we can all connect to that around that age. “You don’t think my ideas are valid – or my suggestions – because I’m an 18-year-old kid.”

LG: Not to bring up gender, but does it feel like that’s played another side-effect into what you’re talking about? I’ve witnessed it myself, where a woman says something and it’s ignored. Then, someone that is a man says the same thing, and they go, “Oh! We should do that!”

EA: I’m so glad you said that because that is pretty much what I’m thinking. I’d say that happens more often than not, when a woman says something or answers a question, and it’s completely ignored.

LG: I’ve witnessed that a lot in the music world. A lot of female-fronted bands have to have a lot more to say in order for the same amount to be heard. I was wondering if you’ve faced that yourself in filmmaking.

EA: Yes, I’ve definitely experienced that as a woman in life, and in the film industry. It takes a lot more strategizing, if that makes sense. I think you need to know how to play your cards. In You’re So Shy, I was director on that and Jack Colin was my assistant director. I’d need to tell him what I needed so he could get it done. If I yell, no one’s going to listen. If he yells…

You’re So Shy, poster. Photo provided.

LG: Right.

EA: It’s messed up that, as a woman, you need to think how to go about those situations.

LG: What is You’re So Shy about?

EA: It’s about a high school cheerleader [that] is navigating her trauma with sexual assault through cheer practice, where she finds the tools to help heal. Take first steps towards healing. Acceptance is the first step, and that’s what Reyna does. She finds community and support there.

LG: Is there anything else you’d like to elaborate on?

EA: I’ve been thinking about You’re So Shy a lot; it was a year ago. I’m definitely proud of that experience. Working with my sister was really cool – she played Reyna in the film. I feel that was an experience a lot of people couldn’t relate to – she’s a non-actor. I’d like to keep that going as a tool in my work, the use of non-actors. That’s a brilliant thing that people don’t utilize as much. Our supporting actors are professional, and I feel working one-on-one with someone that’s not a professional actor… there’s something special about that. To work with Sage (sister) was really special.

It’s a personal project to me, and she’s my sister, so she knows what I’ve gone through. It’s a heavy topic.

LG: Can we see that movie anywhere?

EA: It is available through WMHT as part of TvFilm (click here). It’s also available on HUDSY TV.

LG: What is one thing you’d like people to know about you?

EA: I’d say that I’m always down to help. I want to help make somebody’s dream come true, like people did for me, and whatever that is, I’m here.

LG: Well, you’ve worked on some really cool projects, Ember, and I definitely look forward to hearing more from you!

EA: Thank you so much! Bye!

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