Alexis Neophytides is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and educator primarily based in New York Metropolis. Her work facilities round neighborhood and the way we discover that means in individuals and place. She is the co-creator, co-director, and producer of “Neighborhood Slice,” a public tv documentary collection that tells the tales of longtime New Yorkers who’ve held quick to their nook of the town regardless of gentrification. She produced and directed the collection “9.99,” for which she gained a NY Emmy. Her brief documentaries “Physician Kong,” “Coney Island’s for the Birds,” and Vimeo Workers Decide “Ethan 2018” screened at festivals worldwide. “Expensive 13” is her first function size documentary. She is a Sundance Institute Documentary Movie Grantee for her second function, “Hearth Via Dry Grass,” presently in post-production.
“Expensive 13” is screening on the 2022 DOC NYC movie pageant, which is working from November 9-27.
AN: “Expensive 13” is a documentary portrait of this latest technology coming of age within the trendy world – one I hope is uplifting and hopeful and genuine to the younger voices it portrays. The movie weaves collectively tales of 9 13-year-olds from France, Australia, Mexico, Nepal, and america. Via their eyes, we see how urgent international points – gender id, faith, race, financial standing, and immigration – are shaping, and being formed by, younger individuals.
In Australia, Evie, a trans woman, begins her medical transition with confidence and optimism; in France, Oren prepares for his Bar Mitzvah whereas reckoning with anti-semitism in his hometown; in Brooklyn, Madeline finds pleasure and creativity on TikTok whereas contending with the pressures of the pandemic; in Mexico, Fany goals of breaking the mildew as a feminine boxer whereas navigating her dad and mom’ separation.
We had been actually fortunate to work with Dan Deacon, a really wonderful musician, on the rating. His dreamy soundscape underlines the complexity and sweetness within the transition into maturity.
AN: I taught documentary filmmaking to 13-year-olds for practically a decade. These years solely confirmed my emotions about this age – it’s transformative and deeply magical. Past the hormones and bodily adjustments, it’s the age we begin to develop into conscious of the bigger world round us, and start to solidify a worldview that can carry us ahead into our grownup lives. It’s a pivotal time to be uncovered to new views and other ways of dwelling, to confront stereotypes and problem beforehand held views.
Regardless of the universality of this time, I by no means had fairly the suitable materials to point out my college students. There are such a lot of great documentaries about essential subjects, however I discovered only a few that had been instructed from the perspective of younger individuals themselves. And so I made this movie for my college students, to present them an opportunity to see their very own experiences on display mirrored again to them, and to reside for a couple of moments in worlds they’d not identified earlier than. I suppose ultimately it additionally turned a love letter to my 13-year-old self.
AN: One factor that was actually essential to Trina Rodriguez — my long-time collaborator and editor/producer of “Expensive 13” — and me in crafting the movie was to have our younger movie members communicate for themselves. We didn’t need any adults to talk for them. Actually the one grownup commentary within the movie is my very own, which we hope acts extra as a information by the totally different tales quite than an older particular person deciphering their ideas.
Younger persons are usually portrayed within the media in a considerably destructive mild, or in one-dimensional stereotypes. We actually wished to point out our younger protagonists authentically, as they every had been: advanced, filled with hope and in quite a lot of methods, deep thinkers. I’d love for individuals to really feel hopeful about this new technology after they watch the movie! I do know that’s how we felt in making it.
One other hope we had for the movie was that in watching, older viewers may be transported again to this time in their very own lives and bear in mind what it felt like, the issues that had been essential to them, the chances that also existed of their minds and to possibly stroll away with a bit of little bit of that optimism. I’d prefer to think about that this movie might be a little bit of optimistic power put out into the world.
AN: The most important problem was sticking with it. Making an unbiased movie can take so very lengthy! For us it was a 5 yr lengthy journey from idea till the world premiere, with quite a lot of ups and downs alongside the best way.
AN: This was a really unbiased movie by and thru. We had been fortunate sufficient to get a considerable grant on the very starting that actually propelled the mission into being. We had a couple of small unbiased donors who believed within the movie alongside the best way that stored us going. All through this complete time interval I used to be working different jobs and scrounging frequent flier miles to journey, so it was a scrappy affair!
And at last, earlier this yr we acquired a grant from the NYC Girls’s Fund for Media, Music and Theatre, which actually got here on the good time and allowed us to complete the movie.
AN: I’ve liked tales and storytelling since I used to be a bit of child – I at all times had my nostril buried in a guide. The street to filmmaking for me was not a transparent, direct path however ultimately I feel it got here again to a love of tales, and curiosity about life and actual individuals.
AN: Finest recommendation: At all times pack snacks in your digital camera bag.
Worst: Don’t present your work to the individuals in it till you’re completed with every part.
I can’t consider this was the mentality in our trade for thus lengthy! Lately there’s a push for higher transparency between filmmakers and their movie members. I heard somebody lately describe the documentary panorama because the Wild West when it got here to filmmaking ethics, with no actual guidelines or tips for people to observe.
Fortunately there’s a massive shift occurring in our discipline and a few actually essential work being performed by teams like DAWG (the Documentary Accountability Working Group) that supply guiding rules for non fiction filmmakers to look to all through their filmmaking course of.
AN: One of many greatest challenges for me has been navigating making work whereas additionally needing some outdoors approval to make it occur, whether or not that’s within the type of funding, movie pageant acceptances, gross sales executives, and many others. It’s actually laborious to attend round for gatekeepers to allow you to in whereas making an attempt to maintain your power targeted on creating.
My recommendation can be to strive to not focus an excessive amount of on one particular person’s opinion of your work. There are many ’em on the market! And if one door doesn’t open, attempt to be malleable sufficient to bend in direction of different alternatives. There actually are so many various paths in direction of making significant work.
AN: One among my favourite movies is “Cameraperson,” directed by Kirsten Johnson and edited by Nels Bangerter. I like that movie a lot – the rhythm of it and the best way they wove seemingly disparate vignettes collectively into one thing so significant. I watched it many occasions for inspiration whereas we had been fascinated about learn how to put our movie collectively.
AN: Documentary filmmakers are uniquely positioned to inform essential tales that may shift public opinion. Tales about urgent subjects are undeniably essential, and sure, I feel we do have a duty to make use of the instruments and energy we maintain as storytellers not solely to doc what is going on in as truthful a means as potential, however to impact change.
I do additionally consider that there’s worth in movies that aren’t particularly subject oriented. Any alternative we’ve got to broaden the best way individuals assume and present life from totally different views helps to create higher understanding and a extra inclusive tradition.
AN: Whereas there are extra sources accessible to help underrepresented voices lately, I might provide that past funding initiatives, our trade ought to problem the best way we take into consideration filmmaking extra holistically. Listening to and giving area for brand new voices requires time, and sources to help that point. I feel it calls for some radical rethinking of the best way we help filmmakers and the buildings round them.