Serita Stevens Is a film maker whose film The Unborn can be seen on iTunes, here is a link to her website:
Q: What is The Unborn about?
A: The Unborn is about a young girl, in the womb, who, experiencing her mother’s murder vows revenge on the killer…her father. When she is born by emergency c-section, the memories of what happened to her mother keep coming back to her and she knows finally that she must do something to avenge her mother.
Q: What gave you the idea for the film?
A: I got the idea from the film in several ways. One, I read a book called the Secret Life of the Unborn Child about how babies do experience emotions and sensations while in the womb and sometimes come out knowing and having remembered things that occurred only while they were being carried. 2nd, Having myself come from a home where there was domestic violence, and looking very much like my dead mother, I wondered what would happen if I confronted my father…if by seeing the resemblance, he would think of what he had done to my mother. Then I thought well, what would happen if I had pre-knowledge from the womb. In addition, I, myself, was a victim of a domestic violent marriage, and luckily had the strength to get out before it was too late.
Q: Whatdo you hope to express though your work?
A: Through my work, I hoped to express that Domestic Violence is wrong and that it affects everyone – not just the couple involved. Also that babies, in utero, do experience such things and while they may not recall details, studies show that they are definitely affected by the mother’s stress level. Domestic violence occurs at all levels of society (not just the poor) and in all cultures.
Q: What is your background in film?
A: While this is my first produced film, I have been studying for many years. I have written over 30 books, scripts and stories and many of them have won awards. Some of my material can be seen on my web site www.seritastevens.org under writing.
Q: What kind of day jobs have you had and how have they influenced your films?
A: My day job is being a RN and being trained in forensics and domestic violence intervention. I decided to, after my own experience, do more work in domestic violence and have assisted many women in escaping from their violent homes. NO one deserves to be hit or treated the way some of these women were treated, but they are so crushed down by their spouse or significant other (It happens in gay relationships, too.) that they lose the strength to do anything and need support from family and friends to help them.
My other films are influenced by the various passions I have – animal rescue , anti bullying, the sense that we are not alone, and others.
Q: Who are some of your influences? (why?).
A: Some of my influences are the many books that I read growing up – Phyllis Whittney, Helen McInnes, Victoria Holt and the movies I have watched. I have studied various producers as Spielberg, as well.
Q: What did you look for when casting the film?
A: In casting the film, I looked for actors who could be believable and really get into the part. I also looked for chemistry. I had two wonderful actresses vying for the role of Jane and both were very competent actresses, but in the end, I let our lead, Jesse Woodrow, decide whom he had more chemistry with. Jesse, who used to appear in Charmed as Paige’s boyfriend for two years, came well prepared to the casting session. He actually jokes that he took a fifth of Jack Daniels before the session so that he would seem more out of control. He had studied the script and knew the character of STan, the essence of him, even if he didn’t have the lines exact. However, I value actors that can really take the part into their hands. Jesse didn’t just stay word for word with the script, but ad- libed lines that fit so well, I later incorporated them into the story.
Q: Would you recommend using I tunes as a place to showcase short films?
A: This is my first time using iTunes. I think many people are put off by the fact that they have to pay $2 to see the film, but that’s really not a lot of money. And I am giving a % of what we make to a domestic violence shelter.
Actually, the film short was picked up for distribution by Shorts International and they were the ones who got us into iTunes and who will eventually get us on TV – I believe one of the pay for view channels. That is later to come. I am very excited about this and hope that a lot of people get to see it since I just finished the feature version of the script.
Q: What do you like about the film industry?
Q: What would you change about it?.
A: What do I like and not like about the film industry? Wow. I could go on and on about that on both sides. For one, there are some very talented writers, directors and actors who have a hard time breaking in because many agents will only take on people who are already earning mucho bucks for them. It takes a lot of persistence and a lot of networking since this is a relationship business. I am not so sure that the later, having to form relationships is so good. I believe this mainly because there are many who for various reasons – distance might be one – that they don’t have access to the people they need to get to know. Many of these execs are so well surrounded and protected that it’s almost impossible to get through to them. However, there are ways if you work at it. I think I would change that there would be more access for those who are talented to get noticed. The industry often talks about overnight success for writers or actors, etc. , but many of them have been working years for this “overnight” chance.
Another problem is that everyone is so sue happy, that the execs have to be more protective of themselves. It is true that ideas are stolen, but no one can steal the exact way that you, yourself, can execute the story. Protecting yourself with copyright (not just WGA registration or poorman’s copy) is crucial and it only costs $35.
I think the important thing is, believe in yourself and persist even if there are nay sayers around you. (My family never thought I would succeed, but I did. I had to learn to shut them off and to deal only with people who were positive about my writing and my career.) Herzel said “If you will it, it is no dream”
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)