WOMEN CRUSH WEDNESDAY
Capturing the little nuances in an actor's expression can tell you so much about a character: from the way their eye twitches, their eyes flick to the left, a small smile dances on their lips, their back straightens in fear. I always find myself more drawn to stories with characters that feel real, they can scream and yell, and feel pain, but also I can audibly laugh in the theatre over something they did.
Carrie Stalk, Hearst Digital Media
Location: New York, New York
Hometown: Farmington, Connecticut
Job: DP* with Hearst Digital Media at House Beautiful and Freelance DP and DIT*
Female Filmmaker Inspirations: Ava DuVernay, Patty Jenkins, Elizabeth Banks, Rachel Morrison
Current WCW: My entire team at House Beautiful for their hard working badassery, not to mention looking good while doing it
*DP: Director of Photography, aka Cinematographer
*DIT: Digital Imaging Technician
Almost six months ago now I had the pleasure of meeting Carrie through my co-producer, Nick Candido, of my Web series. He brought on Carrie as our Director of Photography for our This is Now music video. It was thrilling to have a female DP on our team. Carrie left me walking out of the project with an abundance of knowledge as a female filmmaker. On set, she made sure to always speak up for herself and make it clear what she wanted and needed as a DP. She was a BOSS. I was completely in awe of her. I was in awe because I can’t always do that. Sometimes I’m too polite. I don’t always speak up for myself and say what I need or what I want and I’m learning that’s it’s deeply rooted in my nature. Carrie taught me how vital it is on set to speak up for yourself as a Director and a Producer, and especially as a female producer on set. She has an incredibly powerful energy on set, and her shots are exquisite. Carrie Stalk is a force and her journey is just beginning.
How old were you when you first started becoming interested in filmmaking?
CARRIE: I wasn't actually interested in becoming a filmmaker until I was in college at Michigan State University. I had always been interested in Film, and Television and Music Videos, but never thought it was a viable career until I heard about a video club at my school called Telecasters. I joined the club and tried every position from Social Media to ADing, eventually, I fell into being a Producer on a show called SideShow for my last year and a half while helping out with some other shows within Telecasters. It gave me an opportunity to exercise my creative and organizational muscles in ways I hadn't before and make lifelong friends, some of whom I even moved to NYC with. I found myself enjoying it so much that I changed my major Sophomore year from Undecided, formerly Engineering, to Media and Information aka Film Studies. I didn't start actually operating a camera beyond college classes until I moved to NYC when I began working with my current mentor on development projects for his company...and the rest is history!
Who were your role models growing up?
CARRIE: The Spice Girls! Girl power! If I had to choose someone else, I would say my grandmother. She's an incredibly powerful woman who has overcome so much adversity in her life only to create her own antique selling business during a time when it was incredibly rare for women to be working let alone create their own business and have it be successful. My dad tells stories of how he and his 3 siblings' weekends were filled with antique shows, moving furniture and helping my grandmother with anything she needed.
What was your favorite film growing up and why? How did it affect you in your pursuit towards storytelling?
CARRIE: When I was a kid, I didn't watch too many films beyond what my older sister watched, but probably Spice World (the Spice Girls movie). But I always used to watch Star Trek and war films with my dad since that’s pretty much all he used to watch before I introduced him to Netflix. However, I'd say a constant favorite movie of mine is Black Swan. You can't get better than the grittiness that Darren Aronofsky was able to capture with that 16mm film (they even used Canon DSLRs at some parts! Wild!).
What types of stories are you passionate about as a filmmaker?
CARRIE: As a DP I'm passionate about telling a characters’ story through the visual medium. Capturing the little nuances in an actors expression can tell you so much about a character: from the way their eye twitches, their eyes flick to the left, a small smile dances on their lips, their back straightens in fear. I always find myself more drawn to stories with characters that feel real, they can scream and yell, and feel pain, but also I can audibly laugh in the theatre over something they did. I think the key for me isn't necessarily that I favor certain types of stories, it's that I favor how characters are written as dynamic people, without being limited to the usual one-dimension. This is especially true for the types of characters I'm most drawn to: women or POC*, which as many people know, are heavily under-represented within the filmmaking community on and off-screen, which I hope to change.
On a personal level, when picking a movie to watch I almost always look for some sort of heist movie with a comedic edge, think Seven Psychopaths, Oceans Eight, Logan Lucky, We're The Millers, Kickass, Snatched. None of this is to say they're the most well-made movies ever made, but to me, it's the most enjoyable to watch.
*POC: Person of color
What are the struggles as a filmmaker and cinematographer, but specifically as a female in this industry? How do you overcome them?
CARRIE: The hardest thing as a young filmmaker/DP is finding the right connections or people to know, which tends to be significantly harder as a female in this industry because you're automatically assumed to be less qualified or knowledgeable than the male next to you. What helps to overcome this is working harder than any of the other men you might be put up against, asking questions (when appropriate, to the right person), taking phone numbers, staying in contact, staying curious with a willingness to learn and make mistakes and editing those mistaking for the next time.
What has been your favorite film you have produced or shot thus far? Why?
CARRIE: My favorite thing I've shot thus far is probably our This Is Now music video. There's something about working with so many women for a good cause that feels so satisfying!