Alexandra Roxo and Alana Kearns-Green have been busy. Mary Marie, a film that debuts at the Brooklyn Film Festival this upcoming weekend, is a collaborative effort between the two filmmakers. The film focuses on the story of two sisters who return to their childhood home for a summer after the untimely death of their mother, only to have their relationship tested by a stranger. Mary Marie's dreamy art direction coupled with its vintage wardrobe (many pieces worn in the film were found at local thrift stores) make this film something to look forward to.
Recently, I had the opportunity to ask director Alexandra Roxo a few questions about the film, as well as about her life in Brooklyn and career as a photographer and filmmaker for several local designers and artists.
Where did you find Mary Marie's wardrobe, and what made you decide to use vintage clothing in your film?
We decided to use vintage after going to the house we shot in and finding many, many beautiful clothes from Alana's grandma. We tried things on for a while and I still have some of the items Alana gave me that came from that closet. A vintage vibe helped us create a timeless feel that we felt helped the story. My costume designer Emily Rose Miller and I pulled a lot of pieces from my closet, and then we developed a color palette and she filled in the necessary other pieces from vintage shops. There are vintage items in the film that were my grandmother's and also Alana's grandmother's.
You are a very busy woman with efforts in several different careers - photography, fashion, writing, and directing film. How do your passions work together - do they fuel each other or work against one another?
Well, both I think. I'm just one of those people who likes doing different things. But filmmaking is pretty much my number one passion and it can incorporate all those other elements. I look at everything as stepping stones.. one thing takes you to another. For instance, I did a photo shoot with vintage company Vintage Mavens last year that was featured on UO, and then this year I made a spot with them that got great reviews. So the photo to video thing is pretty seamless.
How has living in Brooklyn affected your art and style?
Well, there are so many Brooklyn designers that I love. Suzanne Rae, who I made a video with for her fall/winter collection, is one of them. I love her work. Tara St. James has a line called Study NY that is also incredibly inspiring. They both do sustainable fashion. Working with Brooklyn designers gives me a lot of style inspiration.
Living in Brooklyn has changed the way I create for sure. When I lived on the West Coast and was making a lot of art there, there were way less boundaries.. there are big parks and open spaces. Some days, a friend or two and I would just go do a photo shoot in a park at sunset or in the middle of the beach.. it was very easy. Here, it takes much more planning and it's crowded! But I've just incorporated it into my work and found little secret spots to shoot that are more quiet.
What inspires you?
Brooklyn itself does quite a bit. The other night, I went to an art salon at a small gallery/performance space and was unbelievably inspired by the experimental and fresh work that is being made. The artists in that show inspired me quite a bit - what they were doing was completely original. They were risk takers. One performance gave me goosebumps twice!
I am also inspired by a lot of fashion photography. Jonathan Leder has been a recent favorite. He lives in Brooklyn and runs a magazine called Jacques, which is an awesome nod to 1960s Hustler.
What advice would you give to beginning filmmakers and photographers, those looking to do what you do?
Be prepared to work really, really hard. If you don't come from money (I don't), then you often have to juggle many jobs and make sacrifices, because filmmaking, photography, music - all these things require money. And it's starting a business - you have to invest funds to begin. So be prepared for that!
But I think more than ever, my advice is to listen to yourself and find your own original voice. There are millions of artists out there and you want to stand out and be unique and true to yourself. It's easy to follow a trend or stay in a safe zone, but taking the risk is more gratifying in the end.
What are your future plans (i.e. any recent fashion films that you are directing for designers)?
I'm hoping to do video for Fashion's Night Out with two designers I'm working with who are very inspiring women. I'm also going to direct a music video for the new album of a band that I also find so inspiring. I'm very open to collaborating with designers and bands at the moment. I'm also going to create an art film again soon, which is exciting.. back to the roots.
While tickets to the June 4th premiere screening have sold out, you can still purchase seats for the June 10th showing of Mary Marie here.