Space Jockey Reviews is happy to feature an interview with one of its favorite indie filmmakers–Claire Wasmund. Claire is the wonderfully-talented writer and director of The Tale of the Heroine & the Cad (also featured here on SJR). In this interview, her optimism, perseverance, and creative spirit shine as bright as any star this Space Jockey has seen. Enjoy!
1. How would you define Claire Wasmund?
2. What made you decide to become a director?
Power… Ha! I have a lot of stories to tell, and at a certain point writing them down didn’t feel like enough. If you have an active imagination, this is a great way to actually be able to touch part of it.
3. For most big things I’ve done as an adult, I have memories of playing the role as a child. Do you have any such memories of playing director?
When I got older and could safely hold the camera myself, I would always do a movie for a class project in school whether it was some educational rip off of Power Rangers or an impromptu recording of Romeo and Juliet. I would force my friends into them, direct them and play some sort of side character (like Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet). One of my favorites is my own version of Titanic done with Barbie dolls. I put the dolls into a small plastic boat, put it into the sink and then dumped a tray of ice cubes on top of it; then I sang “My Heart Will Go On”.
4. The movie Alien skyrocketed my interest in movies like no other. You could even say that it planted the seed that grew Space Jockey Reviews. Is there any movie that had such an effect on you becoming a director? If so, tell us about it.
Ugh… I might actually say Muppet Babies which is a TV show. Seriously. It inspired fan fiction from me and everything. Those muppets were all about embracing imagination. I wondered how I would get to tell so many stories like they did, and go to and create so many fantastical places through the powers of my mind. Yeah… Muppet Babies.
Otherwise, my dad made me try out for “The Music Man” when I was a little girl and that sparked a desire to be a playwright, which led me down the slippery-slope to film.
5. How do you decide which movie or webseries to make? What are your considerations?
I love flawed characters; truly flawed characters. One of my pet peeves is stories about characters whose fault is being “too nice”; a lot of women do stories about that and in reality I feel like women could write some of the meanest stories out there if they let themselves.
Since I’ve moved out to Los Angeles I’ve done my projects with Fernando Noor whom I feel is a brilliant actor and storyteller and serves as a major muse for me. A lot of times we’ll pick a story that speaks to both of us and go from there. Flawed characters with darker comedy worked in there somehow is what inspires us.
6. Tell us about your experience making The Tale of the Heroine & the Cad—especially about making a fantasy film on a lower budget.
I had a short story about Tallulah and Himo from a few years ago. I played Dungeons and Dragons in high school, and I had a half-elven sorceress named Tallulah who was rather successful. My youngest brother played a character we decided was her half brother, a full elf named Himo; Himo was a bard. Himo died and failed often. Himo then retired. I felt like that must really make family dinners an awful thing; because, who wants to constantly hear about the success of your younger half-sister? I wrote the story and it was cute… and then put it away. Fernando remembered it and made the suggestion that it be changed to a husband and wife story to amp up the tension. Good idea, Fernando. I think most filmmakers hopefully know how much extra doing fantasy or sci-fi adds to a budget and prep time. Usually there is makeup, there is the time that goes with makeup, there’s the set which needs to be completely believable or things fail, there is the time it takes to make that set, costumes, sometimes even tone. It’s not something you can rush along.
We knew that this short would take a lot of extra time and work from us in order to keep things cheap. We had worked with Longlost Pictures (Greg and Lex) before and immediately knew they would be perfect on this project. They’re exceptionally gifted and creative, and always give about 200%, give or take a few. Lex made costumes, Greg built the beehive IV, Longlost, Fernando and I stained the wood that we then put up on the walls in a spare room. We paper mached a fold-out couch for Tallulah’s bed and took turns painting it and covering it in vines.
|Tallulah’s bed in The Heroine & the Cad (starring Melissa Malan and Fernando Noor)|
Laura and Tokiko, our makeup team, really went out of their ways to make sure the application, supplies, shading, etc. were all remarkable enough to stand up to the scrutiny of being projected feet high on a wall.
We shot it in a little over two days and most of it takes place in one room. To keep it “moving” Longlost pushed to have us continually shift shot angles in the room so we weren’t looking at the same thing over and over again.
Because it’s a fantasy piece with some more “human elements” we wanted music to keep it completely in the fantasy world. I love Brandon K. Verrett’s talent. If I could have Brandon score my life for a day it would be the most epic day ever. Brandon’s music for this film enhanced the world so much.
You’ve got to have people dedicated to the project for a fantasy piece. You can’t have people in and out, it’s really a complete team effort that’s a hard but rewarding thing to find.
7. Who is your favorite director and why?
It changes day to day, I’m very fickle. But I have enormous respect for writer/directors and those who successfully balance dialogue heavy scripts.
8. As a director, what has been your most rewarding experience?
Besides meeting great people? As overly studious as this sounds, probably one of the most rewarding experiences has been just how fast you learn as a director. I feel like you learn quickly as a writer, but you never “see” the words (well, you do, but..), in writing, it’s sort of easier to claim something is subjective and that’s why it didn’t ring true to this person, or that person. With directing, though everyone has a style and tone that some people might not get, it’s much easier to see what works and what doesn’t work on screen. You can’t make excuses when it’s there in front of you.
9. What has been your greatest challenge as a director?
Since I was a writer first, I don’t always think as visually as I need to. I spent a lot of time writing (unfinished) novels and plays before moving on to screenplays. What works in one medium doesn’t always work in the other. You can write what you think is a brilliant scene of dialogue, high-five yourself, and then — if you just sort of leave it in a wide for three or four pages — you can then watch it fail… it might fail even if you add that dolly shot in. You need to surround yourself with people who balance your strengths and flaws. I’ve been so lucky to work with Longlost Pictures who are extremely visual and creative and come up with all sorts of ways to keep things moving.
10. Have you done any acting? If so, tell us about it.
I did a lot of acting when I was younger… a lot of community theater acting. I was big into musical theater, and my ability to project and be heard in the back row of the theater always really impressed my mother. I liked acting a lot; I just never felt I was “great” at it. I was “good enough”, I guess; not “awful”, but people seemed to respond a lot more to my writing than my acting. I took the hint.
11. You have two webseries—Partners in Pretension and Delayed Teen Angst. Tell us about them.
Delayed Teen Angst was a webseries I wrote back in 2007 or 2008 over a few days and then we shot it over a weekend. Through that I met Tristan Scott-Behrends (the elven doctor) who continues to be one of my favorite performers. It was a fun crash-course and a great chance to hear my lines on screen and figure out what worked, what didn’t work. When you write, it’s a rare opportunity to hear your lines read out loud by other, competent people. Great learning experience.
Partners in Pretension is a seven-episode series we shot, and was maybe the second time I had directed? It’s about two members of the current lost generation who want to improve their desperate financial situation by profiting off the ad revenue of their online “how to videos.” It stars Fernando and Tristan. We’re currently on four online networks, were selected for a few festivals and local screenings, and have about 400,000 collective views. I’m proud of the series and very proud of the experience I gained from it. We met the obligatory awful people through it, but also cemented some relationships with some truly fantastic human beings we never want to be without again. On a self-centered note, when I see the series I can see my own improvement in every episode. There are always things I wish I had done differently when I rewatch, but usually I can say, “but I
haven’t repeated that mistake”.
12. What else is on your resumé?
I produced a feature film called “The Grover Complex” which was written by and starred Fernando Noor (Himo in The Tale of the Heroine and the Cad). We got into sixteen film festivals and came away with some “Best Comedy”, “Best of Festival” and some “Filmmakers to Watch” awards. A feature is such a huge undertaking and I’m so proud of the work we did on it, pushing it from pre-production to finish. I’ve worked in reality TV which I enjoy; I did some story work on NBC’s Fashion Star. I directed an episode of a great web series called Diary of a Weddng Planner and a few other films here and there.
13. What are you currently working on?
We just shot a noir-nspired comedic short film written by Fernando and produced with Longlost Pictures. I have a featurette I wrote that I’m planning on going into production with once again using Fernando Noor, Longlost Pictures, Melissa Malan, and hopefully a few other familiar faces.
14. What else is in the future for Claire Wasmund? Are there any big plans, or any special movies in the works?
I have a feature script I love written with Fernando and Tristan in mind; it’d be a great low-budget flick, but I’d love to raise a little more to actually pay a few people (*cough*, actors, Longlost Pictures, composer Brandon K. Verrett) a little bit closer to what they’re worth. (Which is unmeasurable, by the way. ;p)
I actually have two book series ideas that are both fantasy. Both of them are sort of in various drafts, one has spent time being a television show idea, then a feature, and has now sort of settled itself back into book form.
I have a psychological horror script I’d love to finish, a fantasy animation piece, and a boxing script with Fernando and Longlost.
After our featurette we have one more short film idea, and then we’re really pushing to film another feature. Since I was trained for writing and not directing, every piece I make here is hopefully a successful learning experience. I’d like to keep getting more under my belt before I make a big leap into a feature…but that sort of thinking sort of slides into what I warn about in a question coming up… Oops.
15. What advice would you give to the aspiring writers and directors out there?
Number one: don’t beat yourself up over any “failures”. When you analyze it, is that failure a failure? Meaning if you make a list of the positives and negatives that came from that failure it might be very likely you end up with more positives. You went over budget? Well don’t you know even more so what is needed and what is not needed on set next time? You lost the audience in this scene? Well don’t you have a great example of something now that maybe works on paper but doesn’t work on screen? Your trusted crew member botched the SAG/location/whatever paperwork? Great, since you had to fix it you probably know more about the whole process now than most people.
Sometimes a lot of these things take a while to reveal themselves as positives, but it’s there…lurking.
Also, just write and film things. Do it. Be responsible, but don’t second-guess yourself out of experience.
16. Now, I’m going to ask the question that always gets asked, but never seems less interesting for interviews: If there was one thing you could do differently in your journey to where you are today in life, what would it be?
I would have moved to Los Angeles sooner. No doubt about it. And I would have moved here with more of a “career” mentality instead of an “education” mentality. I have friends who moved here to attend school, and I have friends who moved here to work…even if they did attend school at the same time. Those who came here to work with no excuses made about what they knew, who they knew are all probably a little farther ahead than those of us who came here with the thought: “I’m coming to learn, THEN work.” I notice that it seems harder for some to get out of that “I’ve got to learn more and THEN I’ll be ready” mentality. I’m in no way saying school is a bad idea; I just think people need to remember that school is not the only way to learn, and just because an institution finally gives you a pat on the back doesn’t mean you are in fact good to go.
17. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I think I’ve posted this before somewhere, but it’s something I have to constantly fight with myself about. There’s that great quote: “A closed mouth doesn’t get fed”. Some of the most talented people I know are also the humblest, they don’t brag near enough and because of this they don’t get opportunities to add things to their lists of achievements. Then you have other people who talk and talk and talk about how great their stuff is, how much they’ve done and, even if their stuff is well below average, this constant barrage of declarations is eventually going to get someone’s attention.
How many times a day do all of us sit there and go, “why that person?” I do it all the time. And then I’ll see that person took the time to go out to a screening and meet people, or went out to a mixer and threw their business card into twenty people’s hands, or makes a point of promoting themselves online daily.
You can’t just sit back and say, “my talent will speak for itself” anymore. There are too many people for it to speak loudly enough. I think all shy people reading this need to take at least one day a week to turn into some kind of self-promotion monster. It’s okay to pat yourself on the back publicly periodically. Let’s all try. You’re all talented.
Thanks so much for your support, Chris and Space Jockey Reviews! We need more people online who approach independent film in such an open and encouraging way!
Claire is truly the best in the Space Jockey spirit of creativity. We salute her brave and passionate search for the supernova sun within herself–that fascinating, limitless engine of ideas and wonder we call imagination!
Be sure to visit Claire’s website at www.clairewasmund.com
Check out and “Like” Claire on Facebook at www.facebook.com/missclaireabelle
Follow Claire on Twitter too! @ClaireLWasmund
Visit The Tale of the Heroine & the Cad website: www.heroineandthecad.blogspot.com
See and “Like” The Tale of the Heroine & the Cad on Facebook by clicking here!
Check out Longlost Pictures at www.longlostpictures.com