Interview with Caelia Adams

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I’ve always been creative, ever since I was little, but I was also pulled in a million different directions as far as interests. I’ve played piano since I was 4 and wrote instrumental music for a long time. I started making films around six years ago. I enjoy the entire movie process because it allows me to see a project from start to finish.

indieactivity: How would you describe your work as a director?
Caelia: I’ve directed 7 shorts and one audio-only full-length feature film. I give the actors room to act and only step in when I feel something needs to be done differently or if it’s a complicated scene. I also prefer to give my direction before production, so that production goes smoother and is more efficient.

indieactivity: How did you get into directing?
Caelia: As a musician, I started making music videos. I enjoyed the editing process and thought about making films. I took a screenwriting class and decided to plunge entirely into it. My first thought was to make a full-feature, but a coworker told me to do a short film first. He invited me to a local filmmaker’s meeting and I made my first film a few months later. The decision wasn’t to just be a director, but to make a film.

indieactivity: How do you choose a project to direct?
Caelia: I have directed all of the projects I have written. If I was offered the opportunity to work on another person’s project, I would have to feel connected to the characters and resonate with the story, in order to accept the position.

indieactivity: What uniqueness can female directors bring to film or TV or cinema?
Caelia: Female directors have a different perspective on things. We perceive and deal with emotions differently, our cinematic topics tend to be different from the mainstream and we are forced to be better because there is so few of us.

indieactivity: Do you take courses to increase your craft?
Caelia: I am entirely self-taught, though I’ve watched a lot of films and taken note of what I’ve liked and didn’t like. I did take a screenwriting master’s level class in the past.

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Caelia Adams on set

indieactivity: What books do you read?
Caelia: Dean Koontz was my favorite author when I was a teenager. I enjoy the occasional non-fiction reading.

indieactivity: Why will you choose an actor, writer or producer. What do you look for?
Caelia: I have only worked with myself as far as writing and producing. When I cast actors, I look for expressiveness, timeliness and their ability to follow direction. I also go with my instincts as to how the actor feels and I watch how I respond to him or her when we read a script. If I respond well, then I know the audience will also.

indieactivity: When you are offered a job, what things do you put in place to do a good job?
Caelia: I have not accepted anyone else’s projects as of yet, mainly because I do my own from start to finish. There are a hundred things that need to be put in place in order to do a good job. Planning is the key to a successful production. Pre-production can take anywhere from a few months to a year, depending on locations, amount of actors needed and the length of the story.

indieactivity: Briefly explain your latest work?
Caelia: Starlight Pass was a quick project that I wanted to work on. I wrote the screenplay over two days and had a cast in mind already when writing. The story is about a mother and daughter who travel to a vacation cabin. The following day, the daughter has disappeared. This short film (17 min long) is in the science-fiction/drama genres.

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indieactivity: Explain key challenges on your last film?
Caelia: There were two main challenges on Starlight Pass. The first being that I was the only crew. I chose to do this to see what I could do. I found that it actually went really smoothly not having to be concerned with other crew members. The second challenge was getting 95% of the film made in two days. We were able to complete it despite equipment problems, a power outage and inclement weather. The solution I developed for this was to keep going until it was done.

indieactivity: What thing/situation helps you during production?
Caelia: Having complete attention on the task at hand helps me during production. The fewer people I work with (crew-wise), the easier it is for me to focus.

indieactivity: Explain a creative choice you took on set on a recent production?
Caelia: I chose to film Starlight Pass without a storyboard. I have used storyboards in the past on all of my other productions, but I wanted to try something different. I wanted to film it with spontaneity, so the goal was to just film it. I had not seen the location before, so it was a very exciting process.

indieactivity: How do you advise female directors to find projects?
Caelia: I would advise them to write their own project first. If they are not comfortable writing, I would advise them to look to screenwriting groups to start. They need to know what type of projects they want to do before choosing them.

indieactivity: How can filmmakers finance projects?
Caelia: That’s a tough one. I have self-financed everything, besides one film in which a friend assisted me. Knowing the right people at the right time would be the correct answer for this.

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Caelia Adams on set filming outdoors

indieactivity: What do you want from an actor in production?
Caelia: Being on time, being present, having the energy to perform, listening to my direction, and honesty. The rest is up to them.

indieactivity: How do you prefer to work with a producer during a production?
Caelia: I have only briefly worked with a producer on set. I prefer for them to be in the background or not on set at all.

indieactivity: What do you think a female director can do to get into the film industry?
Caelia: Shoot quality films and keep doing so until noticed. Submit films to film festivals and share them with others.

indieactivity: Who is your favorite director?
Caelia: David Lynch

indieactivity: Why?
Caelia: He has a way of reaching the viewer’s subconscious and makes you think. His movies are full of ambience and are very fulfilling to watch.

indieactivity: What advice would you give to female directors around the world?
Caelia: Don’t be afraid to market yourself and put yourself out there. Trust your own judgment and don’t care what anyone thinks. The right people will respond to your films.

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Caelia Adams in the studio

indieactivity: Briefly write about your career?
Caelia: In total, I have produced and directed ten films. I’ve composed the film soundtracks for all of them. In all but the last one, I acted as well. I have done three period piece films and the rest take place in modern day. All of my films have a supernatural or sci-fi element to them. Many of the actors that I have cast have moved to Los Angeles and are working full-time as actors there. I am slowly reaping the effects of the work I’ve done. I know I still have a ways to go, but with each film I do, I learn more.

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