We recently interviewed a talented filmmaker Cameo Wood who has been in filmmaking the last 3 years. Her recent project ‘Real Artists’ is creating a buzz in the industry. We are sharing our conversation with her here.
Pro Media Mag : First tell us about the start of your professional career?
Cameo Wood : I’m just starting out as a filmmaker! I had previously been in tech, but I’ve only been making films for about 3 years. I’m so excited that I finally get to do what I’ve always dreamed of! About four years ago, my tech startup was acquired, and I decided to make a massive career change – so I joined a local film cooperative, Scary Cow Filmmaking Cooperative, and I started to get on the set and help other people make films. I started as a script supervisor, did some producing, and then started working as a first assistant director. Working in all of these different roles and sets gave me a very quick education as to what worked and didn’t on a set. Then I went to Beijing to produce a web series, and onward to northern Mongolia solo where I shot a three minute short entirely on my iPhone. It wasn’t great, but I learned a lot about how to finish a film. Finally I decided to work on a bigger narrative project using everything I had learned. I optioned the rights to a short story by Ken Liu and put together a cast and crew of around 50 people to help make it. I was going to shoot this one digitally at the start, but then I was convinced while at Sundance to shoot on film and I’m so glad I did. So now I’m in post production on Real Artists and about to hopefully premiere at a film festival in 2017.
Pro Media Mag : Who or what inspired you to get into this profession?
Cameo Wood : Films can create a special kind of magic – combining music, voices, images, motion – they create a feeling that other mediums can’t quite compare to. They are also devilishly difficult to make well. The big cinematic love of my life was Amadeus. When I was 7 or so, My mom bought me an RCA CED VideoDisc player – it played movies with a needle like a record player. It took us months to save money to get one, and we could only afford to purchase two movies – Amadeus was my choice, and The Big Chill was my mom’s. I still haven’t seen the Big Chill. Immediately after that, VideoDiscs lost to the VCR, and no one had videodiscs anymore, so I watched Amadeus every day from age seven up until I was 12 or so. I still love that movie. In high school, I worked as a camera operator on the first syndicated high school news show – MMTV. I even directed and edited a few PSAs. I was also involved in acting in our local Shakespeare and Musicals. Finally, when I was able to financially focus on film full time – I had no hesitation about taking the leap and pursuing it full time. There are so many amazing directors, and the technology to make films is even more developed, cheaper, and easy to use.
Pro Media Mag : Tell us about your Upcoming short film ‘Real Artists!’
Cameo Wood : Sure! It’s a short science fiction film in the vein of black mirror or an episode of the Twilight Zone. It stars Tamlyn Tomita, whom I first saw in Karate Kid Part II, and most recently in Berlin Station – as well as Tiffany Hines from Bones and in the spring, 24:Legacy. The story is based on a short story of the same name by Ken Liu – although our movie version has a different ending. I worked with the amazing DP Kimberly Culotta – who was so instrumental in realizing my vision for the film. All of the props, posters, and VFX were designed by Matt Evans – he works at Apple by day, but at night, he’s an amazing props and production art genius – and you’ll be amazed at the art in the film. We shot the film on Kodak 35mm film on a Panavision Millennium XL camera – and it looks so gorgeous. The original plan was to shoot it on a DSLR – but a talk at Sundance with Colin Trevorrow, Christopher Nolan, and Rachel Morrison really changed my mind. There were some added costs – especially because we needed Two ACs and a loader, but it was so worth it. Beside the look of film – everyone felt an electricity working on film – it made the film seem much more exciting and ambitious. Everyone stepped up their game a notch. I think people will really enjoy it and end up a little creeped out. The story itself focused on a young woman that is interviewing for her dream job – and then she finds out it isn’t quite what she was expecting. Throw in some artificial intelligence and memory erasing drugs, and you can get a sense of what sort of a story it is. I worked very hard with neuroscience and artificial intelligence experts to make sure this film is scientifically possible – maybe even as soon as tomorrow. I have an academic background in artificial intelligence, neuroscience, and I am taking a futurist class right now at Stanford, so I feel that this film is absolutely on the cusp of our new reality.
Pro Media Mag : What kind of response you are expecting from the release of this movie?
Cameo Wood : Well – I’m hoping some people will want to join me in making a feature version! Ken Liu and I already sketched out the feature story, and I’m looking forward to starting production on it in the next year. I’m also excited to contribute to presenting strong, competent underrepresented faces on screen. Both Tamlyn and Tiffany’s characters are excellent at their work – and we just don’t see enough of that from non-white female characters in film.
Pro Media Mag : You are one of the few female directors in the industry. Have you faced any difficulty ?
Cameo Wood : I haven’t faced any real sexism myself. I did talk to a mentor a couple years ago that advised me to not make a film until I went to film school, but I obviously didn’t listen to that. I hired mostly women to help me make my film, so that wasn’t a factor. I think I may be at risk of facing sexism as I try to make a feature, or to get into the studio system – but I haven’t faced that yet.
Pro Media Mag : What has been one of the biggest achievements in your career so far?
Cameo Wood : Honestly – finishing this film. It was quite ambitious, and I think it shows in the high quality of the storytelling, acting, and tight performances.
Pro Media Mag : Your have already won awards for your direction, cinematography, and screenwriting. What’s your next target?
Cameo Wood : I’d love to break some box office sales receipts. I love making beautiful films with a great story – but at the end of the day, the big studios reward people that make films that appeal to a wide audience. I’d love that. Movies like Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, and Jurassic Park are some of my absolute favorites – and they may have won some awards, but they are beloved and loved because they are so universal and everyone has seen them. They made money and found their audience. I don’t want to sell tickets because of money, but rather because that’s how a successful career is made. I want to keep making films.
Pro Media Mag : Looking over to your career one can easily see you work hard and are a dedicated person. What is the motivation behind your work?
Cameo Wood : I never want to be bored or boring. I absolutely love learning new things and finding new types of challenges. I’ve had a few professions, dozens of hobbies, and lots of adventures. I think my primary motivation is the avoidance of self-defeat. I never want to let myself down. I believe in my own potential, and I want to realize it.
Pro Media Mag : Are you active on Social Media? How you can be followed online?
Cameo Wood : Yes! I have all the things! @cameo on twitter, @cameowood on instagram, cameowood.com is my personal site. Real artists is @realartistsfilm everywhere – and the website is http://realartists.film