Home Community Spotlight Filmmaker Spotlight: Julia Reynolds

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Female Filmmaker from Hamilton New Zealand talks to IndieReign about her Sci-Fi film Shepherd 2154

Local filmmaker, Julia Reynolds, is an amazing champion for female filmmakers everywhere, a sci-fi master, award winning director, and now attempting her hand at crowdfunding, we thought we’d like to have a catch up…

Julia Reynolds has a Masters in Moving Image and has been producing and directing short films since 2003. She is currently teaching part time at Waikato University, New Zealand in Screen and Media and is in production with her first feature film ‘Shepherd 2154’ a Science Fiction Drama. Julia is also currently a PhD candidate at AUT.

There’s been a lot of talk lately of the inequality in the film industry. Of course Independent cinema is shaping up a lot better than Hollywood, but it’s still by no means an equal playing field. Here at IndieReign, we’re getting mighty sick of inequality and injustices for all independent filmmakers, and to show our support for Women In Film, we’d like to highlight some of our amazing female filmmakers. First and foremost is a great friend to us, a local filmmaker to IndieReign’s HQ, and an amazing female filmmaker, Julia Reynolds (Portrait, Cati, Heroes)

Q) What made you decide to get into film?

A) I have always written stories and started to imagine them as film, I was in the middle of a Media Studies degree when I realised, that although I loved watching and analysing film I wanted to (try) and make them. So I changed degrees and majored in filmmaking – that was the start anyway.

Q) What challenges have you had to overcome in your filmmaking career?

A) So many, that is difficult to answer here. Juggling family has been difficult, trying to raise money for projects while working full time and being a mother. Self doubt would be another one – there are so many talented filmmakers around it is hard to see what I have to offer, however I try to remind myself of my unique position in the world, as a female, and in New Zealand.

Q) Do you think New Zealand has apt resources, and has created a sustainable place for supporting up and coming filmmakers?

A) Filmmaking is made up of creativity, determination, hard work, risk-taking (time/financially/artistically/emotionally) – it is not for someone wanting a secure path. No I don’t think it is that sustainable – All the filmmakers in New Zealand that I have talked to are struggling in some way, and some of these people have been very successful. The old paradigm of funding/distribution security does not exist anymore, so on one level it is all struggle and on another level it is full of future possibilities.

Q) Tell us about how your most recent project, Shepherd 2154, came together?

A) I first wrote Shepherd 2154 as a short film in 2007 and realised there was a lot more to this story, so I brought Wendy Cook in to co-write and we worked on the script for about two years. The story is made up of a major flashback story of a girl and her family travelling back from a Mars moon base when the stars disappear – and without stars there is no way to navigate – so basically they are adrift in a void. Eden, the main character, sees a light appear which starts to slowly move away, she convinces her parents to follow the light and through a series of events they find themselves orbiting Earth. We have shot all those scenes, but have not yet done full visual effects and are now heading towards shooting the main part of the film which is based on Earth.

Yes there has been a major re-write over the last year. The original story was too complicated and basically came down to lack of finances. So I simplified the script, tried to concentrate on what my strengths are as a filmmaker. It has been an interesting journey re-working connections into the flashback scenes that have already been shot. Eden is played by my daughter Olivia, it is a real privilege to spend the creative time with her.

The crowdfunding campaign for Shepherd 2154 is currently live, and has only 4 days left! Click on the title to the right and check out the Indiegogo campaign to meet Julia, and see the Shepherd trailer!

Q) It seems you have a passion for making sci-fi films, what inspired this, and what are your fav sci-fi films?

A) I like all genres and non-genres, I don’t know if I would go down this road again, without a bigger budget anyway. My favorite Sci Fi…. that is hard to say, I love Stalker, 2046, Letters from a Dead Man (Pisma myortvogo cheloveka), Children of Men… mmm there’s so many…

Q) Is Shepherd 2154 going to be international? What is your release strategy?

A) I do have plans, but it is a wait and see approach for now, it really depends on different factors coming into play. The post-production stage will take at least 18 months – it would be nice to see the film have some festival time, a small theatrical release at independent cinemas… who knows really, but I’ll keep working on it and let you know.

Shepherd 2154 is currently in funding on Indiegogo, and with just 4 days left we’re looking for lots of extra support for Julia! If you want to help out, please share her Indiegogo campaign, or if you fancy, just $25 will earn you a DVD copy of the movie!

Below are some great behind the scenes pics of Shepherd, if you want to keep up to date with the film’s progress, find Shepherd here:

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Auteur appreciator, and self-professed cinephile. In another life I would perhaps embrace my inner actress, but right now, I'm the Platform Manager at IndieReign - and it's awesome.

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