Director’s Statement – The Sirens

When I was a student in film school, my writings always focused around my personal experiences. My professors suggested I get out of my comfort zone. Write something with no creative restrictions. I sucked up all the anxiety, and boom! I created a story of a girl gang of assassins whose job is to kill abusive husbands. From an early age, I always felt interested in girls’ coming of age stories, especially when the girls came from a different background from myself. Growing up in the fifth largest city in the United States with the unique opportunity to attend an all girls high school, my perspective on how women actually interact which is a direct counter from how most forms of media depict female dynamics.  My life has been shaped by the strong women. My short is a thank you to all of them.

The Sirens is a response to the many subliminal messages that women should not stand up to men. My studies in film school focused greatly on this genre of films in college, especially Quentin Tarantino and the rise of comic book films, I found that the women characters lacked depth, lines of dialogue suggesting submissiveness, and messages to women on how they “should” be. Personally, I’m sick of watching these films defining strong female leads. Films like Kill Bill, although it is cinematically beautiful, has tons of subtext surrounding rape and abuse. Harvey Weinsten was the executive producer after all. People love Kill Bill, but why? Why do we as a culture have to love a film that underlines women pitting against each other for the love of a toxic man? I want The Sirens to have a cult following much like Charlie’s Angels or the Powerpuff Girls with the aesthetics of Ghostworld and Death Proof. Much like assassin movies prior, I plan on using wide frames with 50-85mm lens. I would love the color palette to be vivid within dark settings.

As a novice filmmaker, I present these toxic behaviors to engage in a conversation on how as a society can we stop glorifying these traits. This film sheds a light on how this generation of women view domestic violence and abusive behavior in relationships. Tons of films show the depiction of slapping a woman or harming a woman without understand that showing those actions with justification enables the behavior. Creating a film is creating a fantasy. When you look into a filmmaker’s visions of fantasy and see abusive behavior, it sends the message that it is okay to act this way. The Sirens are here to tell everyone it is NOT. It is not okay to be violent towards ANYONE, especially someone who partakes in a romantic relationship with you. The Sirens is a retaliation film against an abusive male gaze. Although there is violence in the film, the girls do not encourage others to be like them. Each one fights an internal battle regarding their relationship with men. It is important that The Sirens show their young female audience what is not okay in a relationship. As a director, I hope that the audience will make an effort after watching the film to bring awareness to helping victims and abusers. Abusers need help, too!

I expects there to be a strong emotional impact from the audience. The girl gang dynamic will make people laugh like they are with their own friends. If people cry, they empathize with the excruciating pain caused by violence. My hopes for the audience’s response is to become aware of how great of an issue domestic violence is and how it effects everyone. This is not just a woman’s issues. The filmmaker encourages the men/boys in the audience to become aware of this toxic behavior and finds way to bring awareness to it from their perspective. As the writer and director, I encourage awareness and forgiveness–to a degree, because situations vary– for abusers. The issue cannot be solved by winded debate but psychological understanding leading to living and depicting healthy relationships. 

Check out the link below to get a better understanding of the image!

Lookbook: https://pin.it/7vojyubc7pk7sr

Writer’s Block

Hey guys! Welcome back to yet another shit post by yours truly. Haha! How are you doing? I hope my readers had a wonderful new year and their January will bring in lots of positivity towards new, healthy habits. There will be a “Super Moon. Wolf Moon” Full Moon on January 20th, so look out for that energy! Between that and the eclipses going on, the cosmic energy is very present. I know it is in my life right now. Currently, I am developing two feature films while researching grants for my short “The Sirens.” If anyone has any grants that they think I should apply for, send me a message! Please and Thank You!

Anyway, I wanted to discuss a prominent issue I face when writing. Writer’s Block. This is probably the infamous problem among all of us writers. Constantly questioning the worth of your writing that leads you to distract yourself from reaching your page goal. I had so much writer’s block during my time studying screenwriting in college. A part of me wants to blame the class structures for not enabling the writers to explore ideas BEFORE writing. Ultimately, my work falls back to reflect me as a writer. That is why, I plan to write my ideas with full speed and prepare myself for these writer’s block.

Writer’s Block happens. Life happens, and a lot of times, life has a negative pull on our creativity. Family drama can pull your focus on your relationships and away from your project. It is okay! I find that addressing all the dramatics around me before going in to write helps my focus. I choose to journal about all the exterior problems pulling focus from my writing, even though that it does not always stop the distractions. Besides that, it is important for me to address forgiving yourself when you encounter Writer’s Block. All of our favorite writers and other artists have had moments where they felt stuck. So, what comes next after addressing the Writer’s Block?

Well, I have a few ways of breaking out of the block!

  1. Writing Warm Up. Just like when you go into the gym, it is important to warm up! Writers have a tendency to put so much pressure on their writing, that they only focus on the pressure and not the work. I suggest writing in your journal/notepad for five minutes before actually writing. This five minutes does not have to be structured! You can make lists, write something that would come out of a sad 15 year old poet, etc. Taking a few minutes to align your mind to write really aids the process.
  2. Track your thoughts. What I mean by this is write down all your thoughts into your journal, on a piece a paper, notepad, etc. The key to this is having no judgment! Just write your thoughts. I learned this technique in my Creative Writing class from my senior year of high school. The assignment was to write 5 pages, it had to be physical paper, of your thoughts with point of you with the opposite gender. The beauty of this was realizing that your thoughts do not have a gender and a good writer has to learn to write characters unlike themselves. I found the universal meaning in the assignment, which is why I am choosing to share it! If any of you writers reading this think this maybe a weird technique, just try it out. You’ll learn something about yourself.
  3. Listen to Music while Writing. Through much trial and error, I found that writing with classical or jazz music in the background really helps me focus on the words I need to get out. I find a lot of times that listening to music with heavy emphasize on lyrics distracts me from my writing. Although sometimes I do need to listen to specific music to get thinking of a time period, I notice that my concentration is not strong.
  4. Block Out Time to Write. It’s not so simple these days to be completely distraction free. With cellphones and the constant notifications from all these apps, it is SO easy to check your phone while writing. You check your phone, and keep checking, until three hours have passed while you fell into the instagram trap of constant scrolling and refreshing. Yup, been there. Put that phone on Do Not Disturb for that hour or two you want to focus on your writing. I think putting a timer on for the amount of time you want to block out helps. Not only does the ring of the timer release a sense of accomplishment, you can then allow yourself to take a break from writing. Leading me into my next point.
  5. Schedule time to write and time for breaks. Once you figure out your schedule that allows you to block out a set amount of time a day or week to write, it is important to include breaks into the writing sessions! Your brain can only focus on one thing for so long before getting burned out a little. Breaks allow you to check your phone, eat something, call a loved one, etc. Taking yourself in and out of your work time really gives you a sense of control in a completely good way that with practice will aid your writing potential.
  6. Work on More Than One Project. Of course, our lives as writers does not always allow us to write projects solely based on ourselves. Lots of times, we work with others to collaborate on their writing projects or work at a job that does not enable our creative writing to actually work. That’s why I suggest having a few ideas to develop during your writing time. I work better having a couple of choices. Everyone is different and another writer can disagree by stating that focusing on one project until its completion is more productive.
  7. Reward Yourself! Whenever I experience writer’s block, I tend to indulge in activities like shopping or watching tv. I urge myself every time I have a block to write, then do these things. Yes, I know it is so much easier said than do. But, no one is going to write your story for you the way you want it written. I promise the reward you give yourself after putting all your energy into writing, even if it’s just a page, will feel so much better opposed to use the reward as a distraction.

I hope these tips are helpful to my fellow writers. These tips for Writer’s Block are not exclusive to writing, so indulge in them if you feel blocked in your work.

Over all, highlight moving forward every time you encounter Writer’s Block, because wallowing in all the words that you did not write waste more of your time not writing.

– Sabrina Shits

 

 

About “The Sirens” and a BONUS film challenge

Hey, everyone! Thank you all for coming back to read more! 

Update on my last post. I found a studio apartment where I will be living alone! I am very excited to have the opportunity to live on my own. Like every other girl, I would love to get married and have kids. So, having the next couple years on my own will be so cool! I will definitely write a whole post about moving into your own place once I’m done decorating. 

Anyway, I wanted to discuss where I am at with making my directorial debut. About three years ago, I wrote a short film called “The Sirens.” It is about a girl gang who are hired by women to kill abusive husbands/partner. Originally, the script centered around the character, Arielle, who is the laidback leader of the trio. The rewriting and failed attempts to get the project into pre-production allowed me to rethinking the project as a whole. Instead of focusing on Arielle, I wanted to expand the short film into a series of short films. Essentially, Celeste and Margo will get their own short (the other girls in The Sirens). Also, there will be an over arching conflict that connects the series. The project deserves to be a series, rather a limited series. Since I am trying to portray abuse which is a LARGE problem, I think it is fitting that there are a few examples of it. 

As of now, Arielle’s and Margo’s introductions–the first two films in the series– have been written. I think Margo’s needs a little more finessing, but solid. I am writing Celeste’s introduction. 

Ideally, I would like to enter pre-production for the introductions by May. I keep trying to recruit people for the project, but life seems to get into the way. The timing was wrong for me to try to plan shooting right after my summer program. 

I kept feeling disappointed with myself for not having everything in order to make these films! I love the idea. People who I explain the project to always sound really excited about the idea. In addition to needing to sort out my life, I had a lot of self-doubt about my creativity. In college, I chose to go down the screenwriting track opposed to the directing. My heart wanted me to still make this film or something while I was studying, but I never made the time for it. I came to the realization that the only person actually in the way of me going through with this idea is..me.

There is no doubt that this will be an uphill battle. HOWEVER, I am ready to climb! Anyone who wants to be a part of this project, you know how to get in contact. 

Since you stuck with my post, I am going to treat you guys to my edition of the 10 day film challenge circling instagram! Reminder of the rules, there is no explanation and no order. Just an image from the film. Of course, these 10 film stills come from “The Sirens” Lookbook. 

1) Death Proof tumblr_nmcshj3ULB1sboxlio3_1280.jpg

2) Her 40074910_10211478047936378_19929030505529344_o

3) The Neon Demon The-Neon-Demon-Jesse-the-neon-demon-40305692-1897-1286

4) The Great Beauty 39937450_10211473159214163_7698861167367684096_o

5) City of Women 39997295_10211478058096632_6978327876013654016_o

6) Sunset Boulevard 40136566_10211494033856016_6648480138642063360_o

7) Goodfellas 40125368_10211494046976344_3933625465389973504_o

8) Little Miss Sunshine 40104955_10211494054256526_6127580084007075840_o

9) Blue Velvet 40139907_10211494065336803_262933431095132160_o

10) Good Will Hunting 39934459_10211473224935806_1818821746803867648_n

Moving to Los Angeles, California

I do not have the exact numbers for what I am about to say, but 90% of the films and television shows loved by Americans are filmed and/or set in Los Angeles. If you are a fan of the Kardashians, you cannot get through one episode without awe regarding the scenic LA transition shots. You love films as much as me, you can recognize parts of LA where they shot something iconic. Living in LA has also allowed me in on the secret lingo that gets referenced everywhere. Without a doubt, the SNL skit of “The Californians” truly satirizes the LA culture to a T. I’ll attach the youtube link to the scene at the end of the post! Regardless of how recognizable Los Angeles is, the reality of living here gets hidden in the shadows. Walking down the streets opens your eyes to the homelessness. It breaks my heart when I see this people struggling, because no one seems to care about them. Rich people par-use the land without truly using their resources to help their neighbors. I’ll make a post about that eventually. Anyway, I want to dive into my experience regarding my move to LA and how it has shaped me into the individual I always wanted to be. 

I came out to LA for a summer program through Temple University. I did not have any plans to stay after the program ended. Initially, I was thinking I would move to LA in a year after the program to go home and maybe work to save money. HOWEVER, living temporarily out here has inspired me to stay. I realized that living in LA is not much different than living in any other city. People go to work everyday. There’s traffic at rush hour. The traffic intensity can make you anxious about planning your commute, but it is just the lay of La La Land. Once you start living here, you learn the routes and start to find easier ways to get around. I love driving through the city streets. I would not get around without Caheunga Boulevard. Driving in Los Angeles definitely requires some warm up time. People drive extremely fast without a care for the others on the roads, most of the time. If you are a good driver who watches your surroundings, you will be fine! Having a car in LA has become less necessary with the rise of rideshare. You can put of getting a car if you truly want to. My coworker told me that Lyft offers monthly passes for your daily commute, which is super cool! The metro system, or the subway system as I am use to calling it, is slowly becoming a good source of transportation as well. You can get around LA if you find the way that fits you! Personally, I love having my own car that gets me around. I do not like worrying about ubering places, because you can wait for a long time, it can be surcharged, or your driver can be creepy. I do not like getting into a stranger’s car,  but that is not the mentality to have when you need to use rideshare. I doubt driver’s want their cars looking a mess, because that takes out on their tips and rating. 

I gotta get back on track. Apartment shopping in Los Angeles has been a rollercoaster I desperately need to get off of. My parents own apartment buildings, so, growing up around that taught me a lot about renting. Unlike everywhere in the country, LA landlords are not required to provide a fridge, or a stove in some cases. It is very weird viewing an apartment without a refrigerator. It is also weird because renters do not have a need to have a fridge they take place from place. I do not think this is something I will every get use to. I’ll accept it, though.  I find myself accepting things that I cannot change and control more and more as the days pass here. People can be nasty like they are literally everywhere else. People in LA are just better at appearing nice. Understanding that the only thing you can only change and control yourself, it gets easier. The concept of letting go is a hard lesson I am learning during my moving process. Letting go of all the attachment to things that no longer serve your success or health being can be hard. I use to think letting go was a negative thing. Often, the image of letting go aways seems awful. There are a lot of tears and fits of frustration. But, letting go is positive! My move to Los Angeles allowed me to let go of my childhood and immaturity in order to become the adult I pictured. It is hard living out here having let go of a lot, because I do miss home. Someone said to me that around the four month mark is when you get homesick. That could not be more factual in my case. It is hard when people tell you they miss you or things may never be the same because you are not around anymore. That is okay! I am a very loving person. I will love everyone the same way whether we get to see each other or have to coordinate a time to facetime. I am at the age to go do my thing. I need to be in Los Angeles, because it bolsters my creativity. The weather makes me a more positive person. Sure, it has not been a walk in a park. Well, it is like a walk in a park where you keep tripping on large tree roots that you did not see coming. 

What I learned during my summer here before officially moving to Los Angeles is everyone struggles at one point. There is no success without some struggle. Instead of allowing myself to wallow in the anxiety surrounding my living situation or my job search, I thank my lucky stars that I have walked down this path. I am thankful that I am taking advantage of this opportunity of a lifetime, and the pain from the struggle will not be remembered in the end. I know that I will find a nice apartment to live and a job that I like. Learning to trust the process–a cliche Philly phrase nowadays– is the biggest step I am taking. I definitely will keep writing posts about living in LA, because it is a process. 

Here’s 5 things I wish someone told me before I moved to LA:

  1. The fridge thing I mentioned
  2. Renters want you to make 2.5-3 times the rent to get approved for the apartment. 
  3. You might not get that great job you apply for, because someone’s nephew’s applied and they will get the job. 
  4. Get a Ralph’s or Vons card. These things not only give you discounts on items in the store, but they allow you to accumulate points that go towards gas. I have a Ralph’s card. When I go to a Shell gas station, I swipe my card and get 30 cents off each gallon of gas. It sounds tiny, but it helps. Instead of paying $3.65 for a gallon, I pay $3.35. Eventually, I can accumulate enough points to get a dollar off each gallon! 
  5. You can exchange plastic, glass, and can containers at recycling centers for cash. I do it sometimes. You will not walk out of there with a lot of money. I did it today, and made $3. It is nothing, but I plan on putting that money towards a saving or investment. You can invest money and make so much more than your investment if you study and play it smart. Or, you can just put it in a jar to save. Who cares. The money is still green. 

Here’s 5 of my favorite places to go in LA

  1. Priscilla’s Cafe. Since it is down the street from Warner Brothers, the creative energy in the place is hypnotic. The coffee is great as well. 
  2. Egyptian Theatre. There are a ton of free screenings, especially around film festival season, that happen here. I went recently to see Dogman. 
  3. Fred 62. This diner is just too cute!
  4. RFK Memorial. 
  5. Museum of Death. 

Here’s that link to the Californians like I promised! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tt-tG6ufH90&list=PLFv4y-PVQCXAzzp181XIut2hCBb5wGwIC

Since Bojack Horseman is my favorite show, I wanted to include a few screengrabs that perfectly depict LA through dialogue. 

tumblr_p12j8eCkh01vfecm0o2_1280.pngSeason 4 Episode 8 “The Judge” 

tumblr_ow5bwp9sGv1s1sin1o3_500

Season 4 Episode 2 “The Old Sugarman Place” 

Honorable mentions I could not find the screen-grabs for: 

Season 1 Episode 5 (go to 22:10), Season 5 Episode 8 (go to 4:10), Season 5 Episode 9 (go to 10:30 [this one is my personal favorite LA reference]) 

Thank you for reading! Moving to LA has had a huge impact on me, and I hope people can read this and relate. It feels comforting to know you aren’t the only one in LA not having everything figured out. 

Welcome to My Introduction

I find it appropriate to post a little bit about myself and my objective for this whole thing. My name, for those of you who have not realized it yet, is Sabrina. I am a screenwriter, producer, photographer, and now a blogger. Originally from Philadelphia, I recently moved to Los Angeles, which will be the topic of my first official post. Keep an eye out on Monday for that. For those who love astrology as much as me, I am a Libra Sun, Pisces Rising, and Aries Moon. I am writing a series of short films under the title of “The Sirens” with hopes of entering film production by April or May of 2019. Additionally to writing that, I am writing my first real feature length film.

What I want this blog to focus on is mainly my love for cinema combined with personal things occurring in my life. Everyone has three sides to them. One part is what the world sees. Second part is what their loved ones see. Lastly, the third side of everyone is the side they seem themselves. In this crazy world, it is impossible to be defined by one term exclusively. I want my blog to focus on the many sides to my life from career, personal relationships, travel, and everything else in between.

One may ask, why “Sabrina Shits?”

Well, our lives are so busy. It feels like there is never enough time in the day to relax and read. I want to change that. This blog is perfect to read while one uses the bathroom. Particularly when they have to go number two. My “shitposting” is your “shitreading.” I think I am funny, sometimes.

Thank you for taking the time to read this introduction. Please hit that like button if you as excited as me for this!  I hope to have you back reading on Monday for my first official post.

Sincerely, Sabrina