Director Victoria Mahoney is about to unveil her first feature film on December 14th. Titled Yelling to the Sky, the film is a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age tale that features a cast including Zoe Kravitz and Gabourey Sidibe. Days before the films debut, we chatted with the filmmaker and found out about her mentors and icons and what she has coming down the pipe next.
Life+Times: Can you give us a little back-story on the synopsis of the film. Why was putting this out something that was so important to you?
Victoria Mahoney: The back story on the synopsis is–the film’s semi-autobiographical. Stemming from my teenage obsession with Chekov’s Three Sisters and a connection to the theme of “manufacturing illusions in order to sustain day to day life.” I related on a gut level to the notion of joy and opportunity, existing elsewhere while in the same breadth knowing it was a lie. The illusion of “one day it’ll be different” is what kept me alive and smashing that illusion might’ve been my death. Putting this film out is important because (yet another generation of) young people are facing the exact same isolation, confusion, neglect, inquiry, desire, and heartache. All these years later, there’s little to no progress or solution. Adults have become freakishly focused on ‘self’, so much so, that we’re failing our responsibilities to participate and aid in the development and advancement of young people’s spiritual and intellectual growth.
L+T: You just wrapped a gritty short film called Wracked and are in pre-pro on your second feature Chalk. What are these two projects about?
VM: Wracked is about three friends redefining their ideas of self and one another. It takes place over forty-eight hours after one of them is released from prison. The story, the shooting schedule, the location, the skeleton crew all invited a number of hurdles I race out of bed for. Once again, a crew blew my mind with the extent they insisted on testing themselves. DP/Camera Unit/AD/Prod Designer/Make up/DI/Editor/Asst Editor/Sound Mixer/Composer/Casting Director, they all killed for this lil’ film that people may or may not ever see–purely out of their love for film and our unified need to be in the active stage of creating. If any upcoming filmmaker’s are reading this article, please take one thing with you. Store this wee kernel in your wheelbarrel–it’s possible for a crew to come together in the face of adversarial energy and merge as a team with an unbreakable loyalty to one thing–finishing a film they can be proud of. Chalk is my corazon. I was terrified after Yelling to the Sky, that I wouldn’t love a story to the same depth. And sure enough, Chalk, snuck into my arteries and started oxygenating my blood. In broad strokes, it’s the story of a person on a hunt to find murder suspects. The elements involved are nutbags insane. I’m sometimes sitting at my desk bouncing with eagerness to get on the field and run like holy hell with this cast and crew. I had to do an exciting amount of research on opposite ends of a nationwide issue. The way people opened up and shared their stories with me for Chalk, was one of the most sacred experiences I’ve ever had, in regards to the importance of film as a tool–for reflecting the human condition.
L+T: Who do you deem your mentors and icons? If you have any, who are they? Why?
VM: I don’t really have the icon thing. I have however, been carried by mentors like Hubert ‘Cubby’ Selby Jr., who taught me the gift of discipline. Chris McQuarrie, who reminds me about the gift of long tail creativity. I have peers like Ava DuVernay, who remind me about the gift of fearlessness and Andrew Dosunmu, who reminds me about the gift of being gifted.