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Reel New York

Interview with Leah Meyerhoff

What inspired you to make this piece?

The story for TWITCH was inspired by events from my childhood. My mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis shortly before I was born and I grew up taking care of her. I have always been interested in making a film exploring this mother-daughter role reversal and felt like my life experiences gave me a unique opportunity to tell a story I had not seen before.

Briefly tell us about how you made your film or video: what camera and format did you use to shoot your piece and what system did you use to edit it? What is your working process? Did you use any special techniques to make this work?

We shot TWITCH on the Arri SR3 on Fuji Super-16 and edited on an Avid Adrenaline machine. I like to do as much of my homework in advance as possible to allow for maximum flexibility on set. For instance, we not only did a tech scout of each location but also digitally storyboarded each scene and pre-lit the space. Since I was using non-actors, this allowed for more improvisation and spontaneity once we began shooting. The underwater scenes were the most technically challenging and required additional underwater camera housing, several wetsuits, and maximum breath-holding skills!

Do you have any interesting behind-the-scenes stories about the making of this particular work?

I financed the film by participating in a reality television series called "Film School" on IFC. This meant that during the shoot, there were several camera operators following me around at all times looking to create controversy. As you can imagine, this artificially-induced drama was an incredible distraction from the already-complicated process of making a film. Once it was over I learned to laugh about the situation, and my participation in the show ended up being great publicity for the film.

What films/videos and makers have inspired you or influenced your work? And why?

I am inspired by artists who strive to show the world how it truly is – raw, gritty and real. Allison Anders and Gus Van Sant are great examples of this type of performance-driven filmmaking. I also admire Lynne Ramsay, John Cassavetes, Debra Granik, Joshua Marston, Catherine Hardwicke, and Catherine Breillat for similar reasons. At the same time, I'm drawn to artistically-minded filmmakers who live inside their imagination and have a particular eye for spectacle. I respect Jean Luc Godard, Todd Haynes, Michel Gondry, Vincent Gallo, and Julie Taymor and their to turn fantasy into reality. Finally, I am influenced by other artists, such as photographers Sarah Small, Ryan McGinley, Nikola Tamindzic, and performance artists Marina Abramovic and Cindy Sherman.

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