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Meet Talia

Today we’d like to introduce you to Talia.

Talia, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started out reading 12-page fantasy stories I wrote to my bored 5th grade English class and pretending I was a Skywalker descendent in my spare time. In 8th grade, I connected the dots and begged to assistant direct our school’s Spring musical. I had shown no previous interest in theater whatsoever (I thought it was just an excuse for popular girls to wear lots of make-up), but for some reason, they gave me the job, and I was obsessed.

 I continued on the theater route in high school, and then college at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh took me down a dual path of studying both Directing for theater and Screenwriting. At CMU I found the extracurricular Film Club – an oasis for the few of us who wanted to make films but had for some reason picked a college without a film school. We spent our nights and weekends on set. Nothing could have better prepared me for creating work in LA – I got used to not having much support or resources – except for from my friends, many of whom I still work with today.

I moved to LA right after school. My first job was in development with the Producer Paula Wagner (MISSION IMPOSSIBLE I-III). Through some serious generosity on her part, I was able to work part-time and finagle my way on set every chance I got. That flexibility allowed me to direct my first project in LA – a dance film set to the Alabama Shakes song, “Gimme All Your Love.” People liked it, and it led me to the most rewarding creative partnership with absurdly talented actor/dancer/choreographer/musician Alexis Floyd.

We actually just released our newest dance film, E T A, online. So far it has been featured on BOOOOOOM TV and Directors Notes. This one is set to an original song, “Enough,” which Alexis wrote specifically for the project after we developed the concept together. It is about community as a peaceful weapon against division. The collaborative process of creating it with Alexis and the whole team we assembled taught us to walk that talk.

Directing and writing is my focus, but it’s not always what takes up most of my time as a freelancer. I’ve assisted indie directors like Katharine O’Brien (LOST TRANSMISSIONS), and Justin Lerner (THE AUTOMATIC HATE), and produced a range of things from music videos and short films to scripted podcasts, educational videos, and content for brands like the UN Foundation and Visa with companies like Special Order, The Famous Group, and Midroll Media. I also just formed a production company, Hyperion Territories, to spearhead new projects. The freelance production work can get exhausting, but it is how I have met so much of my community and learned how to be a better filmmaker, bit by bit.

 Has it been a smooth road?
I took the leap into the freelance world because I saw directors way ahead of me in their own careers struggling with the mental toll of uncertainty, and I wanted to build up my own resistance as soon as possible. I’m getting there.

 It is hard to be your only champion most of the time, and to juggle the jobs that pay you with the passion projects that cost you everything you’ve earned, but I also get to meet incredible collaborators and friends and watch movies all the time and call it work. Doing something I cared any less about would be way more difficult.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I am into anything non-naturalistic, where I can experiment and get my hands dirty. From dance to sci-fi (my first love) I am fascinated by unexpected ways of telling stories. I think it’s the theater background that gives me the confidence that a lobster can fall from the ceiling and I’ll find a way to make it part of a narrative way more exciting than one sans-lobster. Most if not all of my projects have veered into the surreal, whether via movement in my dance films, or in more literal ways, as with time travel in my narrative short film, NEXT TIME, now in post-production.

 I also love stories with epic themes where the focus stays as small and as human as can be and I jump at any opportunity for adventure. I’ve put dancers in blue morphsuits and driven them out to the desert for a music video for “Wave” by BURNS, and I brought an intrepid cast and crew with me on a 7-hour drive up to Northern Nevada to capture the mundane magic of road travel on 16mm film.

 All this is not just because I like road trips (although I really, really do), it’s because the connections you build in out-of-the-ordinary situations set the tone for what ends up on screen. Getting myself and a crew out of our comfort zones helps us to tell more expansive stories. Also, it prepares me to one day direct the superhero movie I’ve been gunning for.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
My extended family on my mom’s side migrated out here from the East Coast when I was a kid, and I feel lucky to have more relatives in Southern California than anywhere else in the world. Beyond that, what I love about LA is the space. There’s a lot of it: warehouses and hidden corners and communities and places to try out for a few hours or years. I have made a lot of friends in the space industry (there’s a lot of that kind of space, too), and it’s incredible to have direct access to the hard science foundations of my sci-fi dreams. If I ever get tired of the city, though, then some of the most beautiful parts of the country are so close by. I drive out of town every chance I get, whether it’s with location scouting as my excuse, or just for weekend escapes to Yosemite, Big Sur, or Joshua Tree.

All this space in LA is not equally shared, though, and it’s impossible to ignore. LA is facing a homeless crisis that does not receive the attention it needs. People get caught up in chasing their dreams and forget to engage with the community that’s right in front of them. There are many inspiring local leaders working day and night working to create change and build community at the grassroots level, but there is a lot more work to do.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Sean Jacobson
Scotty Tipton
“E T A”
Spinnin’ Records
“Gimme All Your Love”
“Next Time”

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