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Rising Stars: Meet Ilyssa Peltz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ilyssa Peltz.

Hi Ilyssa, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’m from Cleveland, Ohio. As a kid, I quickly fell in love with making movies. Growing up, you could always find me watching the behind the scenes features on a DVD or making movies with my friends in my basement. I remember one year for a gift, I got this software Digital Blue, which came with a camera that hooked up to your computer, and a kid-friendly editing software. All my friends would come over and we would just make silly videos until it was time to go home. That’s actually where my production company’s name comes from, Digital Blue-ish Productions. It’s a call back to all the fun I used to have as a kid making movies, and I wanted to bring that back into my life.

Before the pandemic, I was working constantly as an Assistant Director. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but I was longing for creating my own projects again. With the shutdown, I was able to slow down and focus on why I fell in love with film. Enlisting my sister who graduated with a BFA in acting, I decided to venture out and create my own films. We decided to start with a web series, “The Haunting of Moonshine Mary”, which you can find on YouTube. It’s a fun low budget modern twist on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Has it been a smooth road? It’s been a long and fun road. When you decide to work in the film industry, there is no set path. You have to be in charge of your own journey. I started from the bottom knowing no one. I began my film career as a set intern on a movie in Cleveland, Ohio. After that, I moved up to Set Production Assistant, and finally many years later, I can say I am a member of the DGA and an Assistant Director. During this grueling time, you must make sure you don’t lose your passion. I joined the film industry to tell the stories I wanted to share. And it was hard to find time between the movies I was working on. Even if these jobs were with other talented directors, I had to find a way to stay motivated to keep my dream alive.

That is what lead me to starting Digital Blue-ish Productions and my most recent project, “The Haunting of Moonshine Mary”. This project came with its own struggles. When you self-produce something there’s always so much to do. Especially during shutdowns and safety restrictions, the work is twice as much. For example, my co-writer and I had to spend many hours working on the scripts over Zoom. When we felt we were ready for production, I used my Assistant Director skills to schedule the shoot. I also had to work with my sister to make sure she was ready for the role she was about to take on. No spoilers, but as you watch the series, as an actor you need to have a range to pull off what she did. As the Director, I helped her get there with in depth talks about the character, costumes, and such. I also found myself wearing so many additional hats on this production: Assistant Director, Props Master, Art Department, Editor, and Sound Mixer. It was a lot of work but so fun and rewarding.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am a writer/director. I would say my style ranges. I love comedy, but as you can tell by my newest work, it is more supernatural heavy. But I also work on documentaries, and my most recent dramatic short film “Stay Together”. If it’s a story I think a viewer can relate to or find enjoyable, I will find a way to tell it.

It is so hard to pick something I am most proud of. I’ve worked on numerous award-nominated movies and tv shows, but what I find most rewarding is the time I spend to work creatively on my own projects. This most recent web series is the biggest project I have done so far. It was fun and challenging, and I am really happy with how it came out. I would also say one of my first short films, “Where Do The Torahs Go?” is something that makes me proud. In 2014, I directed a documentary exploring the inner workings of temples in Cleveland, Ohio.

So maybe we end on discussing what matters most to you and why?
Family. They are my biggest supporters. When you call your sister and tell her we are starting a production company and the answer is just “Yes”. You won’t get that anywhere else. Getting to bring “The Haunting of Moonshine Mary” to life was so amazing. I had a ton of fun writing the series with my Dad and my Sister, and we just made a great team on this one. I can’t wait to continue to create with both of them.

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