By Ozzi Ramirez
Welcome to NYWIFT, new member Chloë Levine! Chloë is an award-winning filmmaker who has worked as an actress, director, screenwriter, and producer. Learn more about Chloë as we discuss her 2014 debut short that earned praise at a well-known film festival, some of the screen goddesses that served as her muses during her earlier years, and the wide range of projects she has contributed to artistically, in addition to other fun topics!
Describe yourself. Give us your elevator pitch!
Hi. I’m Chloë Levine! I grew up in northern New Jersey and moved to NYC when I was 14. I’ve always been fascinated by storytelling and channel this passion through acting, writing, and directing.
Your 2014 short film Dragon, which won the “Our City, My Story” award for Best Short at the Tribeca Film Institute, is a personal project that features your teenage self and immediate family. Looking back almost ten years later, what do you recall most about that experience? How do you feel you’ve evolved as a filmmaker during the past decade? What would a “sequel” to Dragon look like?
When I made Dragon, I mostly recall the need to document. We were moving out of my childhood home, and the only way I really knew how to cope with losing that space and my impending adulthood was to tell this story. It is a love letter to my childhood home and relationship with my father.
The need to channel big feelings into art was the same then as it is now; a constant urgency to make something!
It’s interesting to reflect on how I evolved as a filmmaker since making Dragon. I think a lot about Ira Glass’ testament that mentions, “Closing the gap between your ability and taste.” As a younger filmmaker, it was harder to create things that I really liked because my abilities had not caught up to my tastes. It was important that I let myself experiment and make mistakes, so I could find out what kind of filmmaker I wanted to become.
You’ve credited The OA creator Brit Marling for inspiring you to become a filmmaker after watching Another Earth, which she wrote the screenplay for and starred in. Growing up, who or what influenced your decision to experiment with acting specifically? Are there any films and or performances that made you say, “This is what I want to do?”
I come from a family of artists. Both my mom and sister were actors who influenced me and supported my artistic endeavors. As a kid, I was obsessed with Moulin Rouge and entranced by Nicole Kidman. I actually got into trouble for talking too much about the film in second grade. I also remember watching Gia and being enamored with Angelina Jolie’s performance. It was striking to see someone who wasn’t afraid of being presented as ugly.
From Antarctica and The Ranger to Trinkets and The OA, you’ve brought various characters to life. Which characters and projects have resonated with you the most and why?
I feel lucky that I have been able to play characters so different from each other. I’ve learned so much from each character I’ve played. It’s hard to say which one I resonated with most, as they’ve all affected me in unique ways.
What is the best and worst advice you’ve received? Do you have any words of wisdom for young people who may be interested in pursuing a career in filmmaking?
I’ve been trying to think of the worst advice I’ve received but can’t! When I feel bad advice coming my way, I can’t help but tune out.
The best advice I’ve received is to be confident and trust your intuition. So many things are truly achievable if you know — not just think — you can do them. I know it’s corny, but I think it’s corny for a reason!
What brings you to NYWIFT?
It’s so refreshing to find a community whose founding principles are to support the success and encouragement of women in this industry. I am so excited to join NYWIFT!
How did the pandemic influence your artistry/work life?
For most of the pandemic, I was in Tucson, AZ. I found it very beautiful to be in the desert while the world stopped. There is something about letting yourself be still that I found inspiring. It was maddening at times but also invigorating. I think that time and space really let me go deeper within myself, which I know had a very positive influence on my entire life.
What is next for Chloë Levine? Do you have upcoming projects in the works?
My first narrative short as a director and co-writer is in post-production right now! Blubber is about a stranger at a funeral who finds a connection with the deceased person’s sister as they test the limits of their grief.
I am also in pre-production for a short film called Bloom that I am writing and directing. The story is about teenage Rylie buckling under the weight of her PTSD, and forcing herself on a journey to find where the painful parts of her were born and now live. Kim Jackson, a board member at NYWIFT, is producing the project.
I’m so excited to have these two projects out in the world and continue to explore my voice as a director. Another project that I am starring in and executive-producing is Alaska, which will be released sometime this year.
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