My name is Stephanie Schleicher, and I have wanted to be a filmmaker since I was about ten years old. That was the year my family bought a video camera. It was the eighties, so it was huge and bulky and had a little pad to cushion its weight when you rested it on your shoulder. Inside was a full-size VHS tape. The camera got hot to the touch when I spent the day holed up in a dark upstairs room with my Barbie house, sweating, re-recording scenes over and over. Barbie was always falling over in the middle of the scene on her tiny Barbie toes. I had never truly enjoyed playing with my Barbies before that. Mostly, I liked to just set up their houses and dress them, but then I lost interest and would go do something else. Suddenly, with the video camera at my disposal, my Barbie house became a set – and everything about my life seemed to fall into place.
Pretty soon I moved from Barbies to directing real people. I noticed that being a big sister served me really well when it came to bossing people around and telling them what to do for the camera. I enslaved my cousins at every family gathering. I would show up in director mode, laying out the movie and giving out roles. I was the oldest. No one doubted my authority. My family came to expect a movie viewing at the end of every visit, and my cousins blossomed into full-on hams.
Through all this, I came to see film as my medium. I could instinctively sense that it was an art form that could be easily played with, with a captive audience sitting like putty in your hands. I liked that. I liked playing with peoples’ expectations. I liked surprising them. I liked luring them into thinking they were watching a certain kind of film, but then taking them somewhere else. I liked using music to manipulate their emotions.
I teach film to kids nowadays, and they are always amazed that you would have to rewind the tape to re-record the scene where Barbie fell over. (One class even had an audible group “WHOAH.”) They have known nothing in their lives but non-linear editing. Every little phone and tablet has an editing program on it that was only a dream when I was a kid… and then in college, when I sat there with a film splicer, Scotch tape stuck to my fingers. Now that digital editing is here, my spirit is free. No hairs stuck to the tape between the shots. No boundaries. We must live with abundance. We have FILM STUDIOS IN OUR POCKETS. The means of production are available TO TODDLERS. We have no excuse not to make good films – especially films that reflect an experience not yet reflected. Films that help make us ONE HUMAN FAMILY.
Thank you for watching!
June 16, 2020