Whistler Film Festival Interview: Sarah Phillips on SUPPLEMENTS

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Sarah Phillip’s Supplements is set in the year 2289, When all that’s left on Planet Earth is the domed city Old Centauri, roaming sun flares that scorch the land, and the nomadic tribes that mitigate the two. Kiirke comes from one such tribe, and she must travel to Old Centauri, along with her stowaway younger brother, to seek a small fortune to save her family – But the only way to make money as a newcomer to the city is to enroll in Supplements Labs as what the locals call a “lab rat.” The short film has been nominated for an. AWFJ EDA Award at Whistler Film Festival 2019. The EDA Awards at Whistler a film festival will be announced on December 10, 2019.

Jennifer Merin: Please tell us what your film is about.

Sarah Phillips: “Supplements” is a short science-fiction film about a possible future where a scientist has invented an anti-aging process wherein the haves pay the have-nots for their youth, essentially. It was made as a proof-of-concept for serialized content.

Merin: How is your film stylistically distinctive?

Phillips: The style in “Supplements” is specifically meant appeal to the physical while we are in the “Flares District,” aka the area where nomadic tribes survive what is left of Earth. You will find a lot of movement, shaking, and significantly warmer color space. When we move into the city of Old Centauri, the color space cools, and we are very smooth or completely locked off in our movements, in an opposite way than the Flares but equally as unnerving. It is also science fiction, so the details – from props, to locations, to wardrobe and art design, as well as VFX – are of utmost importance in subtly placing us in our time and genre.

Merin: How and why did you encounter and commit to the subject/theme of your film and the main characters in it?

Phillips: I have always loved science fiction. The world in which “Supplements” was born is a world in which my mind has long played – the possibility of the future, the darkness that loves to thrive, as well as the light that prevails. So this is one of the stickier stories that I couldn’t get out of my mind, and I have created an entire world of characters around this short, based on a novel that I began before we filmed, and am finishing over the holidays.

Merin: What did you learn about the subject/theme from making the film?

Phillips: The theme of Supplements truly is the ability, or inability, for people to age – as well as the concept that one life is not enough for many people.
Merin: What did you learn about filmmaking from making the film.
Phillips: I learned that making films outside of major film hubs can have its challenges and its rewards – we met some incredible people while filming in Natchitoches, Louisiana. I would go back to film there any time. I also learned a new VFX technique for destroying worlds and creating fire from the sky.

Merin: What were your biggest challenges in making the film?

Phillips: I think the biggest challenges in making “Supplements” was finding the hero building – and we found it in Natchitoches, Louisiana, which was incredible to find a modern architecture building in Northwest Louisiana at all! Outside of that, I spent approximately sixteen weeks working on the VFX (special effects) digitally in the film, which was incredible – I have done VFX on many films, but this, being a sci-fi, was quite thorough – at the end, I essentially have an entire film within a film. I did it to myself, though, as I wrote the thing.

Merin: Do you think that being female gave you a distinct perspective and/or way of handling the filmmaking process?

Phillips: I think that being female is why I wrote both leads as women, although my early writing career I had to break the default habit many people begin with – that is, all characters are men by default. I have mostly written women leads for many years now, in no small part due to the fact that my business partner and friend, Laetitia Leon, is an incredible actress and is often the star of my films. I think, for the most part, it gives me a distinct focus on the experiences, highs and lows, and viewpoint of women – be it historical, modern, or futuristic.

Merin: What are your plans for the future?

Phillips: The plan for “Supplements” is to finish the novel by the end of the year, and pitch the short proof-of-concept at various series festivals. It is meant for a serialized episodic run.

Merin: Who are the Filmmakers whose work has inspired/influenced your own?

Phillips: I am incredibly influenced by Rob Marshall, Baz Luhrmann, Nancy Meyers, Joe Wright, Penny Marshall, and Busby Berkeley, to name a few. These people have taken great risks in film, and are always emotionally driven, which I am as well.

Merin: What advice do you have for other female Filmmakers who are trying to make their way through a still male-dominated industry?

Phillips: Keep your head up, look to the horizon, don’t let ’em see you waver. All that, but also, do the thing you do well. Don’t try to be someone you are not. I don’t write or direct horror, for example, because I don’t enjoy feeling scared and have not, in the past, been a connoisseur of it. However, I lean into emotionally driven dramas, scienceSARAH oGUKKUOS fiction, musicals, and period pieces because I am over the moon about consuming those genres, and have been since I was young, and am good at swimming in them. Do what you do – the world needs you to be you.

ABOUT SARAH PHILLIPS: Sarah Phillips is a cinematographer, director, and writer in Los Angeles. She recently won Best Cinematography at Idyllwild Film Festival, and then at Silicon Beach Film Festival, for the 2019 feature “IRL,” and in 2018 her short film “Lilac Ocean Pumpkin Pine” placed in the Top Five at Louisiana Film Prize and won a Gold Remi at Houston WorldFest for Best Drama. In 2019 she lensed an episode of television on The Travel Channel, an international documentary in 360, along with multiple short films and proofs of concepts. @sarahphillipscamera www.sarahphillipscamera.com

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