” ‘and though she be but little, she is fierce ‘” – (Shakespeare )
Ladies + Gentlemen,
In 2012 I set out to make a sustainable, green, upcycled all- female-crew motion picture — with — an original soundtrack — much of it to be shot + recorded on a floating film set and surrounding “hood” near my “AquaCultureZ™” studio in Venice Beach.
The project was made partly: in response to my own Me-Too experiences (and that of fellow female artists +craftspersons) and mostly : driven by – connected with – a deeper, wider purpose.
Just after graduating at an impossibly early age, having been skipped several grades, earned scholarships to pay my own tuition- with a Master’s Degree but no high school diploma – i stepped out into the “real world” only to discover that the “ISMs” I had believed to be “anachronISMs” – from history books – racism, sexism, homophobia , climate denial – the “male gaze” – the “white gaze ” + other “gazes” – were still alive and finding their way back , insidiously, into our world consciousness, our current histories + HERstories.
The HERstory that we are living now – became a source of great worry to me. I had survived an abusive childhood + I know abuse when I see it. Abuse of Power exhibited all the tell-tale signatures of Domestic Abuse, Child-Abuse on a larger scale. The ‘family’ is ‘humanity.’
Hard as it was to convey – not wanting to sound grandiose – I just knew in the heart of that little girl who survived with the aid of her dedication toward the arts + teachers encouraging her talent – that little girl (me) – her eyes – were witnessing – what ‘eVe’ in my movie refers to – as ‘an ancient grief’ – her precious ‘global family’ – was falling victim to ancient abuse.
A ‘silent scream’ was often all that could be mustered by that little girl witnessing domestic violence at so young an age. That ‘silent scream’ sensation was returning but this time – ‘she’ – ‘the little girl me’ – was witnessing on a larger scale. Those who know about domestic abuse, know that the witnessing is even more destructive than most people know. Her childhood home was a place she had escaped – always imagining a beautiful world of possibility out here where ‘ the world is my living room’ © ( from one of the songs on the soundtrack ). Now THAT world was experiencing the ‘domestic abuse’ too.
I’m still discovering the movie and songs even now, perhaps the Project can be described as : “A Not-So-Silent Scream ™”© A project born from worry – destined for determination and resolve to be “HandMadeToMakeADifference ™.”©
Always identifying as an artist – since childhood – I had always felt a social responsibility – a SociallyResponsive™ mentality toward my work –
- even pausing pre-production on the movie – to shoot a music video, “Election Train” – supporting President Obama –
- So now the Project began building her own “core” – she had her own heart-beat – she was becoming – not just a “response” to extremely challenging experiences “the change I wished to see” as the saying goes, she just felt like – she wanted to be something more — she was asking to be born as something joyful – moving forward into the future.
- So – Cali Lili Indies : “pictures, words music in motion ™ feMt0 ™studi0 ” © was born at my handbuilt Sustainable green upcycled tiny studio, in Venice Beach.
Today – I am so proud to share with you – that
we are SO PROUD to have met the requirements to take this step forward – no easy task for a tiny team like ours–
With TREMENDOUS gratitude for our colleagues + supporters –
those who helped this baby project in any way at all :
With tiny tears in our eyes
Great big Pride in our Hearts #FYC #FYC2020
“She takes her baby steps
It’s funny how sometimes we have to do what #GingerRogers described along the lines of “dancing Backwards In High Heels ” – in order to move forward one step.
” and though she be but little, she is fierce ” – (Shakespeare )
this quote is invoked in one of my favorite true-life stories about the great ” seabiscuit ” –
a story warming my heart from the very beginning of this journey with my own movie – Tiny Budgets + tiny teams – uphill climbs – hopes + dreams –
‘ She KNOWS
she’s the Dark Horse here –
she doesn’t fear + Oh she loves to run…
During the entire production + post of this project – we fought back severe gentrification in Venice Beach – where both my #Sustainable #Upcycled studio and home were threatened. The stress was beyond belief and in many ways was eerily reflected in the movie with the characters overcoming entrapment, victorious over the looming metaphorical and physical encroachment.
I had saved up lemonade-stand, babysitting, yoga teacher + acting gig earnings and my hand-built studio and methodologies were partly in response to my own Me-Too experiences and partly a matter of following a course I had set, upon navigating my way from graduating with a Master’s Degree at an impossibly young age.
There was a virtual drummer playing an indigenous soundtrack to my life and — I was listening and following the steps. The ocean was an important core for me and I had dedicated my artistry toward creating my own style of “AquaCulture.” I likened it to building a “an oyster-pearl-farm” and my projects would encourage audiences to “sip the oyster savour the pearls .”©
” #GirlTheWorld™ © Cali Lili ;
We examine #intersectional themes including :
Originally trained as a dancer and actress in my hometown NYC – I had designed my little studio space as a dance studio on the water ; a design made in high school shortly before getting skipped into college with a full scholarship – but without graduating high school ! Miraculously, my tiny “feMt0™studi0*H20″© – was built in the heart of gentrification-torn Venice Beach!
I found myself turning down 3 acting roles in a row – all lucrative – but all of which I experienced as disturbingly misogynistic and degrading to women . I felt that i owed it to my teachers who encouraged my artistry, an artistry which saved me from an abusive childhood. I owed it to the other girls (and boys) who would see these movies and become affected by their overt and implied messages. I owed it to the culture to which I was dedicated to nourishing with my “AquaCulture” and I owed it to that little girl who had clung to her spirit and to the sacred purpose she felt beating in her heart, with every dance move, every project.
Pushback came from several directions – my assumptions that racism , sexism, homophobia + Climate Denial were ISMs – well on their way to becoming anachronISMs – were tested by the realities of their continued presence in daily life. There was pushback even from within progressive spaces – on the all female crew idea – along with my non-conventional feminist – lgbtqia – interracial – climate- action subject matter. I wasn’t planning to make a movie I’d already seen – and I was planning to ” follow the heartbeat” and maintain the integrity of an “organic” project — so it was beyond challenging!
‘HandMadeToMakeADifference™ was one of my guiding methodologies along with my ToyBoxTech™ #CynAesthetiX™© Not quite a musical, but the soundtrack was literally ‘born’ with the screenplay + hand-made along with the production of the movie.
I was very much aware of ‘composing’ + ‘designing’ along with screenplay-writing, directing, acting, along with rapping-singing+producing – so there’s definitely a ’21st-Century-Girl-rapper-rock-band‘ – aesthetic at work here . The wardrobe was a “meditation on mens-wear”© + I had imagined it could be a clothing line someday! This was also based on an exploration of “the male gaze” + “the white gaze.”
My process is based on my methodologies in my book ‘The Declaration Of IndiePenDance™’ where I explore my film-making+music-making approach – I call it c.lili™ ‘s CynAesthetiX™ and it includes a variety of innovations in cinematic+music aesthetics.
As a young actress who’s taken the time to respect the history / HERstory of my craft – from the craftspersons’ perspective – I know that ‘innovation’ rests upon the past + is a bridge to the future.
With My Sisters – For My #Sisters : in my recent writings and explorations about feminism — I am finding it crucial for us to find out – not so much why men hurt women – but instead, why some women – hurt women –
including the fact that often, we women, hurt ourselves, it’s a vicious cycle – and by hurting our sisters, we are expressing our self hatred …
I explored this in my indie movie recently – but it was not until VERY recently that I fully understood the depth of how these incidents shape us from childhood, into our teenage years, school experiences and then –
importantly, as we enter the professional world and encounter the competitive forces from our sisters, which often lead women to do unspeakable things – things they write about and rail against as #feminists – but which they do to each other, sometimes unconsciously …
when I entered the ‘professional world,’ after earning my Master’s Degree at an impossibly young age — my work was publicly and brazenly plagiarized by a very famous “feminist” writer and teacher …
Most remarkable was the entitlement with which she lifted my writing and without crediting me, simply took it as her own.
This person espouses progressive values yet her actions, and worse – her reactions to my queries – had more in common with the politics of entitlement we witness today, than they do with any feminist theory —
When I spoke up about it, directly to her, in a vulnerable yet respectful manner – she shut it down, shut me down, ceased communications with me – and possibly did worse behind my back. It was in its own way – a “MeToo” moment. It was also oddly public and provable (still is), but no other woman backed me up – even though it was evident. The “clique” stuck together.
I completed my movie + album while continuing essays and posts about what I would come to call the “Gentrification of Culture ™ “© referring to the intellectual property theft and secret exclusionary behaviors in the most unlikely corners of Arts and Culture …
As we know, our work as feminists – and feminism can be fragile, as the world is often cruel to women who speak out, we often need each other — a form of Stockholm-Syndrome style bond out of necessity … so now the “famous feminists” can become the new bullies, having internalized the misogyny — perpetuating the predatory abuse of power — which is why I don’t often avail myself of friendships that are based in “need” or which arise out of hardships like global misogyny …
But there is a bond among us sisters and I always hold a wishful hope that women / girls I encounter will understand the need for true friendship, genuine caring, listening to each other — behaving towards our sisters in ways we wish to be treated … Unfortunately though, I’m going to say it here, and elsewhere – we often miss that mark.
I’m sorry to have to say it, sorrier to have experienced it, but damnit – we need to do better with each other. “Mean Girl Culture Cool” is often invoked when women / girls are acting all “empowered” – but of course that’s just stupid and self-defeating. We must do better.
Sisters – we really must. I offer the project below – which is the first in a trilogy on the subject. This project was a gift I made with my sisters, for my sisters all over the world. We might have been the first #AllFemaleCrew as a production team – but we were certainly among the very first ever and I am certain we were a catalyst.
I had thought that certain #Feminist pages would be a good place to share it and I hope that is true – nevertheless, no matter how, I hope it reaches both Sisters and #Brothers – because together – we really must #GirlTheWorld™ – this is why I made this project – I believe this is how we will over come #ClimateChange + Save Our Planet, Save Our Selves –
I believe the #SacredFeminine – the #Female – the #WomanKind on #MotherEarth is the main component of #Healing this #BluePlanet – our #WildLife our #SeaLife and our #Humanity ” © Cali Lili all rights reserved
#Ladies + #Gentlemen
For Your Awards Consideration :