This Project is Hand-Made with 100 % Organic Hearts and Souls. HandMadeToMakeADifference™
Dear Ladies + Gentlemen,
We are SO PROUD to share
The HERstory of
Our #Oscars2020 Contender:
In 2012 I set out to make a sustainable, green, upcycled, lgbtqia , interracial love story – an – all- female-crew motion picture —
with — an original, eclectic soundtrack —
much of it to be shot + recorded on a floating film set
and surrounding Venice Beach “hood” near my “AquaCultureZ™ WaterGarden™ feMt0™studi0”
Upon graduating early with a Master’s Degree from NYU, then entering the life of a “working actress” I learned most roles offered to girls + women (except a lucky few) were too often broadcasting degrading messages about us.
I tried to “adjust” a couple of the early roles – to balance ‘ the power in the frame.’ Despite the content of any given dialogue or role, I worked to imbue the character with strength.
I was beginning to get offered somewhat lucrative roles, I was more than willing to work hard – “work my wayup.” The problem with that plan – is summarized by the “MeToo” movement, which is not just about inappropriate sexual innuendo, but psychological abuse leading to agony, resulting in self-doubt.
It’s also anEconomics problem, with roadblocks held in place by threads of racism, sexism , homophobia , climate-ignorance in a gate-keeping culture – when all I wanted was to excel in theprofession to which I’d dedicated myself whole-heartedly.
I’d been warned about this environment by older actors ( not actresses ) but assumed times had changed so I walked blindly into an environment reminiscent of a bygone era that had never updated it’s own “operating system.”
There I was with all this 21st Century software but there was nothing to run it.
How does a professional, work their way up such a slippery ladder? Perhaps economic inequality is sourced in such pathologies?
Until #MeToo became a hashtag – I’ll venture to guess that most women suffered under the weight of judgement by their families, friends and self-criticism about why they hadn’t progressed further despite their talent and drive. The worst part, is not being supported by “sisters” of a sorority I feel could be so comforting – and even worse, navigating a hyper-competitive “pigeons-for-scraps” culture based in scarcity where ideas and intellectual property can be so easily appropriated by those with power, harvested from those without.
I’ll venture to guess we all felt as though it was just happening to us alone. Similar to the “Occupancy Wall Street” awareness – when people realized that getting their degrees and working hard was not enough in an economy rigged for the 1 percent.
Even if I’d been willing to be willing on whatever levels of “consent” – I’d just come from surviving an abusive childhood – literally “rescued” by my passion for acting , dance, arts , learning – and my teachers who saw the talent, had invested their care in that little girl rushing through the streets of Manhattan – from dance class to acting class to anthropologyand science classrooms.
They’d invested their own passion for education – in that little girl – me.
I couldn’t let them down and I couldn’t let down other little girls who might someday see a movie that I was in – and when she sees me in that movie, she sees herself and when she sees herself, I want her to feel strong, not helpless. I want “her” to feel proud of “HERstory.”
After turning down three lucrative roles in a row, especially after bumping into one of the producers I’d turned down at a social event – noticing his “WHO are YOU to turn ME down glare ” –
I sucked it up – GLARED BACK with a smile –
and THAT was the moment I learned :
WHO I AM ? Is a girl who won’t get bullied – ever again.
Who I am – is a girl choosing integrity over expediency – no matter how ambitious I may be.
Ialso understood that it wasn’t “men” – it wasn’t “directors” or “producers” — it was the Culture at large.Certainly I’d run into plenty of women who had internalized misogyny to enact upon sisters and there was plenty of it in every profession. I had to find a way to work in my chosen profession, to which I had already dedicated – so I chose – to literally “be the change I wished to see” as the saying goes.
Having studied anthropology along with intercultural, interdisciplinary performance modalities – I felt uniquely equipped to grapple with these new insights – even though, they’d prove beyond challenging to implement. I’d be needing some miracles and tons of hard work integrating the education + early work experience I’d earned – with the realities of making a movie and album. A tall order.
I had saved up babysitting, lemonade stand, acting gigs and yoga teacher earnings and these were “startup funds” which I partly used to create our first music video “ElectionTrain” made in urgent support for Obama. Then we began pre-pre-production on the feature motion picture :
” I didn’t want to make a film or album that I’d already seen before.
I was aware that most noted ‘counter-culture’ revolutions in media had previously involved an examination but also ultimate glorification of violence + what is sometimes described as ‘toxic masculinity.’
The film prologue introduces my storytelling concepts which I’ve been referring to, as : “orgasmic” instead of “phallic.” I’m positing that my liquid, fluid, music-based, “orgasmic” storytelling journey to tell the “love-is-love-triangle-story” of eVe, Lila + Doctor Goddard – can exist in harmony with the more normative “phallic” cinematic storytelling styles most cultures expect in a narrative movie. While other directors have experimented with dabbling in it – I feel my movie, while working within the constraints of a modest budget, fully explores this type of storytelling, not with outer special effects, but with inner ones.
The movie draws us “under” and “into” the deep end of the pool, the pond, the ocean as if vacillating between conscious + unconscious time-space dimensions but always flowing like water (orgasmic) instead of rocketing into space (phallic) as “eVe” describes from “inside the closet.”
While I’m proud to say my film was made “like a girl” as that popular hashtag proudly proclaims – I’m almost tempted to ask the audience to consider my innovative storytelling “as if” this were directed by one of several guy filmmakers who’ve experimented this way, but with larger budgets but perhaps a bit less insight about the female nature of this “orgasmic” storytelling style which, in my work, seeks to flow poetic, liquid, music.
It is, in fact, I guarantee you, a different type of “orgasm.”
As my movie does include a theme + dedication to victims of violence against the LGBTQ community, women, black individuals + communities, indigenous individuals + communities … and … AND : our oceans, our mother Earth, wildlife – especially Sea-Life (most feminine) – I did portray an act of violence, but I was cognizant of telling the story of the movie in a manner I described onscreen as ‘orgasmic’ existing alongside most storytelling which is often “phallic.”
I posit that both ‘orgasmic’ + ‘phallic’ storytelling can ( and must ) exist inter-dependently in our Arts + Culture.
I found myself having to not only “shatter glass ceilings” + “break sound-barriers” – but I also had to “break” some storytelling / cinematic / music ‘ rules ‘ – in order to tell my ‘love-triangle’ ‘love-is-love – story’ : AUTHENTICALLY.
This wasn’t going to be structured like other movies – this “herstory” neededsomething from me + “she” is composed of the twin-Tao-yin-yang characters : “eVe” + “Lila.” “She” wrote herself, directed herself.
An all female, openly LGBTQIA crew in 2013 was VERY NEW (still rare) – if we were not ‘the first’ – we are definitely among the veryfirst –
Eyes widened whenever I floated the idea. Also pushback – pushed back — on a variety of levels.Sigh.
Some men “mansplained” – my idea was discriminatory. Others proudly displayed their self-hatred through open sexism, racism, homophobia, climate-denying biases, which was – briefly surprising but eventually – worthless, because hate, though ‘loud’ – is such a drab, useless – one way ticket.
Recently, I became aware of a “mini-genre” to which my “eVe” belongs – and by that I mean – movies which explore the internalized concepts of various religious “eves” – in the context of secular, colloquial (notbiblical)culture.
As my Master’s degree incorporated both Anthropology+ Performance Arts – I tend to “study” culture – even while I’m creating it.
I’ve noticed + personally experienced – the regulations + limitations placed on HER-stories – the ” ‘slut-shaming” of “eVe” ‘ – which has : palpable, real-life consequence for most women, girls, feminine males + wildlife(especially Sea-Life , most feminine) —with it’s victims buried deep in the roots of most cultures.
When looking “in the closet” of any given Culture – if we venture to explore past the climate-denial, past homophobia and racism – we’ll find misogyny – hiding – way – WAY … at the back of that closet – where most of us, even women, are unaware of the insidious odor seeping deep :
Those espousing hateful views towards people – or environmental conservancy – often cite economics + productivity as excuses for exclusionary actions. In fact, hate, exclusion + climate denial are completely – un-productivefor society + for the planet.
It’s pure economics if one needs that sort of excuse. Discriminatory, hateful, wasteful energy create nothing except toxins + problems .
We already have a surplus of those.
This planet needs solutions that heal our problems. More than ever I believe education + quality communication skills are the universal “solvent” whereby wecan dissolve + detoxify globalcultures from such maladies.
– surviving independently, indigenous + sustainable – like an endangered species ( along with all other endangered species wildlife, Sea-Life, and the working class / middle class in every economy ) – on gasps of oxygen –
Just after graduating at an impossibly early age, having been skipped several grades, earned scholarships to pay my own tuition- with a Master’sDegree 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 — AND – Environmental Abuse — on a larger scale. The ‘family’ is ‘humanity’and as my family of origin was never a safe place to be — I had already adopted “Humanity” as the family with whom I “belong.”
As a person born of vastly varied, multi-cultural heritages – I could see early on – that “tribalism” was a way to keep walls between people. Which is why I was a “global citizen” before that became a hashtag.
‘Born on the water,’ I’ve always felt – my “true heritage” – is water.
The two debating characters in my movie – “eVe” and “Doctor Goddard – are never – in the same room.
They are separated by “walls” – through which they “debate” – but their ultimate “union” is a form of “healing” … a little miracle.
Large Partof the purpose forthose Project – was my dedication to Sustainability + Green Practices.
My alarm at what’s happening to our planet – especiallyto our waters, ocean life, wildlife –all of which endanger human life + civilization, led me to take my own tiny climate- actionsvery early on.
In high school – I had designed a “SurFShackLoft™feMt0™studi0™h20 “ to be handbuilt very frugally – from biodegradable + upcycled materials.
Miraculously, this loft was built very economically – butequallyimportant – was combining that Sustainability Ethos – with my aesthetics + methodologies developed from early background in dance+theater – to create my signature style along with SustainableFilmSets™.
An added touch of sweetness came when i had asked my local farmers to donate lemons, avocados, kale and flowers, along with other produce – to the creation of our GardenOfeVe™ film set — and they were THRILLED to do so.
As I planned for the movie, I realized that while I don’t consider myself a “designer” – my script – born from story + music (the lyrics are written into my scripts) — but also from methodology + aesthetics, had already designed both sets + costumes.
I hadn’t intended to do this. It just created itself.
We built an “indoor garden” that looked as though a proverbial metaphorical “eVe” embodied by a contemporary – “surfer-chick-student-burlesque-dancer eVe” – had left somewhere in a hurry + quickly planted her own indoor ” victory garden” – out of survival.
This wasn’t fully autobiographical but it metaphorically mirrored my childhood.
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.
In addition to a ” Coming Out ” this movie, this music is intended as a “Coming In From The Cold.”
All through the making of this project, I found myself fighting to save my studio and home in Venice Beach from the severe gentrification and homelessness growing all around me.
It was a familiar fight – against an unjust encroachment from abuse of power. Many times I found myself staying up all night figuring out legal documents, in order to fight back against Trump-style developers – while during the day – working to keep the project going.
A familiar struggle, reminiscent of a childhood framed with terror but propelled by hope and love. A childhood and adult-hood experienced by many less fortunate than myself.
It can heal everything.
I learned that early in life.
It’s odd, like me, earning a Masters’ degree (NYU) with no high-school diploma, having been skipped several grades directly into University. Odd – like me. My fellow students in the Masters’ program were already professors in other countries who had done all they could, to come to America, to study at NYU. I was a kid with no high school diploma – and they were grown-up professors. Odd, like me. I often think about them now, back in their countries and what they must think of America now.
Having survived an abusive childhood – I was dedicated to the arts and grateful for the “shelter” I could find in my deep love / passion for the arts and my teachers, who’d encouraged my work.
Dance was my first love – along with her twin – music. Then I discovered their sisters – theater and cinema. Along with the support of my teachers, these ladies “saved my life.”
Alone with my dreams, walking the pavement of NYC streets, afraid to go home on the subway until
late at night, I learned my craft comforted by the shelter of dance classes with Broadway Pros, art house cinema screens, and haunting legacy of timeless masterpieces echoing from the halls of every Manhattan museum and library.
My teachers were angels + allies in my “dreams come true” and thanks to them, and to my love – I won scholarships, was skipped grades and offered a scholarship to NYU where I earned my Masters’ Degree at a very young age.
One of my report cards described me as a “runaway imagination” and of course, I imagined my imagination running away and I myself became a “runaway with a scholarship.”
I caught a wave + scraped together my “half a shoestring” budget, built my tiny “green” grassroots, up-cycled, recycled, mostly “off the grid” floating film + music Tiny SurfLoft On The Water in Venice Beach, hand-picked my team + went to work !
I had saved up lemonade-stand, babysitting, yoga teacher + acting gig earnings and my hand-built studio and methodologies as 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.“
“HandMade 2 Make A Difference with ToyBoxTechnology ™ ”
Riding the subways alone at too young an age, doing all I could not to go home – I found myself “living at” all my dance classes in private studios on additional dance scholarships, then “living at” the museums and libraries of NYC – kept me busy, along with part-time babysitting and other jobs to pay for anythingscholarships didn’t cover.
So … I just … – never had time – to explore / learn about my own sexuality.
By the time I did learn about it – I was married to my much older male partner, and then BOOM – one day – I FELL — in love with a girl.
It felt CRAZY –
But it was also – BEYOND GREAT !
The LOVE I had for dance, and the arts – had now come full circle into bloom.
I was blooming.
My amazing male partner – reflected this too. He said – you are more YOU now.
I had a lot of figuring out to do.
First — I had to figure out – WHY – did I feel as though I was SUPPOSED to be upset?
I DID agonize about –
feel GUILTY about it —
but I HAD to ask – WHY?
That’s when it came to me – the title of one of the soundtrack songs + a work of art I released with the project :
“We Don’t Fall in Love, We Rise ™”
Little did I know how many times I would repeat that to myself + others.
We had a lot of figuring out to do. Luckily – I was and am still – married to an amazing human being.
Well, of course – I was growing up – growing into Me.
Along with this personal growth, came my awareness of what was happening in the 21st Century world at large.
My personal anguish into ecstasy and my growing deep concerns for the future of Humanity / Mother Earth as an “Endangered Species” became so agonizing – that my only way to deal with anxieties about what I saw happening to this planet in the 21st Century while I was literally “blooming” personally – was to speak up and speak out – doing what I do best.
Suddenly I KNEW that there were people who were experiencing the same “awakenings” about their sexuality but who were living in repressive cultures – and I wanted to reach out to them – to hear THEIR stories – and tell them it would be ok – share my experiences with them – when I first began visualizing this project in 2010.
So many of my posts regarding this project were aimed at persons who lived in other ( more repressive ) cultures and dictatorships.
And here we are, ladies and gentlemen.
Here – we – are.
A ” Coming Out ” and a “Coming In From The Cold.”
I hoped to release a “healing balm” for the “global family” – at the intersections of LGBTQIA communities and my growing concerns for inter-related social justice crises such as – reproductive rights / women’s rights, violence against LGBTQ and female communities, Indigenous People’s and Black Lives Matter and Climate Change / endangered species.
As intended – this movie, soundtrack and everything my feMt0™studi0 has been working on since inception in 2012 has already reached selected but passionate audiences from Los Angeles to Lagos, Uganda to Agra, Mali, to Manhattan —
My wish after graduating – was to create an international – inter-disciplinary – multi-gender – mixed orientation team – in order to reach domestic + global audiences, without the “Over-Lords” of corporate media, stifling the creativity my teachers had encouraged in me.
Much to my surprise – I got a bit of that wish with the limited releases of this project and my first Youtube music video “Election Train” leading up to the movie. I had taken some time from the creation of the movie – to make the music video in order to support Obama’s re-election.
I am REALLY WISHING that with an acknowledgement from YOU — that this project can TRAVEL FARTHER – and reach MANY MORE people who might be comforted by it’s message of acceptance and LOVE IS LOVE – along with being entertained by the work itself.
Creating high quality cinema and music – was of utmost importance along with the “message” of the story. Excellence and Craft is a must.
Lovers of Movies + Music as well as – Free-speech a Free-Press, Journalism + uh – Basic Freedoms of Democracy might do the Culture + the Planet ( ourselves ) a favor – if we simply support an authentic indie artisanal “maker” like myself and my team.
I’m not against big budget films – I often love them!
And – I’d like to find more opportunities to work in them as an actress – because the current system is one big roadblock.
Often , I liken my signature artisan-made process to “farm to table” + “Aquaculture.”
There’s a scene in Billy Wilder’s movie “Sabrina” where Audrey Hepburn as Sabrina , having been to the Sorbonne – is able to cobble together a feast – from just a few eggs + crackers + milk … – THAT’S my aesthetics …
Yes I’m mixing metaphors when I say I’m allowing the “AquaCulturalZ™ Oyster-Pearls to “vine-ripen” + then when we release a project – I aim to “nourish” through “pictures words music in motion ™” encouraging Audiences to :
” 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 – but darkness she doesn’t fear
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 – 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 …
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.
The Project is not easy to pigeonhole – and that’s true to form. I never wanted to make a movie I’ve already seen anywhere else.
One could describe this movie as :
A meditation on ‘male-gaze’ – ‘white-gaze’ – ‘mens-wear’ + other ‘ISMs’….
I offer it up and hope it reaches both Sisters and Brothers too –
Together – we really must GirlTheWorld™ – this is why I made this project – I believe this is how “we shall over-come” our challenges – the ISMS – racism, sexism, homophobia and including climate denial.
” a real cinema experience, it’s not trying to be feminist or lgbtq film but so fitting that it is all that too ; the movie takes those themes to a whole other level of cinematic innovation and disruption ”
Review by H.S
woman owned business founder in Los Angeles
Movie Reviews By People For People ™
Oscars 2020 Contender
“eVe N’ god this female is not yet rated ”
2021 Update : project to be included and featured as part of an upcoming documentary by award winning filmmakers ; details TBA
1 Day in the Epiphany of a 21st Century Girl, who kissed a Girl ™
2017 Interview with Actor/Writer/Director/Producer Cali Lili
(2021 Update !
NOTE : Updated Oscars 2020 Contender information enclosed below as an addendum to this 2017 interview )
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Wow thanks so much ! And THANK YOU for this opportunity ! I appreciate it and so does my team ! LOL Why ???????? Whew. It was INEVITABLE. “Destined,” so to speak ( I am not “religious” … only speaking “spiritually” ) … there was NO WAY this film was not getting made.
I had and still have a burning need 2 express feelings welling up in me as a “21st Century Girl” … and what I hear from others … it was literally a “coming of age” film for me … the script was my reaction to my own “awakening” to the fact that sexism, racism and homophobia were indeed still “active” in this Century.
I had taken for granted that these “Isms” were an … “anachronism” … but upon entering the professional world of the film industry, and as I began to “navigate” the world outside University, I began to realize, to my shock, that these ugly “isms” were still a factor in some “guiding hand” / bias underlying most of society’s institutions including marriage, law, medicine, and also of course the entertainment industry.
Since then, I realize that some of those old “biases” old “paradigms” are now unconsciously incorporated into new “institutions” that were created to counter the old ones … so … even in LGBTQ and Feminist communities and organizations … we seem to have “ingested” the old patriarchy of “labelling” and “exclusionary” behaviours … the “cliques” the “hierarchies” … so … these are some of the factors I consider when telling my stories …
A super cool elderly guy who manages an lgbt owned store in West Hollywood, took me aside one day when I was shopping for stuff for the film set … and he told me in a whispered tone ” you know missy, our lgbt community can sometimes be quite racist and misogynist … ” well … to say the least, having just recently learned about my own sexuality … I had definitely idealized the LGBT community … but of course … we are PEOPLE … and humans are fallible … so… yeah … we all need to find our better angels don’t we …
A world that includes “Girl” … should be one that improves upon old models … and I feel strongly we must begin by learning from the mistakes of “HIStory” as we create “HERstory.” I have been learning this as I reflect on experiences lately … “growing up.”
I ADORE being an actor. I mean, I am BORN to be an actress. I realized however, that most actors are treated like slaves in the entertainment industry ( I am not referring to the 1 Percenters, however, they take their orders from the “powers that be” too ).
FLASHBACK : This was our heritage, as I am told that in “ye olde Hollywood” certain “Rooms 4 Rent” establishments discriminated against Actors, Jewish Persons, and LGBTQ, as well as African American Persons alike … again it’s that “exclusion” that I feel we must do our best to let go of as a culture of “humans being” … that’s what we are … “humans … being …”
Cut To : Modern Times : Still we find, actors of the female persuasion, actors of color and LGBTQ persons are often subjugated to even lower “totem pole” positions within the industry.
Flashback : I had an excruciating childhood, featuring emotional and violent abuse, but my knowledge of my “inner artist, my thirst for knowledge and passion for performance, along with my precious TEACHERS, who were angels … became my saviors. These beautiful educators guarded and guided my path during a very dark time. Their faith in me, the scholarships and awards, provided for me the “space” I needed to sprout from a seedling, who always knew my purpose.
Flash Forward : I’m “commuting” form NYC to LA for acting roles while finishing school and it’s cool … I learn that I truly belong on a film set, doing this work.
Montage : For some unknown reason, I have always “known” in my bones … that THIS is what I know, THIS is what I do … and that THIS is where my “contribution” to humanity can best be accomplished. Due to that difficult childhood, I knew : contributing to the world around me, thru my art, was my ultimate healing. In fact it was that “knowing” ( and my teachers ) that literally saved my life.
After a few initial roles as a teenager, I began to realize : most of the female roles involve degrading material. Well. After a few”offers” for roles in films that might have been somewhat lucrative, and maybe provide some professional benefits as a new actress in Hollywood … I surprise myself by turning down three roles in a row.
I could not betray my teachers, myself, or … other women in that way. Mind you , I felt this as a teenager, but that’s a response in keeping with a kid who has grown up too soon.
I was lucky that my manager ( and also my partner, Wings Hauser ) were supportive of my decision to build my own film and music studio like Charlie Chaplin did. It was a crazy idea but the best one I’ve ever had. I wrote my “WomaniFest0™” Vision Statement : “The Declaration of IndiePenDance™ feMt0™ re EVOL ution™ ” and … raised the “half a shoestring” budget.
eVe N’ god this female is not yet rated™ was outlined on a bunch of stickies. It was one of several films I had planned to create, with it’s own soundtrack. All my films have their own albums. I also secured the rights to a Zane Grey novel during this period too … and that is a project I plan in future …
Around this time I began writing more songs … I had already written like, 100 songs in various stages of completion … I am not good with math, numbers, etc … but my voice was always “burning” to sing … I mean, physically it was a burning sensation. For certain reasons connected to my abusive childhood and a violent person who was a musician / mathematician … I felt that music was not available to me … and yet songs in the form of poetry … and singing was always there just under the surface … and when that bubbled over … my healing began. That healing lit the way for me to embrace who I am.
My first “deal memo” was with an Academy Award winning producer who fell in love with my project and my work … and for whom I will always be grateful for both the support as well as the really disappointing but important lessons I learned. During that deal I realized that I know what I am doing as a producer, as well as an artist. I found myself getting yelled at by some major players in Hollywood … and LOL found myself able to yell back … LOL
We were in a co-production deal to make a film written by myself and my partner Wings Hauser. Throughout that pre-pre-production I met great people. However, as I lived through that deal, I kept hearing from my co-producer that ” I had too much power in the deal.” This was so confusing, bc we had negotiated through lawyers, a 50-50 deal. But my co-producer claimed he should have 51%. That extra 1 % would have made my choices in the destiny of the film, practically nullified. I realized, that if I did not give up that 1% … thus giving up my voice, my control on the finished project … my co-pro would not come thru with the financing as promised.
It was time to do my own thing “for reals”. That meant, taking responsibility for every aspect of the projects. I didn’t fully know what I was taking on … but somehow, I just knew that this was the right path for me … I am not certain it’s the right one for everybody … it’s really challenging …
I consider the “nuts and bolts” of my hand-made film and music – making “works” to be the work of a magical, mystical, “craftsperson” that is channeling through me, ideas and sounds, pictures… as I called it ” Pictures Words Music In Motion™ ” … something akin to “witchcraft” 😎 Same for my acting and music.
Coincidentally, in my personal life I was learning about my own sexuality, I was learning about what it means, to be ” a girl ” in the entertainment industry and in fact, the world … so … I began the fleshing out of those notes I had written on “stickies” for eVe N’ god this female is not yet rated™ and it flowed like water … the script and the songs literally poured out of me … and the rest is HERstory.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
To partially paraphrase fromscreenwriter and actor, Quinn Redeker …The film will “take you somewhere you have never been, ” … I’m pretty certain of that.
I believe the studio is worth supporting for various reasons, it’s female owned and operated, it’s “green” … and my themes always deal with social justice / earth justice topics in fun entertaining manner … This film was shot almost entirely on the water. The album was also recorded on the water. This was important for me bc … the Ocean is “temple” and “home” for me … and I am VERY concerned with preserving our waters … our coral reefs … I feel this is CRUCIAL to life on earth.
My tiny feMt0™studi0 is made from “upcycled” and “recycled” materials and in harmony with the water / nature surroundings in Venice Beach. I created Cali Lili Indies™ Pictures Words Music In Motion™ at “VenusBeach™ Cutting Edge of The Pacific™ as both a destination and state of mind. We are at the edge of the water, just a few blocks from “Hollywood.” Completely indie, self sustaining, and green.
I try to operate my little “SurfShack” feMt0™studi0 as “green” as I possibly can! All biodegradable materials in harmony with the Ocean and Marine Life all around us. I also try to serve organic lunches for crews ( unless they prefer junk food LOL which we also serve … we cater to the crews’ wishes ! but I do encourage healthy food ).
I hope also that my film and album will inspire you to care about the world in a new way … and about yourself. I truly believe you will have FUN if you relax into the experience, bc I intended it to feel like an experience…
I know you will see some beauty, hear some cool beats and … I hope hope hope … some of the imagery andmusic might mingle with your own dreams that night …
and the next day … images and sounds might return for you as I wish them to… perhaps inspire you to treat yourself and others in an extra loving way … perhaps you might question some bit of dialogue or idea in the film… which might, I hope … inspire you to see it again …. and then see it again … perhaps a third and fourth time after that … and then … six months down the line, a year later, five years later, perhaps you might revisit the film … and in the revisiting … perhaps you might see how you have personally changed, by virtue of your own new responses to the material … and perhaps you might learn something about yourself as you see your own responses to the film change over time … always … it is my wish that when you are in that experience with my films … you are in contact with “love” and with”rhythm” …
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Ah. Great GREAT question. They work completely synergistically. They are completely inextricable from each other. That is my ethic, my method, and my sincerest wish.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
I shared a bit earlier about the “stickies” … which became the script. It really was a “coming of age” bc … I found my voice as an artist in the development of the project and my feMt0™ studi0 was “built” concurrently with the development of the script and album … so … this was an organic birth … with every step of the way feeling “guided” byMy “Goddess Of Film” … “she” seemed to light the way … and along with the “Goddess of the Ocean” … it seemed really “ordained.” Again I don’t say this as a religious person … just a “spirituality” that is based in nature and “girlpower.”
When I decided the project would be an “all female crew” … I didn’t realize how many nasty responses I’d get from simply including in my adverts that we considered every resume but that we : “encouraged resume submissions from women and lgbtq communities as well as “persons of color” ( these labels bother me but we tried to communicate to applicants, that this project was supporting under-represented persons in the entertainment industry and in the world ). Well, it was amazing that some crazies wrote in to protest this little statement … WOW.
What further amazed me, was that my assumption the project would immediately find support from feminist and LGBTQ organizations was not accurate. Somehow, we have perpetuated a patriarchal exclusionary model of the universe. I write about these things in order to figure out how to contribute to the healing of these hurtful habits. I’d like to help form an economy and ecology that is nourishing for our entire planet and the one “race” “gender” to which we all belong : “living beings on mother earth.”
I believe eVe N’ god this female is not yet rated™ is possibly the first or one of the very first narrative feature motion picture productions crewed by an all female team of technicians and artists ? I haven’t definitively declared that, bc I haven’t done that heavy research on the topic … but I began blogging about it approximately late 2011 / 2012 and I do believe we inspired the current trending of “all female crews” on some projects. I am super proud we got the “Triple F rating” from Bath Film Festival, which stands for “written, directed and produced by a female” … and of course my theme deals with “girl” themes, and related themes. Our set was “magical.”
I needed two of three main characters “Miss eVening Lily / “eVe” and “doctor goddard / “god” to be in separate locations … so I had to figure out a bunch of logisitics …. and as the practicals became clear … they influenced my story-telling style and things began to flow quite easily after the “hiring” stage was completed.
The completion of the film, the shooting of the “ending scene,” was delayed by approximately 1.5 years because initially, I had the idea that I wanted an all female music team to match the all female production crew. But after a few female musicians and a female recording engineer came on board the project and experienced complications in their personal lives / professional lives, some of which were the result of conflicts with OTHER female musicians who felt challenged by the work they were doing with me ( HUGE EYEROLL HERE ) … I decided … that true diversity would include male musicians … and indeed the music backing my lyrics and vocals needs “muscularity” … why not include male team members in the music? I felt my integrity was on the line bc I had “pledged” in 2010 … to use all female crews … but … I was evolving as the project evolved … and after all, some of the male musicians were in the LGBTQ community … some were “allies” … so … that included an added “diversity” …and again … I am … “growing up… ”
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Amazingness. The few persons who have seen the film, are people who’s opinions I truly respect, and I just wanted them to be honest with me about their “experience.”
I had this idea … to ask “regular people” ( albeit people who’s ideas and intelligence / integrity I respect ) to “write mini reviews” … If you think about it … our “reviews” come from people who are seeing hundreds of films and let’s face it, they are in the biz so they often do have allegiances and “inside baseball” “inner circle” dramas LOL …
Now, I believe in art “scholarship” … film “scholarship” … I love reading or hearing from professionals who do this for a living … I truly believe in the age of “cell phone movies” and “good enough” videos on YouTube … the de-professionalization of the artist is democratizing but a bit … um … deplorable. Artists are treated badly enough … so I don’t relish any further disrespect of the professional artist, OR the professional art “scholar.”
But I did feel it was cool to ask “people” for their “mini reviews” during this early stage …here are some of the quotes … with more on the way … ( they remain anonymous out of respect for them and for the project in its early stages of distribution )
A.K : “Wow. Every minute is engaging. It really (draws) you into the experience …just incredibly engaging from start to finish. You are both sympathetic and conflicted as a character. At times I go , hell yes ! You are so right. And at other times I go, un, whoah. Take a step back. It is awesome ! It also gives you time to just reflect on things … I have to admit, I really wasn’t sure what to expect or if I would find the film engaging or relatable, but it was both ! … You wanted to know how it made me feel. Well. I think I ran the gambit. It is a sexy film. The tension, the beauty, the music. All of it together makes for a very sensual experience. So if you aren’t paying attention to the intellectual side and just letting the film set the mood, it does that. Of course, that only really lasts for the first 30 minutes or so. After that, the conflict changes a little, it becomes grittier and more real and less sexy and more awkward. Like watching two people fight at a restaurant. You don’t really want to interfere, but you also don’t really want to stop watching. Sometimes I felt lost in a good way …and other times in a bad way. But I felt empathy for both characters, and at each step I was curious as to what would come next … (and) the soundtrack is just killer. We loved it. There is something there for everyone. ”
M.K : ” … i felt like I had to talk to somebody about this film … but I was just watching it alone … so I talked to my dog about it … ”
H.H.S : ” this is a real cinema experience … it’s not trying to be a “feminist” or “lgbt” themed film … but so fitting that it is all that too … it takes those themes to a whole other level into cinematic innovation and disruption … it’s unusual in LGBTQIA material in that it deals with bi-sexual and poly-amory themes too …this is a new voice, an auteur pushing the boundaries of cinematic art “
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Hmmm. It has confirmed my highest wishes for my “baby” project … my first … of course I wished for comments like these … not really just an “ego” thing ( tho yeah it feels good lol ) but it feels as though I “communicated” thru the medium of film and music … and I wished to communicate ! … so that feels awesome …
My point of view, such as it is … is usually about discovery. So my pov is expressed in the making of my art … although my characters are not always “me” … I am exploring ideas and in fact, my characters speak through me … I am feeling more like I am channeling their voices.
Once my art is out there … it’s like my “baby” is taking her “baby steps” and while I definitely am a “jaguar” when it comes to protecting my art and my team … my baby … ( jaguar mothers are VERY protective grrrrr….. )
I am quite interested in allowing the audience to embrace and experience whatever it is they will experience … bc I have experienced audience members telling me stuff I hadn’t dreamed of … bc my projects elicited something in THEM …. and THAT is really fascinating for me to hear !!!!!
Not many people have seen the film, but those who have, are people I truly respect. Their enjoyment and delight and their unexpected comments about the film has nourished me.
I am SO pumped to share the film with TONS more … I am REALLY stoked to hear about people’s experiences!
As my team and I weigh options for distribution … we are interested in opening up opportunities for sharing the film with as wide an audience as possible … I also do need to make sure that the film earns something … bc I am working as a professional artist and doing so independently of corporate. I am grassroots, sustainable and “fiercely indie” I like to say. Additionally my “green” / “water-based” studio requires upkeep AND I PAY my crews … nobody works for free on my projects … my budgets are modest but crews are paid.
One of my mottos is “HandMade 2 Make A Difference™” and I have put the blood, guts and sweat into that statement… so … yeah … I really have made this film in order to hopefully”make a difference” … I really wish for as many girls, women, LGBTQ communities, global communities, allies / men … and humanities / democracy – minded individuals as possible, worldwide, to see and hear the experience of this film … and I wish for it to “spark” feelings, thoughts, ideas, action, and dialogue …
I am already working on my next film …. so I want to spark a dialogue with our audience … ASAP … bc I want to share some ideas … and at this critical time in the 21st Century … I feel a true URGENCY about sharing these ideas ASAP ! So … when you see this film, hear this album … you are in “dialogue” with me / us for the next one … and you are supporting this new concept of a “film and music studio ” … literally “supporting the arts by sustaining the artist ” … and I believe in that … buying from the artist and sustaining artists … I really need that kind of support from the audience …
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Film Festival Directors !
YES PLEASE !!!!!!
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
LOVE ! and AMPLIFICATION ! and SHARING through purchasing my films, albums, merch … and telling others about it please … encouraging Audiences to BUY from the Artist instead of expecting our work for free … after all … a movie / album can be played over and over … and you purchase it once … why not purchase it and support an artist who works toward a better world ? I really do believe … if we lose artists to poverty or indifference … if we ignore the artist … we nail the coffin of our own cultures. We need artists like oxygen and so often, they are victims of the worst cultural tendencies …. the canaries in the coal mine … look at all the authoritarian governments who sacrifice the artist … an artist disrupts our assumptions … and that’s both healing and crucial.
We have gotten used to “free music ” and “free movies” … well .. the corporations who are “gatekeepers” of what’s in movie theater and on tv / on the radio … they are not working for free … but very often artists are … and independent artists are ” an endangered species” … I’m not kidding. Let’s pay the artist, let’s keep her alive … our lives depend on it.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
This is a critical time in History and HERstory … please everybody … SHOULDER to SHOULDER we MUST overcome autocracy and BUILD DEMOCRACY TOGETHER … this is IT .. this is THAT TIME and every moment matters.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
We are working on the next project in the slate …
Now laying down new demos for the next album and I am in pre-rewrites on the next script.
I have sometimes considered it a “trilogy” … but each project is really its own universe … so that might be confusing … it’s more like, each project is organically “flowing” into the next … and each one is very much interconnected … which is fitting … bc … we are all dreaming together … and the movies, the music, allow us to hold hands, share some time together, feel the rhythm, move together … and dance.
Cali Lili skipped several grades (having been tested as reading at college level in grade school) took her first college course in the entire works of Shakespeare, at age 13, never graduated high-school, never even went to a prom, was swooped up, landing at NYU, then completed her Masters’ Degree on full scholarship with awards / stellar reviews for early works.
Cali is told that she was born “early” and “on the water.” Her love of body surfing, all things “ocean” and all marine life, especially dolphins, has proven to her that this must be true.
Having experienced an extremely difficult childhood “on land,” she does not revisit childhood memories and often speaks out against all forms of abuse.
Born of multi-cultural heritage, Cali is keenly aware and concerned with what she sees as a form of “tribalism” too often employed as “nationalism.” Cali writes about these issues and acts accordingly when it comes to her public image.
Cali adores being an actor and takes that craft very seriously, but found herself turning down 3 acting offers, that she felt were disempowering to women, in order to “turn up” what she calls fempower (TM) by scraping together “half a shoestring budget” to build her “green” “off-grid,” upcycled “floating” “surfshack” feMt0 (TM) studi0 at the Venice Beach Canals in Los Angeles, California where she makes “Signature” auteur Motion Pictures, Albums and Books, with “ToyBoxTechnologies” (TM) “HandMade2MakeADifference” (TM).
Based on the quality of her work as an artist, and her uncompromising dedication to excellence, she then raised modest financing for her upcoming Slate of Motion Pictures, Albums, and Books.
She works from the Cutting Edge Of The Pacific ” (TM) Venus Beach (TM) at The Cali Lili Indies (TM) ” where she stays “afloat” connected with her love and devotion to “rippling waters of the world,” the “mother / sister ocean” energy, so inspiring to her work and life, in order to make social justice themed films, albums, and books.
Cali’s degree included extensive studies in anthropology as well as performance techniques from all over the globe. She holds an added background of intense New York studies in dance /choreography.
She is proud to share her deep connection with “Mother Africa” and is greatly inspired by African culture, the cultures of Oceania, and that of her other diverse intercultural studies.
Cali Lili :
“We all originate from one mother in Africa, the Ocean is our collective unconscious, so let us honor each other, our mutual mother, our waters, and our blue mothership, earth. In doing so, we save ourselves. ” …