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Meet the Filmmakers: Amanda E.K. & Jesse Livingston, “Second Surface”

Q: Why did you become a filmmaker?
AMANDA: As a synesthete, I’m drawn to filmmaking because it gives me an opportunity to express my cross-sensory experiences in ways that aren’t possible to convey in writing alone. I love how so many different artistic elements come together in filmmaking.
JESSE: I’ve been obsessed with movies for years. The entire process is fascinating to me. When we were kids, my brother and I would make short films using our stuffed animals.

Q: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?
AMANDA: Our first short film, Second Surface, will be screening at the EFP. This will be its first live screening. We’ve been submitting it to local and international film fests.
JESSE: Second Surface is a surreal journey through a dreamlike landscape inspired by Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon. During the pandemic we needed something we could shoot outdoors with as few actors as possible, so we wrote a story in which a character’s environment mirrors their interior journey.

Q: What else are you working on?
AMANDA: I have four more episodes of The Pandemic in Pollyville web series in the works (of 14 total; Episode 1: The Supermarket screened at EFP last July), as well as a TV show I’m writing and pitching with Jesse. Individually, I’m also pitching a memoir about the impact of growing up in evangelical purity culture, promoting my queer erotica short story collection, and offering one-on-one creative coaching & Reiki sessions.
JESSE: The TV series we’re writing is called Hazelwood. It’s a supernatural mystery inspired by Amanda’s hometown of Storm Lake, Iowa. Other than that, I’m always working on music with The Far Stairs.

Q: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?
AMANDA: The diary featured in Second Surface was my actual diary from the year 2000, which is filled with a lot of tragic-comic commentary on my life in fundamentalist evangelical Christianity.
JESSE: The mirror we used in Second Surface came from my childhood home. I used to pretend it was a doorway to another world.

Q: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?
AMANDA: Check out my website AmandaEKwriter.com, or find me on instagram @amanda.ek.writer and @glasscactus_prods. You can watch all of our films on our Glass Cactus YouTube channel.
JESSE: You can check out thefarstairs.com/jesse-livingston to see my previous film projects, music, and writing.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?
AMANDA: I’m excited to get to know other local filmmakers via the EFP as I seek to expand my community of like-minded creatives.
JESSE: I’m grateful that there are people in Denver who care about film this much and put their energy into spotlighting new talent. Thanks for all your hard work!

Second Surface will screen during The Emerging Filmmakers Project 20th Anniversary Celebration on Thursday, May 19th, 2022 at The Bug Theatre.

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Meet the Filmmaker: Amanda EK, “The Supermarket”

Q: Why did you become a filmmaker?

A: My creative partner with Glass Cactus – Jesse Livingston – and I have been developing a TV series and submitting our pilot to fests and contests. Last summer we decided we’d like to make a short film (Second Surface – nominated for Best Experimental Short & Best Mobile short at IndieX Fest) as a way to back up our screenwriting projects, and as a way to stay creatively focused during the pandemic. Over the winter we decided it best to work remotely, which led me to teaching myself the basics of Final Cut Pro and turning an idea I’ve had to use my childhood Polly Pocket toys to show a variety of raw and heartfelt pandemic stories. As a synesthete, I’m drawn to filmmaking because it gives me an opportunity to express my cross-sensory experiences in ways that aren’t possible to convey in writing alone.

Q: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?

A: The first episode of my Pandemic in Pollyville web series, “The Supermarket,” will be screening at the EFP. This will be its first live screening. I’ve been submitting it, along with other films in the series, to local and international film fests. Episode 9, “The First Date,” was just nominated for Best LGBTQ short and Best Web Series by Indie Shorts Fest. Eventually I’d like to host a screening of the entire series, with future plans for a gallery exhibit where each film is playing on separate old TV sets, and possibly a comic book version of the series.

Q: What else are you working on?

A: I have five more episodes of The Pandemic in Pollyville in the works, as well as a TV show that I’m writing and pitching with Jesse Livingston. Individually, I’m also pitching a memoir about the effects of growing up in evangelical purity culture, co-producing a Low Orbit podcast episode on Christian Rapture stories, co-editing a religious trauma anthology, writing a monthly erotica column for Out Front Magazine, and offering one-on-one creative coaching sessions.

Q: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?

A: While filming, I treat the Polly dolls like actors. They need coaxing and direction in order to get the right pose and facial expressions out of them…and to keep their damn masks on.

Q: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?

A: For more information about me and my work, you can head to my website AmandaEKwriter.com. I’m most active on instagram @amanda.ek.writer and @glasscactus_prods, and you can watch all of our films on our Glass Cactus YouTube channel.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?

A: I’m excited to get to know other local filmmakers via the EFP as I seek to expand my community of like-minded creatives.

The Supermarket will screen during The Emerging Filmmakers Project on Thursday, July 15th, 2021 at The Bug Theatre.