On Tackling White Supremacy And The Power of Storytelling: Allison Lopez

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Allison Lopez is a filmmaker, a student at University of Texas, and creator of the film "Death of a Nation." Lopez will be exhibiting work at our BABES FEST film showcase on August 31, 2018 at the Austin School of Film.

Interview conducted by #bbatx committee member Cristina Flores

Tell us a little bit about yourself. When did you realize you wanted become a storyteller?

I’m almost graduated from UT (one more semester!) with a Bachelor's of Science in Radio Television Film. I like anime and video games and so does my cat, Minerva. I’ve wanted to be a storyteller since I was in middle school. It all started with me making cheesy YouTube videos.

Your film, Death of A Nation, aims to talk about issues surrounding white supremacist organizations on the University of Texas at Austin's campus. What is something you’ve learned in the process of creating Death of a Nation and something you wish you would’ve known before first arriving in Austin to pursue your studies?

It's difficult making a political film. A lot of white actors were turned off when they learned that they were playing the “bad guy." I understand nobody wants to be the “bad guy,” but that was a challenge we had to overcome. Racists on my campus can be dangerous, too. Some students are even in white nationalist organizations. You have to be constantly aware of your surroundings and careful doing anything as a woman of color or queer of color. Sometimes even the professors themselves are known for their racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and transphobic remarks in class—and there’s nothing much else that you can do about those situations since reporting the professor rarely ever works.

What’s something you’ve learned about yourself as an artist/filmmaker as you direct narratives?

I’ve learned that anybody can be a filmmaker. I used to have this fear of not being good enough to be a filmmaker, but how can I know if I’m good or not if I don’t practice? Another thing I learned was to be genuine in my storytelling. I used to write fictional stories but I noticed that something was always off. Tell your truth and people will enjoy your work!

What do you love (or hate) the most about the filmmaking process?

I love the community that was created out of the making of Death of a Nation. Everyone was so talented and positive. This was the first film set I’ve worked on that had women of color as major roles in both the production side and the talent side. Being surrounded by such wonderful women of color was such a contrast from some film sets that I’ve worked on. The people working on the film and the general mood on set can really change experience of filmmaking. Surround yourself with people who respect you and your work! Honestly, the film industry is filled with pretentious men, so sometimes filmmaking is more of a chore. But, if you can’t find a film collective that you can feel comfortable with and have fun with, then create one yourself.

If you could describe your relationship with filmmaking in three words, what would it be?

Filmmaking is my fun creative escape.

This may be a little different, but tell us one (Or MORE!) things that you love about your own work.

I love that my work has social commentary from the perspective of a woman of color. The films that I see coming out of the RTF department and Hollywood avoid being political, and if they are, it’s typically from a cis white man’s perspective. Very few people want to tell narratives from people of color’s perspectives or queer perspectives.

What are some resources you recommend for young female filmmakers in the Austin community?

My professor Shannon Benna created a community for female filmmakers from all over the world who are interested in 3D filmmaking. The group is called Stereo Sisters—Shannon is a brilliant 3D filmmaker and producer and the sweetest mentor!

How can BABES FEST attendees support you?

Follow Death of a Nation on Facebook. We will be putting up a gofundme soon, so please support your local women of color filmmakers. We will have shirts and more merchandise to thank you for your support.

Allison's film "Death of a Nation" will be screened during Day 1 of Babes Fest 2018 at Austin School of Film. Get your tickets here.

from the film "Death of a Nation"

from the film "Death of a Nation"

Jane Claire Hervey