On Confidence, Energy And Her New Film "CASSADAGA": Brittany Reeber


Today, we're profiling Brittany Reeber, one of the exhibiting filmmakers at the BABES FEST film showcase on August 31, 2018 at the Austin School of Film. Below, Reeber—a film director, Florida native and UT grad—talks manifesting her newest work "CASSADAGA," which takes place in a spiritual coastal town in South Florida.

Interview conducted by #bbatx committee member Cristina Flores

Tell us about your first trip to CASSADAGA. Did it feel the same when you returned to visit?

I first drove through Cassadaga on my way back to Texas after going home to Florida for the holidays. We only stayed for an hour or two because we were on a schedule, and I remember feeling this mix of “I feel uncomfortable and I want to leave” and “I never want to leave, let’s stay the night here.” There was something so eerie about finding a community so tied to “the dead” in the middle of sunny Florida.

The next time I went back, I did stay for several nights and then I came back again, and it always felt the same—a combination of dread and intrigue.

What attracted you the most to the psychic community in CASSADAGA and what inspired you to make a film about it?

I write a lot about my family, but somewhat indirectly and in another project I’d been working on for the last few years, the characters took a day trip to Cassadaga to deal with some grief. Last year, I decided I wanted to immerse a film project into a pre-existing community of people and experiment a little bit there and it occurred to me that Cassadaga felt like the perfect place to try that and work on some of these themes I’d been exploring for a long time like ancestry, modern rituals and skepticism.

What’s something you’ve learned during the process of creating this film?

I always learn more about myself in the process of making art. It takes a great deal of force and energy to make any kind of art, film especially.  Film requires a lot of resources and with each new project, I have to summon a lot of internal strength to make it happen. So this project has reminded me that filmmaking is an endurance test and the process itself, finding that energy and confidence, is where the growth happens, not necessarily in the final product.

How would you describe the film industry in Austin? Do you have any advice for aspiring women filmmakers in the Austin community?

I’m so grateful that I chose to go to school in Austin and that I found a community here. I think it’s a very nurturing place to make work and friends, find mentors, make movies. The biggest thing I would say to aspiring women who want to work on films or make their own films is to not be afraid to be excited about their own ideas and tell other people about them. Filmmaking is intimidating because first you have an idea and then you have to get some other people on board to help you. I feel like girls are brought up and told to not be overly confident, and I think it’s important to learn how to say to yourself “I have ideas and I’m allowed to think they’re good.” My best friend Lucy taught me that and I have it written on a notecard at my desk.

What are some practices you make for yourself if you feel creatively “stuck” or uninspired?

If I am having trouble writing or getting started, I’ll usually just journal and doodle. What am I feeling? What did I do yesterday? What was a dream I had recently? And if that’s all I do that day, as far as writing goes, then I try not to be too hard on myself and I start over again the next day. I’ve also started playing music a bit because I wanted to have a hobby at home that my ego didn’t feel too wound up in.

You have a wonderful and talented team for your production of CASSADAGA! How do you build your community or team when creating a film? What do you value the most in a creative team?

Yeah. I feel so lucky! I’ve just been working on films with these people for years. I think it’s about putting the time in and forging relationships with people who you genuinely care about and believe in. For me, making films or any kind of art project is a really sensitive process and takes courage so I look for people who make me feel safe to try things and take risks.

How can we support you?

Well I have a Kickstarter right now for CASSADAGA, and we are so close to making our goal. So if anyone has the means to donate even a little bit, that would be huge for us! Otherwise just words of encouragement and platforms to talk are the best support and I love #bossbabesATX for that. You guys have supported my work for a long time and the residual feelings from that support last much longer than you may even realize.

Reeber's film "CASSADAGA" will be screened during Day 1 of BABES FEST 2018 at Austin School of Film. Get your tickets here.

Jane Claire Hervey