Or Die Trying executive producers Sarah Hawkins and Myah Hollis caught up with Art Director Alexandra Velsaco to talk about her experience working on ODT Season 1.
What drew you to OR DIE TRYING?
The fact that women my age were writing, starring and producing this web series caught my attention. I love supporting women in film and it is even more incredible when they are my actual peers. When I told people I was going to be the art director in the series and then explained the plot, I realized that it was basically my life and the life of many young professionals that I know! So it was exciting to create a new world in film based on my real one.
(Relax It's Only Flesh. Photography by Camila Saldarriaga)
Without giving too much away, what themes in this series resonated with you on a personal level?
I think a combination of all of the girls, but the story lines that resonated the most were Ellie's and Lia's. Ellie knows what she wants and who she is but can't seem to monetize that, and Lia is trying to find herself after putting all of her eggs in one basket and seeing it all crash down. I think in my life right now I feel like Ellie, sometime I have to compromise my artistic values in order to pay my rent, which is not a good feeling.
What was it like working with a crew made up of primarily women?
It was awesome. Seems cliche but there was no competition. It was an entirely collaborative environment. Everyone put on many hats and helped out when different departments needed it.
How do you think that benefited this particular project?
I think when the people behind the scenes are actually living what is happening in front of the camera the story is really and viewer's can really see that. The characters come to life in an authentic way instead of being a stereotype that comes from the mind of men that actually have no clue what women are thinking.
Favorite moment on set?
I loved working with my Set Decorator Hannah Olsen-Mansoor on creating the character's different worlds. We were such a good team. Creating Reagan's office was awesome, as well as Bailey's studio apartment. It is fun to imagine what characters were doing before the scene we are shooting that day, imaging their actions or what might have happened before the camera starts rolling.
(Horizon. Collage on paper 2012)
What do you think is the most effective way to go about changing the systematic gender problems in the film industry?
The way ODT has been doing it is a pretty great way to start. Writing, directing and producing original content for women is great. We gotta make sure to make it non-traditional and shy away from stereotypical storylines. Cross boundaries we are afraid to cross and speak our minds! We can't be afraid of saying what we feel and what we need. And always support each other, always.
Any other projects you're currently working on?
I am working on my hand-painted denim jacket line called Relax It's Only Flesh, where I work to desexualize female nudity. I am also working on directing the video content for Sunstock Solar Festival, a 100% solar-powered music festival happening September 2017 in LA. My main focus right now is creating more feminist artwork as well as content that deals with the effects of climate change, and come up with solutions to this huge universal problem.