Anastasia M. Cummings brings an intense backstory to her filmmaking career. Her love of story began with a tumultuous childhood in Algeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she watched spaghetti westerns dubbed in Arabic. After living in 7 different countries, she found herself working in LA as a script supervisor. Quality of life led her to Colorado, and she now works as both a director and producer. With 7 short films to her name, including the Oscar-qualifier Menschen, Anastasia is currently at work on the feature-length version of her short film CODA. In this episode of the Denver Media Professionals podcast, Cummings talks about the trials and joys of filmmaking, industry insight, surviving cancer, and the importance of positivity.
Anastasia's Interview Show Notes
[02:25] Anastasia’s background and getting into film.
- Growing up as a 3rd culture kid in North Africa with a Dutch father and French/Moroccan mother.
- Multiculturalism fueled her love of telling stories for those without voices.
- As a teenager, she watched spaghetti westerns and Egyptian soap operas in Arabic.
- Growing up female in a Muslim country was difficult but developed her stamina.
- Tumultuous times in childhood fleeing civil war.
- The confluence of appearing white and European, but growing up African.
[22:45] Studying English, German, Arabic, and international trade informed her later work as a producer.
[26:00] Freelancing as a translator for the Vienna Symphony Orchestra included travel that opened her eyes to the diversity of the world.
[33:45] Living around the world created many contacts that would prove helpful for a producer.
[34:05] The difficulties of marrying a celebrity, motherhood, and balancing family life with her own career.
[39:00] Becoming a script supervisor.
- A script supervisor analyzes the script, maintains continuity, and works on the grammar of film (the language of story).
- The two types of continuity: matched action and progressive action.
- The challenges of shooting scenes with huge time gaps in between.
[53:20] Roles for script supervisors in the Colorado market.
- A lack of incentives hurts the film industry in Colorado.
- Commercial shoots versus narrative shoots.
[58:15] Balancing Colorado Film School and motherhood.
[1:01:35] Menschen, a challenging, 28-minute World War II film shot on a shoestring budget.
- Receiving international attention and speaking at the United Nations.
- Qualifying for the Oscars.
- A cancer diagnosis during her film’s world premiere.
[1:10:00] Crowdfunding and sponsorships.
- The difficulties of funding a 65-person crew.
- The benefits of being fiscally sponsored by a non-profit organization.
[1:21:10] Working on the feature-length version of her short film CODA, and her first time directing a feature film.
- Building a community around CODA.
[1:43:45] Advantages and disadvantages of being a filmmaker in Denver.
- Maintaining Colorado as a home base but traveling for film work.
[1:55:30] The importance of making mistakes.
[1:56:00] Biggest lesson of career
[1:58:20] Imperative for success.
[1:58:45] Advice for aspiring filmmakers.
Links to Resources in the Podcast
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