04: Olivia Carmel and Demi DeHererra – The New Freedom Seed and Spark Campaign and Life Lessons

Olivia Carmel and Demi DeHererra


Olivia Carmel and Demi DeHererra are kindred spirits and collaborators in the Denver film scene. They are currently at work on The New Freedom, a horror film that tackles issues of racism, sexism, and current societal shifts. Both women are passionate about fostering diversity in the film industry, dynamic when it comes to creating an opportunity for themselves and others, and dedicated to the quality of their work.



Interview Show Notes

[01:25] An inclusion rider is added to a contract to ensure that production will have a certain level of diversity to include women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community.

[02:25] Demi, a Colorado native, started in commercial photography before moving into film.

[02:58] Olivia was a writing major who began writing screenplays and then making them into films. Her professors took notice and hired her after she graduated to produce their own films.

  • Olivia was looking for a creative community and moved to Denver in 2013.
  • The influx of people into Colorado enriches the creative community.

[05:55] They met first on social media, followed each other’s work, connected on issues of diversity, and then met in person

[07:25] The New Freedom writer and co-producer Sterling Cook met with Olivia and asked if she wanted to direct the film

[08:30] Olivia brought Demi onto the project, where the two built a strong team and work well together.

[09:30] The New Freedom is a horror film in which kids come home from college to see their community has changed with frightening instances of racism, sexism, and shifting environments.

[10:40] Seed and Spark is a crowdfunding platform for filmmakers which includes the ability for people to donate goods and services.

  • They are currently involved in a pitch rally called Communal Nightmares, a 30-day campaign with the chance to win $25,000 of seed financing plus a guaranteed distribution deal.
  • Other rewards for hitting milestones include equipment, counseling with industry professionals, and film festival admissions.
  • Their campaign is on track but needs a final push to gain funding and followers.
  • If they get 1,000 followers, they get $1,000 for camera gear. It takes less than 30 seconds to follow the project at Seed and Spark.

[16:30] Gaining followers is more difficult than getting donations.

[19:00] Getting the word out involves a variety of efforts to connect with people, everything from sending emails to chatting up your Uber driver.

[21:02] Demi is passionate about working but doesn’t want to do a project unless it’s right, and this one feels right. She’s passionate about creating content in the local community.

  • 99% of business is showing up. Make connections and build your community, create your own opportunities.

[24:00] Olivia: Working hard for free can make contacts and give you valuable experiences. It’s all worth it because it’s fun and enjoyable. Pro bono projects are important too.

[26:30] Demi: No one will hire you unless they see your work. Show your work ethic on low-budget and no budget projects to later get hired on bigger projects.

  • Trade pays off. Working for free leads to paid work. That’s how you build relationships and community. Pay it forward.
  • You have to demonstrate your value first before being hired, then people will take a chance on you.

[31:50] Olivia comes from a long line of educators. She enjoys giving back, helping others, and wants to build up the Denver industry.

  • The #MeToo movement and being passionate about equality for all.
  • The importance of providing an opportunity for marginalized people.
  • Dealing with sexism, racism, and denigration on set.
  • Destroying the myth that diversity compromises quality.

[45:00] Diversity starts at the beginning of the process with scripts that don’t reinforce stereotypes. Open your mind, choose the right stories, and learn about other cultures.

[51:15] Demi on mentors: A rough time in film school included being bullied by a group of men. Professors, deans, and administrators pushed her to continue. Those educators made a difference and fostered her resilience.

[53:15] Olivia on mentors: Her parents gave her space to foster creativity. A number of professors have supported and continue to support her, including taking her to Sundance during her senior year.

[59:55] The importance of vulnerability and asking for help.

[1:01:40] Advice from Demi: If you want to shoot it, shoot it. If you want something, you have to show people that you can do it. You can’t wait for people to give it to.

[1:02:55] Advice from Olivia: The struggles to reach success are hidden on social media. Understand that others have struggled. You just have to keep going, regardless of how hard it is or the sacrifice you have to make or the time needed. It’s all about the long game.

[1:06:00] If you need 10,000 hours of experience to master something, you are probably going to have to work for free and create your own projects to reach a level of mastery. No one will hand you the knowledge you want.

[1:09:05] Don’t let fear keep you from opportunity. Ask for help and learn along the way. There are more people who will help you than not, especially if you’re passionate.

[1:11:55] Do what you want to do, not to try to prove yourself to other people. You’ll never make everyone happy.

[1:13:00] You can’t please anyone but yourself. We are our own biggest critics. You grow with every project. Embrace and love the journey. Always look to improve.

[1:14:55] The people who believe in you will gravitate toward you. Your tribe will reveal itself.

[1:16:00] Evolving includes letting go of connections that don’t allow you to grow.

[1:17:25] Demi’s advice for aspiring DPs

[1:19:45] Olivia’s advice

Links to Resources in the Podcast

The New Freedom on Seed and Spark

Demi DeHererra on Instagram

Demi DeHererra on Facebook

Olivia Carmel on Instagram

Olivia Carmel on Facebook


Be sure to check out podcasts with other great guests in the film and media industry on our DMP Podcast Page!

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