Photo credit: Daniella Cesarei (daniella-cesarei.co.uk)
Rebecca Brand is a filmmaker and creative communications professional. She has made short documentary films and is currently producing and directing her first feature, a documentary combating the sexualisation and commercialisation of tweens (7-12 year old girls) through popular media, called Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model. Trailer below!
Describe a typical day for you?
A typical day for me usually involves waking up between 6:30 and 7:00am, showering, and having coffee, orange juice and a bowl of porridge for breakfast.
I don’t function without breakfast so even if I have to be somewhere really early I factor in time for it. I mostly work from home now so I’ll make the commute from the kitchen to my desk at about 8:00am and check my e-mails first thing.
Depending on what’s going on in a given week I might then be researching possible contributors for a film, looking up funding opportunities, prepping for a shoot, or contacting people about my current project (like I’m doing at the moment for the Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign we’re running – http://tiny.cc/clsrmkickstarter).
I like to take a proper break at lunch. My partner (Daniella, who shoots my films) works from home too so often we’ll eat together and then I’ll go for a short walk around Peckham Rye to stretch my legs.
If we’ve got a shoot in the afternoon then usually I’ll check (and double check) the equipment before we pack up and drive to wherever we’ve got to get to.
Otherwise, it’s back to the computer or out to a meeting in town. In the evening I might be at an industry networking event or screening. If not, I love to have dinner with Daniella and curl up on the sofa with peppermint tea, chocolate and a good film.
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
I’m really proud of the short documentary I made about my campaigning 78-year old Grandma, Joyce Brand.
She’s a bit of a legend in the family and it’s been lovely to screen the film at festivals and hear audiences respond positively.
I think it’s so rare to see older women on our screens who aren’t either suffering in some way or just sitting staring vacantly into the ether, so it felt good to present a fearless older woman with real drive and agency. I’m very proud of her.
Rather randomly, I also played football for England when I was a teenager. I grew up with 3 older brothers who were football mad so that felt like a big achievement, earning caps for my country and making them proud.
Believe it or not you do actually get physical caps, and mine now hang proudly in my Dad’s office! I gave all that up when I decided to focus on a career in film.
What’s in your handbag/satchel etc?
I have a rather utilitarian Manhattan Portage satchel, which has 3 separate compartments. The front, zipped compartment holds my wallet, phone, keys and a few other essentials, including my headphones. I never leave the house without headphones.
I’m one of those people who works better when there’s music on, especially when I’m working on creative projects, so I pretty much have Spotify going all day on one device or another. Right know I’m listening to a lot of Moderat, The National, and Mt. Wolf.
The middle section is for my water bottle and glasses. And the third compartment is where I keep my book and iPad. I’m currently reading an academic text about the life cycle of female popstars, which is research for my feature documentary.
Oh god, reading this back, I sound so anal!
I suppose I’m quite an organised person really. I like to know where to find things. The idea of having a bag where you just chuck everything in it and then rummage around for fifteen minutes to find your keys is a nightmare to me.
Perhaps that explains why I’m producing as well as directing my current project!
What are your ambitions in life?
It sounds like a Miss World competition answer but my number one ambition is honestly just to be happy.
I was very lucky growing up to have had parents who really didn’t mind what I did as long as I was happy (and not purposefully making anyone else unhappy, of course!).
Happiness, I think, will mean different things for me at different times in my life and so I’m sure my ambitions will change accordingly.
Right now, it means working on film projects which challenge me and which I am passionate about.
My ambition in that respect is to make work which entertains and engages audiences, and which just might make people think about something a little differently or lead them to change their own actions in a small way.
That’s the ambition for my current documentary, which explores the sexualisation and commercialisation of tweens (7-12 year olds). It argues for the importance of having a more diverse range of positive female role models in popular media to combat this.
If I had to be a bit less woolly I suppose I could say that having a film selected for Sundance would be a dream come true, so that’s a more specific and measurable ambition for sure!
Also, friends and family are very important in my life and sometimes it’s hard to find the time to see them as much as I’d like to, especially with an all-consuming project like the one I’m working on now.
So it’s also an on-going ambition to strike a healthy work/life balance, which I imagine is true for a lot of people these days!
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Good question! Alive would be a good start. And in London still. I love living in London. I’d like to still be making films, and to feel like I’ve developed my craft and storytelling skills.
My Grandma (Joyce, mentioned above) sent me a postcard recently which had on it the words ‘I don’t know where I’m going but I’m on my way’ which completely sums up the way I’m feeling about my future right now!
As long as my work keeps evolving and I’m finding challenging and interesting projects (films or otherwise) to work on then I’ll be happy wherever I am in 5 years time.
What advice would you give a budding creative/filmmaker?
Just get out there and do it. You don’t need fancy cameras and equipment, use what you already have (a mobile phone,for example) and be creative. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
I wish I’d made more when I was younger, instead I’m making up for lost time now!
Don’t wait for permission from any one, or to be plucked from obscurity, because you’ll be waiting forever.
No one commissioned me to make Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model, but I saw an opportunity and grabbed it. I’ve had no funding (which is one of the reasons why we’ve now turned to Kickstarter) but I just decided I’d do the best I can with what I have because I believed in the project and that it would make an interesting film.
The best you can do is make work that is true to you. If other people like it then great and if they don’t well who cares as long as you’re challenging yourself and making work you’re proud of.
Finally, happiness is…
Screen 1 at the Ritzy cinema on a Sunday afternoon.
Rebecca is currently running a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to raise £10,000 towards her documentary project, Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model. You can pledge from £2 for a credit on the film and there are lots of other rewards on offer. Take a look at http://tiny.cc/clsrmkickstarter