Allison Tate 22 is in her final semester studying Film & Television Production at USC Los Angeles. She directed and produced A Kiss From Your Lips and co-wrote the film with her creative partner Jennifer Vogel who is 36, also living in LA.
Allison grew up in Orlando Florida and was very much into sports growing up, she wanted to be a football goal keeper in the Olympics. But unfortunately she sustained an injured and was no longer able to play any more, as a result she had a lot of free time to fill. Allison signed up for video production class in high school and instantly fell in love with the craft. In addition to film making, she loves jazz, swing dancing, and taking meetings in the wild. So we decided to ask her a few questions:
What motivated you to deal with the subject of Female Empowerment in your art?
“Well, Jennifer and I are both #powerlesbos (check Instagram) so we wanted to tell stories that encapsulates a spirit of empowerment! We both love swing dancing and the swing era. Plus we have had experiences getting hit on by guys when we would rather dance together. Then I got to thinking about how it must have been for queer women who wanted to dance together back in the 50’s and the bravery of their love. There are so many LGBT stories yet to be told! When I came across the Flamingos song, I instantly saw the film in my head of a young woman searching for her perfect dance partner.”
Tell us why you chose this submission?
“Because we are proud of it and want to share it with the world!”
Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?
“Because film is magic.”
What is your process when creating?
“Music is a big inspiration for me. Some songs are so visual and narrative to me, that I can’t help but see a story play out while I’m listening to it. It’s fun to listen to music I love and simply write what I see! That is what I did for A Kiss From Your Lips, and the writing came so easily because it is such a fantastic song that stuck with me. I loved the dreamy, floating ephemeral quality of the song and wanted to emulate that by telling the story in a single floating one-take camera move.”
Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?
“I am influenced by film noir femme fatales, Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong, the Hollywood Golden Era, Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dalí, De Chirico, the collages of Hannah Höch, my dreams and people I see in airports. I am inspired by incredible creators like Tina Fey, Tavi Gevinson, Jill Soloway, Kathryn Bigelow, Ava Duvernay, and everyone working to tell an honest story. On a daily basis, I am inspired by my partner Jennifer Vogel who has the biggest imagination, sharpest wit and deepest humour of anyone I know.”
What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?
“I definitely consider myself a feminist and which means actively striving towards equality and empowerment. There are so many forces telling women they are not good enough and I use my voice to shout to the contrary. I just want to encourage people to be themselves and follow their dreams as much as possible, because I don’t think that is the majority of the messaging they hear.”
Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously? Do you have any experiences of this?
“I think it’s easier to make change from the inside out. I operate by Flaubert’s dictum “Dress like a bourgeois, think like a revolutionary.” Plus I love blazers like nobody’s business.”
Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world? Have you any experience of this?
“Men and women are clearly unequal in societies around the world. Everything from making earning less than men, to being denied education and sold into sex slavery around the world shows us how desperately unequal things are. I feel the inequality because of the drastic discrepancy between male and female directors in the film industry. I want to be part of that change.”
What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for etc…..?
“I’m very passionate about women’s rights, LGBT rights, mental health and disability issues, and protecting this pale blue dot on which we all live.”
How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art? I absolutely want my art to create change!!!
“I want to create characters that represent a diverse range of people who otherwise aren’t seen in media. I hope people within the LGBT spectrum and beyond to be able to recognize themselves in my work. I also want to include vibrant lives of characters living with disabilities and mental health issues. I want to create work that propels equality by familiarizing humanity with different facets of itself in an accessible, engaging, entertaining way.”
What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?
“I believe in the name, ART SAVES LIVES.”
What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?
“Art has saved me in many ways. I spent a lot of time feeling like I needed permission or approval to follow my own interests and internal compass, but realized I couldn’t keep living according to any one’s guidelines for life and needed to live by my own. Writing, drawing, making collages and films reconnects me with who I am. I played sports all growing up, but suffered a severe concussion and couldn’t follow my passion for athletics any more. I developed a passion for film making and gave me a second chance at a future. Watching films with characters that I could relate with really helped me through difficult times while I was coming out, or as I like to say, being honest with myself.”
What are your goals as with your art?
“My goal is to adventure, discover and share myself with the world through film in a way that brings people watching it closer to themselves and those they love. If you watch something of mine and call your parents to say you love them, that is success. If people recognizes a part of themselves in my characters and feel less alone, that is success. I want to encourage connection with ourselves and others and empower those to live the truest version of themselves and be who they have always wanted to be!!”
What is your next project or piece that you are working on?
“Jennifer and I are currently working on a short documentary about an incredible woman named Renee Gunter fighting the food desert in South Central LA with her organic pop up store Daily Organics www.dailyorganicsla.com. The film will be released later this spring!!! Keep up with the progress of the film on instagram: @dailyorganics & @allisonfilms“
Is there anything you would like to add?
“It is really exciting for me to be a part of this because I believe very strongly that creative expression is a component of mental health just as much as sleeping, eating well and exercising. I also believe that is not the common understanding of the importance of creativity. I think that if more people had access and support in creative outlets, we might be a less anxious and over-medicated society. So I am always excited to see and support organizations like this one that see how Art Saves Lives!”
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