Who is Courtni Saizon? Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m originally from New Orleans Louisiana. All my life I’ve loved the arts. As a child I acted in plays both in church and school. I also loved playing with my dolls and making up stories and characters for them that could stretch out for years, I also liked writing stories and fantasizing and imagining exciting worlds.
What drew you into the world of filmmaking? What was your defining moment?
I’ve always been obsessed with stories. I LOVED watching soap operas growing up.
My whole life I was an actor until I caught the writing bug after living in Los Angeles a few years. Then after another few years while living in NY I decided to stop sitting on the scripts I’d written over the years and bring them to life. And it has been one of the most enthralling, challenging, growth- producing, purpose-filled journeys I’ve ever been on.
How did you find your production crew?
I find my crew in various ways. I find them on other sets, from Craigslist, on Facebook, and now more than ever I use referrals. People will usually bring you great people when their reputations are on the line.
Tell us about your web series Complexities?
Complexities is fragile wildflower productions premier web series.
The theme of Complexities really boils down to a person being truthful with themselves and making decisions about what they really want out of life and being up front and transparent about it, especially where others are concerned, and accepting the repercussions as a result. Sometimes people want to eat their cake and have it too. Or sometimes people don’t know if they even really want cake at all.
What do you look for when looking for a project?
So far I’ve written all of my own projects. However, next year I’d like to start producing other people’s projects. As far as stories are concerned I enjoy narratives with strong points of view. I relish characters who aren’t perfect, characters who are real and messy and contradictory as humans often are in real life. I am also a sucker for witty verbiage. And I always appreciate story lines that I can’t completely predict.
What is a successful moment in your career so far?
As far as success is concerned, I personally feel I have had lots of successful moments, especially since I define success on my own terms. Each time I’ve connected to an idea and was able to bring it forth upon the page I’ve given myself kudos. Every step of the way from having only a script to manifesting an actual 3D embodiment of said script has made me feel a sense of accomplishment.
How do you earn a living and sustain a career doing what you love?
I work in an industry where I get to meet various people in the entertainment field and I hustle really hard to make connections and meet new people. I crowdfund and save my money in order to fund my productions, however, if anyone ever wants to produce my projects I more than likely won’t turn them down.
Tell us what does producing really consist of?
Producing consists of being a diplomat, a psychologist, a parent, a magician, a negotiator, a crisis manager, a juggler (of tasks), a motivational speaker, a salesperson, and probably a plethora of other things if I think about it some more lol
How does a typical day (for you) begin when you are in full swing production?
When I’m in full swing production (but not on a filming day) a typical day involves me waking up and being still for a moment. I try to do something briefly for me like watch a show on Netflix or a YouTube video I like or read an article that interests me. I then immediately look at my phone for text messages and then emails. I peruse my list of things to do for the day and delegate to whomever I may need to tasks that have to be done and I also follow up with people about prior assigned tasks. I am basically ensuring all things are running smoothly and on schedule.
It’s super important that all the crew are prepped and ready. I make sure my AD is prepping the film schedule based upon location places and times I secure. I make sure that wardrobe is in communication with the actors about what they’ll wear throughout filming. I continually touch bases with the actors about character motivation and rehearsals amongst themselves and with me. I discuss my vision with my DPs and get their shot lists prior to filming to ensure that we are on the same page. I really love my DPs to come with dynamic, innovative ideas though. I make sure the Gaffer knows what effect we are going for lighting wise for each scene. I also make sure that hair and make-up have their character looks ready. Lastly, I ensure we have enough PAs to take on various other important crew jobs.
One piece of advice do you have for women looking to get started in the industry?
My one piece of advice would be to actually start (take action) and to never ever, ever get discouraged once you do start. Pursuing dreams is a challenge not a cake walk. You will face internal and external obstacles. At times you will come up against yourself and your own doubts. You may get push back from others too. You must remain resolute with regard to your vision and stay the course. Envision and know what you want and then make it happen. Be like bamboo, strong but flexible, because it is hard work and sometimes you have to tweak your initial plans in order to accomplish your goal.
What’s next for you?
As far as what is next, there are continuing projects and new projects slated for Fragile Wildflower Productions. We are inclusive. We are huge advocates of diversity on set. We support women in film. We are socially relevant. We’ve always advocated for these things from the company’s inception and will continue to do so. I hope to help people grow and develop the skill set to take them wherever they can imagine being. I love to see people move within the company and try on different hats. I really like to challenge and invest in the people working with me. I also love to welcome new people aboard as long as they have great personalities and are willing to do the work. We have fun, but we work very hard that’s for sure! I hope to also write and direct projects with other creatives outside the scope of my company. Let’s all work together to fulfill our dreams!
How can we keep in touch?
Shivawn Hill, is a writer, director and a storyteller at heart. She’s currently in post production with her short documentary film. She believes that one day soon she’ll form the ultimate group of Storytellers who will travel the world to share the stories of creative peculiar people.