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Erin Collett | SHOOT New Directors Showcase Event
Erin Collett

There Must Be More Light

Erin Collett


1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
My first professionally directed work was a personal project and short film called En Passant which I completed in 2016. The story was about a young boy searching for answers in an imaginary garden after the death of his father. It was a very important project for me both professionally and privately and was a unique learning experience to say the least.

2) How did you get into directing? 
I got into directing relatively early on, writing theatre during high school and then for my final year I wrote, directed and performed my own theatre production. After graduating from university I was fortunate to continue my film education assisting director Jane Campion on her miniseries Top of the Lake in New Zealand and afterwards I began assisting director John Curran on the feature film Tracks in Australia and then I continued working with John on the HBO miniseries Lewis and Clark where I was unofficially directing a splinter unit. After Lewis and Clark came to a crashing halt, I moved into commercial directing, relocating to NYC where I live currently and where I am building a commercial portfolio.

3) What is your most recent project? 
My most recent project is a short film that I am currently working in postproduction called SAUNG which I wrote and directed. 8 months ago we traveled to Inle Lake, Myanmar where the films takes place. We partnered with a local non profit called the Inle Heritage foundation and along with my producer, whose background is business development, we designed a workshop aimed at helping the Heritage foundation take control of their own story and give them clear mission objectives moving forward. With their help we wrote a story designed around some of the people we met there and the topics and issues we discovered while working with them.

4) What is the best part of being a director? 
I am interested in directing because my father was such an avid storyteller and lover of films and some of my earliest memories are of the vivid, intricate and imaginative stories that he would come up with on the spot at any given moment. For me, the best part of directing is that I get to choose to study and learn about the things that really interest me, or that I want to work through personally. A by product of that exploration, that learning, is that I have to complete the film I set out to make. Which I find the most difficult part.

5) What is the worst part of being a director? 
There are parts of directing that come very naturally to me, leading a team of people and coming up with ideas and stories is the fun part and something that many people excel at. I find the worst part of directing to be the part where you review your work and you have to fight the horrible, sickening, sinking feeling that you have created the worst thing imaginable. It’s something I’m struggling with now as I cut together my latest short film, coming face to face with all your failures in postproduction.

6) What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, TV movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre—comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.? 
My current career focus is commercial work and branded content where i wish to specialize in drama and action. I’m particularly interested in creating content for Non profits organizations, NGO’s and ethically conscious brands to promote ideas, products and/or stories that help further the human experience in a positive way. For example my latest short film was based in Inle Lake, Myanmar, where we partnered with a the Inle Heritage Foundation to create a short film to bring awareness to the local community.

7) Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons) and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates with you? 
Director Jane Campion taught me to look for the idiosyncratic, the unusual. As part of my time with Jane, one of my tasks was to create a short film using only items from my kitchen. When finished, Jane pointed out a particular image, a teaspoon rocking back and forth surrounded by static spoons all in a row. She told me that is what I should look for as a director, the wobbling spoon. Mentor and close friend, writer Gerard Lee taught me about story structure, how to build a scene, and what to look out for. Lastly, director John Curran taught me how to defend your story from the forces that whittle it down slowly but surely. I haven’t yet mastered any of these lessons.

8) Who is your favorite director and why? 
Stanley Kubrick’s films have always fascinated me, as does the man himself. He’s not an original choice but when I add up my favorite films so many of them lead back to Stanley. So it’s an easy answer.

9) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content? 
Hmmm, favorite movie? To judge this I’m writing the films I enjoy seeing more then once. I can watch Barry Lyndon over and over again, Barry Lyndon, Amelie, and Children of Men. Generally I don’t enjoy watching films over again, however I’ve intentionally seen these three films countless times.

I loved The Wire, it was the perfect drama for me. A fascinating portrait of real life city and a beautifully designed and executed story.

Favorite commercial? Hmm, anything from Michel Gondry!

10) Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?) 
I grew up in NJ, i was homeschooled with a community of homeschooled families until my family left for Australia when i was 12. My mother is a teacher in the rudolf steiner school system so in Sydney, Australia i attended and graduated from a steiner school. During university I got a job working as a photography assistant and then as a photographer in a photo studio. As part of my university degree I was lucky enough to intern with Director Jane Campion and when I graduated I got a job working on her production Top of the Lake in NZ. Through the production company SEE SAW I got another position working with John Curran on his feature film Tracks and from there i worked on his HBO miniseries Lewis and Clark. Since the production came to an abrupt end, I have relocated and have been developing a commercial portfolio in NYC.


Erin Collett

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