Akilah Aisha Reynolds is a production assistant and location assistant.
What was your role on IWW and for those people not familiar with filmmaking, can you describe the job?
I was a Location Assistant and Production Assistant during the filming in the Bay Area. As a location assistant I sought out and secured locations for filming. My duties as production assistant included being present to assist the cast and crew during filming, posting flyers and contacting acting schools to recruit talent, helping to run auditions and sign in actors, participating in a table read, sending out fundraising letters, and contacting restaurants to secure craft services for filmmaking.
How would you describe In-World War (the film itself) in no more than seven words?
Fun. Interesting. Informative. Enlightening. Ahead-of-its-time.
Why did you get involved with it? How did you hear about it? What interested you in this film in particular?
I was a part of Giant Filmmaking Club at UC Berkeley where I was a junior studying Psychology, when I heard about this opportunity. I was really excited about being involved in an independent film in the Bay Area. I reached out to Brant [IWW Director, DJ Bad Vegan] and was welcomed to join the team.
Did you enjoy working on the film? What was the best part for you?
I loved working on the film! It was my first experience and taught me a lot about the intricacies of filmmaking. The best part of it was meeting new people and being able to see so many different people with different talents, skills, and responsibilities come together to work on a project.
How long have you been working in film/involved with film?
In-World War was my first experience working in film.
What is your goal in filmmaking generally (director, writer, director of photography, key grip, etc.) and why?
My goal in filmmaking is to write and produce, and also dabble in front of the camera. I love having ideas and being able to write them and then take part in making the vision happen (behind the scene and in front of the camera).
In your view, why is filmmaking and making art important to society as a whole?
It’s visual story telling and provides a way to communicate and connect with so many people at one time! It reaches people’s heart and soul, which is an avenue to the mind and ultimately effecting change. Filmmaking and art are powerful!
Did helping make an indie film leave you with a positive or negative outlook on this type of ultra-low budget filmmaking (and why)?
It gave me a positive outlook on low-budget filmmaking in that it showed me the power of an idea and a commitment to seeing that idea into fruition despite financial constraints. It definitely showed me the difficulties of filmmaking, when you have a low budget, but more importantly it showed me that despite these difficulties it is possible.
How do you feel about the genre of science fiction? Is sci-fi just for fun or can we tell serious stories that are culturally relevant? (Okay, that’s a loaded question....but still, what do you think?)
Yes, I think that we can tell serious stories that are culturally relevant as done in this film! Sci-fi offers a creative, interesting, and fun way to contextualize and present issues that have social importance.
The film takes an usual sci-fi approach to issues around the so-called “war on terror” (specifically racial profiling and Islamophobia) and the consequences of massive personal debt -- how have these issues impacted your life and your work?
I know first hand the debt crises in this country. I am currently in graduate school and at every phase of my higher education I have had to take out student loans in order to pay for school. When I finally graduate there is a possibility that my debt will be higher than the salary of my first job! It’s sort of a catch 22, pursue your passions which, later in life will provide you will economic security by going to school. But having to take out loans to pay for it. Or don’t get loans to pay for school but be unable to pursue your passion and make the type of money you would like. So many students are in a similar situation.
Before you started with IWW, what did you expect it to be like working on the film?
How was it actually, compared to that? What was exactly as you expected it? What was very different?
I was nervous to start. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but from some of the horror stories you hear about working in film I anticipated the possibility of working with “difficult” people. However, my experience working on the film was very positive. Everyone was friendly, encouraging, and we all were committed to make a good film. Yes, it was hard work, hours were long, there was a lot to be done in a short amount of time with limited resources, but it showed me that with team work, passion, commitment, and faith, you can make a good film, with good people, despite limited resources.
DIY filmmaking can be rough. What was the worst moment? If you have one, share a painful memory from making the film, to give a taste of how tough it got.
The only thing I can think of would be the long hours. We would often have early call times, and have to switch two, maybe even three shooting locations in a day. I think the worst for me would be shooting outside on a cold day. But, it wasn’t too bad, always work and good people converse with to keep you busy. And once you got in the bed, you’d sleep like a baby.
What did your experience of working on IWW tell you about humanity and people in general?
From the storyline to the actual experience working on the film, IWW taught me that the things people have in common is passion, the ability to love, and endure hardships.
What have you been doing since you worked on the film? What other film projects have you done?
Since then, I moved to New York and then Houston where I now attend a Ph.D program in Counseling Psychology. Creatively, I have written and directed a short film, Broken Bombshell, was a production assistant on Days With Zahrah, a lifestyle television show in San Francisco, participated in Miss Texas USA pageant, and co-founded U Blush Magazine, a lifestyle brand that caters to the multifaceted modern, professional, woman.
Why should people get involved with, donate money and/or help out on IWW?
This is an amazing story from an amazing director and a host of other people who have put their time, effort, and heart into making the “impossible” possible. Be a part of putting this story on screen!
What else would you like to say about your experience on IWW? Any funny anecdotes or behind the scenes stories?
Loved it! Really showed me the art of being a go-getter!
To learn more about Akilah's work or contact her:
U Blush Magazine: UBlushMagazine
U Blush Twitter and Instagram: @ublushmagazine Twitter: @akilahaisha
Facebook: U Blush Magazine