For this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed filmmaker Lina Lansky. She is a self-taught filmmaker from NYC who works in all facets of the industry as a non union first assistant director, production manager and producer. Her wide range of experience includes feature films, shorts, music videos, documentaries, branded content and commercials.
Q. What are you currently working on? Tell us about it.
Currently I am working on an assistant directing course. I have been in the industry for the past five years and have accumulated enough knowledge to be able to teach others about what it means to be an AD in the indie non-union world. The course will help those thinking of working as an AD, specifically a 1st assistant director.
In my freelancing time I have stumbled upon folks in the industry who do not have a great idea of what the AD is supposed to do and why their role is so important to the filmmaking process in both pre and principal production.
I hope to impart my own experiences to students and give them an insider’s look into the world I am very much a part of.
Q. What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?
During COVID, like for so many of us, there was a lot of time to think. Thoughts about where I was in the industry and what impact I was or was not making. I spent a lot of time looking at the jobs I worked on and tried to understand what was missing, and the biggest takeaway was that I had no ownership.
As an AD, you work on someone else’s project, their vision, and you have no creative input. I was tired of that, especially the latter, and thought, what can be my own? It does not have to be creative necessarily, but what can I utilize in my skill set, how can I expand on that?
Q. In this current time of unprecedented change and uncertainty, what do you believe your role is in this moment?
I think my role is to take things as they come. To be more open to the uncertainties and changes surrounding us right now. I think many times we as humans want to know for certain that this or that path, or this way of doing things vs. that one is the right way, and in many instances, there are disappointments.
I think COVID really puts front and center, how in any given moment, your life can change, and you don’t really have the control you think you do. There are larger forces playing their hand. So in the meantime, the lesson is learned – let’s try and focus on the now and chip away daily.
Q. Who are your artistic heroes – who have had an impact on you and your work?
My artistic heroes are just folks who do their thing without thought to whether or not their art matters to others, the rebels, if you will. The ones who do so with no fear. As the saying goes, fortune favors the bold. They inspire me to take a good hard look at myself and say, if they can, why can’t I?
Q. What keeps you motivated and inspired as an artist?
Talking about my ideas. I have so many, and in my solitude, I can run them over and over in my head but never utter a word to someone else. Talking to others brings life to ideas, along with excitement and a sense of urgency and or accountability. You’ve put this thing into the universe, but your hand has to lead it into existence in its truest form.
Q. What other projects would you like to tell us about?
I am currently working with two writers to develop a feature length script. I am also in the process of getting a podcast started.
Q. What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision?
When everything somehow feels aligned. It’s this intuitive feeling that this is right, this is where I need to be right now, this is exactly what I need to be doing. It, in a way, feels effortless.
Also, being mindful of what excites and lights me up, those are clear signs that my spirit is calling upon me to do that specific thing and in that, I may realize my calling.
We often ignore that feeling, but whenever I catch myself getting excited about something, I know that’s my body’s way of sending a message to my brain to listen.
Q. If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?
Creating my own stories, pitching, optioning others ideas, developing, financing and producing feature or short film and various artistic projects from start to finish ( events, photography, installations, etc )
Q. What has been your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision?
Crippling self-doubt, like who the hell am I to do x,y, z? There are so many others who are better because of a,b,c. Why should I be so lucky? And on and on it goes. Also, a mighty contender, money. So much of why films, ideas don’t see the light of day is money. Waiting for some organization, entity, person to give you the green is limiting, but imagine the power of having it at your disposal. There is freedom there.
Q. What do you do to stay connected to your creative self?
Writing down my ideas, sharing them, and putting them out there. I am doing way more of that now than I ever did. Also, crafting – diamond painting, painting by numbers, painting ceramic pieces.
Q. If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be?
Fear. It’s always been the thing to overcome. The negative bashing of self. Always seeing what is wrong with me, why I am not qualified enough, smart enough, persistent enough. Always putting others on some pedestal of superiority and minimizing myself and what I am capable of.
I think it’s important for us to be realistic with ourselves, especially regarding our weaknesses and strengths, but not at the expense of our potential, especially if you haven’t even tried doing the thing(s) that scare you.
Q. What is your favorite piece of art?
I do not have a favorite piece of art, but I absolutely love the work of Zdzislaw Beksinski. I think for some it won’t be their cup of tea, but the macabre, death, and darkness have always fascinated me. There really is beauty in the art pieces. For someone to come up with such disturbing imagery with no motivation behind it as per the artist is really cool. I would have loved to be an occupant of his mind, taking residence in his dreams.
Q. What person do you most admire, living or dead?
Iyanla Vanzant. This woman is a spiritual healer. She hosted a show called “Iyanla Fix My Life,” where she would speak to families with toxic generational dynamics. I have read several of her books and have listened to her countless youtube videos with her motherly wisdom.
She is a woman who suffered a lot of emotional pitfalls and yet has such a sweet, calming presence. She owns her issues and forces others to take ownership of theirs. She is someone who, at many intervals in my life, I would have loved her input to steer me in the right direction emotionally, spiritually.
We need more people like her, pushing people to be the best versions of themselves and trying to reach a higher consciousness of thought and feeling
Q. If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?
For doing something great. I don’t know what that something is though.
Q. If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?
Driven. There is something inside of me that I can’t shake, and it’s this strange need to be someone, to do something. It relentlessly follows me everywhere.
Q. What is your guilty pleasure?
Reality TV show Love & HipHop. I have seen Mona Scott’s entire franchise (L&HH NYC, Atlanta, Hollywood, and occasionally – not my favorite, Miami). I just can’t get enough of the drama, fights, and craziness. After a long, tiring day at work, watching an old episode while eating dinner is a whole mood.
Q. If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?
I would tell myself so many things! But the main one is – stop being so fearful, just go for it, take the plunge, and whatever happens, happens. You will survive it.
Q. Where would you most like to live?
In an ideal world, near the beach, in a warm to hot climate. The sight of water soothes and warm, sunny weather brings the extrovert out in me. In another ideal world, I’d like to be a nomad, just going wherever life takes me.
Q. What is your idea of success?
The freedom to do what I want, when I want, without the weight of responsibility pounding me into the ground, and of course getting paid well to build long-term wealth.
Q. What is your idea of happiness?
A piece of happiness that comes to mind – a warm cozy bed in the middle of a snowstorm, with a precious doggo by my side, watching tv with no care in the world. Oh yeah, and snacks. Can’t forget that.
Q. Final Thoughts?
Thanks for having me.
I hope the above has resonated with someone.
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