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SXSW '05 Interview: 'Stagedoor' Director Alexandra Shiva

By Scott Weinberg
Posted 03/11/05 17:20:38

The 'Stagedoor' Pitch: It's hard enough being a teen-ager if you fit in. Now imagine that you listen to Sweeney Todd, West Side Story, and Cats instead of Jay-Z and Beyonce. When you grow up, you want to star in a Broadway show. Luckily for these kids, there's Stagedoor Manor, a theater camp in the Catskill Mountains, where they come to bask in the glow of their personal spotlight - or escape from it.

"Five great kids at musical theater camp."


Will this be your first time at SXSW? Any other film festival experience?
Yes. I went to about 6 or 7 film festivals with my first documentary, Bombay Eunuch.

When you were 14 years old, if someone asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, what would your answer have been?
Psychologist and ballerina.

How did you get started in filmmaking?
I decided I wanted to make a documentary about eunuchs in India and went, found an incredible Indian camera crew and started learning from there.

How have things changed for you since your film was accepted into the festival?
I've had a lot more work to do.

When you were shooting the film, did you have SXSW (or film festivals in general) in mind?
When I was shooting the film, the only thing I had in mind was getting into the editing room. When I was in the editing room, the only thing I had in mind was getting out of the editing room. When I was out of the editing room, I started thinking about film festivals.

How did you get your film started? How did you go from script to finished product?
My husband went to the musical theater camp and because of that, they gave me permission to come and film. I put a crew together and went up to the Catskills and started filming. I then began working with Penelope Falk, who edited my first film. Many hours, a few fights and a very good collaboration later we have Stagedoor.

What’s the one glaring lesson you learned while making this film?
If you're going to have two cameras, make sure you have two people recording sound.

When you were in pre-production, did you find yourself watching other great movies in preparation?
I watched All That Jazz.

If a studio said ‘we love this, we love you, you can remake anything in our back catalogue for $40m’ – what film, if any, would you want to remake?
I don't like remakes. But if I were forced to do one, something easy, like Gigi.

Two parter – name an actor you'd KILL to work with, and then name an actor in your own film that you really think is destined for great things.
I make documentaries and therefore I don't have an actor I'd kill to work with. I think all the kids all destined for great things.

The festival circuit: what could be improved? What's been your favorite part of the ride?
I'm just beginning the ride.

Have you ‘made it’ yet? If not, at what point will you be able to say ‘yes’?
I don't think like that -- the day I 'make it' is the day I'd stop, so I hope that day never comes.

A film is made by many people, including the director (of course), but you'll often see movies that open with a credit that says “a film by…” – Did you use that credit in your film? If so, defend yourself! If not, what do you think of those who do?
Based on this question alone, I'm really glad I didn't use it, but I have no judgment against people who do.

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Stagedoor, starring Nicole Doring, Randi Kleiner, Taylor Rabow, Maddy Weinstein & Robert Wright , will premiere at the 2005 South By Southwest Film Festival. Click here for more information.

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