7

Unknown Works is a bi-coastal movie production company that recently announced the release of its feature film titled "Women and Sometimes Men" which has been accepted into the Chelsea Film Festival. The movie chronicles the misadventures of Sarah, a beautiful woman who calls off her engagement after only a single day when she starts to question her sexuality and come to terms with being bisexual.

Unknown Works is also finishing a documentary titled "Obscene Beauty" which explores the world of burlesques shows in New York City. Founders Lesley Demetriades and Ian Carroll split their time between Los Angeles and New York City, finding a way to bridge the gap between the two coasts and proudly proclaim their company to be a collective of filmmakers.

In an exclusive interview, Lesley Demetriades and Ian Carroll discussed their company, their newest films, their plans for future projects, and more.

Movies, genres, and festivals

Meagan Meehan (MM): What initially inspired you to create "Unknown Works” and why do you consider yourself a collaboration of filmmakers?

Ian Carroll (IC): We're a husband and wife team, and both of us are filmmakers. When we started dating, we had so many conversations about the types of stories we wanted to tell. We created Unknown Works to tell those stories. We love to collaborate with different artists. Each story requires its own specific team, and we enjoy building those teams together.

MM: So far, how many Movies have you made--both features and shorts--and what genres and/or themes do you tend to gravitate towards?

LD: We recently finished our first feature narrative, “Women and Sometimes Men.” It just got into the Chelsea Film Festival in NYC.

Top Videos of the Day

We also co-produced our first documentary feature about the neo-burlesque scene in NYC called “Obscene Beauty.” We're currently in post-production on that right now.

We also do our best to produce as many short films as possible. They're great practice for us to hone our skills as filmmakers continually and we have a lot of fun going to all the film festivals. Right now, we have a comedy called “High Point” about the "haves" and "have nots" of parenting. It was in the Studio City International Film Festival as well as the Women in Film and Arts Festival. “The Waltz” is a drama currently on the festival circuit and was just accepted to the California Women's Film Festival; it's about infidelity and friendship. “The Date” is a dark comedy about a woman getting ready for a very big date and what she goes through. It won the Platinum Award for Best Short Film at the LA Shorts Awards. The next short we're producing is called “Waiting Room, ” and it's about four women in the waiting room of a doctor's office.

This one is going to be a departure from the other shorts I've directed so far. It's going to be much darker.

IC: We don't have one particular genre that we like to stick to. We both love watching all genres of filmmaking, so that leads us to being inspired to create stories through all genres as well.

MM: How did you come across the script for “Women and Sometimes Men” and what about it appealed to you?

LD: We developed the script with the writer. We were interested in seeing more films out there that spoke about sexuality as the gray scale that it actually falls in. We weren't necessarily interested in making a straight film or a gay film about it. We were interested in making a movie about someone who is in the process of figuring out who they are. It can be a messy process. We had a group of women write in journals for a year about their journeys in dating. We handed those anonymous journal entries over to our extremely talented friend and writer, Matthew Holtzclaw, and he created the journey of Sara from them. She's the combined experiences of these women. We love this story about Sara because she makes mistakes. Sometimes she's so lovable, and sometimes you want just to smack her. She's human. She definitely doesn't "save the cat" in the first ten minutes of the film and breaking some of those more mainstream story rules are part of the changes we like to take as filmmakers.

MM: What was the process of filming this movie like? For instance, how long did it take and what was your budget like?

IC: The process of filming was like a dream. Lesley did a great job directing it. It was truly the first time she had ever stepped into that position. Sometimes we look back at it and think "How the heck did all of that fall into place?" It was one of the best experiences of our lives. It was challenging. It was beautiful. There wasn't a lot of sleep involved. There were so much collaboration and camaraderie among the crew. We filmed it all in eighteen days, and it was a low budget shoot. The team that we assembled was giving, inspired, and creative. We couldn't have done it without all of those wonderful people. It's one of those experiences you're forever grateful for and know deep down happened for a reason.

MM: How did you go about finding the actors and getting the crew and filming locations together?

LD: Ian worked with Tasha Ames before in the LA theater world and when she auditioned - it was undeniable that we had found our Sara. Tasha is so incredibly talented, likable, and fun to watch on screen, which is great since Sara is in every single scene of the film. You can see Tasha on shows like “Shameless,” “Casual,” “Two Broke Girls” and more. We both knew Lindsey McKeon was going to play the role of Ali ahead of time. We've been friends for years, and we love the nuance and depth she brings to all her characters, whether she's playing The Reaper on The Supernatural or Taylor James on One Tree Hill. Our cinematographer, Bradley W Ragland, is such an incredible artist. He was the only person we wanted behind the camera for this film. He has an exquisite eye and is hilarious to work with. Our Supervising Editor, Travis Sittard, was such a tremendous gift during post. His insight into the facilitation of the story was so important to the process. You can see his work on shows like Preacher, Justified, and East Bound and Down. Our editor, Teresa Cicala, is irreplaceable. She can find the heart in any scene and since she is a born and bred New Yorker. She was absolutely perfect for the tone of this film. It's whole heartedly a New York Indie.

IC: We found our filming locations because we were residents of Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn. Our neighborhood on Prospect Park West came together to support us in our project. Everyone was so kind and encouraging. We filmed at the places that we frequented in our own lives. All of the places around Prospect Park West and 16th Street are family owned and operated, and all of them are beyond amazing. Please go check them out. It's a great area right by the park!

MM: “Women and Sometimes Men” just got accepted into some major film festivals, so what was the whole submission process like and how much of a thrill is it to be accepted?

LD: Women and Sometimes Men is premiering at the Chelsea Film Festival in NYC from October 19 to 22, 2017. The submission process has just started for us, really. We knew going into this that our film is not easily categorized and therefore may not fit the agenda of certain festivals. We're alright with that. We're interested in the festivals that take chances on good work that may be hard to categorize, and the Chelsea Film Festival does just that. They're trailblazers, and we're thrilled to be an official selection.

MM: You are also producing a film called “Obscene Beauty” which is a documentary about the modern-day burlesques scene. What was it about that particular performing art that you found interesting?

LD: Burlesque is so incredibly interesting. There is a saying that goes around the New York burlesque community; the best burlesque performers have the ability to make you feel at least three different emotions at once when watching them. Art like that is important to us. It's low brow. It's always been 10 cents a ticket. It dares to make fun of anything and everything. It's playful, and most people end up leaving a show feeling more free and alive. The burlesque audiences nowadays are 50/50 as far as gender is concerned as well. It's no longer a fully male audience. Women are dragging their boyfriends, girlfriends, and husbands to shows with them because they see the art form as extremely empowering. I'm excited for this film to be out in the world.

Scripts, directing, and future projects

MM: Is Unknown Works currently seeking new scripts and, if so, what kind of advice can you offer writers as to what you are looking for content-wise?

IC: We're always seeking new scripts. We enjoy reading scripts that have original points of view, take risks, and aren't afraid to shake things up. We love working with new people. Right now, we would love to walk down the road of a thriller/horror film.

MM: What current projects are you working on and where do you hope Unknown Works will be in five years?

LD: We are also in development on a feature film currently titled, “Canes Bayou” which is a story set in North Florida that chronicles the lives of two working-class brothers.

IC: In the next five years, I think we both see ourselves continuing to make films. Lesley loves directing film and television. I love acting and producing. We work well together, and we have a similar POV on filmmaking. You never really know what the experience of making a film will be like or how the audience is going to react to it when it's finally done. Each film is its own project and adventure. That's a big part of why we enjoy the process of filmmaking so much.