Filmmaker Spotlight: Interview with Meagan Lopez
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? How did you get into filmmaking?
My upbringing, work ethic, creativity, spirituality, and manners come from my Baltimore Irish-Norwegian mother, and my thirst for adventure, boundary-pushing, and revolution comes from my Cuban gangster father. I was born in Florida, raised in Baltimore, and schooled at the University of Southern California.
My discovery that I wanted to become a filmmaker has been a lifetime journey of self-actualizing and pulling back the layers of the expectations I thought society had for me. I’ve been an actress since I was five years old, went to acclaimed high school Baltimore School for the Arts, and then to USC in LA, Les Cours Florent in Paris to study theatre. It wasn’t until I started writing, I realized I had the power to create my own art rather than wait around for someone to cast me. That evolved into directing theatre, then writing screenplays and finally into making my own films.
What inspired this story?
I was taking a course on the archetype of the primal animal by astrologist master, archetypal wizard, and life coach Karen Hawkwood for one of her Archetypal Playgrounds with women from all over the world. During these calls, there was a recurring theme – the women had a difficult time allowing themselves to truly feel free, feel wild, or feel anger. This was also post- #MeToo where a lot of us women were dealing with unresolved anger. That’s when I came up with the character of agoraphobe Sandra who lives her life in a social media cage, confused by all the smiling, perfectly groomed women in her feed. She wanted to change these women, let them show their fury, and create a cult of rage.
I gave myself a fake deadline (as I often do to complete projects), and from conception to final cut of the film, I completed the 17-minute short film in a month and a half.
How do you approach storytelling?
Circumstance meets a fuzzy idea to do something which leads to synchronicity, clarity, and then, follows through = my approach. Except perhaps not always in that order.
The idea typically has always started with something real or concrete from my life – whether it be an event, a timeframe, or an opportunity - and then, I weave a fictional element into it. Also, the circumstance of my life at the time plays a big part in my follow-through, and somehow from that, the universe falls into place.
For example, my first women’s fiction novel was born from where and how I met my ex-partner and the letters we exchanged while I was a struggling actress in Hollywood and he was traveling through Africa. I had a year and a half where I couldn’t work so I took the time to write that novel.
My first feature film started with one month of events in my hometown of Baltimore, I knew I would be spending a lot of time with my high school theatre ensemble, and I’d always wanted to make a film with them, so I made it happen.
Also, the story has to mean something in the greater context of the world – whether it’s examining a theme like “what happens to our abandoned childhood dreams” like in my feature film “A Baltimore Dream”. I have a very hard time telling a story “just for fun” even if I don’t mind consuming this type of content (nor do I judge others who do tell stories for the pure joy of it). Sometimes I wish I didn’t always have to have a bigger meaning behind my work – but typically, I start with a concept and then weave in larger themes throughout. For example, my young adult feminist fantasy novel that my literary agent, Jessica Craig, is starting to pitch to publishers started with “how does one lead a revolution with feminine energy?”
What impact do you hope this film will have?
I hope that women will see that their rage and anger is beautiful, and that, actually, rage has and can change the world. We’ve been suppressing it for too long. I also hope that once the rage is seen, it can be released and we can finally focus on our own joy.
Were there any surprising or meaningful experiences while making the film you want to share?
Hearing the women’s stories about their anger was incredibly meaningful. I would like to release these videos one by one when I have time. One of my friends, Charity Bowman, who was in the film, opened up about her father in a way that was so raw and real. I was blown away. There was also a moment when I asked Emma Cuba, a young Cuban woman from Miami to give me the fakest rage she could muster – and it turned into a cathartic release that made the entire crew’s arm hair stand on edge. In a lot of ways, this film was the first time they allowed themselves to truly scream in a long time (if ever). Françoise Rémont, was an older French woman, and the stories she told us about growing up were heartbreaking.
This was my first film, so everything was challenging! But in the best possible way.
What did you learn while making it?
I learned the benefit of surrounding yourself with people who have more experience, more talent, and who knows more. I couldn’t have done it without the talent of my crew and cast.
What do you hope the audience takes away from the film?
I hope the audience is able to laugh, cry, and feel something. I hope they see the complexity of female anger. I hope they let themselves rage a bit when they need to (in a healthy, cathartic way).
What are you working on next?
I am currently in post-production for my feature-length film, A Baltimore Dream. My young adult feminist fantasy novel, The Hailene, will hopefully be picked up by a publisher shortly! And, I’m co-writing a TV series with the talented Nia Cason called Ready to Connect about a tough but incredibly emotional street artist in Paris trying to navigate her own trauma post-apocalypse.
Where can we follow your work?
Instagram: @meaganadelelopez and @ladywhoprod
Anything else you’d like to add?
Please vote in November! Even if you are an American abroad who has never lived in the states, you have the right to vote. www.votefromabroad.org
Oh, and never think your dreams aren’t worthy. They are.