Interview with Alexia Anastasio, Director of Fantastic Santa Monaco

Interview by Samantha Fegan

Alexia Anastasio, Director of Fantastic Santa Monaco

Alexia Anastasio, Director of Fantastic Santa Monaco.

What was your inspiration behind Fantastic Santa Monaco and in what ways have your personal experiences influenced the film?

Relationship and friendship drama and living the art life was the inspiration for this film. Writing this film was a way for me to heal and release the hurt, disappointment, and sadness in my life, thankfully coming out the other side a stronger person versus wallowing in past trauma. The film is about a group of performance artists who are looking for love, connection, and significance in Los Angeles. They want to live the art life and are figuring out how. I am happy to say we have a hopeful ending which also reflects my life. It is the perfect example of how life reflects art and art reflects life.

What are some of the challenges that you anticipate coming across as you make the film and how do you expect to overcome them?

You never know what challenges are coming for you but they come anyway. One challenge was when I was writing the script. I thought I would star in it like my last film, but it was holding me back from writing the truth and letting go. I’ve decided that I want to cast a higher profile actor than myself as the main character so I don’t have to say a line that I might have said in real life. Even though I might have to convey the emotion and underlying theme of the scene while directing, it will still be easier. What also helps me is going to an energy healer who helps me process and acknowledge the emotion, so I am able to feel it and then release it.

You’ve been in the film industry for 18 years and have produced ten feature films. How has your experience prepared you for making Santa Monaco? 

It has given me the confidence to stand by my vision. Lately the mantra that I have been saying is that “I can’t control the results, but I can control my action.” My ability to cast talented actors and crew allows me to make the movie shine. 

You are currently running a fundraising campaign for the film. What will the campaign cover and how can people contribute?

The campaign will cover the expenses for cast, crew, costumes, locations, production design, insurance, DVDs the supporters, and food for the cast and crew. You can go to here to follow the project and contribute. There are many incentives including being in the movie itself, artwork, DVDs, and we can help you make your own short film.

Business card for Anastasio's film.

Poster image for Anastasio’s film.

Why did you choose Seed & Spark and what advice do you have for filmmakers hoping to run a crowdfunding campaign?

I chose Seed and Spark because they are running a contest called #HometownHeroes with the Duplass Brothers and we have an opportunity to pitch our movie and have them produce it when we get into the finals. I’ve been selected for contests before and there is a certain camaraderie that happens with all finalists. I am working with producers Dan Salem and Mandi Mellen, who were also fellow finalists in a past contest where we were all chosen by Ovation TV. Since then we’ve collaborated many times. It was a win-win opportunity. I’ve even decided to organize a pass-the-baton  livestream-a-thon with the other contestants on October 12th on Facebook, where each one of us will go live and talk about our project for 15 minutes. Then we will tell the audience to visit the next video, kind of like a Hometown Heroes TV telethon.

My first advice for anyone running a crowdfunding campaign is to organize your email contacts, as you will be contacting lots of people you know. Second, I would put together a team of people who are available to help you before, during, and after your campaign and plan out your strategy. What is each person’s role? Third, plan a launch party and invite everyone you know, including local press. Shine a light on others at the party—it doesn’t have to just be about you. I had a great group art and music show and it was a big success. Fourth, research the platform you are using. I suggest Seed and Spark and Kickstarter. Fifth, start live-streaming now. People want to live vicariously through you. Tell people your story. Show them behind the scenes. Be human. Then people can relate to you. Sixth, have fun with it! This is one project, not your whole career. Crowdfunding is a great opportunity to move your career forward and share your goal.

In Santa Monaco, the main characters struggle as they seek self-validation and self-discovery. Do you think that this is something that people, especially millennials, struggle with today?

Absolutely. I certainly do. For me it was approval and self-worth from my parents and peers that I was worthy to live the art life, knowing that it is okay to spend time on my art because it was going to pay off in the long run. With social media, it has become the norm to get instant validation in the form of likes, and approval in the form of comments and attention. Otherwise, what are you worth? It used to be your bank account, but now it’s internet fame that’s the bar. Andy Warhol even said everybody will get 15 minutes of fame, but made fun of the people who he made famous. He is someone  That is when I find that going within and focusing on what makes you happy is most important.

Quote from Fantastic Santa Monaco.

Quote from Fantastic Santa Monaco.

You mention that Maya Deren and Yoko Ono have served as inspiration for the film. How have they impacted your filmmaking process?

Maya Deren is my favorite experimental filmmaker and it was her films that gave me permission to express my art through the medium of film as a way to dive into my subconscious. Yoko Ono’s activism, and especially her performance art, inspire me to create films to make a difference, and to trust that the audience will take what they need and that I don’t need to spoon feed them the answer.

What are some of your goals for Santa Monaco and how do you plan on accomplishing them?

I would love to inspire millions of millennials, showing that it is okay, and you figure it out along the way, and when they watch the movie, they make a positive change in their own lives that directs them toward their own happiness.

What advice do you have for filmmakers who are struggling to discover themselves?

Look at the people around you and the things you are spending your time on. Do you enjoy these tasks? Do you enjoy your time with these people? Check in to your body and ask your gut, do you want these people to be at your wedding and/or funeral? Kind of extreme, but do you care about these people and do they care about your overall well-being, even if they are in your life or not. Do they challenge you? Are you growing with them? These are just a couple of questions to ask yourself, especially when you forming your film teams. Do the people on your team have the same morals, ethics, and intentions as you? What is your big why and do your teammates see eye-to-eye on these issues?

You can find out more about Fantastic Santa Monaco and it’s campaign on its website and Facebook page. To find out more about Alexia, make sure to visit her website, Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram.

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