Q & Arts: Zoe Slusar
Meet Zoe Slusar, co-founder of Untitled Productions
Meet Zoe Slusar, a second year Anthropology major with a minor in Sociology, who spoke to The Reflector about her work with Untitled Productions, the company she co-founded in 2006.
The Reflector: How did you get into video production?
Zoe Slusar: I started acting when I was young, and then I think that kind of wanting to have a say in what roles I was playing led to directing and then we just got this old video camera — my friend and I — and we just started doing music videos when we were 15. […] And then from music videos we started getting into script-writing, and then making more legitimate, beginning-middle-end story films.
TR: Can you tell us about some of your favourite projects that you’ve worked on?
ZS: When we started kind of getting into comedy, that’s when I was really like, ‘Oh, this is awesome!’ because I think that comedy is a really under-respected genre. I think it should be the thing winning Grammies, and I also think that female comedians are kind of [thought of as] lesser. So I liked playing funny roles. We did a mockumentary series about these two characters who, first they made a movie, and then they made a rap album. We followed these two characters as they were trying to bring these projects together. I loved doing that.
And then we’ve done a couple films that have been in Prairie Tales, which is this Alberta film festival that happens every year […] We’ve been in that three years in a row, and our films for that have been some of my favourites. We did one about just bubbles — like floating through small town, rural Alberta scenes. And it was awesome because we were just like, ‘Let’s do this!’ and you can’t direct bubbles so we were just like, trying to catch those random, awesome shots and going with the wind currents. It was just like a fun, loose project, and it ended up winning awards, so it’s kind of like, sometimes the random ideas that are spontaneous are the best.
TR: Can you briefly walk us through your creative process?
ZS: I think that it’s pretty unconventional. I think that what I’ve learned is to just jump in. I’m sure there’s a lot to be said for planning and doing things diligently on a schedule, but the way that I do it is kind of like, I get this idea, and then if I’m feeling inspired it’s like, ‘Okay, what do I need to do to make this happen?’ so it’s kind of like a learn-as-you-go kind of process. But something that I think goes with that is having good equipment […] If you have excellent audio and a great camera, then it just kind of makes you look more professional, even if you are just jumping in by the seat of your pants.
TR: So, if someone were to want to get into video production — without necessarily having all of the best equipment — what is your best advice?
ZS: I would say if anyone wants to do film independently, I would say save up and buy the gear. Always. It’s always worth it […] You can get set up with a good lens for $1200 or $1000, which seems like a lot, but then you can film corporate gigs and everything like that. So I would always say buy your own gear.
TR: How can people find your work?
ZS: They can find Untitled Productions on Facebook, or www.untitledonline.ca is our website. We release passed films every other week, and then just update on new stuff.
TR: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
ZS: We also teach filmmaking workshops. So linked with doing creative films and workshops, I just think that there’s a million stories in the world. Every single person deserves a documentary made about them in some way, or every little idea can turn into this amazing two-minute or five-minute thing that really captures one person on YouTube. In the age of video expression now with Vimeo and YouTube, I just encourage people to make films, you know? [Apple] iPhone movies are winning at Sundance, so it’s like share those stories. Film is an awesome thing to play with.