This Member Spotlight interview was conducted by Rosemary Owens. Rosemary Owen is a non-profit administrative professional with a passion for film and the visual arts. Along with five years of experience in fundraising, event planning, and cultivating community relationships, Rosemary has recently received a graduate degree in Arts Administration from Boston University. She is looking to bring her expertise to nonprofit arts and culture organizations needing assistance in development and communications.
Brandon Sichling is a filmmaker, writer, game creator, and more. While working on a number of creative projects throughout COVID, Brandon continues to work toward finishing their first feature, Intimates. Learn more about Brandon, their feature Intimates, and other projects below.
Learn more at Brandon's website here!
Meet WIFVNE Member Brandon Sichling!
How did you get started?
I started filmmaking as a teenager at a summer camp, going on to make some music videos and eventually going to film school.
What do you love about the work that you do?
What I love most about filmmaking is seeing people get excited about the work they're doing. It's thrilling and humbling to see collaborators get something meaningful out of working with me.
What can you tell us about your upcoming project?
Intimates is about a woman stealing her high school girlfriend back from her brother. When we were in high school, my younger brother had a girlfriend I was friends with and I wondered how it would play out if I tried to steal her. I struggled a long time trying to figure out the story, but as I learned more about myself, the main character, Robert, became Roberta, and it clicked.
Right now I have WIFVNE member Katherine Castro (https://vimeo.com/castrofoto) on as DP, along with a couple other crew members and cast. Right now, I'm focusing on fundraising for a two week shoot. I want to know how much money I'm working with and pay people proportional to the budget. To that end, I've been raising funds through donations to my Independent Filmmaker Project sponsorship (https://fiscal.ifp.org/project.cfm/2222/Intimates/). I'm looking for investors, too.
This is my first feature, and something I've learned a lot about on this project is how to ask for support. I've had a lot of calls, meetings, and events. Not all of them have been successes, and that's ok; I'll keep talking to people and asking for their support, because I think this movie is worth making.
Since shutdown started, I published my second novel and my second roleplaying game, so it's been less cinematic work, but fun nonetheless. I'm also working on a video game at https://www.habitofforcegame.com/, which does have a trailer.
Do you have a mentor?
My film professor at Columbia Chicago, Ted Hardin, showed me how I wanted to think about art in general and cinema in particular. As I teach, I find myself sounding like him, and that's very reassuring.
Were you told or did you learn a piece of wisdom or advice you now tell others in the beginning of their career?
Call and email people, introduce yourself, submit to festivals, shows, and exhibits. Don't tell yourself your work isn't good enough, because deciding that is judges', curators', and panels' job to decide, not yours.
What are some things you wish could change/would help if more women were in the industry?
I'd love to see more risk taking in storytelling. Two of my favorite filmmakers are Mary Harron and Lynne Ramsay because they make moving, evocative, and weird movies. More of all of that, please.
Where would you like to go in your work?
I want to make a mix of mainstream and more artsy/experimental work. On the one hand, I'd love to make a superhero movie (ask me if you want to hear my dream projects/casts), but looking at my work overall, I enjoy exploring bizarre, self-destructive behavior in and out of "genre." On top of that, I work in a variety of media and would like to continue doing that, so really I would just like more of my time going to making work.
Why are you a member of WIFVNE?
When I started pre-production on Intimates, I knew I wanted as many women as possible behind the camera. This is a story about cis women, straight, lesbian, and bisexual, so it's important to me that the story is told in a way that's particular to its characters: it isn't "all women's story," because no story can be. My guess as the best way to do that is talk with and listen to women. This is the best setting and forum I've found for doing that.
That, and I met Katherine at a WIFVNE event.
What I'm most immediately happy about is that WIFVNE and its tremendous staff hold space for beginning filmmakers to find and benefit from resources, including me and my experience. It's great to get everything I've already mentioned, but it's important and fun for me to share what I've learned.