Career Advice from Your New Favorite Feminist Filmmaker
Producer-slash-director Erica Rose is a force. After cutting her teeth (and films!) alongside Hollywood VIPs like Amy Kaufman and Ava DuVernay, she struck out to start her own company with the help of her best friend, Chelsea Moore—who also happens to be an accomplished producer. The two just successfully crowdfunded their first short film, Girl Talk, coming soon to a screen near you. Here’s how Erica got there.
What were you like as a teen?
In one word: yearning. I was yearning for an escape from my childhood, yearning for a life that was so different from the one I was living. I had a wonderful childhood and come from an incredibly supportive home; what it came down to though was that I never truly related to the expectations bestowed upon living as a teenage girl in America.
I was closeted and had a unique relationship to masculinity that was unexplored. I liked watching Almodovar and Wong Kar-wai films, rather than shows like Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill. Because I had no outlet for my fantasies, for my queerness, for my challenging artistic interests, I ended up becoming incredibly and falsely self-assured, all to mask my growing discomfort and uncertainty.
As an adult, what do you wish you could tell your teenage self now?
First, I would tell her to stop being so anxious! You get to move to New York and you get to make films. I would also tell her to keep believing in herself and her work. It’s OK to make people uncomfortable. That’s why we need art—because it confronts preconceived notions of the world that are often wrong.
How exactly did you get to where you are now, professionally?
In college, I worked on student films and interned. My first job out of school was as a director’s assistant on Song One starring Anne Hathaway. After that, a producer I met with back in college hired me for a film series with Beyoncé’s production company, Parkwood.
I worked for Amy Kaufman, an accomplished television and film producer. I assisted her for two years on the NBC show American Odyssey, a CBS pilot directed by Ava DuVernay, and the Showtime series Billions. Then I was an associate producer on the Netflix documentary Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold. I also directed five music videos.
Finally, I started a production company with Chelsea Moore called Sour Peach Films. We take pride in being queer and femme, focusing on stories about female sexuality, folks who are often forgotten or overlooked in mainstream media, and exploring identity within new contexts. Right now we’re in pre-production for a short film called Girl Talk. It's centered around the complexities of sex, love, and intimacy through the lens of Mia, a young and queer identified protagonist.
What's one thing you wish you had known then that you know now about having a career?
I wish I had listened more and stopped trying to prove myself every moment. My freshman year of college was taxing because I was so insecure about my level of competency as a filmmaker. Experience comes with time. I’ve made so many mistakes, and each one has been invaluable to my own growth.
What work advice do you have for young people just starting out?
You cannot be afraid to be a strong and vocal advocate for yourself. It’s true that film is all about who you know. I’m not saying you need nepotism to make it (though I’m not going to say it hurts). No one in my family is in the industry, so I knew I had to be assertive when it came to advancing my own career. I ask for meetings, make sure to attend networking events and festivals, and I always return emails. The other absolutely vital thing is to support your friends' art. Pay $20 to go to your friend’s play, help out on film sets, and share people’s fundraising campaigns.