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Spotlight Interview: Alayna Silverberg, Director – Vancouver, BC

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I first met Alayna Silverberg at a screening in Vancouver, BC for a fantastic sci-fi/thriller she was an Associate Producer on called Woodland starring Richard Harmon (CW’s The 100). Her warm and inviting personality drew me in immediately and I wanted to know more about this awesome woman!

Alayna’s short film B-Side is screening at the Whistler Film Festival in December, and after following her on social media since they started filming, I’m very excited to talk to her about this project.


Hey Alayna!  So, let’s just go for it! Why did you decide to write and direct B-Side? What is it about this story that you felt needed to be told?  

After writing and directing Static Alex, what seemed to work for me to put myself and the people in my life into the characters. With B-Side, I wanted to dive further into my own personal experiences. At the time I was mourning the loss of my father and I had just become pregnant with my son Zach, so there were a whole lot of emotions going on and I put that grief, sadness, happiness, that mix into the story and the characters. I let it live somewhere.

Alayna on the set of B-Side w/ lead actress Araya Boyce (daughter of famous Canadian skater and stuntman Rob ‘Sluggo’ Boyce).

Was there anything about the process of doing this short film that was different from any of the previous projects you’ve directed? Or is there anything that you learned from doing this film in particular?

It was the first time that I felt truly confident in directing. I had this story that my co-writer Zlatina Pacheva and I had worked through and fine tuned so well. Our team was stacked with super talented people, we had amazing sponsors and such incredible support from our families and friends. And of course my amazing producer Kris McRonney who worked his ass off during this whole project!

There was something I was going through that was brand new. I had a son at home. I felt that I needed to be an example for him, I needed to be there for myself the way I would want him to be for himself. Basically, I was free to be me, to create more openly because of him and I still feel that way.

There were countless lessons on this one and mostly they all boiled down to believing in my vision and trusting my gut and my people.

I was also managing postpartum depression and anxiety throughout this process. It’s one of those things I feel as a woman, that I better not come across as weak to anyone, because they might see me as someone who can’t perform. I was so grateful for the support from my team, for their patience, understanding and most of all for their confidence in me. Even when I went to sign the contracts for MPPIA, Peter Leitch (President of North Shore studios) played with my son Zach and kept him entertained while I went over the documents. What a supportive environment, I was so uplifted!

Side note: I lost my voice towards the end of day 1 and had couldn’t speak (loudly) for the rest of the shoot. I took this as a sign to listen to my team & their ideas, to speak when it was really important and to never give up, no matter what challenges arose.

Alayna with her son, Zach

Alayna, all of that is so inspiring. I love hearing women speak openly and honestly about what it’s like to be mothers working in this industry. It’s so refreshing to hear your true experience and how it has shaped you. Thank you for that. 

Any words of wisdom for readers out there who are thinking about directing their first short film?  

Do it. Let it be good, bad, whatever it is, just let it be and just do it. Don’t let anymore time pass. Grab a smart phone, get together a bunch of friends with some basic gear, just bring your vision to life. If it’s your jam, it will feel amazing to create!

Vancouver, BC has a really strong pool of talent in front of and behind the camera, and it’s so important for Vancouver filmmakers to support homegrown content. Any thoughts on how we can better nurture Vancouverite’s stories and their place in the larger scope of the film industry?

Hmm. I feel like there is a lot of support happening now in Vancouver. Especially with Storyhive, ‘Watch Us Now’ DGC BC, MPPIA, WIDC, Creative BC, Whistler Film Festival, to name a few. In the larger scope, for me it’s about seeing Canadian Filmmakers on an international stage. I think that starts with funding stories that don’t necessarily always fit the mold of ‘Canadian’ cinema. Films that are unique to the filmmaker and are something that buyers are looking for on a global scale.

Mentorship has been a very important component to my success and I have been so lucky to have Carol Whiteman (WIDC) as my mentor on the development of B-Side. And, filmmaker friends! From the very beginning friendship is the reason B-Side progressed so well, I had a few key pals take time out of their busy lives to help me with the application package to MPPIA, writing the pitch and then coaching me for the live pitch.  Make friends and help them out by giving notes on their projects too, this is how we all get better, by encouraging each other.

Alayna with son Zach, husband and filmmaker Jon Silverberg, Jan Klompje, B-Side’s Cinematographer, and Kris McRonney producer.

Where can we see B-Side and how can we support you as a filmmaker?

Come see B-Side at Whistler Film Festival, Saturday Dec. 7th after the MPPIA pitches and again as part of ShortWork 3 at 12pm on the same day.

I’m a busy Mom and I almost only promote on Instagram, as it’s the easiest way for me to connect with fellow filmmakers and audiences. Follow me on instagram @alaynasilverberg

And follow our film @bsideshort we’ve got some amazing BTS pictures by Norma Ibarra @lapir0 (Kingskate, Vans), screenshots of our film and we will continue to post updates about upcoming screenings you can come out to.

And one of my favorite questions…What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received whether that’s industry or career related, or just life related?

Introverts can be directors too! Just put yourself out there in a way that works for you, don’t worry about the standard way of doing things, just go out and create something and meet people.

Also, big one for me, don’t create stories about people you don’t personally know in the industry, they might not be who you think they are from that one time you briefly met them. If there is someone you want to know a bit better and you think there is something there in common, reach out!

Son Zach, Alayna, and husband/filmmaker Jon Silverberg. 

Love it. And now… rapid-fire!

Q: Favorite food?

Anything sweet! Cookies! Num num num (yes, I watch Sesame Street and yes, I love it!)

Movie that you could watch every single day?   

Marie Antoinette. I actually did watch this everyday when it came out and I worked at Rogers Video.

Top 5 songs that would be playing on your personal life soundtrack?

  1. Beck – Colors
  2. David Bowie – Oh You Pretty Things
  3. The Rolling Stones – Wild Horses
  4. Oasis – Wonderwall
  5. Escondido – Heart is Black (side note: Jessica Maros is part of this amazing duo and she is the composer behind Kuzin who’s songs are what make B-Side sound so awesome!)

What’s one goal that you have going into 2020 that we can support you in?  

Do more interviews like this! (So much love to you Helenna and Ms. In the Biz for the support!) Talk to funders about my first feature film and of course get B-Side in as many festivals as possible. Follow @bsideshort on Instagram and come to our screenings!

Check out the teaser for B-Side: 

 


Many thanks Alayna!  Follow Alayna Silverberg on Instagram and follow B-Side as well!

 

Helenna Santos

About Helenna Santos

Helenna Santos is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Ms. In The Biz. She is also an actor and producer with Mighty Pharaoh Films and can often be found on panels at conventions such as San Diego Comic-Con, and has been interviewed by major press outlets including CNN. Her work as a contributing writer has been featured in MovieMaker Magazine, Backstage Magazine, IndieWire and BUST Magazine. She has produced numerous award winning short films, digital series, and feature films. As an actor, she can be seen in CW's "The Flash," as well as ABC's "A Million Little Things" and "The Good Doctor", and the highly anticipated Netflix limited series "The Baby-Sitters Club". Her latest feature film as producer and actress "The Shasta Triangle" was recently acquired by Giant Pictures and will be available on all major VOD platform on December 3rd, 2019.