A Conversation with Filmmaker Krista Saint-Dic
By now, you have probably heard of filmmaker Krista Saint-Dic, and Paper Dreams, a docu-drama that she wrote and directed about the disillusionment of a success-hungry young woman (herself) who leaves Haiti for life in the United States. Young, impressionable, and eager for her version of the American Dream, the narrator’s illusions of becoming a world-renowned dancer arrive at a full-stop, hindered by the realities of immigrant life. We discussed Paper Dreams, one of her first projects to make an impact, as well as Joy Road, another theatrical project she was involved with.
Tell us about how you got the concept for Paper Dreams.
This project started off as dance performing/theater project originally at the end of Fall 2009. It was going to be a story dealing with social issues told through dance. But then the earthquake happened, and the project shifted into a film project instead. As we know, the social media played a great role in communication minutes following the earthquake and for months to come. I think it was from that point, people finally understood the purpose of Facebook and Twitter. We remember how devastating of an event that was for the World, especially for Haitians. That event in itself generated lots of feelings and lots of conversations from us. I started following heavily those conversations going around on FB; I’ve even gotten in a few arguments myself with Facebookers. So from these conversations, I was able to conduct a research from many different perspectives about the true thoughts that go through the mind of Haitians. I did go back home a month after the earthquake and surveyed those living back home as well. So, I gathered all of this info and married that to my life and my experiences. And that’s really how Paper Dreams started developing. At the end of the day I wanted it to be a story for immigrants but one that I can relate to, and hopefully for my people to do as well.
You went to film school? Is it a necessary path to directing?
No, I did not go to film school. I went to a four-year college. I was a dance major and a film minor.
What is your next project?
I’m currently shooting a new short called Light of the Forgotten. It’s the story of a Haitian woman who’s faced with a dilemma that forces her to either adapt the “liberty or death” motto that her fearless ancestors carried or to continue with the degenerated unmotivated mentality currently haunting the Haitian community. This journey helps her discover the key to saving Haiti. It will be ready hopefully by the spring.
When do you think you’ve found the perfect person for a role?
When you can take directions well and translate the required feelings through the lens of the camera.
Would you mind discussing Joy Road? Joy Road is a gritty feature starring Wood Harris (“The Wire”, Remember The Titans), as Tony Smalls, a lawyer who is happily part of the new urban middle class in Detroit. While his sister Nia (NBushe Wright, Blade), a high school graduate, is not. But when Nia’s boyfriend, Big Boy (Christian “Trick Trick” Mathis) is arrested for murder, Tony is pulled back into the neighborhood he worked so hard to escape. Believing in the system and its minions would only work against Tony as he faces off against an old neighborhood nemesis, Flip (Jamie Hector, “The Wire”), who is all too clear about who he is and what he stands for. But who really controls the criminal justice system in Detroit? Are the gods Tony prays to who he thinks they are? And who really runs the streets? Joy Road was theatrically released for a period of five weeks in eight different cities.
And what is Krista’s message to those who want to direct, produce, or write movies? I would tell anyone to go for it, because every story is different. Therefore, it’s essential to tell it because the world will not only benefit from it but the world also is yearning for it. One thing also, you find out while you’re making movies, you get the opportunity to learn about yourself.
At which point of your life did you decide that the movie business was going to be your life? I’ve always been a performer, whether in dance, acting, theater, etc… I’ve been dabbling with the arts from the age of 3 or 4 years performing on stage. However, I decided that the movie business was going to be my life really at my last job in the very last months of being there. There was absolutely nothing motivating me anymore about the job to the point that I was anticipating getting fired. And when the day came, it was the biggest weight lifted off my shoulder. And that created time for me to do what I love.
You can watch Paper Dreams here.