Feature: In Conversation with... Diane Foster
Diane Foster is an award-winning American actress-singer-dancer-producer based in Los Angeles. Diane starred in and produced the Tribeca Film Festival Official Selection feature "IOWA" with Rosanna Arquette, John Savage, and Michael T. Weiss and in 2018, launched her own production company, WallyBird Productions, to create and produce all forms and genres of media. This Q&A was carried out with Miss En Scene as part of #FemaleFilmmakerFriday.
Clare - Miss En Scene: First of all, can you tell us about what you do as a filmmaker and what this involves - as both producer and director?
Diane: I am the facilitator of every aspect of the film as a Producer. Under the tier of Producer there are several job descriptions. When I come onto a film, it's usually in the very beginning phases while a script is being written or it's finished and awaiting notes. From that point forward through to distribution, I am rearing the film as I would my child. I am there and involved in every communication regarding the film, hiring of all the cast and crew, on set as a Creative Producer and usually running the set in the Production Manager capacity, then into Post Production hiring all key personnel and finally talking to sales agents and distributors. So I very much am involved from beginning to end. Some Producers are advisors, financiers, and much more behind the scenes, but, I am the mouthpiece for lack of a better word, for the films I produce. I take pride in that and do so because I enjoy being involved in every moment of the making of a film. In the capacity of Director, my experience thus far, has been in not only producing but directing at the same time and those duties are truly much more creative in creating the tone, visual, and ultimately outcome of the project.
C: What or who inspired you to get into film?
D: There is no one thing that has been a sole inspiration. I started in Theatre in NYC and New Jersey where I grew up, and always loved watching Old Hollywood movies as a child with my father. I was obsessed with movie musicals and always loved Gene Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Katherine Hepburn, and the royalty of cinema from those eras. As a child I was a dancer and performer in all my school shows and community theatre. After I graduated and won the Rising Star Award in High School, I ventured into the great white way of Broadway. After having performed and starred in the Off Broadway production of "Six Goumbas and Wannabe" and a musical workshop of a show that was set to tour about Liza Minnelli called "Hats off to Liza", I decided that I wanted to try my hand at film in LA. I had a professional background as a dancer so when I first came to LA I was booking music videos and landed a gig as an original "PussyCat Doll" which at the time, before it became a worldwide sensation and girl pop group, was a burlesque variety show and starred huge celebrities and me. It was after I got my first role in an independent film, that I truly realized I wanted to focus on film solely. The first film I produced and starred in was titled "IOWA" and was an Official Selection at the Tribeca Film Festival. Not bad for a twenty-four year old with no film school experience. Since then, I have produced feature films, short films, web-series, documentaries, music videos, and several proof of concepts for television pilots. I am constantly inspired by the world around me and am grateful to my passion for giving me the outlets to create.
C: As a female filmmaker and actor, what has your experience been like in the industry so far?
D: The industry as a whole is not always easy and being a female has its own challenges, but I feel I am at a great place in my career to make major moves in the years ahead. I have been very blessed to work with some really talented and incredible people along the way that I learned a lot from. It is my intention to create projects for more women and diverse women so that I am not waiting for someone else or the world to do it. It's only up from here!
C: You worked on IOWA as both a producer and actor. How do you balance those roles when you're working on a film?
D: The film "IOWA" was my first ever and I had a lot going on. Wearing both hats, and working with celebrities like Rosanna Arquette and John Savage and playing a meth addict was surreal. On the first day of principal photography, I found out I was pregnant with my first child so that was pretty wild to add in the mix, but my personality is such to handle pressure. I thrive in situations where I need to better and prove myself. In fact, I want to do much more of acting/producing together.
C: Interestingly, the feature film IOWA also lead to a documentary called 'Dying for Meth'. What are the different challenges when producing a narrative feature film compared to a documentary?
D: In narrative you really have more creative freedom to make a world that may have never been made before. The whole nature of documentaries is telling the story from reality and making sure the facts lineup and being authentic while still being entertaining. I truly enjoy both and appreciate being able to go back and forth between producing both.
C: For anyone - particularly women and girls - wanting to get into film, what advice would you give them?
D: Create with others. And create your own stuff. Nothing -including having no money - can stop you. Get a group together of people you trust that can help you get to the finish line of a project so you actually finish it and just GO! If you're a creator then create. It will teach you so much by experiencing it just like anything in life. Stop talking about it and do it. No matter the age you are, if you love it, do it. You won't know what you love and what you don't until you try. You can get extremely creative when you need to and you don't need a studio or lots of money to make things people will care about and enjoy. Have fun and enjoy every moment. That's what this is all about.
C: Your company, WallyBird Productions, launched in 2018. What are your aims and hopes for the company, and what are you most proud of what you have achieved so far?
D: Our mission is getting to the point where we are constantly in production creating many projects a year with Teams of diverse creatives. WallyBird Productions will be known as producing projects with the highest entertainment value and substance with an even balance of fun relatable content, pleasing aesthetics, and a worldview conscience.
C: What projects have you got coming up that you're excited about?
D: Our Film "SHIRi" just won the Stage 32 Short Film Contest and now we will screen at three prestigious film festivals including the Austin Film Festival, Raindance Film Festival , and the Oscar qualifying Hollyshorts Film Festival. Another film, "Make A Wish" has currently been accepted into 46 film festivals, most notably FilmQuest, Screamfest, Horrible Imaginings, Indy Film Fest, Macabro Horror, and so many more. We've also won numerous awards including Best Actress for Josephine Chang at Sick 'n' Wrong Film Festival and 4 awards at Something Wicked Film Festival, including Best Horror Film and also Best Actress. Our next film "Dissonance" is getting ready for the festival circuit and I am so excited to share it with the world.
C: What's the last thing you really geeked out about?
D: I geek out hard at comic book movies. I very much want to be in them and part of making them. Alos, the coolest moment so far on social media was when Lena Waithe, a huge inspiration to me, commented back to me on a post I made about her film she wrote called "Queen and Slim"!
C: Finally... you find a half-used magic lamp with a very specific set of instructions: it lets you change one thing about the film industry. What do you change?
D: Making representation matter above all else. There are so many people in this world that don't see themselves displayed on tv and film and that's gotta change. Let's strive for a world that is truly equal for everyone and their stories heard and made. It is my hope I live to see this happen.
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