ACTOR/FILMMAKER/MUSICIAN – ‘Sorceress‘
The 10 Commandments of Chloe is an “understated, smart little film about overcoming yourself,” directed by Princeton Holt and starring Naama Kates (that’s me!) as Chloe. The film was also co-written and co-produced by Princeton and me, and the story of its creation and its journey into the world of indie film is some parts dream-come-true, some parts cautionary-tale, and just like the story of Chloe in the film itself, its ambiguous last scene should really be interpreted as a happy ending.
Chloe was made on a wing and a prayer, planned over phone conversations between Princeton and me from across the country, and put together, really, cast and shot, in less than a week in Nashville, Tennessee. The talent we found there and the dozens of happy accidents were nothing short of miraculous; for a no-budget film with hardly any pre-production or a concrete script, all put together it ended up winning 9 awards and having a serendipitous premiere at Calgary International Film Festival, where it was a Discovery Award Nominee. The late 2013 premiere was followed by a nice US festival run, where it scooped up some more awards and notability.
During that festival run, we got some interest from a well-known, reputable distribution/production company, that offered to step in and back the release of a new, slightly altered cut of the film, provide the music licensing rights, and give it an post FX cleanup job done by an Academy-award nominated in-house team. So we stopped the presses: held off any further showings, write-ups, or release plans for the original cut, and instead worked with the company to re-edit the film and sort out the music placements for the new release. Then we waited for the rest of the magic to happen…
Well, a year later, we’re still waiting! Though we understand the nature of being a small fish in a big pond (I’ve experienced this as an actress in talent agencies, and certainly in my music career!) and still hold out some hope for the delivery of the new cut, we want what we’ve always wanted– for our beautiful film to be available to be seen.
I think it’s the type of film that reaches a few people in a very deep and meaningful way, as opposed to one that immediately interests the masses. After the (full house) Calgary premiere, I had a mother and her teenage daughter come up to me, tears in their eyes, and thank me, saying how inspiring it was. I had similar experiences in Muskogee and Memphis.
Chloe was made with a rogue spirit; Princeton and I were both at crossroads in our lives and careers and just wanted to express and tell a story, without waiting for all the red tape to clear. Though we’ve wavered and been seduced by promises from Corporate, LOL, we ultimately think that it should be released in that same spirit.
That spirit always wins.
At some point, we just need to DO.
This past spring, I was on an artist fellowship program in Finland for two months, when I felt the same spirit. I had to tell another story. Inspired by our experience with Chloe, I decided to make a film during my residency in much the same way. Create an outline, find people, get a team together, make a schedule and shoot. It was definitely ambitious; I have much less experience with production and I’ve never written a screenplay myself, but I knew that if I could find a good team that I trusted then it was possible. And I did. The Finland team was incredible, and the project actually ended up being a lot more planned out (I had 2 months after all!) with a fully written script and not as much improvisation.
Sorceress is my second feature behind the scenes, and it’s incredibly personal film. It is a story about finding yourself but touches on a lot of the darker aspects of sanity and creativity, sexuality and alienation. Nina is an American artist living back in Eastern Europe with relatives after the death of her mother, working a dull job at a library and contending with inner demons, grief, and the possibility that she has paranormal powers. Everything in her life is a secret, until she meets Katja, a bold, beautiful painter, who forces her out of her routine, though the relationship comes with its own dangers… The film is a psychological thriller/romance, turned up a notch to supernatural horror….
Though I went about it rogue-style too, with some funding from personal art grants etc, this is a trippy, dreamy, nightmarish film with lots of magic and in two languages and the post production is everything here! I know that with the international angle and some of the themes, it could potentially receive a wider release too, if it’s really treated right in post, so I’m trying to raise money for that with my IndieGogo campaign; I’m not asking much but it’s a starting point and only 2 weeks in, already at 40%…
We’re in a different era, the studio systems are all experiencing a major paradigm shift, and being “signed to a major” hasn’t meant much in a long time.
So, to go along with the campaign for Sorceress, we are releasing The 10 Commandments of Chloe, the original version (which garnered all those prizes!) for the first time and just allow it to be available for people to see!!!!
Please check it out on:
YouTube or Vimeo…whichever platform you prefer….and enjoy!
Three cheers for self-starters and art that cannot be stopped… I hope you all enjoy what you see, and would love it if you can contribute to the campaign, and above all, that you feel some inspiration with regards to your own work and a positive thing for the indie film world in general.
Thanks y mil besos,
Naama Kates is a writer/producer/performer who has taken the indie route in both her film and music careers. Her credits as an actor include a recurring role on NCIS, and lead roles in the indie favorites Eden and My Normal. Her first film as co-writer and co-producer, Chloe, garnered awards and was followed by her self-produced sophomore album, King for the Day, in 2013. She is currently working on post production for Sorceress, her first feature as screenwriter, a European-USA co-production.
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