We caught up with ‘Boys’ producer Stephanie O’Neill, to find out more about her work and how she got involved with the film.
What enticed you to get into the world of producing?
I’ve trained and performed as an actor for years and along the way, I had many part-time jobs that developed skills conducive to producing. In theater, I’m drawn to projects that call for group collaboration and storytelling, and as I worked on small independent films I began to see first hand how the crew operated. I’d get a copy of the final product (in all ranges of skill and execution) and could see how integral each role was to the success of making a “good” film. Regardless of my performance, without proper lighting or a strong editor, the film suffered. Also, I became more focused on what stories I was a part of. I found myself wanting to be more involved in the overall decision-making process of the story and quality of the film.
Boys is a film with a wonderful story, why did you decide to work on this film in particular?
When I first met Eyal, I had only seen one short he had worked on previously. It was a delicate subject, but he handled it with such care and sensitivity that when he pitched BOYS I could see how he would navigate this story. I also saw it was very personal to him. Trusting that he would be able to execute his vision, I knew I could get behind it fully. And this is a story about awakening to one’s own sexuality. Everyone can relate to that. It’s confusing and uncomfortable but there’s also moments of clarity and a new awareness of oneself. I like stories like that. Especially when they are about people who aren’t clearly defined by societal expectations.
The film is doing well on the festival circuit, what for you has been a moment to remember on working with the film so far?
Well, you work very hard just to make the film and that comes with its own feelings of accomplishment, but at the end of the day, you want it to be seen and shared. Initially, we didn’t find much interest here in the states. We submitted our film to Slamdance, and although it didn’t get in, a programmer there, Paul Sbrizzi, saw it and contacted us. He loved the film and invited us to submit to Mammoth Lakes Film Festival and LA Film Festival. Ultimately, we got into both and then Outfest, and from there we’ve had more and more programmers interested in considering BOYS for their festivals. As a producer, you want to know there’s an audience for your film. But this was the first time I understood how valuable it is. Having an audience really changes the film and reminds you what all this work is for.
Do you have plans to make the film into a feature, or is it a standalone film?
Originally, Eyal had spoken of wanting to make it into a feature and there still may be a time for that, however, from where we started to now, we both have grown and learned a lot. There are so many stories we want to tell, I think both of us can look at BOYS, be proud of it, and leave it as is.
Who would you love to collaborate with on a film and why?
I’d love to work with Jill Soloway. She is addressing topics that are not mainstream and executing them beautifully. She is telling stories important to her and convincing the rest of us they are important for us. And they are. But also, from what I hear, the way she goes about it, not just in telling the story, but how she conducts her sets, how she operates with her crew…she’s communicating in a style that is inherently hers and it works. I’m very interested in the process of filmmaking from the very beginning to the afterlife.
What is next for you?
I have a short film, MONOGAMISH, written by Sachin Bhatt and directed by Nardeep Khurmi, that we will be submitting to festivals this fall. I’m about to move into pre-production for a music documentary that will be filmed in the US and Israel, and I’ve been developing a feature centered around a few young women in Kabul, Afghanistan.
What advice do you have for those who are considering becoming a producer?
Go for it and trust. There are a lot of things you can’t control. Things are constantly moving. Ideas are changing. Locations change. Limits always exist (especially financially), but that’s all part of it. You have to be creative. You have to find solutions. If there’s a story you’re passionate about telling then you should go for it, and trust you’ll find a way to make it happen. Also, when you have to ask for something (and you’ll have to ask for A LOT), ask the person you are requesting something of, “if they can help, or know someone who can.” That someone they know might be the key.
Have you worked with the director Eyal Resh before and are you planning to work together again in the future?
BOYS was our first narrative short, but we have worked on multiple commercial and promotional videos together. We are working on two currently. We each have projects we are working on with others as well, but in the right time and place, I have no doubt we will collaborate again on another story.
How do people keep in touch with you and your work?
You can see my work and contact me through my website www.sannoneill.com or follow me on Instagram @sanno63