• Shalisa

A first-time Director's thoughts on Production

As a first time filmmaker, I’m new to all of this. When I approached my husband, Barry, about making this documentary, he asked so many questions about my vision of the film, what I thought it should look like, who I thought the audience was, and so much more. These were things that I hadn’t even imagined were part of the filmmaking process. I just saw a great and unique opportunity to film adoptees from the same orphanage who found each other later on in life, but I wasn’t sure the direction that I wanted to take.

As we starting talking about different themes within this story, we really felt that identity had the strongest message behind it. As we talked about my experiences (and we talked for days and weeks), we felt that this was the direction we needed to go.

After we started down this long rabbit hole known as preproduction, Barry approached me about bringing an additional person on. He introduced me to Eboni, a colleague of his, and I immediately knew that she was invaluable to this project. She brought so much into focus and shared a perspective that elevated my own. After working for months on pre-production, Eboni had basically become part of the family. She has shown so much drive and dedication that many aspects of this filmmaking process wouldn’t have happened if not for her.

A major accomplishment during preproduction was in attaining a fiscal sponsor. I had no idea that this was a thing; that, in order to receive many grants, we would need to have a non-profit status through a sponsoring nonprofit organization. After spending a couple weeks preparing and submitting our application, all of a sudden we got the amazing news that we were granted fiscal sponsorship through Women Make Movies in New York! We all shouted for joy! This opens up many possibilities for funding our film.

Time passed, and next thing you know, it’s time to do the interviews. You know what this means? We are in production now!!!! Finally!!! We flew in our two other subjects, Ameeta and Nisha. They spent a whole weekend with us. Eboni conducted the interviews, Barry was on camera, and I spent the time getting to know both of these amazing women. Once interviews were finished, we were able to relax a bit and enjoy each others’ company. By the end of their visit, I realized something vital; they came as friends, but they left as sisters. They offered their personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings about their own adoption stories; what it was like to be raised in a transracial home; how they began their identity journeys; and how all of these experiences have shaped who they are today. As I have gotten to know their stories, I have a revived appreciation for my own.

I’m glad that I have this opportunity to make a film that gives a voice to adoptees. As many adoptees feel trapped and silenced, I hope that this film can open the door for many more to step forward and share how they feel about their adoptions and other experiences.