Crowdfunding, Features, and Women in Film: An Interview with Eve M. Cohen, DP
After 3 days of amazing back-to-back speakers at our NAB booth, we left feeling i.n.s.p.i.r.e.d. Filmmakers from all backgrounds stopped by to talk shop about a huge range of topics: time-lapses, marketing, aerial filmmaking, and, of course, story. There really was something for everyone—and there’s still something for those who couldn’t make it to the show!
We’re excited to share a few conversations with the talented and amazing creators who spoke at our booth, like James Neihouse, ASC, Philip Bloom, Ryan Booth, Phil Arntz, and more, right here on our blog.
First up, our interview with the ever-inspiring Eve M. Cohen.
Eve M. Cohen radiates energy, and we got to experience her enthusiasm for filmmaking firsthand when she stopped by our booth at NAB to chat with community members. The fact that Eve balances a full-time gig as a cinematographer with a role as a co-founder of crowdfunding platform Seed&Spark is nothing short of impressive.
Eve is a DP and cinematographer with experience shooting narrative and independent feature films, as well as documentaries. Recently, she’s collaborated on several VR projects that have made the festival rounds, like “The Visitor,” directed by James Kaelan.
Eve took a break from the Canon stage to chat with us. We asked her about her involvement with Seed&Spark, balancing work with fun, her favorite projects, and of course, women in film.
Story & Heart: You’re a part of film-specific crowdfunding platform Seed & Spark. How did you get into that?
Eve: I’m part of the founding team at Seed&Spark. I worked with Emily Best [the founder of Seed&Spark] when she was a producer. She hired me as a cinematographer for a film we shot in Maine called Like the Water. It was a wonderful independent feature film, it was a beautiful story, and it was really received well through film festivals.
When making the film, we needed funds at the last minute, so we put up a website and a PayPal link, and we listed all of the items we needed. We listed bug spray, and ladders, and coffee, and gear, and everything. It was so successful. People were just giving, saying, ‘Oh, I actually have extra cases of sunblock because I own a ski shop, here you go.’ It ended up growing our audience for the film by a lot.
When we premiered it at the Maine International Film Festival, it was huge. It was such a success there. But the distribution on it was not what we expected. Emily Best is an amazing, very strong, dedicated woman, and her response was to take action, ‘You know what, we need to try to fix this. We need to fix this industry.’ That film became the catalyst for creating Seed&Spark. Seed&Spark is a crowd-funding and distribution platform for independent films. We really took that idea of a wedding-registry style wish list and incorporated that into the site. I will work with Emily on anything that she ever wants to do. This just happened to be a company.
Story & Heart: We think it’s great that you’re trying to make film and the arts as a whole more accessible through Seed&Spark as a platform. You’ve recently started doing some work with VR. How do you foresee making VR and other developing technologies more accessible to mainstream audiences?
Eve: I think so much of that is always about education, and just making sure that people understand what they need to know and what they don’t need to know. We got into VR right at the beginning because we wanted to make sure that it was going to be available for independent filmmakers. We’re here at NAB and there are GoPros everywhere. You can shoot VR with GoPros, and it’s actually very successful if you do it right. Like anything you do, you have to know what you’re doing. There is a way of doing VR that is accessible to a lower budget and independent audience.
Story & Heart: You are a cinematographer and now part of this growing organization. How do you balance fun and creativity with business?
Eve: So I am a co-founder of Seed&Spark, and that is actually also fun. Most everyone at Seed&Spark is also a filmmaker, and we do understand the creative process. I’m a little bit more removed than the rest of the team—most people are in the office. My primary job is a cinematographer, but I will work with Seed&Spark forever and always be part of that. I learned so much about distribution and the whole package of filmmaking through Seed&Spark that it’s only made me a better DP. Now I can start as a head of a project and say, ‘Well, I know we’re going to deliver it this way, and here’s what I know we’re going to ask for.’
Story & Heart: What’s been a favorite project this year?
Eve: I just shot a short film in Colorado with director Caitlin FitzGerald, it’s called Mrs. Drake, and it was such a great experience. It was just awesome.
Story & Heart: We’re sure you get this question a lot, but we want to know your opinion: why aren’t there more female-identifying cinematographers and DPs, and what do you think is happening to change that?
Eve: I think the film industry was a boy’s club for a while. It wasn’t that women, in my opinion, were pushed out necessarily. But I don’t think that [women] really saw [cinematography] as an option. Then, they started seeing it as something they could do too. Women started seeing that as a possibility. For me, I never thought about it. I just wanted to do this. I don’t think that there should be any reason that it isn’t balanced. All of the opportunity should be there. I’m not necessarily the right DP for every project, but I just want to be considered regardless of my gender. I just want things to be balanced, and eventually I would love for us all to be thought of as cinematographers.
Story & Heart: What’s your favorite camera?
Eve: It’s a different one for every shoot. Every single project that you work on requires a different camera and a different format. I think of digital cameras as if they’re film stock. That’s the underlying thing that I’m working with, and then I build from there.