“Batwoman is the best in the franchise”: Holly Dale on Filmmaking as a Female, Director-Actor Chemistry, and the Rise of Batwoman

At a time that builds upon the momentum of movements like Me Too and LGBTQ Pride, female filmmakers are finally starting to get the recognition they have always deserved. Holly Dale, the award-winning director, producer, writer and editor(!), gets up from her seat within the audience and faces them as she enters the Vancouver Film Festival’s (VIFF) stage. As her long-time colleague and friend Norma Bailey says proudly, Dale has a perfect record of five plots proposed, and five directed. On top of this, she has directed 200 hours’ worth of screen productions.

You probably already viewed many of Dale’s works: Durham County, Mary Kills People, Flashpoint, Being Erica, Dexter, The Americans, The X-Files, Law & Order True Crime, Limitless, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Falling Skies, are some of the most popular ones. Dale is currently working on the highly anticipated Batwoman (2019) series, in which she is producing and directing. Batwoman aired on CW just last week, and already has the internet people talking! It currently sits at a high 73% on Rotten Tomatoes; however, it has also been a victim of the toxic fan culture because of its nonapologetic characters.

It seems that Dale will gather a lot of attention while the Batwoman debates catch fire. Meanwhile, I had the privilege to attend Dale and Bailey’s masterclass in October and meet her personally. Unlike someone who has so much experience as Dale, she was very humble; she wanted to connect with every single person in the audience. Hence, why she stayed for another hour or so to answer questions and guide aspiring filmmakers in their individual journeys.

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Holly and Norma Kill People

As the moderator and co-director of Mary Kills People, Bailey cheerfully states, she and Dale met at a time when both directors decided to move away from documentary filmmaking and into drama. When filming documentaries, Bailey felt she was exploiting people to do what she creatively wanted to accomplish, and that was to tell stories. On the other hand, documentary filmmaking was never Dale’s intention either. However, through drama, Dale rightfully obtained the title of being an actor’s director; someone who knows how to approach an actor’s needs.

As Dale states, setting up the visuals truly set up what Mary Kills People (MKP) stood for. Camera angles, colors, location and all that you could see on the final screen product aimed to service the characters. As an example, the visuals of dull-colored tunnels in MKP were intended to walk the actor through the tunnel of light, often associated with death. The entire piece was made to relate to life and death in various ways.

 

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Norma Bailey and Holly Dale at the VIFF Masterclass.

 

Drama in the Industry: A Female Perspective

“When I first started directing”, Dale says, “there were only 5 female directors in the industry”. Dale made sacrifices and traveled a lot. Her hard work paid off, especially when she shot a documentary on female filmmakers, Calling the Shots in 1988. As she reminisced those days, Dale exclaimed, “I met so many great males in the industry, too—they were sons of single mothers”. The audience burst out laughing.

“Women tend to collaborate and nurture more, but they also need to be careful,” says Dale. Through her experience in the industry, Dale realized there are people on set who definitely won’t want her to succeed. At the end of the day, she suggests the important skill aspiring filmmakers need to obtain is to use their energy only when they need it. A director’s job is to make decisions. Dale exhales, and gives a piece of valuable advice, “you don’t want to make a decision quick”. According to Dale, there is a delicate line between helping the producer in terms of cost and convenience, and the look and feel of the final product. She adds, “you need to filter ideas and use them for your benefit”.

 

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Holly Dale and myself at the VIFF Masterclass.

 

Director-Actor Chemistry

 When talking about times she is mostly involved in the process of selecting an actor, Dale states, “firstly, the actor needs to be a reactor”. In other words, actors need to be reactive to what’s going on around them in the scene. For Dale, another important factor is that the actor needs to know their lines. Specifically, “casting for TV is very fast,” she says; hence, seeing these two qualities stand actors out from the hundreds of tapes that are viewed every day.

Dale continues on about the ideal director-actor relationship, “Actors are very nervous most of the time. You need to tell them your processes and do not stand away”. Dale says that a director’s job is to go ahead and tell the actor, “Hey, that’s a great job”; simple as that. If a director wants the production to succeed, Dale argues “[they cannot] talk to an actor in results”. A director needs to tell the actor what causes the happiness or sadness and let them walk through the emotion. When Dale was asked about the best way to set up an emotional tone to the production, she stated, “it is best when they (the actor) wants to work with you”. When the actor and director understand each other, the character starts telling her story.

One sentence: Marvel vs. DC

Dale briefly talked about the best parts of working for Marvel vs. DC.

Marvel (Agents of the S.H.I.E.L.D.)– Executives are very hands-on during production.

DC (Batwoman) – Finally has the best superhero on-screen for the franchise! 

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The rise of Batwoman

Dale defines Batwoman as “a groundbreaking series” that welcomes a lesbian superhero on screen, and adds, “it (Batwoman) is the best in the franchise”. She says she is on set a lot these days; she practically “live(s) there now!”. But Dale seems to put her heart out directing Batwoman, as she “always excels to be beyond the script”. And, we are beyond excited to see where Batwoman’s journey will take her; because we want to go there with her, too!

[Photoblog] 2018 in Review: I did all this?

2018 was my ride or die. It was full of moments that left me in awe, put my capabilities in a trial, overwhelmed me with joy and with its last bit, challenged me with deep sadness as well.

I love the photoblogs because it has always been hard for me to see the small successes. As I looked through these moments, I said to myself, “I did all this?“. Believe me, there were a lot of question marks, not just one.

As always, thanks to the many friends I made along the way.

Continue reading “[Photoblog] 2018 in Review: I did all this?”

[BREAKING NEWS] Active Shooter at Dupont Circle

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3:15pm: About 24 police cars and multiple FBI present at 1350 Connecticut Ave NW.

3:30pm: Dupont Circle metro station section locked down. Washington Post reports there are no victims nor gunman found.

3:45pm: According to the building security (above Panera), there is a hostage situation. All people nearby are asked to return to their offices.

3:50pm: Circle opened to public traffic, waiting on further news.

My live tweets were featured in the Washington Post News:

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See Washington Post Report here.

DC Police searched the building floor by floor, finding no gunman nor affected victims. Dupont Circle is currently open to public and traffic is back to normal.

What is going on in the Trumpland?

26828161_10215108623257415_1113191477_oAmerica is shaken by the government shut down, the nation is flying over to District of Columbia to march for their voices, their president plays for the audience, and I, over here, will try to explain what is going on in the Trumpland.

Although there was a significant amount of tension in Washington this week due to the government shutdown, the breaking news coming from the Washington Post clarifies that the President finally “signed the short-term spending bill to fund the government through Feb. 8.”. Additionally, the bill extended Children’s Health Insurance Program and delayed three Obamacare taxes. The parties still seem to have different views about immigration and spending, however, government officials are back to work until it’s time to fight about the issues again, in two weeks time.

The week of the shutdown, there were major events that took place (and still taking place) in DC.  The month of January is facilitated numerous rallies including the major events of this week, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Walk (January 15), March for Life (January 19) and Women’s March (January 20). Some of the upcoming marches include The National People’s March (January 27), Muslim and Refugee Ban: A Year of Resistance March (January 30).

I had the privilege to attend the March for Life, however, could not make it to the Women’s March although I truly support the movement. I have taken the March for Life as a journalistic experience to be able to observe and criticize a view I did not fully support.

There were over 100,000 people with their posters and loud voices in the event as well as speakers that were strongly religious and based their reasons on their faith. By all means, there is nothing wrong with that… but there is also a lot of things wrong with that. In 20th century, it still leaves me speechless government enforcements through faith happens. And it truly shakes me to see that these enforcements take place not only in Middle East or Asia, but also in the United States of America.

Would the practice of abortion, euthanasia or suicide matter if it weren’t forbidden in our religions? Yes, religions set boundaries, but what are the limits of those boundaries?

I have not heard a single speaker addressing a counter argument or at least mentioning the word ‘rape’ or ‘mother’s life at sake’ while they were speaking about abortion. However, they did not forget to talk about how great adoption is. Mind you, adoption is painful in many ways for the children until they feel home, and sometimes they don’t at all.

During his speech, Mr. President made sure he showed off all the glam he brought to America. It felt as if he were trying to win his votes over for his next term ahead of time. I’ll have to admit Trump is a good speaker but has no character.

I suggest attending one of the upcoming rallies in DC if you reside here, and experience the passion, politics and millions clogging the roads through the Washington Monument to the Hill. Do not be afraid to explore views that you struggle with, it is a great opportunity to strongly reaffirm your own stance in the controversies.

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