Ebonie Saunders

Ebonie Saunders

Ebonie Saunders

How long have you been an IFP member?

I have been a member since June of 2014.

Why did you join?

I haven't filmed or been involved with productions in ages and needed to reacquaint myself with the film community. Additionally, I suspected that such a re-acquaintance would be good for my creativity.  I plan on getting my script into protection within a year.

What does it mean to you to be a filmmaker in Chicago? How does Chicago inform/influence your work?

Hmm, how does Chicago inform or influence my work? Well, I like character driven film, and my Chicago experience affects my writing and influences my character creation and development.  Because two things are happening here. Not only was I born and raised in Chicago—Chicago proper, not the suburbs—but my mother was born and raised in Chicago as well.

These are two different experiences, spanning several decades of Chicago history, Chicago politics, and Chicago culture, emanating from various parts of the the city and spread throughout time.  Chicago is truly the “The City of Neighborhoods,” and I am lucky to have not only my own Chicago experience, but to have inherited and benefited from my mother's Chicago experience as well.

The combination provides me with multifaceted views of people, experiences, circumstances, and  cultures, which of course affects my creation and understanding of a character's life and personal narrative.

And so, when I sit down to create a new character, I examine his history and environment, both individual and communal, and contemplate the way in which it defines his personality and eventually, his conflict.

In summary, I guess I can say that my cumulative Chicago experience latches on to my creative process. I can't just let a character be. While sketching him out (or watching someone else's, for that matter) the questions begin:

Who is this guy and why does he see things the way he does? Is he seeing things from his point of view or from somebody else's and if so, whose and more importantly, whenever he does whichever he does, does he know that he's doing it?  Does he even know the difference?  Where does he live? What does it sound like there and out of those sounds, what does he actually hear?  Who are his heroes (even if they are not in the film), and what's their story? Why?

And it goes on and on.

This makes for interesting characters, or at least I think so, and for me is the most exciting part of the filmmaking process.  Fleshing out and knowing who these people really are, and then establishing the visual, audible, and kinesthetic manifestations of their characteristics and struggles.

What was the last movie you saw?

The Imitation Game


Interview Conducted May 2015