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Making ‘Riverment,’ IndieWire’s July Project of the Month, a Story That Spans Generations

"Our goal is to create a captivating film that reflects the current times, but also illuminates the contributions of women to movements, both past and present."

Crystal Swann and Erica Johnson in “Riverment.”

2016 has been a year for listening to the past. In both our modern political climate and in the world of entertainment, we’ve been forced to confront the actions of recent generations and select what parts of that example to carry into the future.

That dialogue between past and present is a cornerstone of Shayla Racquel’s “Riverment,” a short film detailing the relationship between a budding activist and her grandmother, a woman who herself fought for civil rights. Set in DC, where Racquel is an MFA candidate at American University, the film is currently in production. But it took a dedicated effort to help bring the film to its current state.

As a post on the film’s Facebook reads: “Remember – A movement that isn’t evolving, isn’t moving.” While the film was in its fundraising stage, that message resonated with IndieWire readers, who voted it both Project of the Week and Project of the Month for July.

We spoke to Racquel via email about the film’s origins, the production process and what comes after.

What’s next for the project?

We’ve started the production phase and we are overly excited about the outcome! We plan to be finished with principal photography in November 2016, however we are currently fundraising for post-production. (To donate, please visit this link.)

What are the biggest challenges for the project?

“Riverment” is part period piece, with many moments taking place in the 1960s. As with all period pieces, finding the appropriate wardrobe, locations, props, etc. that fit the decade can be difficult. However, our team is very creative and is working diligently in order to make it happen. Our piece also includes a large protest scene which has a lot of moving parts to manage. The most important thing is that we want to convey the appropriate respect and passion that is involved in the act of protesting. We want the images we create of our protest to be beautiful but also authentic.

Shayla Racquel

Shayla Racquel

What are your goals?

Our goal is to create a captivating film that reflects the current times, but also illuminate the contributions of women to movements, both past and present. The dialogue of the film focuses on bridging the gap between two different generations, with two different approaches, for one continuous fight. Overall, it is our main goal to make a film that not only we are proud of, but that our funders could be proud to know that they were played a crucial part in making possible.

What do you wish someone had told you before you started?

We wish someone had told us about the difficulties and intricacies of running and maintaining a Kickstarter campaign! The anxiety felt days before the end is hard on any heart, and its best to have a plan for the end of the campaign in order to inspire people to donate the last bit needed to hit your goal. Though I’ve always known that filmmaking is a collaborative effort and cannot be done without a loyal team, I wish someone had told me that when trying to do productions of this caliber, it is important to let other people help in your role as well. We have a tendency to try to take on too much ourselves, when there are crew members just as excited and willing to work. This will help relieve some of the stresses involved with being the writer/director. It is okay to lean on others – the most important part is that it gets done.

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