Tiffany Rhodes: “Don’t let others’ fears cloud your decisions as an artist”

Don’t let others’ fears cloud your decisions as an artist. Early on, I made this mistake. I listened to someone, who out of fear, convinced me to move in a different direction while filming. It was masked in support, but it was fear. Now, as anyone who works with me will tell you; I do […]

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Don’t let others’ fears cloud your decisions as an artist. Early on, I made this mistake. I listened to someone, who out of fear, convinced me to move in a different direction while filming. It was masked in support, but it was fear. Now, as anyone who works with me will tell you; I do what I want and with certainty.

As a part of our series about Inspirational Women In Hollywood, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Tiffany Rhodes, a visionary filmmaker and an incredible storyteller. Her films have garnered 29 (IMDB verified) awards and 15 nominations since she first appeared on the independent filmmaking scene in 2016. Tiffany’s work challenges the perception of reality and of our own existence while exploring and exposing the human condition. In 2020, Film Daily wrote, “Tiffany is our auteur to watch”.

Known for creating her own rules and universe, Tiffany is a gutsy filmmaker, not waiting for permission to tell her stories. She surrounds herself with a team whose goals are in line with her core mission and unique vision. Her work has been celebrated for its metaphors, tropes, and distorted, alternative look at humanity.

Tiffany’s highly anticipated feature debut, “Match Struck” is now in post-production. Its cinematography and storytelling dabble in an esoteric nature but are grounded in strong emotionally-driven performances and energized storytelling. Her award-winning film “Collision” premiered in Los Angeles in 2019 and currently available on Amazon Prime.

In 2019 she wrote and directed, The Blackbird Interviews, set in 1982 in a mental hospital where four women, without the ability of modern technology, all claim to be the same woman. Rumors have it that Tiffany directed the film in character as her newest project about a Hitchcock-Kubrick-esk female auteur. The film toys with the moral lines of filmmaking and how far is too far when creating art.

Her first screenplay in 2016, Naked in the Dog Park, was described as “A strong mix of Woody Allen meets Dan Gilroy”, by Melanie Wise, Founder of Artemis Film Festival. “But with complex female characters written by a woman,” she went on to say. The script won her several laurels. Her follow up screenplay Promise Me was shot in Sicily and was also her directorial debut. The film garnered domestic and international laurels including CICI Festival, Miami Independent, and was broadcast in France on Art District TV.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Wow, that’s a big question. I’m working on a script now called Infirm Delight. It’s several real stories of my childhood interwoven with a fictional story of characters based on my life. An alternate ending, you could say. So, to answer your question, I am working on that answer.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I don’t know if I have a specific story, but my mom introduced me to film at a young age and I think that must have been the impetus. My editor Eric Randolph and I have had many discussions about the films that inspired us to be filmmakers and cinephiles. We recently watched (after 15 years) “Apocalypse Now”, and flashes of my childhood came streaming back. The eagerness of finally meeting Marlon Brando’s character. Robert Duvall never flinching as explosions combust all around him. I was in awe. That’s what great films did to me and still do. I always knew this is what I wanted to do.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Well, during filming I broke out in a rash. I had gone to the Urgent Care several times and no one could figure out what was happening. Probably stress, everyone would say. One day the set medic saw me secretly scratching my back. Next thing I know she had me take an antihistamine. And gave me instructions on how to care for it and then I went back to set. What a relief I thought. But moments later I realized I didn’t tell her that I was taking another medication, maybe, she should know, maybe not, better be safe, I thought. When I told the medic what else I was taking, her chin practically hit the ground in fear. These two medications should not be mixed is what her whole body was telling me. I am sure she feared that she might kill the director. She tried to remain calm but every 15 minutes she came and checked my blood pressure that continually became higher. I accused everyone of over-exaggeration only to pass out 30 minutes later.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I have done every job on set including sound while I was directing, not recommended. Put it this way, mics on actors should be turned off after cut, there’s so much I wish I could un-hear.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have so many to thank. Of recent, it would be that this incredible actor with an amazing career just finished shooting with me. You might recognize him from movies like Anchorman and the TV show “The Office”, David Koechner. Not only is he just amazing and chock full of talent, but he is also a great human. When he showed up to set I had to drop a doozy on him. The production had one problem after another and the day before he showed, I realized that we were in an almost impossible situation. But, David didn’t waver. He was wonderful and made us all laugh and believe me, we needed that.

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

There is enough room for all to have success on so many levels. This industry tends to breed a culture of competitiveness that there is not enough to go around. I have watched how this feast or famine mentality makes really good people do awful things, lie, cheat, steal, and sabotage one another. Don’t be desperate and don’t be jealous. And when faced with betrayals because of your talents, forgive those people because they are starving.

What drives you to get up everyday and work in TV and Film? What change do you want to see in the industry going forward?

What drives me seems to derive from a place I am still exploring as to how to put those feelings into words. I guess the curiosity of it all. As far as what I want to change, it’s censorship. The U.S. especially is controlling art. Yes, things may be offensive and/or hard to read or see, so don’t watch. If we spent the same amount of effort to stop sex trafficking or child pornography that we do on “cancel culture”, we could really save some lives. Leave art alone, let’s be offended by how we treat each other in our real lives when no one is watching. The hypocrisy of it all, I don’t understand.

You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?

I’m in post-production on my feature film debut, “Match Struck”. It’s an explosive and exciting film. I am so close to it that I will have my editor Eric Randolph:

“Match Struck is a totally unique film. It’s unconventional, provocative, and very sophisticated. I’m grateful to be working on such a powerful project with an innovative and brilliant director like Tiffany”.

We are very interested in looking at diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture and our youth growing up today?

I believe in the truth. And the truth is, this world is diverse and that’s beautiful. We have so much to learn and see. So many people experience the world through film and television; how sad to not have stories from different perspectives and cultures. Not only to showcase differences but in doing so, capture our humanity and show our similarities too. And a chance to develop new perspectives and break tired stereotypes. For example, the film, “American Psycho” most people don’t know it was directed by Mary Harron, A WOMAN! That means most people can’t conceive that women can direct these types of films.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

I can do one. Don’t let others’ fears cloud your decisions as an artist. Early on, I made this mistake. I listened to someone, who out of fear, convinced me to move in a different direction while filming. It was masked in support, but it was fear. Now, as anyone who works with me will tell you; I do what I want and with certainty.

Can you share with our readers any self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.

I am a work in progress. I exercise. I struggle with balance. I think balance is bullshit. Sometimes certain things in our lives are bigger than others and I have learned to ride those waves.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

There is shadow under this red rock,

And I will show you something different from either

Your shadow at morning striding behind you

Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;

I will show you fear in a handful of dust. -TS Eliot

We are so obsessed with life and death, we miss what is truly happening here. We need to wake up in this dream. Be lucid.

You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Human slavery and domestic violence.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

I have had the great honor of meeting and connecting with a few heroes of mine. Dody Dorn, the editor of the brilliant film “Memento” for one. A brilliant mind and a wonderful person. Jane Goodall, a conservation icon…We met after I heard her speak in Berkeley, CA. At this point in my life, I would love to have lunch with Sofia Coppola, to thank her for showing me that this is possible and that art is art and while we have vaginas it doesn’t determine what stories we tell or how we tell them.

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

Yes, I am on Instagram @itstiffanyrhodes

This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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