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Interview With Melissa Whitely the Director, Writer & Producer of the Light of My Life

Light of My Life won Best Film Made by Women Filmmakers & Best Covid-19 Related Film in the 12th Season of MP Film Award Melissa Whitely Director, Writer & Producer of the Film Light of My Life agree to interview with us.

Melissa Whitely

Melissa Whitely: Melissa Whitely founded the New Jersey based production company White Lyte Productions in 2008. A graduate of the New York Film Academy, she is an accomplished director, cinematographer, and editor.


Completed in 2008, Whitely's short film "Scenes Missing" had a sustained festival run including the New Filmmakers Film Series, Wildwood By the Sea Film Fest, and the New Jersey International Film Festival.


Whitey next directed a successful documentary titled "Bazaar of All Nations" about a seminal American shopping center. This work has aired on WHYY, the PBS affiliate in the Philadelphia market.


In 2017 she completed her first full-length narrative feature film "Leaving Virginville". This coming-of-age story has had sustained festival attention for the last five years.


Whitely is also excited to be producing "The Fish Bowl", a variety show featuring work from local and international artist. It airs on Xfinity channels 21, 24, and 280 in the New Jersey market.



Poster Light of My Life

About The Film: Synopsis: Light of My Life Film Synopsis:

In dark times a new friend arrives to shed some light on the situation. This new presence creates strange occurrences and marital discord.





What was your drive behind making this film?

Melissa Whitely: Covid-19 definitely impacted my ability to create. I’m sure I’m not the only person who felt confined by these circumstances and found inspiration looking to the smaller, every day items surrounding them. Something as simple as needing more light in my home offices became the launching pad for this story and we were off and running.



How do you feelwhen you are awarded with the MP FILM AWARD Award.

Melissa Whitely: I was thrilled to receive the award for both Best Female Filmmaker and Best Covid-19 Themed Film.



Can you tell us about the greatest moment during shooting this film?

Melissa Whitely: Hopefully if you’re reading this interview, you’ve seen the film already so this answer will make sense to you. The greatest moment during filming was the day that “Lampy” arrived. It was the moment when this goofy adventure could finally begin.



How rigorously did you stick to the script while shooting?

Melissa Whitely: The benefit to this being a small production is that I had the freedom to be more flexible as needed. The primary plot points stayed the same but some adjustments were made on the fly as shooting progressed.



Where there any onset problems During the filming of the film & how did you deal with it?

Melissa Whitely: For me the biggest challenge was wearing so many different hats during this production. I was the writer, director, producer as well as main actor, DP, DL, prop wrangler, editor etc. About the only thing I didn’t do was design “Lampy” and write the score. It was difficult to set lights and focus then have to slide into place. Various times I delivered the type of performance I was looking for, but when I checked the playback I was slightly out of focus or out of frame. Needless to say, nothing was captured in a single take on this production.



Do you have any advice for young filmmakers out there? Or like yourself?

Melissa Whitely: Create. Create the kind of art that you would like to see. Completion of a project alone makes you a success. It doesn’t matter how many views you get. It’s the pride at the end of the day of being able to say “I made that.”



Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?

Melissa Whitely: That’s a trickly question. It’s important to study your craft. The benefit of going to a school is learning the fundamentals of production. That knowledge gives you the freedom to INTENTIONALLY bend or break the rules. Film school is also an excellent place to network and share ideas. But I don’t believe it’s the only path to film creation. You can find mentors or local film groups to collaborate with.



Which film has inspired you the most?

Melissa Whitely: There are too many to list here. Here are a handful of works I return to on a regular basis: Trainspotting;The Virgin Suicides;Midnight in Paris;Vanilla Sky;Sunset Blvd.; Synecdoche, New York.



Which particular filmmaker has influenced you the most?

Melissa Whitely: I can’t just name one. So here’s the list: Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Darren Aronofsky, Sophia Coppola, Quentin Tarantino, Mike Flanagan – more for his limited series work ex. The Haunting of Hill House, Midnight Mass.



Which book would you love to make a film out of one day?

Melissa Whitely: Wuthering Heights!



If you got the opportunity to go back in time & change something in any particular movie of yours, then which movie & what changes will you opt for?

Melissa Whitely: My first feature film Leaving Virginville. DSLRs were just coming into the picture and I didn’t have the budget to invest in a new camera and produce the feature. By time the post was done on the film I did long for a more cinematic feel.



If you were to shoot the film again, what would you do differently?

Melissa Whitely: I wouldn’t change anything on Light of My Life. I’m extremely pleased with the way it turned out.



What is your greatest achievement till date?

Melissa Whitely: The documentary Bazaar of All Nations. I still continue to sell copies and have viewers reach out to comment about how excited they are by this work.



How do you pick yourself up after a failed film?

Melissa Whitely: Hide in the dark and watch the films of those who inspire me. I know that they have had to deal with failure and disappointment too. Yet they persist.



Where our viewers can catch you (share your social media)?

Melissa Whitely:


Twitter: @Whitelytepro



 

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