Erica Rose is an award-winning Brooklyn-based writer and director with a focus on queer and female-driven stories.
She co-created, executive produced, and directed episodes for the Roku original series, The Lesbian Bar Project, which received a special Recognition Award at the GLAAD Media Awards. After screening in over 40 festivals internationally, her short film, Girl Talk, premiered online and currently has over 36 million views. She also directed season 2 of the award-winning web series, Interested In that premiered Fall 2022.
Erica joins us on Close-Up Culture to talk about her directorial work on the short film, Let Liv.
The film follows a young alcoholic woman who agrees to attend an AA meeting with her partner. When she unexpectedly runs into her estranged mother, she’s forced to confront demons from her past.
What is your creative process?
I always start with the story and character. What is the film about? Where does our character begin and end? What obstacles do they face in their journey? What does our character want versus what do they need? Once I figure those essential questions out, I build my visual world. For me, the visuals need to always be connected to the central character’s inner world and the tone of the film. I pull a lot of references and have a lot of creative brainstorms with my department heads.
For Let Liv, I knew I wanted the film to have a New York timelessness. I wanted to embrace a color story that helped distinguish the dual timelines. There’s the subtlety with the variances of camera movement that’s all motivated from Liv’s connection and feelings to what’s happening around her. We’re a bit stiller and calmer when she’s embracing the other people in the room. The camera becomes handheld and wilder when Judy comes in and disrupts it all.
Why is it important for you to tell LGBT stories?
So many of our stories have been told by people outside of the LGBT community, which perpetuated mythology and misinformation about queer people, especially marginalized genders within the queer community. I love my community and want to tell stories about and for my community.
Do you feel like the landscape is changing for female directors?
It’s far better than it was, but there’s so much more work to be done to receive true equity and opportunities as compared to men in this industry. It’s not just about making our first features, it’s about our second and third and beyond. It’s about receiving the same respect and treatment on set. It’s about being able to tell the stories we want to tell and not being relegated to classifications like “niche.”
Please share with us how you got into filmmaking…
I’ve been working professionally as a filmmaker for the past 10 years, but I’ve been making movies and telling stories since I was a kid. My dad is a huge Scorsese fan, so I grew up watching Mean Streets, Goodfellas, and Raging Bull but quickly found my own cinematic passions with Pedro Almodovar, Wong Kar-wai, Jane Campion, Mira Nair, etc. I basically devoured everything I could, was mostly self-taught and then got into NYU Tisch. There, I held nothing back, made the wildest student films, and refined a bit, but mostly just stayed true to myself. I love doing this. I love telling stories and I have the best job in the world.
Let Liv has the quality of a feature in a short, do you have any plans to make it a feature?
Yes! Olivia and I are currently developing the feature script!
What is next for you?
Olivia and I are developing the feature version of Let Liv. I’m also working on another feature script with comedian Ali Clayton. I’m doing the first international episode of my show The Lesbian Bar Project doc-series this summer.