College Film Maker, Chantal Massuh-Fox with her beloved dog, Marilyn.
“When I was 20 years old I made my first big film, Red Vinyl. I had not planned on submitting it to festivals but I came across the Glovebox Film Festival and I decided to give it a shot. A few months later I received a notice that I had gotten in which shocked me. The bigger shock came when I had actually beat out “real” filmmakers (not just student filmmakers!) and won the award for the conceptual film category,” Chantal Massuh-Fox, a college filmmaker and a dear friend of mine shared. Little did she know back then, but this was just the beginning.
Today, Chantal is about to graduate from the School of Film and Animation at Rochester Institute of Technology. Since Red Vinyl, she has also added a few films to her credits including Pink Slip, Chet’s Pet, and most recently Excess Baggage. She has achieved tremendous success with these films. Chet’s Pet won both Best Film, Best Actress and Audience Choice Award in the Sleepless in Lake Placid Competition while Pink Slip was nominated at the Philadelphia Film & Animation Festival for Best Student Film. The trailer for Excess Baggage, Massuh-Fox’s thesis film was featured on mtvU, the college filmmaker channel for MTV, as one of the best college filmmaker clips of 2014. Excess Baggage also won the mtvU Biggest Tease award and is being considered for the Student Academy Awards, which is the regular academy awards except strictly for only college filmmakers. It is the most prestigious award you could only dream to win as a student filmmaker.
A scene from Pink Slip
There is no doubt that Chantal’s career is off to an incredible start and I cannot wait to see the films that she will produce next! I am so thankful that Chantal took time out of her busy schedule to give me a Lady Code Exclusive. Read on to learn more about her inspirations, her career goals, her new film, Excess Baggage and her advice for aspiring filmmakers!
How did you first get interested in film making?
My obsession with films started when I was a young kid. Although I remember re-watching the little mermaid way too many times, what really peaked my interest were the movies we weren’t allowed to watch. My dad had a collection of classic films most of them ‘Rated R’ in his in home office, like Silence of the Lambs, The Godfather and Flashdance. We were not supposed to watch these films but of course I did it anyway. Although I was breaking the rules, I am glad I exposed myself to these films as they propelled me into wanting to tell my own stories.
Chantal puts on her director hat
Tell me about your most memorable shoot.
We were shooting in a scuzzy motel parking lot where there were some interesting characters and there was a scene where one character runs to his car carrying his clothes in his white tights. We had been given permission to shoot in the motel by the owner, but one of the guests was not notified and came out yelling about indecency. The combination of that and the scared freshman on set made it pretty hysterical!
Behind the scenes on the set of Excess Baggage
What is your proudest accomplishment so far and why?
Definitely completing my thesis film, Excess Baggage. I struggled with the writing process of the film for a long time. So to see it now finished and actually be in love with it makes me extremely happy. A lot of hard work and time went into this film on both my part and my amazing film crew’s part. I guess the emotional stress related breakdowns were truly worth it.
Chantal’s thesis film, Excess Baggage, that was nominated for the Student Academy Awards.
What is Excess Baggage about, why did you decide to make this film and what was your inspiration?
I knew I wanted to make a coming of age film relevant to my generation, something for my fellow millennials. Excess Baggage is a film about a tough misfit girl who is stuck in bad circumstances and fighting to get out. A classic stuck-in-a-small-town story with a lot more edge.
What do you hope to accomplish with Excess Baggage?
Winning a student academy award would be unreal. Being nominated for any award is an honor and extremely gratifying because it is all just icing on the cake knowing that your hard work paid off. As a filmmaker, part of what hurls you forward is the need to connect and share something with an audience. I have really high hopes for this film and can’t wait to share it. Hopefully it will screen at different film festivals and viewed around the country.
Have you thought about your next film?
I know I want to make a feature length film next but I am still playing around with story. I am currently directing a music video for artist, Juliana Salguero, for a song I co-wrote with her named “Girl’s Club.” The song has a tongue and cheek vibe that pokes fun at the double standard society has on women and the video depicts a brainwashing human doll factory. It will be a longer film style music video.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Doing the same thing I’m doing right now. Writing, directing and producing films, living my dream on a much much larger scale. I want to make independent feature films that tell unique and different stories.
Chantal in action
What advice do you have for someone aspiring to break into the industry?
Never settle and have fun. Push yourself hard. Drive is the only thing that’ll get you through the harsh rejection.
We wish Chantal the best of luck for the Academy Awards! Stay tuned by ‘liking’ the Excess Baggage page!
WATCH CHANTAL’S FULL LENGTH FILMS HERE:
You can connect with Chantal Massuh-Fox on Facebook or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.