Interview with Cookie Carson

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Cookie Carson‘s first time acting was as an extra on the HBO series ‘The Wire‘. After first watching the show in the first season, she watched the ending credits to see if the casting company was local to the Baltimore area. Cookie had met a couple people in the business already and they suggested that she get the mailing list to find out about different casting notices. After working that first time on the show, Cookie knew she was hooked.

indieactivity: Did you study what you do?
Cookie: After working on The Wire that first season, I knew I wanted to become a filmmaker. I had not taken a film class since I was in college so I thought that what better way to start learning the business but to be on set and become a quick study.

indieactivity: What is your filmmaking process?
Cookie: I try to pull from several different techniques. I believe the most important technique is to pull from actual life experiences. I believe there is no better teacher than hands on experience and just living your life. Even if you are young and even if you are much more mature in age, you still have something to refer back to.

indieactivity: Tell us about the work you have produced?
Cookie: I have produced a short film entitled, “Water Is Not Enough” and the full feature by the same name. Also, I am in post-production for my latest short film entitled, “Which Line Are You In?” Acting is not fake, in other words you have to BECOME that character. The actor must step out of their comfort zone and become a totally different personality type. Acting is not safe, you have to allow yourself a certain amount of vulnerability to be good at what you do.

indieactivity: Do you take courses to improve your craft?
Cookie: Yes, I do take classes as often as possible. It always helps to keep an actor fresh between projects.

indieactivity: How do you combine acting, producing and writing?
Cookie: I multi-task which takes a considerable amount of time to act, write and produce. I find that focusing in on one or the other tasks is much more feasible with less distraction.

indieactivity: How did you get into the film business?
Cookie: After acting for a few years I gained enough hands-on experience to try and make a film on my own. It just came to me one day that I should take a stab at writing a screenplay and when I sat down to write the words just came to me.

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indieactivity: How do you turn an idea into a screenplay?
Cookie: I get ideas all the time and I write them down so I won’t forget. Once I decide on a specific idea, I create an outline for the story as well as the characters.

indieactivity: Explain your writing process?
Cookie: My process varies with each project. I don’t really have a certain style per se. I do have to be alone with my thoughts to be as focused as possible.

indieactivity: What writing tip or idea can you give young writers?
Cookie: Always write your ideas down at first thought. It is harder to remember a couple days later what your first thoughts were. Be very guarded with your writing and keep as much about your script to yourself, especially early in the process.

indieactivity: Tell us about the directing work that you have done?
Cookie: I have directed all three of my projects and served as assistant director on a upcoming web/tv series,“His Fire, My Faith.”

indieactivity: What do you want to change about the film business?
Cookie: The lack of positive films for people of color and lack of jobs behind the camera especially for women.

indieactivity: What do you want to be remembered for?
Cookie: That I tried to make a difference in someone’s life and entertained them at the same time through storytelling. I hope that my work leaves an impressionable mark on people from all walks of life.

indieactivity: What do you want from an actor during production?
Cookie: I want the actor to be as prepared as possible so that it will reflect on camera. The more prepared an actor is the better for the director, other actors and for the story itself. Professionalism is a high priority to me and it goes a long way.

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indieactivity: How do you prefer to work with a producer during a production?
Cookie: I like to work as close as possible to ensure that we are on the same page. As a director I do not want to take the film in a direction that is the opposite of what is expected by the producer. If I have the leverage to add in my own thoughts on how a scene could go, that works just fine as well.

indieactivity: What can a director do to get into the film industry?
Cookie: Start by taking classes on directing to learn as many fundamentals as possible. Always try to network with other directors and be willing to shadow a veteran director in the business.

indieactivity: Who is your favourite director?
Cookie: It is so hard to pick just one. My favorites are Kasi Lemmons, Julie Dash, Ava Duvernay, Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola.

indieactivity: Why?
Cookie: In my opinion, two of these directors that I mentioned capture the pure essence in a character. The audience is made to feel as if they are taking the journey with the actor and with the film.

indieactivity: What advice would give to directors around the world?
Cookie: Study, Study, Study your craft! There is always something new to learn. There is a wealth of information that is available and it is right at our fingertips!

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indieactivity: Why?
Cookie: While working on the varied film and television sets such as The Wire, Veep, House of Cards, Evan Almighty and State of Play, I decided that it was time to pursue a career behind the camera after seeing that there is a huge gap in the marketplace for films about women and people of color that are non-stereotypical. As a result, in 2012 I wrote, directed and produced my first independent short film entitled Water Is Not Enough and it has been airing on the Comcast channel in Richmond, Virginia for the last three years.

In my most recent completed creative endeavor I penned my first dramatic feature length film also entitled Water Is Not Enough (W.I.N.E.). I am the screenwriter, producer and director for this project as well. The film was released last year through my production company Cookie Carson Productions. The film is currently being distributed through Amazon Prime. Ultimately, I would like to adapt this project into a web/tv series and expand my latest short film into a full feature.

I have been mentored, supported and encouraged every step of the way in my career and I try to give back by mentoring up and coming actors and filmmakers. I want my journey to serve as light of motivation for someone to go after and pursue their dreams just as I am doing. Early on I came to realize that visualizing what you want in life is an essential step toward achieving it. A major part of achieving my goals is actually knowing what those goals are and actively pursuing each one.

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