Indie Filmmaker Spotlight: Raeshelle Cooke

Indie writer-director Raeshelle Cooke - image source: IMDb

Indie writer-director Raeshelle Cooke – image source: IMDb

Raeshelle Cooke is a young indie filmmaker from Taunton, MA. Although she is at an early stage of her career, she has already written and directed six short films and two music videos. Her latest production, “Sometime Around January,” will be released later this month.

Ms. Cooke is a recent graduate of Bridgewater State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Communication and Media Studies. In the summer of 2014, she interned at Easton Community Access Television, an experience that she documented on video:

Raeshelle’s ’14 internship testimonial from Raeshelle Cooke on Vimeo.

In 2013, Raeshelle’s film “On Her Way” was a Finalist at the BSU Campus Movie Festival, placing in the top 16 of 44 films. In 2014, she won Best Newcomer for her independent short film “Monae’s Room” at the Shawna Shea Film Festival; in 2015, she won Best Genre Blend at the Stories by the River Film Festival for the same film. Also in 2015, her latest short film, “Sometime Around January,” was nominated for Best Short Film at the Shawna Shea Film Festival.

Writer-director Raeshelle Cooke (center) on the set of "Sometime Around January" - image source: Raeshelle Cooke

Writer-director Raeshelle Cooke (center) on the set of “Sometime Around January” – image source: Raeshelle Cooke

Later this month, “Sometime Around January” will be released to general audiences via Vimeo. After viewing her work, Loud Green Bird took the opportunity to interview Raeshelle via email before her new film’s online premiere.

How did you get interested in filmmaking? What drew you to it? How did you prepare for it?

I got into it after seeing X-Men: First Class (2011). I wanted to write an anime movie because I love that stuff and I loved that film and really respected how true they were to the original origins of the X-Men (the cartoon though). Then I started writing other scripts and one day I got some people together and shot a movie. I love writing and storytelling, I always have. But I’m really grateful for having seen that X-Men film because I wouldn’t have written my new film “Sometime Around January,” which I’m really excited about.

Tell me about your past filmmaking projects.

Before “Sometime Around January,” I did two student films. I don’t like to watch those now, though, because I am a much better filmmaker since I directed those. Since then I’ve directed “Monae’s Room,” two music videos, and “Last Words”. They’ve gone on to screen at festivals and one won 2 awards. The films I write and direct are usually based on real experiences and have an element of musical narration, and voice-overs instead of dialog. Because I love music. I think it’s a unique way of storytelling and some people really like it. My films are not for everyone though.

Tell me about your upcoming release of “Sometime Around January.”

The film is about a woman that spots an old flame for the first time after a January falling out, and there’s mystery and betrayal surrounding it. It stars Dominique LaFleur, Moises Bournigal, and JD Achille. We shot it in February-March of 2015 and it’s been screened at some festivals, Shoe City Screens, Home Grown Shorts, Art City Cambridge, Shawna Shea Film Fest, etc. It was nominated for Best Short at the Shawna Shea Film Fest so I was really excited. I’m still submitting it to festivals but now I’m going to release it online too. It’s gonna be on my Vimeo in January, THIS month: http://www.vimeo.com/raeshelle. Follow me on there if you’d like to see the film!

Your films have a lot to do with women who are dealing with powerful emotions after being rejected by men. Tell me about this theme and how you got interested in it.

Besides “On Her Way” and “A Sister’s Bond,” my films so far have mostly been about the complex emotions we feel after a relationship has ended. At least that has been my intention. Men have come up to me and told me they relate to my stories too. In “Monae’s Room” it’s about a woman who’s living in the past and needs to get her butt up and look to the future. In “Last Words” the story isn’t about rejection either, but how hypocritical the “bf” is in his relationship with his so-called gf. It’s a humorous take on a silly little man and how he bullshitted his entire “relationship” with the woman. It’s funny. But it’s told with Horror elements. In “Sometime Around January,” the story is about the unknowing, the mystery surrounding a once passionate love. It’s a story that deals with multiple things at once. It actually isn’t even about a relationship that went sour. On the surface it is, but if one looks deeper it isn’t even about the romantic relationship at all. But I don’t wanna give away spoilers. I’m just saying that to say that in my films it’s never about a man’s rejection. I like to make films where women are the lead mostly, and I like them to be empowered in the role. But “Sometime Around January” is different. But yeah my films do go much deeper than that, and I write about this topic a lot because it’s fun, true to my feelings and relatable. For me and for others.

What are your plans for the future in terms of filmmaking?

Releasing the full “Sometime Around January” film. I encourage people to follow me on Vimeo and check out the teaser trailer. The full short film will be released on my Vimeo before the month is over! And I’m not done submitting to festivals. After that, I’d like to make “His Interlude” and “Mt. Washington,” which are new stories I’ve written that I wanna add to my portfolio and share with people, and those came to me as I was listening to music. That’s how most of my films come to me.

What do you want to tell our readers about that I haven’t asked you?

I was feeling confused and down at the end of last year after it was actually a good year for my films. So I snapped out of it. I think it’s important to tell other filmmakers reading, who may doubt their work at times due to certain treatment at times, to keep writing and keep making films as you are inspired to do it. People that like your style will appreciate and pay attention, and they will be looking out for more….so keep doing what you like, how you like to do it. I think if people follow their passion and tune out the rest, the right things will fall into place. I don’t force my films into already-established cliques now. And if you’re a filmmaker on the “outside” trying to get in, recognize what and where those cliques are and just stay away. Make your own way, believe in your your work, and keep making your art.

Readers can check out the teaser-trailer for “Sometime Around January” right here and follow Raeshelle at the links below:

Sometime Around January | Teaser from Raeshelle Cooke on Vimeo.

Vimeo: Raeshelle Cooke

Twitter: @RMCPict

WordPress (blog): Raeshelle Cooke

Stage 32: Raeshelle Cooke

IMDb: Raeshelle Cooke

LinkedIn: Raeshelle Cooke