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Chloe Locarro: on Being a Woman Behind the Camera, Finding Yourself, and Manic Pixie Dream Girls

Chloe Locarro: on Being a Woman Behind the Camera, Finding Yourself, and Manic Pixie Dream Girls

A selection of Chloe's work as a director can be found on the bottom of this article.

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On being a woman in film: I work in film as an Assistant Camera (AC) or Camera Operator. It’s challenging, but a lot of fun. I get to problem solve and utilize my technical knowledge of cameras, gear, lenses, etc. but I also get to be creative when troubleshooting with my peers. It's definitely difficult being a woman in film. I’ve been confronted with definite sexism and frustrations based on my knowledge, my gender, and my age. I oftentimes have to work twice as hard just to be welcomed or respected, and always have to be aware of what I’m wearing on set, and how I come off. You’re judged immediately as soon as you get there. If you don't know the correct terminology or exactly what something is, you're immediately shut down or talked down to. This has definitely pushed me to know exactly what I want and exactly what I'm talking about while being confident in both my skills and the decisions I make on set. That said, even if someone is an asshole, I try to be as nice as I can and just get the job done as quickly and as well done as possible.

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On growing up: Being raised in New York City, I grew up very fast. I started to take the subway by myself at age 11 or 12 to school, and I had to learn very quickly how to look after myself. It was both a blessing and a curse. In early high school I was very busy. I didn’t have that much of a social life early on, because my schedule was organized by the hour every day of the week and filled with rehearsals, dance classes, voice lessons, tutors, or after school programs.  Sometimes, it felt as though I didn’t fit in with many of my peers at school, and would find close friendships in the opera companies or my acting class. I didn't really find my true self until late college. High school was a big growing period for me; I tested out different styles and looks and learned what interested me and where I felt like my talents or knowledge were appreciated.

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On self care: I've been trying to focus on my own self care. I love baths and whenever I get stressed or overwhelmed, I love to take a long, hot bath and put on a movie. Exercise and eating well is also very important, I’ve been trying to push myself to focus on that more as I’ve gotten older. I love incorporating stretching with yoga and always feel better after I’ve gone for a run or to the gym. I'm also starting to get into cooking. I have a beautiful kitchen in my new apartment and I finally cooked a meal for some friends at a dinner party. One thing I definitely need to start doing more is eating healthy, because I could totally just eat Gluten Free pasta or pizza every day of my life! I also find it very important to be in nature. Even after a month of being in the city without stepping outside of it, I feel very cooped up. I constantly crave going upstate or out of town, being in a quiet place, going on a hike, going swimming, or even just reading a book by the fire. It’s a nice reset for me.

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On the Trump administration: I think a lot has changed since Trump was elected, most things bad. We have gone backwards in a way I didn't think would be possible in such a short time for female rights, abortion rights, racism, and antisemitism. I feel like we have taken 3 steps back, especially in female rights. I think the best thing that has come out of since the Trump presidency is great art, and a new rise of political action. Groups of people have started banning together, on the streets, fighting for what they believe in and standing up for women’s rights, environmental rights, and human rights in these trying times.   

On the perfect woman: I think above all, the perfect woman is strong. The perfect woman understands her self-worth, is confident, and loves her whole self. She is able to immerse herself in things that challenge her and she grows with wisdom and grace, continually learning from her past, becoming an ever evolving being continually adapting to her environment and surroundings. She is a giver, a lover, and a fighter. She is true to herself, no matter what other people say.

On abuse in relationships: I think that so many strong, beautiful women I know have been in a negative or abusive relationship in some way or another, not understanding that they’re being treated terribly or that the relationship is unhealthy, but staying in it because you don't feel like you have anything else, or you're too afraid to be alone. I see so many of my close friends go through this and unfortunately I think there are many young men who look to take advantage of women’s kindness and empathy.

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On our society’s perfect woman: I think there is one continuous idea that is represented within the media and within society about the woman you “want to be”. There is the woman up on 10 foot tall billboards that you “should look like”; the female manic-pixie-dream-girl character in movies whose sole purpose is to progress the male character’s storyline; the idea that women can “have it all” while being on their periods and riding bikes in white shorts. I also think our society has has a perpetual obsession with the “cool girl”: she’s Instagram famous, a model, actress, or blogger whose main source of income is from ads on Instagram. Each of these standards gives women an unattainable idea of what a real woman should aspire to be; all of which are not supporting individuality and representation of different types of women in our society. I finally don't care that I don’t fit in with this ideal. I have really come around to love who I am. Of course, I get insecure sometimes, but I’ve learned to not be so hard on myself and be comfortable in my own skin. It's taken a long time, but I've finally gotten there.

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On being a dancer, an opera singer, an actor, a filmmaker: I went through many intense phases growing up. I started off as a dancer: my parents tried to see if I had the “dancing bug” and sent me to dance lessons when I was around 2 or 3.  I ended up having some knee issues and losing interest and started focusing more on singing. I was a pretty shy child, so my mother thought it would be a good idea for me to join a chorus, where I could also meet a new group of people. I ended up loving singing. I joined three opera companies and toured around with various operas, mainly as a chorus member. For a while, I thought I wanted to be an opera singer. Around the same time, I began taking various acting classes with coaches and at conservatories, really beginning to understand myself. As I began to focus more on acting and less on opera, I really began to find a passion. I loved acting, I always have. I think it’s a beautiful craft, especially when you learn from such an incredible teacher as I had, and studied it for over 10 years. I began to understand my inner feelings and how to “come from love” even in the darkest of times. That time in my life changed me greatly, made me a stronger person, more self-aware and helped me grow into the person I would become. I started to become interested in filmmaking, and applied to half the colleges for acting and half for filmmaking. As I continued through my first year of college, I started being drawn to film more so than acting, and what comes with it. I am the kind of person who likes to understand the varying parts of how things come together, and I became drawn to the many moving parts within filmmaking.  

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On empowering women in film: Last year, I shot a 1960’s short film with only three characters in it, each of them being female. Each head of department was also female! It’s very rare to see an equally diverse film crew, especially in the camera and G+E departments. That’s why, after working with such an amazing team of like-minded, smart people, a few of us decided to start the process of creating an all-female production company. It’s still in its baby steps, but we are hoping to try to bring together our creative passions and make work that is more female driven.. I think there has now been a push to have more inclusive sets, as well as having more women represented at film festivals, or for project grants, and production companies that prioritize hiring more females within film. However, at the same time, it’s one thing to choose someone based on their skill, but another to hire someone because of their gender whether that be male or female. It’s important that we are recognizing women by the skills they have instead of hiring them because they are women and filling a quota.

On advice to future generations of women: Find importance in your interests and your self-care. Always strive to be kind, and understanding. Don’t judge others on initial impressions or looks. Be open to changing - a lot- and understand the importance of being aware of the world around you. Give a Damn. Be political, whatever your stance may be. Take pride in what you do, and try your best. If you don’t feel stimulated in your surroundings, find other ways to learn and grow.

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On women role models: I have been surrounded by strong female role models. For one, my Grandmother, Mary, raised five independent and smart women, including my mother, Nora, whom I consider to be one of the most headstrong and vivacious people I've ever met. All of the women in my life growing up, were kind, smart, independent women, who were incredible role models to have. Even now, women I consider role models of mine are not bound to their original profession or genre. Emma Watson, whom I now consider more of an activist than an actress; Annie Clarke, of St.Vincent, who has gone on to write some of my favorite albums of all time, as well as directing a horror film, and acting; Rashida Jones, who has gone into exploring topics through documentary; Brit Marling, the writer of projects such as Another Earth, The East, and The O.A.; and Rachel Morrison, the first female to be nominated for an Oscar for Cinematography of Mudbound.   

On the most adventurous moment: When I was around 10 or so, I went to a camp in Rhode Island. I was planning on becoming a certified sailing instructor and knew how to sail quite well by learning from a family friend in Lake Michigan. The entire camp was set to sail down the coast for about 4 hours to a small island where we would set up. On the day we were to set sail, a giant storm hit, but we were still set to go rain or shine. On my boat, all the other girls were too scared to sail, so I ended up sailing us through the torrential storm, the entire way, soaked to the skin. After, I was extremely proud of myself and felt like I could do anything after that!

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On pressure to be more feminine: I definitely grew into accepting the way I look and learned to love my features over time. But growing up, around pre-puberty and puberty age, I felt very ugly. I was very skinny and didn’t have voluptuous curves like other girls and always felt like I was a second choice. If I had a crush, it was often not reciprocated. So for a very long time, I had such low self confidence. Even my boyfriends would tell me they want me to change certain things about myself to make myself “more attractive” in their eyes, and I would do them, whether it was wearing tighter clothes, losing weight, wishing I had a different chest size, saying I should wear a push up bra, or to cut or dye my hair (which I have done many, many times.) I would also sometimes convince myself I couldn't do any better than the person I was dating because they kept telling me I was so ugly and “no one else would want {me}”.  

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On fair representation in the media: We are slowly getting equal time and roles for our intelligence and not our looks, but we have a long way to go. Again, women are not represented equally in many fields, but especially in film and the media. We are still seeing examples such as in Netflix’s The Crown, in which Claire Foy, playing Queen Elizabeth, was being paid less than Matt Smith, playing Prince Philip. After it became common knowledge that Foy was being paid less than her counterpart, instead of paying Foy the matching amount Smith was making for her only two seasons on the show, Left Bank Pictures declared that “Going forward, no one get paid more than the Queen.” I really wish that women were more equally represented overall, and not even just in the media or relating to fashion and beauty, but in many other fields as well. We have so many strong, intelligent, amazing women in this world that are not getting the recognition they deserve.

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On her film future: In the future, I’m hoping to join the Local 600 Camera Union for becoming an AC. It’s a very long way away, but it is definitely one of my longer term goals. I’m also hoping to start shooting more, working towards becoming a Director of Photography. It’s very important for me to work my way up the ranks, and learn to pay my dues as I continue working in the film industry.

On being a Cats baby: I’m the first Cats baby! My parents met in the original cast of Cats on Broadway and when I was a child I mainly spent time backstage or with babysitters because they would be performing. Growing up, I was surrounded by theater, absorbed in it, and so many decisions about my interests were affected by my learning and understanding of the arts.

On advice to her 16-year-old self: I would tell my 16-year-old self to be more confident! And to not hold on to fake people. They are not worth your time or your affection. There are going to be many people that will want to use you for their own personal gain whether that be emotional, physical, or career wise, but make sure you surround yourself with kind people who give a shit about you. All the rest is just noise and not worth your tears or your anger.

Chloe Locarro: Writer, Director and Cinematography. Winner of the cinematography award at The New School's "Fine Cuts Short Film Festival"

A short film by Chloe Locarro to the title track of Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin's album, "Fly By Wire." Official selection of the LA Indie Film Festival 2017. Winner of two 2016 Silver Telly Awards. Official Selection of the 2017 Coney Island Film Festival. (Music Video / Director and Student Film Award). From Will Oliver's Blog - We All Want Someone To Shout For - " It’s one of my favorite music videos of the year, without question."

Follow Chloe: 

Instagram: @clocarro

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