Jenny Phillips & Sarah Caballero: Body Check
1) WHO ARE YOU? TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF, HEY, EVEN BRAG A LITTLE.
Sarah: My name is Sarah Caballero. I’m a senior majoring in Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas at Austin. I decided I wanted to be a filmmaker back in high school when I was in the Academy of Media Arts and Technology. One of our assignments was to create a music video so my friends and I spent a whole day in downtown Dallas recording a music video for Coldplay’s Paradise. I remember having so much fun and being so happy when our teacher’s used our video to promote the academy. Fast forward five years and I’m still mucking around with my friends making videos. I’ve been doing more freelance work recently, including a video for the New York Times, but school projects still reign supreme.
Jenny: I’ve been making movies since I was 9 years old, and I find myself in my last semester of film school at the University of Texas. I’m originally from Kansas City, and I’m the area’s biggest fan. I left Kansas to study pre-law, but couldn’t stay away from filmmaking. After a few screenwriting classes and some courage, I decided to start writing comedy. Comedy is the best way to tackle relevant issues, and writing it makes me happier. I’ve had a film in the Sarasota Film Festival, and I was a finalist in the Gates Sundance Institute Short Film Submission. I’m hoping my current endeavor will achieve more success.
2) TELL US ABOUT THE WORK YOU ARE DOING AND WHY IT IS IMPORTANT.
Jenny: I’m currently writing and directing my thesis short film called “Body Check.” It’s a comedy about a guy who crashes a hyper-masculine party in order to reconcile his own manliness. It has some strange and kind of raunchy humor throughout. This film is really important personally because it’s my last film of my undergraduate career. I hope to create something that I can truly be proud of. On a more serious note, the film tackles the societal expectation of how we are supposed to perform our identity. The film delves into the concept that we have to perform femininity or masculinity in a certain way. We really hope that this resonates with our viewers. The film flips the expectation for women nudity, as well. Finally, our crew is two-thirds women, which we think is incredible. Opportunities for women in filmmaking is slim, and often times lady filmmakers are demoted to crew positions under men. Hopefully, this film provides a creative outlet for our team.
Sarah: This semester I’m producing an undergrad thesis film called Body Check with my close friend and director Jenny Phillips. Our movie explores the concepts of masculinity and femininity in the LGBTQ+ community. The message we’re trying to get across with this movie is that we don’t have to conform to the gender norms society places on us. It really is all about being true to yourself. We’re also trying to empower women filmmakers. Statistically, for every female director, there are another 24 male directors in Hollywood. I don’t think the entertainment industry gives women as many opportunities or as much credit as we deserve and that’s something Jenny and I are trying to change. The crew for our movie is 2/3 women and we wouldn’t have it any other way. These are the women that are going to be running Hollywood one day and I’m happy to be a part of that.
3) WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME CHALLENGES IN PURSUING THIS WORK?
Sarah: I think some people underestimate our ability to successfully make this movie, whether it’s because we’re women or because they don’t like the story we’re telling. When we started fundraising, my biggest fear was receiving backlash from people who don’t support the LGBTQ+ community. I was really surprised when some people were reluctant to help because they didn’t agree with the LGBTQ+ angle of our story. Ultimately, this is a story I’m proud of and I think it’s a message anyone can learn from, whether you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community or not.
Jenny: Many of the challenges associated with the film have been logistical. The financial backing of the film is on the shoulders of the director and producing team. We’ve luckily had some donations from our amazing friends and family, and we are still working towards our fundraising goal. It also seems as though we are fighting against time. We have quite a bit of pre-production to do in one semester. Creatively, the film has posed a few challenges for me. It took a while for me to be completely fearless with the writing of this piece. Writing comedy, especially as a woman, makes me feel super vulnerable. I had to build up some courage to present some NSFW jokes and controversial themes.
4) WHERE AND HOW CAN WE SUPPORT YOU IN YOUR QUEST?
Sarah: Movies are really expensive to make, even student films! We’re raising money through Indiegogo, but as poor college students, we understand that sometimes helping with donations isn’t an option. We encourage people to like our Facebook page and simply help by spreading the word!
5) SARAH, WHO INSPIRES YOU?
I don’t know how cheesy this is, but my biggest inspiration is my older sister. People often tell us we’re the same person, and that’s about the greatest compliment I can get. I’ve never met someone so headstrong and so sure about herself. I don’t think I’d be the person I am today if we weren’t so close growing up.
6) JENNY, WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MANTRA?
Jenny: “When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.”-Audre Lorde (I’m still working on adopting this one)
Photos by Nat Roberts