Andrea Beça is a writer, director, producer, and editor from Edmonton, Alberta. She has a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Alberta and an MLitt in Playwriting and Dramaturgy from the University of Glasgow. She ran an indie theatre company, Cowardly Kiss Theatre, for six years before moving into the world of film in 2013 with Kissing Habit Films. She has two dogs named Oscar Wilde and Lucille Ball Beça, and she thinks that sums her up pretty well.
What inspires you as a writer and director? How would you describe your work?
It probably sounds like a cliche, but I’m inspired by life. People, places, things. Nouns – nouns inspire me. My writing – even when it has elements of surrealism, absurdism, or genre, like horror – is very rooted in real life and the human condition. People fascinate me. How we interact with one another – how we speak and don’t speak, or what we mean as opposed to what we say. The subtle shifts in our hearts that can create tidal waves in our lives. We’re complex and totally weird. So I feel like whether I’m taking inspiration from a sentence or conversation I overheard somewhere, or from a nightmare I had, I’m still always writing about people and the human condition. Other random obsessions/fascinations I have include: twins/multiples, leap years, and large bodies of water, especially murky ones.
Was transitioning from theatre to screen a natural progression for you? Any obstacles?
I don’t know if I’d call it a progression, per se. I’ve been writing stories since I was 5, and since then, I’ve wanted to write books. And make movies. And make plays. I’m lucky that I’ve been able to do all of those things (okay, short stories, not books yet), and they’ve all sort of prepared me for one another, if that makes any sense. Having a strong background in creative writing made me a shoe-in for playwriting; having a strong background in playwriting made me a shoe-in for screenwriting; and having a strong background in writing for the stage and screen helps me write dynamic prose. The obstacle, I suppose, is adjusting to your end product. All of those things – prose, scripts, and screenplays – are written very differently and to very different ends. Sometimes, if I get an idea, I’ll start writing it for one medium and find that I’m totally off. When I realize a piece of writing isn’t working, I usually stop and question myself as to whether it should be prose instead of a screenplay, a screenplay instead of a script, etc. One of the screenplays I am currently developing started out as a script for the stage, and I’m also working toward adapting one of my short stories into a short film. So maybe it’s all fluid – who knows?
Within your first year of filming, you won Metro Shorts’ Season 6 and had “Flat Life” accepted into the Fort McMurray International Film Festival and the Broad Humor Film Festival in California – were you intimidated or motivated by your immediate success?
I don’t know if I’ve even absorbed any of that information yet. I’m still trying to figure out how that all happened. I think its motivated me, since I haven’t stopped. Ask me again in another year?
WHO inspires you?
Pretty much everyone I come into contact with. Other writers and other creatives in general. But also people who are very “uncreative,” like scientists (I would argue that they’re incredibly creative, just in a very different way than I am). That weird woman across the hall who only seems to entertain company between the hours of 2 and 7am. The homeless man with an unbearably cute dog. The 50-something who lives in the building next door who’s always naked, but irons a lot of trousers. What’s up with that?
What prompted you to become a member of AMPIA?
I’m really new to the film industry. If I could go back and re-answer the question about transitioning from theatre to film (I know I could, but I won’t, because it makes this answer more interesting), I would say that the biggest obstacle is entering a new industry. The theatre and film scenes in Edmonton are not nearly as connected as one would think. And the production processes are obviously very different. I joined AMPIA to meet people and learn how to do things. So far, so good.
Tell us about your latest series Friends Without Benefits?
Friends Without Benefits is a new monthly sketch comedy web series I created with my friends Trent Wilkie and Adam Rozenhart. We are all writers and actors on this project, joined by occasional fabulous guest stars. Our first episode is being released on January 29th, and we’re throwing a big launch/screening party that night at the Mercury Room here in Edmonton to celebrate. Working on this project with Trent and Adam has been ridiculous amounts of fun, and it’s been so inspiring. I can’t remember the last time I had such a consistent flow of writing ideas (probably when I was in university). Anyone who’s interested should follow us on Twitter:@frndsWObnfts or find us on Facebook: facebook.com/frndsWObnfts to stay up to date on upcoming episodes and behind-the-scenes bonuses. We’re launching a website soon.
What does the next year hold for you?
Wow. A lot. Too much? Probably too much. But “too much” is kind of my thing. Friends Without Benefits comes out every month, so that will be a big and wonderful part of my year. I’m lined up to direct a short film in February, which is exciting. As I mentioned above, I’m adapting a short story I wrote into a short film, and I’d like to shoot that in the summer or autumn. I’ve got a couple of screenplays in the works, ideas for more short films, a feature film I’m going to direct for my dear friend (and insanely talented and inspiring human being) Lindsey McNeill, and I still have just over six months to go on #ukuleleyear, a project I’m working on wherein I learn how to play the ukulele by selecting, learning, and performing (via YouTube) a new song every week for a year. When you read this, it’ll be Week 22, so I’ve got a while to go…
Anything else we should know?
I think I talk too much. It’s been a problem since I was little. My mom used to make bets with me that I couldn’t last 60 seconds without speaking just so she could have some peace and quiet and watch Star Trek.