2018-04-18 / Features

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Rebekah Nelson

Rebekah Nelson is a filmmaker hailing from Queens. She frequently collaborates with The Sparrow Film Project, writing and directing several short films for their festival. Such shorts include “Eurydice And...,” “The Drop,” “Cytokine Cascade,” “A Christmas Carol: Stave V” and “Mister Warren’s Neighborhood.” She produced the indie feature, “Living with the Dead” (Lion Hearted Films), which is available to stream on Amazon.

Nelson starred in the feature film, “American Bomber,” which was promoted by the NYC Mayor’s Office as part of the MADE IN NY campaign. She has been a member of The Queensborough Theatre Project and Tax Deductible Theatre Company. She received a BA in theatre arts from Marymount Manhattan College and majored in drama at the Professional Performing Arts School in NYC.

QG: What drove you to pursue a career in film and theater?

RN: As a child I was an avid reader and a big fan of storytelling. I was always drawn to film, plays, creative writing and history. Fast forward a few years later and I attended the Professional Performing Arts School (high school) as a drama major. I’ve been pursuing my career ever since.

QG: Your film, “The Shoulder” (which had its Queens premiere at the Queens World Film Festival last month) deals with a prevalent current theme, namely addiction and what families will do to help their loved ones overcome it. Can you talk a little bit about why you chose to tell this type of story, and what about it resonated with you?

RN: I came across the screenplay for “Hugging the Shoulder,” the feature version of “The Shoulder.”

Initially, addiction was a subject I knew very little about. As I continued to explore the topic, I felt a lot of empathy for those who were struggling and the impact it had on others. There are misconceptions about the victims of this epidemic as they are often demonized and dismissed as criminals. I wanted to explore the humanity of the situation, put a face to the lives that are impacted by the epidemic.

QG: What were some of your greatest challenges in creating and filming “The Shoulder”? How did you overcome them?

RN: “The Shoulder” was all about guerilla filmmaking. With a very low budget, a shooting schedule of two days and a lack of permits, we had to keep things tight. We shot the majority of the film on the side of the road in Tuxedo, NY. Aside from an encounter with a deranged onlooker who kept talking back to the characters mid-scene, we came away with something great. I give props to the actors who kept focus during those moments.

QG: How do you think living in Queens has influenced your outlook as an artist?

RN: I grew up in Queens and went to public school. I was fortunate enough to be exposed to different cultures and beliefs from a very young age. Each neighborhood has its own identity, it’s like traveling to a new destination, it’s adventurous. With so many stories and experiences being shared, you get a better understanding of how the world works. In return, as an artist, I am able to relay the human experience through my work.

QG: What are some of your favorite things to do in Queens?

RN: I’m a big fan of the Museum of the Moving Image. Been going there since the age of 14 and I’m still as engaged with the exhibits 20 years later. Working in the Astoria bar industry I’ve acquired a few local haunts. SingleCut Beersmiths brews phenomenal beer; Fatty’s for a bite; The Let Love Inn and The Sparrow Tavern for a couple of pints; and Flattops for a dance-off. The Queens Zoo is a great spot that I only just discovered as an adult. You get to feed the animals—need I say more?

This column was originated in July, 2013 by Nicollette Barsamian.

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