Ashley Avis: Interview. By Richard Schertzer.
Ashley Avis is the director of the Black Beauty remake starring Kate Winslet and her latest documentary Wild Beauty: Mustang of the Spirit West.
Richard: How did you get your start as a filmmaker?
Ashley: I knew that I always wanted to write from a very young age. I read a lot of poetry and I thought that maybe when I was 10 or 12 years old that I’d become a novelist or go into sci-fi fiction or poetry and then I started dabbling in journalism. At a younger age, I ended up going to the Poynter Institute of Journalism and then went to New York City and that was after a childhood of being around the world of horses. So, when I went to Manhattan, I worked as a journalist and realized that that wasn’t quite it and then I started reading screenplays after an internship at a production company and that completely changed my whole world because I believe screenplays are like poetry. I started writing my own screenplays behind my economics books and I ended up moving to Los Angeles after saving up some money working différent odd jobs and I produced my first spec pilot at 22 and that was the window into realizing that I also wanted to direct.
Richard: Who are some of your greatest inspirations in filmmaking?
Ashley: Terrence Malick, Days of Heaven. I’d love to shoot everything in that golden hour. Robert Redford and some of the work he’s done. Films like Dances with Wolves have been extremely impactful. Out of Africa and those are some of the ones that shaped the direction that I wanted to go into my career. Even as a young person I was always out in the woods climbing trees and diving into the ocean and a lot of the stories I’m attracted to take place in the natural world.
Richard: Do you have any upcoming projects?
Ashley: I do. I’m writing and directing a reimagining of City of Angels. The classic film for Warner Brothers for Charles Roven who produced Oppenheimer and then I’ve got another project about wolves that hasn’t been announced yet but is a narrative version in some ways to our documentary and that’s going to be a pretty big studio project.
Richard: As a filmmaker, what do you enjoy most about your work and what do you enjoy the least?
Ashley: That’s evolved over time, as well. I love going out in the wild and being able to capture moments that are perhaps unplanned. I think that those unexpected moments are some of the most exciting when an actor has an idea and there’s something that just works. What I like least is definitely money. I hate talking about money. So, that’s a big part of the conversation.
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