by Len Lear
In February of last year, the Local ran an article about Mt. Airy filmmaker Brittany Rafalak, then 25, who at the time was working on a movie named “Consumption” about a society where food has been outlawed. The film is Brittany’s master’s degree thesis at The New School in Manhattan. She will complete the degree this May.
Brittany (nee Owens) Rafalek was raised in Colorado and moved to Philadelphia to attend college at the University of the Arts. She graduated in 2010 and has pursued film since, while studying for her masters’ degree in a program that requires her to be in New York City one or two times a week.
“Consumption” was made last year in Mt. Airy with a local cast and crew. There will be a free screening of “Consumption” on Saturday, March 28, 7:30 p.m., at Filmtech School, 2019 S. Juniper St. in South Philadelphia. The film will be accompanied by a live, improvised musical score. Last week we conducted the following interview with Brittany:
Where did the idea for “Consumption” come from?
The idea for “Consumption” came from my thoughts about how food affects our lives, from the way we plan our lives around eating to the way food makes us feel. I wondered about how we need food to survive, but the way we can eat sometimes is so far from eating for survival. I also thought a lot about how societal moral codes change over time and how something that is taboo at one point can be accepted in the future. In “Consumption,” food is the vice, but to us food is natural, something we take part in every day. But in the film’s society, food is looked down upon because of society’s futuristic (yet fictitious) notions about food.
As for the improvised score, I go to a lot of live music performances because my husband, Ian Rafalek, is a full-time musician, and I have a lot of friends from the University of the Arts who are musicians. My dad is also really musical, and even though I’m not a musician, music is one of my passions.
Being surrounded with good music led me to think about how powerful it can be and how essential it is for film. A lot of times, though, music can be overused and indulgent in films (not that that’s a bad thing), but I thought it would be an interesting experiment to couple the power of film and live music and to see music being made to accompany a film in real time.
Is “Consumption” a commentary on our seriously overweight population in the U.S.?
The commentary is not about our overweight population. It’s more about eating disorders/issues. I feel a lot of Americans have eating issues because of the food that’s available to us in everyday settings (fast food, packaged food, food where a lot of the nutrition has been removed, etc.). It’s also a commentary about how society can be judgmental about actions rather than seeking the truth.
How long is it?
“Consumption” is about 35 minutes long.
Is Corinne, the film’s main character, based on a real person?
Corinne is not based on a real person.
How much money did you raise in your campaign with the crowdfunding site, Indiegogo.com?
The Indiegogo campaign raised $3635 out of a goal of $7600. “Consumption” was also partly funded by grants from the Delaware Valley Filmmaking Foundation and Small But Mighty Arts.
What do you hope will happen with “Consumption?”
I hope “Consumption” will be seen by a large audience (partly why the screening is free) because it provokes thought. Often, when telling people about this film, there are so many questions and speculations about a food-less future. That is encouraging as a writer/filmmaker because I want people to be intrigued and talk about the film’s subjects when they’re done watching it. The score will be improvised, so that means at each screening I organize, the music will be different each time. Hopefully, I will be able to do this a few times in Philadelphia and New York with different musicians. After that, I plan on submitting “Consumption” to festivals and then put it on the web.
What are your goals as a filmmaker?
One of my main goals as a filmmaker is to heighten the representation of women of color in non-stereotypical roles. I want to make science fiction, speculative and fantasy films that feature black women in order to eradicate the one-dimensional characters we’re usually portrayed as, if we’re being portrayed at all.
Last year at this time you were also working at the High Point Cafe in West Mt. Airy. Do you still work there?
I don’t work at High Point anymore, but my twin sister does, so a lot of people get confused. I’m a regular customer there, though.
Do you still have the dog named Socks?
I do still have Socks, and he’s cuter than ever.
Did your husband create the score for the film?
My husband is going to be the musical director and bassist for the live, improvised score at the screening. The other musicians will be Anwar Marshall on drums, Matt Davis on guitar, and Chris Aschman on trumpet.