Behind the Camera

We sit down with Chicago filmmaker Corrina Crade

By Lizzie Duszynski | Photos by Melinda Jane Myers


Chicagoan Corrina Crade is intent on giving women in film their due. The heart and soul of entertainment company CradeMade, Corrina is out to empower stronger roles for women—all the while creating and producing independent movies that bring females out from the set’s sidelines. With the company’s first feature-length film, Oranges in post production, Corrina—the writer, director, and star—welcomed us in for a chat about how she’s hoping to change life on set for the better.


DID YOU ALWAYS HAVE THE GOAL OF STARTING YOUR OWN COMPANY?

Actually, no. It wasn’t until I had a really bad breakup of a six-year relationship that I found myself in Chicago thinking about it. I left, after my ex-boyfriend dumped me via email, which is a whole story in itself [laughs]. I moved on the night of the biggest snowstorm and I sat there and thought, “Well, [film] is something I’ve always loved. I did some shadowing in college, I love the idea of filmmaking.” I decided I’m going to do it. I’m just going to go into it 100% and I started acting and finding like-minded people. Then I worked for Hulu as an extras casting director. It was this big LA production that came into Madison, Wisconsin. When filming was through, there was only 5% of the crew left over and they were all Midwest filmmakers. I started talking to people and gauging their interest to find they felt the same way: They wanted to continue making films in the Midwest without having to move to LA or New York. So that’s how CradeMade got its start.


WHAT WERE THOSE FIRST STEPS?

Finding like-minded people. I would find people who wanted to do what I was doing, which was tell stories. What was so cool about starting a company, especially an entertainment company, was that I found people who were producing the say outcome through different mediums. I was looking for people who were telling stories—through lights, through cinematography, acting, script-writing—all these different areas.


YOU WROTE, DIRECTED, AND STARRED IN YOUR FIRST FEATURE-LENGTH FILM, ORANGES. WHAT WAS THAT LIKE WEARING SO MANY HATS ON SET?

It was...I like saying crazy, but in a good way. I don’t know that I’ll ever do it again, but I’m glad I did it. I don’t think the film would’ve gotten as far as it has if I didn’t wear those hats. Not because it was me in those roles, but because I don’t think I could’ve gotten enough people! I got a really great partner and an incredible team to back me up in production. It was a lot of work, alone, in the beginning to get the story up and running, to find the director. It’s exhausting, but it’s motivating too. We didn’t have a lot of money, so I had to wear those hats in order to make the film.


“[In Chicago] it’s like you get the work ethic of New York and the creativity of LA, with the kindness and generosity of the Midwest.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE MOVIE?

It’s interesting because people always ask me why in hell I wrote this [laughs]. It’s told from the perspective of a young male. When stories come into my head, they usually come in through a song I’ve heard. I happened to be listening to Sarah Mclachlan’s Miracles on the way to Chicago from Madison and the idea came to me about featuring a young couple in a mystery. All the way back to Chicago, I was creating this trailer in my head for a movie I hadn’t even made yet. So when I pulled into my driveway, I ran inside and I just typed it up. It took me about two days to write the whole thing. I locked myself in a room to just write and I actually ended up ruining my computer that way. I would have to shower and take a break and I would get all these ideas and I’d re-listen to the song over and over again. Then I would run back to my computer and my hair was actually dripping on my keyboard and I’d just keep thinking, “I have to get this scene out!” And a couple months later [claps] the computer was done. But it was worth it!


OKAY, SETTING THE TOPIC OF FILM ASIDE FOR A SECOND: YOU STARTED OUT IN NEW DELHI, WENT TO MADISON, AND NOW YOU’RE IN CHICAGO. WHAT KEEPS YOU HERE?

The people. The creative energy. It’s like you get the work ethic of New York and the creativity of LA, with the kindness and generosity of the Midwest. I feel more accepted here, not only as a woman in this industry, but as a creative soul. It’s really refreshing to see really creative people here: writers, photographers, musicians.


YOU TOUCHED ON SOMETHING INTERESTING: BEING A FEMALE FILMMAKER. IT DOESN’T SEEM THAT THE INDUSTRY IS PARTICULARLY SUPPORTIVE OF WOMEN IN DIRECTING OR LEAD ROLES. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE?

It’s been interesting! When I initially started, everyone would ask what guy was going to direct the film. I always thought that was really weird that they’d just assume I’d get a male director. I actually chose a woman. I had a very emotional film and I wanted a woman to touch on that. It would stand strong to have a female writer/producer and a director as a team. Not to mention that we’re both minorities, so we’re up against a lot of different odds here. It was difficult. There were a lot of question marks from people. But we stood tall. We were new and knew that the only way we were going to get this chance was to give it to each other. So she gave me the chance to produce the film, and I gave her the chance to direct it. Banding together as women made us a stronger force. It was interesting in the beginning how many questioned what guys were a part of the film. I think more than half my crew were women and it really set the tone. Women are really tough when you put them in those positions.


DO YOU THINK IT’S IMPORTANT TO SEE WOMEN IN THOSE LEADERSHIP ROLES?

Absolutely. We don’t see enough of it. A lot of times when you’re on set, women are the makeup artists, assistants, or art directors. Which is fantastic. It’s wonderful to do, but it’s nice to see women in even bigger roles. What they offer is more of an emotional connection to a script and they also seem to have an openness with the crew. There’s more of a family feeling when you’re working with a female director. But that’s only in my experience. I’ve worked with amazing men, of course, but it’s nice to see that option of having a female in that role. That it’s not shocking that a woman is a director. And that’s what was puzzling to me, when I would tell people about our film—I was waiting for it not to be shocking.


WHAT’S ON THE HORIZON FOR CRADEMADE?

When I was working on Oranges there was a lot of stress. It was a lot of work and I started meditating before it. That helped me get through it. With that thought, my boyfriend Patrick and I have decided to start a mindfulness program called MogaMind. So right now that is our main focus, though we will continue on with independent films as well. Speaking of our partnership, we have had meetings where people have assumed he’s the leader—he’s the CEO. It’s interesting when it’s my project and I’m leading it. So, we’ve had conversations where he’s said, “I’m so shocked at how people ignore you when we’re in a meeting together.”


“It’s a compliment if someone says to you, ‘Well, you’re just a woman.’ You say, ‘Yes, I am. Thank you.’”
THIS SEEMS TO BE A UNIVERSAL EXPERIENCE FOR WOMEN. HAVING GONE THROUGH IT TIME AND AGAIN, WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU OFFER OTHERS?

I’ve never ever taken it personally. I think the less attention you bring to it the better. It’s not to ignore it or bypass it, but to stand tall and stay grounded. Women are hardworking. We’re meant to be working: We do really tough things...I mean we birth babies! I think society sometimes wants us to break through drama and emotional issues. But I’ve always let those moments come and go, and then move forward and work. That’s my philosophy. Be really proud of being a woman. If someone doubts you because you’re a woman, there’s no insult there! It’s a compliment if someone says to you, “Well, you’re just a woman.” You say, “Yes, I am. Thank you.”
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