Good afternoon, YouthMundees! At YouthMundus, we aim to not only be a platform for music, film and global change, but for the artists and global changemakers who create them. Our Artist Spotlight series aims to create a space for discovery of new, budding global talent, while simultaneously offering you an exclusive glimpse into their creative process. This week we’re excited to announce our first very special edition of Artist Spotlight: REVISITED, where we reinterview artists from past issues and discuss how their careers and aspirations have evolved since we last interviewed them. This week, we are ecstatic to rentroduce Erin Frances Speirs, an emerging international filmmaker and editor! Erin Frances Speirs is a professionally trained actor and filmmaker based in Edinburgh, Scotland. She studied at NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts and, after securing a BFA in acting, began working full time as an editor and assistant director. Her fresh career in filmmaking spurred a love for screenwriting and directing, both of which she spent a lot of her downtime focusing on“Since I was last featured in Artist Spotlight,” Erin smiled, “a lot has changed in my life!” Erin moved out of New York City, out of the United States completely, and back to her precious hometown of Edinburgh, Scotland. “I came back home because my visa expired, it’s the sad reality of an international artist.” However, since returning to her home in Scotland, Erin has been very pleasantly surprised with the amount of creative work she’s discovered.
Has your creative process changed since your last edition of Artist Spotlight?
I wouldn’t say my creative process has changed that much. I feel less stimulated now if I’m being fully honest though. It’s become increasingly difficult to have new ideas as quarantine goes on. I'm either super passionate about an idea but just can't get it down on paper no matter how I try, or I can write about absolutely nothing for hours and then have to delete the whole mess afterwards! However, I’ve been collaborating with more people as of late over zoom and that’s been an interesting change to the process. It’s quite exhilarating being able to work creatively with people all over the world, and that’s become far more common now that zoom productions are occurring. I’m in an upcoming play festival with people in the US when I’m back in the UK because everything has been pushed online and, as sad as it is that theatres are closed, it’s exciting that we have these opportunities to work with people all over the world.
Has COVID-19 impacted your relationship with art and social justice?
Yes, I believe it has. A few years ago my goals were to create political theatre, before I got swept up by a passion for film and character building. My interest in politics and social justice has come back full force during this time, with everything going on it’s no wonder, and now I’m trying to incorporate these ideas into my filmmaking. Not everyone experiences theatre and film in an exploratory way, however I think more people do than they even realise. I’ve been trying to create characters and stories that audiences can empathise with even if they’re in a completely different position in life. My aim, as I mentioned last time we spoke, is always to get an intense feeling across to an audience, and if I can make someone feel the pain that others who have less than them are going through, maybe I can help people be kinder and more thoughtful in general.
Have your artistic aspirations changed since we previously interviewed you? As I previously mentioned, I'm trying to take a more overtly political stance in my work now. Although I do not have the loudest voice, if I can change one person's opinion on where they stand in society and how they are in a position of power, or even open up the thought process of empathy for one person towards someone in a lower position to them, it's a step in the right direction. I want to give those who do not have a voice a platform, even if my voice is quiet. I have also begun acting again since the last edition, something I had given up to focus on my filmmaking career. Acting was my first love and it's been very rewarding getting to embody other characters again.
What advice would you give to international artists who are looking to continue building their careers during this time? Work as much as you can! I understand that that sounds redundant right now since it appears there is no work, but there are a lot of people working on zoom productions or trying to get small scale short films off the ground. Yes, it will be free work, but as international artists getting our name out there is the most important thing at the beginning of our careers, especially in terms of getting visas for the United States, if that is your aim. If you have artist friends, talk to them about working on a small project. Everyone is desperate to be creative after being stuck indoors for so long and all that built up creatively can create something really spectacular.
Erin Frances Speirs's 2020 Acting Reel
Do you have any advice on how we can do our part in supporting emerging international artists like yourself?
It sounds quite simple but, hire us! International artists find it far more difficult to attain work, as sometimes there are extra loops to jump through contract wise. On top of that, featuring us in wonderful newsletters such as this is a great way to support international artists. Not only does it give us a platform but it also helps with possible visa applications in the future.
Loved catching up with Erin as much as we did?
Follow Erin on her Instagram to stay up-to-date on all of her upcoming projects!