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. From working with high-profile icons such as Oprah Winfrey and Cara Delevingne, to interning at major companies from TEDx to TOMS, and being named one of the seven top filmmakers in the United States, Gabrielle Gorman has made her mark in almost every corner of the media industry. As I sat down with Gabrielle I couldn’t help but smile, her signature clever humor shining through as she delivered her insights.
Tell us about your creative process. Where do you find inspiration, and how do you find the next story you want to tell?
I feel that inspiration is not something that you find but something that finds you -- I've had to re-learn this fact on a number of occasions. I, like most creators, have conducted a plethora of brainstorming sessions where I eagerly force ideas out of my brain not because I'm in a creative mood but because the pressure to consistently pump out content is so overwhelming! But these 'sessions' are never as fruitful as the moments where I'm walking the block or listening to music, or the 30 minutes it takes me to fall asleep. It's in these instances of allowing my mind to wander freely, without direction, that the best ideas often appear. Once the idea comes, my first instinct is to make a playlist which I guess you could consider the initial outline of the film. Music is a very critical part of my process and, in some ways, plays a larger role in the development than in the exhibition. I like to compile songs which speak to the world of the protagonist or a particular moment (like a heartbreak scene) and I'll listen to each song over and over again, allowing it to fill me up and expand into something writeable. After that, everything's pretty straight forward; I write the real outline and I get to work!
What is the connection between your social justice efforts and filmmaking?
I think creators of color are often pigeonholed as 'activist creators' when the reality is that art is an extension of voice and voice is impacted by experience; my films evidently present messages which advocate for social justice but those messages are only propelled by my vocalization of my experiences with injustice. In other words, I don't view myself as an 'activist filmmaker' or a 'social justice filmmaker' but simply a filmmaker who allows herself to be vulnerable through her art. In this way, I have found that my vulnerability is my strongest weapon for change.
You’ve talked previously about your struggle within a white, male-dominated industry. How do you overcome and rise above these obstacles?
I don't think it's something I've necessarily overcome, but it is something we are collectively rising above (#TimesUp). In all transparency, with all of the doors I've had slammed in my face, nothing has felt more debilitating than my own inner critic. I've found myself in a number of environments (internships, film sets, classrooms, etc.) where the prejudice has been palpable, but it only infiltrates my spirit when I stop rooting for myself. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that the film industry, like our country, is a work in progress and the path forward necessitates an intransigent stance on what is right and what we (all people of marginalized identities) deserve. I've learned that at the end of the day, I am my greatest hope and my greatest barrier so when I attempt to validate my self-doubt and insecurities, that is when the external forces, gatekeepers of the film industry, win.
You have a YouTube channel, Bell Parks. Tell us about Bell and your relationship with her.
Bell Parks is a fictional vlog-style series about a headstrong film student whose moral compass is challenged when she accepts an internship at a prominent Gen-Z athleisure company only to find that the professedly humanitarian brand cares more about public image than enacting change. I feel connected to the protagonist, Bell Parks, in the obvious ways, being a career-oriented film student and fashionista. Though in terms of her misanthropic, pompous, take-no-prisoners approach to life, I'd say that's more a reflection of my facade than an indication of who I really am (yes I'll admit I, like most people, put up barriers that I'm not afraid to acknowledge but too afraid to knock down, but I'm working on it). I will admit that since filming, I've discovered closeness and distance from the character in a variety of ways, and events in my own life have compelled me to re-evaluate the authenticity of the character and make changes, even as I'm editing, which is why I am so glad I took the episodic/vlog-style approach because the narrative is easily changeable!
Thank you for your continuous support and kindness in this extraordinary times.
How can readers do their part in supporting emerging artists like yourself?
A simple, and free way readers can support emerging artists is by engaging with us on social media. Sharing and saving posts is actually more effective in boosting someone's visibility than just liking a post, which is something I only recently learned.
Do you have any advice for future artists and changemakers in finding and fighting for their cause?Consume as much information as you can! If you're in college, don't just take the easy courses, take the courses that will teach you about cultures, social groups, movements, and historical events that you aren't adequately familiar with. If you're not in college, still READ READ READ. As artists and as humans, I believe we share an obligation to educate ourselves so as to educate others, verbally and artistically.
What can we expect next from you?
You can expect to see MANY more Bell Parks episodes!
Thank you all so much for your continued support. We look forward to bringing you the voice of more inspiring artists and changemakers in 2021.