Unlike most people her age, twenty-one year old Sabrina Lassegue isn't a college student. Instead, she is the head of her own self-created production company, Yellow Rain Productions. A woman of many talents, Sabrina is a writer, producer, director, and trained actor. Her short film on human trafficking, "The Damaged", won the Film Festival Choice for First Time Filmmakers at one of the many festivals she submitted it to. Today, The Global Spotlight talks to Sabrina about her journey as a young filmmaker, being a black woman in the industry, and her feature film directorial debut.
You’re twenty years old and the head of your own production company. How did you get to where you are today?
There is nothing I’m more passionate about than storytelling. I was lucky enough to always have known exactly what I wanted to do in the industry. I had a lot of room for trial and error because I fell in love with it at the age of five.
I spent a lot of my early time doing free work and taking every coffee meeting I could with people already in the industry. I would cold email about fifty people a week to ask for advice or to buy them coffee or to shadow them. I think I’ve always had the drive because I want it more than breathing. I can’t go a day without doing something that contributes to my story telling.
When did you first realize you wanted to work in the film industry?
I realized when I was five years old that I wanted to make films and play make believe. I’m lucky because my parents supported this dream. They put me in acting classes, got me cameras for Christmas and my birthdays, etc. My whole childhood I was immersed in creating and leading up to what I do now.
Can you tell me more about your experience as a woman of color in the film industry?
Being a woman of color has its ups and downs. I’ve experienced a lot of people who only make space for me in their rooms because they have a box to check. I’ve had experiences being called awful slurs when people disagree with me. I’ve learned to laugh it off and keep my head held high. It just means I’m doing something right if people are that upset.
I’ve found a great community within the industry that understand my worth and back me, my projects, and vision. I’ve found well established mentors who support me and have taught me tricks to allow my work to do the talking. I’m thankful to have people and companies like Kimberly Douglas from Flow Film Festival and Nicholas Morgan of New Concept Films, who took me under their wing and supported my film “Blight”. They take a chance on the underrepresented and give a voice to the unheard.
You recently won a grant for your feature film directorial debut. What can you tell us about your debut film so far?
It is definitely a challenge. Pre production is the hardest part.
Thankfully, for me, I have a village of people who have already done features. They are helping me oversee the process while still allowing me to struggle on my own and learn my own lessons.
I’m very excited to embark on this journey and even though I’m sure I’ll have plenty of moments I fall on my face, I’m ready to learn and grow.
What stigmas and stereotypes in film and the industry do you hope to break with the films you create?
I want to stay away from painting people of color in a bad light. I also want to stay away from racial trauma stories. I do have one story I want to shed light on that has to do with the subject, but I’m working on telling it in a way that doesn’t give people of color PTSD. I also want to bring strong women to life.
I want to stay away from stereotypes and break boundaries on what we as a society see as “the girl next door”. I think media plays a huge influence in how people perceive others in society. I have the ability to change the narrative, so I’m going to take every chance I have to do so.
Is there a specific genre you lean towards when making films?
So far I’ve mainly done dramas. Comedy is a genre I love, but it’s very difficult to do. I love rom coms, so that’s a good happy medium. My feature is a rom com, which is going to be a fun challenge. I also love horror and psychological thrillers.
Long story short, no, there isn’t one genre I lean towards. I love them all. I want to do them all at some point. I just like telling stories that reflect society and make people feel. Whether it’s laughing, crying, or them leaving wanting to research a subject like trafficking and feeling empowered, I want to tell stories that impact people.
Where did the name for your production company come from?
When I was in middle school, I had a wonderful history teacher named Mr. Wong. He really believed in me and encouraged me to embrace my culture. I absolutely loved his class. At the time, I was going through a lot of medical issues and it was really weighing on me, but I still did my best to show up and never took it out on my peers. He wrote me a class card one day that said, “For someone whose life is full of gray and dull moments, you’re very optimistic. It’s like rain made out of sunshine.” Flash forward years later, I was digging through a box full of cards I kept over the years of my childhood and reading them. I came across that one and I was instantly hooked on “Yellow Rain”.
A lot of people think it’s a joke or allusion to urine, but I think that makes it more memorable in people’s minds, so I’m not upset.
For those your age who are struggling to get their foot into the industry door, what sort of advice would you give them?
You have to be spontaneous. If you sit around and keep waiting for people to knock on your door or for the idea to be perfect, that’s never going to happen. You have to build your own doors and once you do, hold them open for others like you. Work and collaborate with people with the same passion and spark as you. This is when creativity ignites.
Sabrina's Directing Reel
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