Intersectional Feminism? Natural hair? Quirky girls gaining confidence!? We’re talking about PICK, a short film from Sugar Glass films and part 1 of the HAIR IS Trilogy. Sugar Glass films is dedicated to sharing the unique stories of the underrepresented, and PICK is their latest venture. Quirktastic had the exciting opportunity to sit down with Alicia K Harris, director of PICK, and talk about the project.
What’s the story behind PICK?
PICK is a short, fictional drama about Alliyah, an 11-year-old girl who wears her afro to school for the first time, on picture day. The film follows her as she deals with microaggressions, surrounding her hair. Eventually, it comes time to take her personal photo. Alliyah is faced with the decision of wearing her afro out proudly, or tying it up.
Did you always intend to create stories like PICK?
It took me some time to realize that my stories were worthy of being told. Initially I wrote stories about “funny white men”… or “white man going through existential crisis”… because that was what I was exposed to my entire life. All the “masters” I learned about in film school were white men. After a lot of unlearning, I realized my purpose was to champion my own stories.
Who is PICK for?
PICK is for black women and girls. I want to create a protagonist that we can relate to. In the process, I also want to educate people about the impact of their words and actions, especially on youth. Young black girls do not need people imposing negative ideas onto them about their hair, or any aspect of their Blackness. I’m hoping to exposing this discrimination so the behaviour will change.
When working on a project like PICK, what kind of goals do you keep in mind?
I believe what happens behind the scenes is just as important as the finished film. I want everyone involved to feel like they can thrive. Along with producers Rebeca Ortiz & Venessa Harris, we wanted to make sure that we had a balanced set, and that we employed mostly women and people of colour. Typically on set, I am either the only woman, the only person of colour, and/or the only black woman, which is extremely isolating. I wanted PICK to be the inclusive environment I hadn’t experienced yet.
What was the most challenging part of the process?
Doing the Big Chop! Making PICK and casting my actress Hazel (who has a magnificent afro), inspired me to cut off all my relaxed, chemically straightened hair, to go back to my natural afro. This was a beautiful and freeing process, so I call it my emancipation. But it was difficult going through such a significant change, while also going through the regular director-related stress of making a demanding film.
What was the most rewarding part of the process?
Doing the Big Chop! And accepting my natural hair. It’s amazing that people finally get to see the film, and I’m very excited for our festival run. But PICK has already accomplished what it needed to, for me. I was able to speak my truth through the film, and begin to embrace my authentic self by loving my natural hair, for the first time since I was a child.
What advice do you have for other like-minded creators?
Take care of yourself. Slow down. Go outside. Be still. When you are making personal work, you need time to breathe. Make sure you make time to heal yourself, outside of making your art. And always be yourself. No matter how “small” or “niche” you may think your story is, if it’s coming from an authentic place, there is someone out there who will relate to it.
Tell us a behind the scenes story!
My twin sister and best friend Venessa, is one of the producers of the film. We both celebrated our 25th birthday on our first shoot day! Rebeca (my producing partner, dear friend, and the other half of my company Sugar Glass Films) coordinated a nice cupcake surprise for us at lunch. It was a magical way to start our 25th year.
What’s in store for you and Sugar Glass coming up?
I hope to continue sharing the unique stories of the underrepresented, especially Black women. PICK is Part l of the HAIR IS trilogy, a series of short films exploring the personal and political intersections of black hair, identity, and freedom. I am currently working on the second vision, “on a Sunday at Eleven,” which is a magical celebration of Blackness and black hair!
Quirktastic stans creators, and we can’t wait to see what comes next! In a world that sometimes seeks to promote an ideal that… isn’t so ideal, Sugar Glass films and PICK are important creative ventures we love to see. Keep up with the latest from Sugar Glass on their website, and don’t forget to follow on Insta and Vimeo for other upcoming releases!
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