Describe your process of working together? What really worked? What did you have to let go of for yourself?
Novel: As far as process with Kyana, well I think it's just about communication. We bounce stuff off each other, try stuff out and if it works it works. If it doesn't we talk about why. Our process is very organic. In the case of our Naked Layers project, it's about getting to truth so we kinda have to get out of the way of ourselves.
Kyana:This is my first time working with film and it's been an interesting process. I am more used to performance, where you have an idea and you get up and do it - you can see an immediate result of that. Film is a very different process, a totally different animal from theater and performance, and it's been challenging for me. The wonderful thing is that Novel and I communicate really well. There is a lot of trust between us and that definitely helps, not only in sharing my ideas but also in actually getting naked for these film pieces. Novel and I talk through our ideas and also share our feelings about what comes up. There is a mutual appreciation for the roles we both play and for how vulnerable we both feel in doing this project. I also really respect Novel's skill and vision as a filmmaker, and we've learned to give and take constructive criticism from each other. I am used to being more in control of the creative projects that I do, and Novel understands when that rears its head while also gently letting me know when I'm being a pain in the ass and need to relinquish my grip a bit. We work really well together.
When I watched Naked Layers I felt is was very direct and honest but thoughtful. Not like Reality TV "honesty" but not particularly innocent either. What do you hope viewers receive from the piece?
Novel: First off thank you T for seeing that! I guess with any piece I create I want or hope that it resonates, and that it rings truthful. Particularly with this piece though because its so or I should say it feels a bit dangerous. And yes ,you're right, it's not innocent. We are aiming for truthful reality. Please call us on it though if it starts to feel contrived. (smile.)
Kyana: I really just want folks to have an experience with it. Whatever it is. I feel like my "stuff" around vulnerability and exposure and my relationship to my body are things that people can connect with in some way, and that may lead someone to explore all of that for themselves and have more love and compassion for themselves. I think it would be great if we could all give ourselves a break.
Kyana, earlier you said that singing is scary for you? Why is singing scary for you? What will you do in terms of process to overcome that fear? Will it be that same that you used to take your clothes off on front of the camera. That is pretty primal in and of itself.
Singing is scary because I feel so exposed when I'm doing it. I would like to make an effort to sing more publicly to overcome that fear. And yes, taking my clothes off is pretty much the epitome of exposure! I hadn't thought about it that way. Hopefully this process with Naked Layers will help me to push past my fears about singing.
Novel, when editing, did you know what you were looking for during the edit? Or did you let the piece reveal itself to you.
Novel: I wish I could say I knew what I was looking for. Each piece has been different and because of what it is it is the boss of me! So yes it has definitely revealed itself to me.
Naked Layers: "Getting to truth" pertaining to what? Is it Kyana's truth because she's the subject/object? What truth are you getting at as a director? Or are you getting to her truth?
Novel: Right now it is Kyana's truth but because she is gracious enough to share her process we get to share in it. If I'm doing my job right as a director I think it might just provoke us to ask similar questions and peel off our own layers. Each time Kyana and I go into production and shoot one of these things I feel like I want to throw up. Really. It's hard shit. I love it but it ain't easy. I know in my heart because its not easy we must be on the right track. So in answer perhaps I'm getting to a truth? Hell I don't know. I just have to keep going and see what happens.
Novel, you mentioned earlier that you hope to accomplish good art, define that.
Novel: I did say 'good' art, didn't I? I guess what I mean by that is honest art. I want to be able to say at the end of the day that this came from a real place of inspiration. I would also hope that my art touches someone or provokes some sort of change. For the better. But that can't be pre-determined, right? I just have to take a leap of faith with it all.
Interview by Tanisha Christie
Tanisha Christie is a producing filmmaker/performer and creative strategist. A certified spinning instructor and yoga enthusiast, she loves the beach and her white Specialized road bike. She’s hard at work on her next documentary project and too many other things. www.tanishachristie.com @tanishachristie