Lena Street Production is an award winning storytelling collective based in Atlanta, GA. Specializing in narrative and documentary film and shorts, we are dedicated to pushing the envelope in subject matter and dilivery.
LeeAnn is a writer, director and artist reared in Germany now residing in Atlanta, GA. Before the age of 18, she successfully amassed a handful of awards for her directorial presentations.
Mercedes is a dancer and writer from Atlanta, GA. While she first discovered her love for the arts performing on stage and on camera, she found her voice through screenwriting.
How did Lena Street Production get started? Tell us a little about yourself as individuals & what role you play in the Lena Street?
(M) In the beginning we really just wanted to tell a story about people who look like us going through similar setbacks and triumphs to what we’ve experienced. The production company was formed around filming the web series that is now our namesake; so it was a passion project that awakened or perhaps revealed our desire to start a conversation and give our audience something to ponder. As far as roles: since we’re independent we tend to wear multiple hats depending on the project but for simplicity’s sake, I’m a screenwriter.
(L) The year was 2009, and we were two disgruntled writers who wanted more from what we were seeing on TV. So we set out to tell stories that reflected us and that mission has continued to evolve into what it is today. I am a writer and visual storyteller by trade who stubbornly refuses to use my gifts for anything but the betterment of the world around me. At LSP, I focus on doing just that as a screenwriter and director.
How big is your production team (and who does that include)? How did you go about finding your team?
(M) Officially, it’s just the two us as producers and writers. When we have a project in production, we outsource other roles from crew to wardrobe to talent. Social media is a huge help because it allows us to find fresh perspectives and connect with other creatives to work with later.
(L) When we were shooting Season 1 of Lena Street Ladies, I was giving one of the actresses a ride home when she turned to me and asked, who gave us permission to do Lena Street Ladies. I was confused. It never dawned on me that we needed permission to create. We only saw the necessity to create. So we did. Independent filmmaking has its own plethora of challenges, but the lessons we learn in producing our own content, collaboration, and execution make it worthwhile every single time.
How do you recommend that filmmakers break in?
(M) There are so many different ways to start or get your foot in the door. It all just depends on your goals, whether you want to be a major mainstream player or a niche auteur. We’re all about the art and the message behind our work so we started by creating something we were passionate about on the smallest budget possible. I think that’s a great place to start. The financial limitation will push your creativity and networking abilities beyond what you could imagine. Then once you’ve poured your soul into a project, don’t be afraid to get your work out there: Youtube, Vimeo, film festivals, etc.
What your process for establishing a production company? Did you need a lawyer?
(L) We’re very much a DIY production company even to how we were incorporated. We took the time to learn and figure out the appropriate procedures to establish ourselves legally. We did work with a lawyer who advise us over the first year. Is it always necessary? I would just suggest you to always cross your T’s and dot your I’s.
What forms are a must when going into production?
(L) Talent release! Always. Location releases are great even though sometimes I shoot guerilla style, honestly. Have written agreements with every party involved just so everyone has in writing what they are getting out of the project for what they are putting in. I would highly recommend that.
Cost is always a factor how do you fund “green light” projects?
(M) We’re mostly self-funded so we tend to work on a micro-budget. Crowdfunding is a big help. We’ve used Indiegogo in the past. And we use our network. Cross-promotion definitely reduces some costs.
What is your social media strategy as business owners but also finding that balance as a creative?
(L) We don’t put a lot of emphasis in a social media strategy although we could. LOL Most of our time goes into writing and creating the actual content. Luckily, people still keep up with us and are excited for what we do share and/or premiere in the digital realm.
What legacy do you want Lena Street Productions to leave behind?
(L) As storytellers, it is our mission to not only tell the human story but to evolve it. With that, we’d like to be remembered for making transformative content that is both entertaining and penetrating. Yes, I did just say penetrating.
(L) Food Diaries is a docu-series exploring our broken relationship with food created and directed by LeeAnn Chisolm Morrissette. Profiling food activists, to doctors, healers, and educators, this series brings up the questions we aren’t asking. From food waste to healing ourselves to farming for self reliance, each subject takes us through their own personal journey in food, sustainability, and choosing to live and consume more mindfully. This is a journey of self discovery and ultimately, liberation.
What’s next for Lena Street Production?
(M) More bold storytelling in the digital film space and we’ll be experimenting with new mediums.
How can we keep up with you?
Shivawn Hill, is a writer, director and a storyteller at heart. She’s currently in post production with her short documentary film. She believes that one day soon she’ll form the ultimate group of Storytellers who will travel the world to share the stories of creative peculiar people. Come hang out with her on Instagram.