Laura Arten

United States
Actor/Director/Producer

Laura Arten is a New York City based actor, director, and producer.
She received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of the Arts London, graduating cum laude in Film Studies. She then relocated to New York City, where she studied at New York University Tisch School for the Arts and the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.

Her film debut The Story of Hers (2013) premiered in Cannes Court Metrage and was an official selection of the Brooklyn Film Festival, Manhattan Film Festival, Bootleg Film Festival among others.



1. Your film is entered in our Košice International Monthly Film Festival. What is your film about?

It is a documentary series that explores the life and work of queer artists who paved the way for gender equality movement by daring to be themselves fully. The other film featured in the festival was a comedy about Ayn Rand, which I coproduced and costarred in. A very different venture overall. Similarly, this film is still on a festival circuit.  

2. What are your ambitions with your project?

It has been rather successful on the festival circuit and it found home on DocsNOW+ channel as well as Thinkshort.com I'd love for it to also find a more European audience geared platform and in the future perhaps continue the stories of queer artists in the present time and day via www.iamtheseries.com 
I'd love to see I; Ayn Rand also distributed eventually.


3. How was the shooting? What pleasantly surprised you?

Well I AM is predominantly based on archives and art created by its subjects. The part we had to create and cast and shoot was all the voiceovers telling the individual stories, giving the characters a voice. The thing with documentaries at times seems to be that they have a life of their own and start very organically and what could be called 'easily' in the world of film. To actually finish them is another thing entirely. How much energy, effort, money and time is actually takes to see it through can be surprising in comparison to the beginning of the venture. It is also deceiving perhaps, how finished our projects may appear inside out heads when we set to make them, and how much it takes to materialise the vision!

As far as I; Ayn Rand goes, I would say it was a lovely shoot and it went smooth because it was very well planned. What tends to be surprising when one is filming a fiction project, is how little the actual shooting takes up from the entire venture. How much energy and effort and resources go into all the things that have to happen prior to the "action" and "cut".

4. For what target group is your film?

I would say my documentary is progresive and relevant to the current zeitgeist of gender exploration and liberation. But it does have a historical element, looking at the people who often lived through the World War(s) and such. The old times meet the now in this project. And it is global - the subjects are both European as well as American.

I; Ayn Rand is for those who love comedy of any kind.

5. Why should distributors buy your film?


I would say it is a project that certainly has educational value and is relevant to both art and gender politics and history.

6. Why did you decide to become a filmmaker?


I didn;t really decide that. I think it is something that somehow decides for you, if it's for you. It finds you and then plagues you, and you have to keep doing it, even though each time you sort of swear you'll never ever.... coz it's just too hard. But before you know it the next project is already sort of stepping forth.

7. Who is your greatest role model?

I try to compare myself to myself only, or else you go mad. Think of where Mozart was at the age of 10 or 15, if you know what I mean. But there are some greats, people who simply marked humanity by the sheer genius and greatness of their mind and ability to share it. I'd say Shakespeare is one of them for sure. I am currently very much into him. Studying him a bit deeper, from different perspectives too. Ultimately he managed to capture so much of humanity and human condition and it is so relevant and so global in a way. It's incredible.

7. Who is your greatest role model?

I try to compare myself to myself only, or else you go mad. Think of where Mozart was at the age of 10 or 15, if you know what I mean. But there are some greats, people who simply marked humanity by the sheer genius and greatness of their mind and ability to share it. I'd say Shakespeare is one of them for sure. I am currently very much into him. Studying him a bit deeper, from different perspectives too. Ultimately he managed to capture so much of humanity and human condition and it is so relevant and so global in a way. It's incredible.

8. Which movies are your favorites? Why?

This is too hard a question. It varies, depending on the mood, depending on the present circumstance and such. I'd say

9
. Where do you look for inspiration for your films?

It looks for me.

10. Which topics interest you the most?

Life itself.

11. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Moving to New York on a whim and actually making it in my own right.

12. What do you consider most important about filming?

Authenticity and truth of the project.

13. Which film technique do you consider the best?

Whichever serves the story the best.

14. How would you rate current filmmaking?

It's evolving to ever more incerdible standards, especially when it comes to technical possibilities. I believe eventually we will have VR elements naturally embedded into a cinema going experience. Smell and sounds and such. At the same time, the most important thing has always been, and I believe always will be, the story itself. The ability to touch people and to communicate via storytelling. That will forever be the soul of filmmaking.

15. What can make you angry in a movie?

Feeling like it is a soulless, time wasting film. Created solely with profiti in mind, purely calculated to cash at the box office and lacks any true purpose beyond that.

16. Who supports you in your film career?

Myself. And I think for anyone who is pursuing this career it has to be that way. It is a lonely path to tread and at the end of the day, you have to be your own motor. I am blessed to have some mentors and an incredible team of people - such as Alejandra Gonzales Castillo, who was the editor and VFX SFX for I AM and without her skillset, expertise and most of all commitment and work ethic, it would not have turned out the way it had. I do have some brilliant mentors in the industry and amazing friends, who support me morally as well as practically. And that is crucial for sure. None of us can do it alone. Films are like babies. It takes a village!


17. What are the reactions of your surroundings to your film?

I only ask people whose opinion I respect professionally, and the festival selections speak for themselves. It really is a fine line between taking constructive criticism and learning from it, accepting that if something is good in any way it will not be truly loved by everyone and that so long one comes from an authentic place and does ones best, the reactions - good or bad - as such, cant matter too much.

18. Have you already visited any of the prestigious film festivals?

Yes, my first short premiered at Cannes Court Metrage, and I have been going back there pretty much ever since (2013), and I guess another big one is Sundance. I've been three times. Cannes has changed over the years, sadly. They all seem to have changed to be frank, reflecting how the industry itself is reshaping. Sometimes the smaller festivals have a true value because you can access people you may not be able to at a big festival.


19. What are your next projects?

Right now I am watching a ton of documentaries for Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, as one of the screening committee. There is a documentary I am slowly starting to work on, I'll see if it sticks. And there are some fiction projects floating about. But it is never good to talk before you execute. This is one of the most fickle professions. Anything could change by the time you publish this and then one looks like it's all talk no substance. It's good to just go into town with the finished projects.