We had the good fortune of connecting with Anna Cassady and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anna, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
Giving up is not an option for me. The whole reason for me to move to a foreign country alone is to be myself and make films. I remember many people have asked me, what if I couldn’t make it, or what if I have to go back? I never had an answer for that, because I don’t want to give myself a second option. It’s probably not wise, but I couldn’t imagine my life differently. I’d rather give it all than play safe. Work hard or die trying, I guess.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m an independent filmmaker, and honestly, everything about filmmaking is exciting to me! From the first spark of an idea to start a project, to the whole preparation process, to the high-pressured almost nerve-racking production, and finally to the finish line when you marry sound and picture, the whole process is unreplicable. It’s both utterly painful yet so rewarding that I concluded no one could quit filmmaking once you get into it. It’s like an addiction. I love the feeling that everyone gathers together to create a vision. Everyone with a different personality, background, or artistic taste, but they all work to make it to the same goal, and during that time, nothing is more important. I sometimes felt that filmmaking has bestowed meanings to my life. I’m very proud of the films I’ve made so far, especially my most recent work, Sympatico. It’s a sci-fi drama that explores the limit of science and humanity. You can check out the trailer here: https://vimeo.com/426444271 Every film has personal meanings for me.
It always has a piece of me in there somewhere. I think that’s definitely what sets me apart from other filmmakers. Me, being me, an adventurous life experience collector, I’ve had so many unusual and oftentimes risky experiences. I felt that those moments push me closer to the essence of life, and I always try to create something similar and special.
Filmmaking is never easy. There’s always doubt: the self-doubt and doubt from other people. It’s sometimes hard to stick to yourself, especially with a naturally introverted personality like me. I’ve been struggling with my personality since my earliest memories. I always feel that I’m not good enough. When I started the MFA program at USC School of Cinematic Arts, there was a time when I had to face my social anxiety. I eventually pushed myself hard enough to break through the barrier. I learned that confidence is something you can have control of, and it will help you go further in your career.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This might sound cliche, but I love driving on the Pacific Coast Highway. You don’t need to start early, maybe two, three in the afternoon. When you get to PCH around Santa Monica, don’t stop, keep driving along the coastline. Depending on how far you want to go, you can drive past Malibu and even further. At this point, you have the beautiful mountain on your right, and the stunning ocean on your left. It honestly feels like a road to heaven. When I’m done driving, I’d usually find a quiet spot right beside the coast, park my car there, and sit on the stone or the sand. I can usually find my own little spot, where no one’s around, and I’d hang there, listening to some music with the background of waves, or read a book, feeling the breeze on my cheeks. Then I’d wait for the sunset. It’s always beautiful but never the same. When that last glow of light gradually disperses, the traffic cools down too. I’d drive to a cozy restaurant or dessert shop to finish my day. It’s simple, but it’s perfect.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to shoutout to my parents. If not them, I couldn’t imagine how my life would turn out. Most people are probably familiar with the stereotypical Asian parents, and how they’d generally like to push their kids onto a stable career path. I wouldn’t say filmmaking fits into the category (honestly, it’s probably the polar opposite), yet my parents are the most supportive people in my life. They’ve been supporting me no matter what, even when they absolutely disagree with me, they respected my choice. We’ve been living on almost the opposite side of the world for several years, and they are still the closest people to me. I feel very lucky to have been born into such a family.