We had the good fortune of connecting with Elena Weinberg and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elena, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
This is an interesting question. I think I know when to keep going, even when it’s hard, when it’s something I deeply care about. I was asked recently at work why indie producing is my passion project, and without skipping a beat, I said “because it’s why I exist.”
I think that’s a really broad answer, and is, admittedly, a bit cheesy, but it’s true. When I’m working on a project I care deeply about, I wouldn’t even consider giving up, because it is simply why I exist – and, it helps that I actually enjoy difficult creative problem solving.
However, not everything is “why I exist.” I think those projects reveal themselves naturally. I’ve quit plenty of things in my day, even producing projects, because it was clear that the timeline didn’t work, the team didn’t have the gusto I did (or vice versa) or it just simply became glaringly clear it wasn’t a good fit. When I find myself putting off tasks for the same project over and over, I know it’s time for a conversation. Working on something you don’t absolutely love (especially in the micro budget film space) does a disservice to yourself, but, honestly, even more to the people you’re working with.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I own a production company with my husband called TurtleDove Films. We are self-taught filmmakers with backgrounds in acting and writing who tell micro-budget stories at an elevated level. Something that I love about the two of us is that we have very different taste, and we don’t feel the need to stick to one genre because the industry pressures us to “brand” ourselves. I’m a comedy gal while Duncan trends toward sci-fi and high concept work. We like to trade off on whose script we produce, so our tone shifts fairly often and organically.
I am proud of so many things we’ve accomplished, but right now my biggest proud moments are producing Duncan’s first feature film script (A Room Full of Nothing, on iTunes, Amazon, etc) and finishing my first personal feature screenplay, a teen bowling alley comedy called Sunset Lanes.
As self-taught filmmakers, we’ve gotten here through practice, perseverance and a ton of trial and error. We started out with “no-budget” shorts and are now working on 5+ figure features. Every day is a new adventure. It has been, of course, challenging, trying and rewarding. I’m embarrassingly lucky that I’ve overcome challenges through support of the core team, Ivy, Danielle and, of course, Duncan. The biggest lesson I’ve learned along the way is: patience is key, and it’s a forever practice.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
So many favorite spots! I recently had my parents in town and painstakingly scheduled it to show them as much as I could, so I’ll steal a bit of that week’s plans for this question:
-The Prince in Ktown for happy hour and/or dinner and, of course, chats about New Girl or Chinatown (whichever fits your vibe)
-A morning hike up to Griffith Observatory, lunch and photo ops at the top and a walk around the Hollywood Forever Cemetery afterwards.
-Any meal of the day at Sage, bonus points if you go to the one in Echo Park.
-Brunch at Met Her at a Bar followed by a walk through LACMA. Happy hour at HMS Bounty for a $5 gin martini or $6 Tecate & Tequila
-self-guided walking tour downtown: LA Times building, City Hall, the Bradbury, up and down Broadway and, of course, lunch at Grand Central Market. Bonus: hang in The Last Bookstore while lunch digests.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’m dedicating this shoutout to the three people who have become my core: Ivy Meehan, Danielle Ploeger & Duncan Coe. These three read every draft of my scripts (even when I send them in the middle of the night), give me advice when I need to figure out a way forward, are a sounding board when in difficult situations and, maybe most importantly, trust me with the same from them. They are a true creative circle I couldn’t function without.