We had the good fortune of connecting with Julianne Reynolds and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Julianne, can you tell us about a book that has had a meaningful impact on you?
My business is based on social activism through the media arts, and that form is documentary filmmaking and photojournalism. I started off as a fine artist living in New York City and relocated to Los Angeles; where I formed a digital media company that later turned into Romanski Films. Over the last 15 years traveling through out the US, India and Africa making films, I’ve has the honor to interview top scientist to marginalized people living in poor villages. These relationships have taught me much about the injustices in the world, whether its sex trafficking in Kolkata, global desertification in Africa, or racism in the US, documentary filmmaking is my tool for feeding the curiosity of my soul. Authentic storytelling has a way of shifting the tide of consciousness from a limited view to a more global perspective. As an independent filmmaker and photojournalist, you have to be very creative in your approach to story telling because you’re often working within budgetary constraints, but this can also makes you even more hungry for human connection. As an independent, uncensored storyteller, you’re not trying to feed the corporate media network to make a marketable product, but discover something that has roots. Capturing a story becomes a mission. You become an undefined spokes person for those that have been silenced or hidden behind social norms. I’ve been working with a non-profit organization, Global Watch Trust, in India that helps under privileged children from remote villages in Tamil Nadu. Many of these village children never make it to school past the 5th grade and often the young girls get married before they turn 15 or end up on the streets begging. This non-profit works at the grass roots level, and hired me to tell the story of these village children. My crew and I spent a whole month living with the children, and traveling into the remote villages where the children came from. It changed my life in many ways that I still don’t understand. Many of the village communities that we visited, most likely had never met a Caucasian woman from the west with a camera in her hand, they welcomed my crew into their homes as if we were family. The stories we learned were human to the core. One of the young girls now living at the children’s home, Pooja, her mother hung herself with her sari in front of her and her sister, when she was 5 years old. Her grandmother brought her to Global Watch Trust so Pooja could get an education, go to college, and possibly be the first person from her village to break generational poverty. Pooja was 11 years old when she first came to the children’s home, and has dreams of becoming a drawing teacher, and helping others. The Global Watch Trust Children’s home is funded through donations from the US, Europe and India, and we’re hoping the documentary film will help raise money for the children’s home so it can continue helping children from the remote villages of Tamil Nadu, India, and those children can help other children. I believe in a world without boarders. As a documentary filmmaker I’m able to see beyond the modes of separation, and what I have learned, people need people to live a life with purpose. We are mirrors to each other through our actions. When we can help a child in a village from across the world, it has a ripple effect, and this is how the power of film can tell stories of inspiration and change our perspective.
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.
My art is how I live my life. I use my camera as a way to express what I see, but also as a way to discover the meaning of life. I’m excited about what happens in the process of creating more then I am about the results. Filmmaking is an art form, but the form over time becomes formless as you grow as a person. This has been my biggest lesson along the way. Success to me has been staying to true to myself, and my art. I decided to stay undercover when I first started out with my film work because I wanted to be on the front line to explore who I was and what I wanted to say without having to give my voice over to some big corporation or ideology of what it meant to be a female filmmaker. So I had to put aside making my art based on monetary gain, but more of a spiritual pursuit. This is not to say, that I don’t have goals with my current projects. The process of making films pushed me to the edge many times, but it was at those edges that I was able to grow spiritually and creatively. When I first set off to make documentary films, I was closing my media company, which had partnered with Paramount Pictures and The Grove in Los Angels, and I enrolled in my first yoga teacher training in Santa Monica. I had always been interested in the eastern philosophy and the esoteric arts. I wanted to know what it meant to truly be free. I knew I was blocked in the execution of my own voice as a filmmaker but I also had faith in the power of some unseen force that lived deep within me. So I filmed everything, to strip down all those parts of myself that didn’t belong to me, to discover what was essentially my own unique path; which soon evolved into my brand, Romanski Films. I have a passion for story telling. It has taken me time to develop my voice and what I wanted to say through this unique talent, and that’s where my success has grown from. Being free with my voice, as a reflection of the stories I want to tell through my art, film and photography. What has helped me to open this inner calling has been years of studying yoga, meditation, shamanism and spending endless hours in front of the edit bay. I wasn’t taught at a young age how to explore these deeper layers of my being. I felt trapped in a world that had been shaped by my family lineage, society or the media. But over time from traveling extensively throughout the east, studying tantric ancient texts on female empowerment, and making documentaries, I evolved into an artist with a mission to make films that evoke social change whether its about gender inequalities, racism, environmental ignorance, I see abstract solutions in between old truths that are no longer working in our world. The art of filmmaking is evolving with technology, but the art of storytelling is as old as the earth.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love nature, a great glass of wine, and views at sunset. Los Angeles is a vast place, and what I love about it the most, is you’re close to nature, hiking, and the beach. Day 1: Say in and rest at the best hotel in town on the beach, Shutters! Take a swim, have lunch on the each the Pacific Ocean, watching all the bikers and skaters scroll by. Rent a bike and ride the on the edge of the beautiful skyline. Start off in the serene Santa Monica skyline to venture onto the edge of the artistic, beach side town of Venice with endless shops and artists selling local goods. From there take a short sojourn to the Venice Canals, and get lost in the world of old school Venice with beach houses and gorgeous views of bridges over the canals, its truly like being in Italy. End it with a short jaunt to Marina Del Rey at the edge of ocean, as boats sail into the sunset. Day 2: Use this for your whole day. Drive up the busy 404, to find yourself in paradise with vast views of the LA basin, and endless rooms to venture to views some of the best art in the world at the Getty Museum. Get lost in the gardens, and end it with a late lunch, and several bottles of wine at the restaurant. Day 3-4: Now its time to luxuriate at one of the most beautiful beaches in LA, Malibu Zuma beach. Malibu is the destination for the soul. Bring all you can to relax and take in all the beautiful views of the mountains to the east and the vast ocean views to the west. Don’t forget to take a sunset appetizer and drink at The Sunset Restaurant on Zuma Beach. Before leaving Los Angeles don’t forget to visit Griffith Observatory at Griffith Park, Shopping on Abbott Kinney at the chic boutiques and hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains, particular Topanga State Park, with a short stop in the middle of town to catch a few local shops selling local art.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to dedicate this shoutout to the nonprofit organization, Global Watch Foundation Children’s Home.
All photograph images ©juliannereynolds