We had the good fortune of connecting with Madeline Stephenson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Madeline, what do you think makes you most happy? Why?
What makes me happiest as an artist and human being is when something I’ve worked on affects someone. Is being an artist the only profession where making someone cry is sort of the goal? I’ve heard artists say that the reason they create is that it’s the only thing they can do. What I think they mean is: “it’s the only way I can express myself.” Filmmaking is my deepest form of self expression. When my films affect others, it means I’ve reached them and made an impact. And because other people’s movies have made me so happy in my own life, to be able to give someone else a feeling of connection, or to make them feel less alone, makes me happy. But this goes beyond my work. It also applies to the experiences I try to curate on set amongst my crew. Some of the happiest moments of my life have been lingering at crafty and overhearing the boom op bonding with the producer over something small. I love how filmmaking brings people together in such an intimate way, and it’s in these little moments that I find the most joy.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally? And what has been your greatest challenge on your professional journey?
My films are personal, but not explicitly so. I am the kind of filmmaker who would rather tell an adventure story than the story of my life, or the experiences I’ve had in it, but that may change as I grow into my voice. One of the things I am proudest of is my stamina in the industry. It’s a long game and, although I am certainly still at the beginning of my career, I’ve been making movies almost as far back as I can remember. I got to where I am today by persevering through many obstacles and challenges, both professional and personal, without losing belief in myself, or a sense of optimism. It’s a difficult path, but if you truly love filmmaking, it’s also full of rewarding, once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

My biggest challenge on this journey has been overcoming depression, which has been a pervasive character in my life for the majority of my twenties. While some romanticize the depressed artist, I actually find that it hurts my work. Filmmaking is about connection and a movie can only be accomplished with tremendous grit, passion, and the courage to be vulnerable. Ultimately, I’ve come to see the experience as a gift. It’s made me a braver person and artist, much more understanding of what others who struggle with it are going through, and more equipped to tell stories through this understanding.

I hope this lack of judgement is reflected in my work, no matter how dark or light the subject matter may be. I am endlessly fascinated with human nature, why we do the things we do, or become the people we become, and ultimately I hope everyone walks out of my films feeling uniquely seen and heard.

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 am a massive Hollywood history nerd, so I would be a perfect guide for other enthusiastsWe would probably start the day early with donuts and cheap coffee, then drive around Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard (I am a lifelong tourist), for a glimpse of the historic sites I was recently introduced to the Whitley Terrace steps, which is a gem of a walk through some of the oldest houses in Los Angeles. We would stop in Culver City for lunch and a walk around the area to see the Thomas Ince Studio, then maybe hike up to the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. In a perfect, Covid-free world, we’d definitely spend the rest of the day at the Arclight or New Beverly, depending on what’s playing.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to dedicate this shout-out to my brother and fellow film enthusiast, Thomas Stephenson.

Website: http://www.madelinestephensonfilm.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/madelinestephensonfilm/?hl=en

Other: Directing Reel: http://www.madelinestephensonfilm.com/directing-reel

Image Credits
Carolina Vázquez Mike Sun Norman Blake

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