We had the good fortune of connecting with Sydne Horton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sydne, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I made the decision to pursue a creative career because the artistic space is not only a platform to amplify voices, but it’s a work environment that pushes you to examine and explore gray spaces. I have never been one to simply settle for an answer, I’ve always found myself examining the why and the reasoning behind it. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, an adopted child, and a female identifying individual, I have experienced various obstacles and I have found that there is power within the creative space. Through directing stories that illustrate psychological battles within the LGBTQ+ community to photographing people for Foster Care Print ADs, I am shedding more light and magnifying experiences that aren’t commonly seen in the mainstream media. I am a strong advocate in telling your own personal experience and helping those to do the same. Too often voices are silenced and buried when they differ from what society has coined as the “norm” and when it comes to creative mediums there’s a space where you can make a change.
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.
Being an artist isn’t easy, there really isn’t anything easy about it, but I am grateful to say that through all the ups and downs I always find myself the happiest when I’m behind the camera directing. There is something so magical about collaborating alongside like minded creatives to create a message that means something to its viewers – whether it provokes their thought or reminds them of a personal experience, it’s a message that resonates. My ultimate dream and passion is to direct content full time that highlights minority stories and experiences through film, television and online platforms. Most recently I have directed a short film called “Meta” that follows our Transgender lead at his Senior Prom where he unexpectedly gets his period just moments before making his way to stage for prom court nominations and the psychological self vs self battle that ensues. This was both a challenging and fascinating piece to be a part of and it allowed our team to dig into trans dysphoria and illustrate fragments of the psychological experience involved with transitioning. Not only was this story written and dreamt up by my collaborator Savannah Ward, who is a proud member of the trans community, but it was also cast with Jordan Gonzalez, another incredible member of the community. I am also ecstatic to say that we pulled together a mainly queer crew to bring this piece to life and “Meta” is getting ready to start its film festival circuit! Prior to this film, the same writer and I brought the short film “Flicker” to life which follows a young wannabe influencer finding it easier to hide in the facade world of social media than face her familial struggles, which went on to premiere at LA Shorts International Film Festival.
Presently, I am independently directing a documentary that explores a family deeply hurt by mental illness coincided with an unsolved murder that fell through the cracks due to the lack of investigative police drive in correlation to mental illness ties. Aside from this project, I am currently co-writing a slasher esque horror feature that pays homage to a few personal favorites, I am writing a fictional short film inspired by my personal experiences with navigating being an adopted child, and I am set to direct a music video. As I have stated above, my passion lies in Directing and I am grateful for all the opportunities I have been given and the production experience I have had. I have found myself working in various production jobs to not only expand my knowledge on the behind the scenes of what really goes into different departments on set, but to also be able to continue making enough money to stay in Los Angeles.
Aside from my directing opportunities I have worked as a Props PA for Ryan Murphy’s “Hollywood,” an Assistant Coordinator for Nickelodeon’s “Knight Squad,” an Office PA for Nickelodeon’s “Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn,” an Office PA & Temporary Executive Assistant for the President’s of TV at Blumhouse Productions and a Freelance Photographer for various Foster Care Campaigns. One of the most important things I have learned through my creative journey is that with challenges there are great stories to be told and when you take a magnifying glass and inspect some of the hardest moments in your life, you can find very telling details that not only have influenced you, but experiences that can take others on a journey where they may find their own personal connections to resonate with. Along with this, I have learned the importance of being brave and fearless with your stories and to take risks – they won’t always pay off, but the lessons you learn from them somehow always build you up stronger and present you with opportunities you didn’t know were coming. With all this being said, reach out through my website if you’d like to collaborate, connect and/or just share your story!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Before I dive into this, let me just say I am a big diner connoisseur and love all things breakfast so yes, this will mainly be a breakfast itinerary. Our must hit breakfast and diner spots are The Griddle Cafe, Fred 62, Nat’s Early Bite, Paty’s Diner and Crave Cafe. I’m also a big fan of coffee and some of my favorites are Priscilla’s Gourmet Coffee and M Street. For my friends that enjoy activities and adventure, I always recommend hiking to the Wisdom Tree, engaging in an Escape Room (some favorites are at The Basement and Escape Hotel Hollywood), and stopping at a Mulholland look out for the sunset. A few other activities include hitting up the Melrose Trading Post for fun vintage finds of all sorts, searching for records at Freakbeat, and stopping in at Valley Photos for film prints and working retro cameras. To switch up my diner trend I also enjoy taking friends to Grandma’s Thai Kitchen, Fat Dog (I recommend the Vanilla Cream Ale here), and Catcher & The Rye.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
It is with zero doubt that I would not be where I am today, pursuing my passion day in and day out, without the guidance, grit, and endless support from so many influential people in my life. To list just a few, I want to thank my parents who have been by my side through the waves of my adoption and supporting my passion of film and storytelling as a way to express myself. I owe credit to Nikki Kaffee, Nancy Robinson and my entire internship family from the Television Academy Foundation for not only believing in me, but constantly reminding me of the importance of using my voice and collaborating with other creatives – also for gifting me the Los Angeles family I have today. A special shout out to Tracy Fetterolf, Sara Livingston, & Sharon Ross – my life long mentors from my alma mater and three badass women that not only instilled bravery and strength within me, but taught me how to be strategic and push boundaries. Lastly, I would like to pay recognition to Savannah Ward, my longest running collaborator for independent projects and one who always manages to remind me that the sky is the limit. With each project we’ve done, we seem to always think we can’t get bigger with the stories we tell and how we bring those to life – and yet somehow we outdo ourselves every single time. Thank you, sincerely thank you to every single one of you for helping to not only shape who I am today, but for endlessly reminding me to chase my passion and to tell stories that provoke thought.
Chad Jimenez, Linarys Ortega and Madeline Jordan