Paul Booth chats to Filmmaker Natalie Avital…

Natalie Avital is a diverse filmmaker that brings a great quality to her work. She has a wonderful passion when you speak to her in person and was fun to interview over the phone and email.



Paul Booth: What do you in the Film Business?

Natalie Avital: I’m primarily an actress but over the past few years, I’ve been producing independent films, including a documentary that I’m directing. I also work freelance in casting, so I’m sort of all over the place with it.

PB: What specific Challenges do you find in acting and Producing?

NA: The exciting part about wearing more than one hat on a project is that there’s an exponential creative investment in getting it all done. I think the best part about our industry right now is that it’s possible for driven, capable artists to guide their careers in an extremely pro-active way and keep their own projects moving…most of the friends I have in the biz are multi-hyphenates nowadays- some combo of writing/producing/acting/directing, etc… the trick is to align with the people that excite you, and to “grow” and support each other through each project… I feel really proud to be part of a growing local collective of Indie filmmakers who are all pulling each other along for the rides as we go…Five years ago we were all talking about our projects and now we’re seeing them pop one by one…

PB: Have you ever directed?

NA: Yep, as I said earlier, I’m currently directing a documentary, “The Three Hikers”. It’s my first foray into the world of doc directing, and I dove in at the deep end. It’s the hardest, best thing I’ve ever done. Only make a documentary if you’re willing to let it be some portion of the epicenter of your life for a very long time. The things I’ve learned about myself, what I’ve come to understand about storytelling and the sensitivity involved in the documenting a piece of someone’s life, AND how to trust myself in a very fundamental way—it’s been a humbling, enlightening, revelatory journey thus far…

PB: Tell us a little about your recent projects?

NA: The Three Hikers is my heart project. It tells the story of the three Americans (Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal) who were hiking in Northern Iraqi Kurdistan in July 2009, and their subsequent capture/unjust political imprisonment by the Iranian Government. We answer a lot of the questions that went unanswered in the media about who they are and what they were doing in that region of the world prior to their arrest, and follow their families’ 26 month campaign to get them home. It’s evolved into a really beautiful testament to perseverance and what people will do for the people they love…we’re still in the editing process but we have a finish line in sight… June 2014.

There are other exciting things happening as well. A film I made last year, Misled, is set to start hitting the festival circuit in 2014, so I’m looking forward to that. Also, another project that six of us actors have been developing with my friend, Matt Lillard, is gearing up to shoot next year. This one’s been a fantastic process because we’ve spent a lot of this past year collectively developing our stories and characters, and Matt’s taken our ideas along with all of his own, and crafted a script that he’s going to direct.
Also on the books for this next year is a really juicy role in the upcoming Indie, The Bridge. My friend Bobby Field wrote this one, and it’s a rock n’ roll film, so he’s recently started attaching some bona fide epic rock stars to come and work with all of us. I’m going to have to keep my inner groupie in check.

PB: What is your overall goal as a filmmaker?

NA: I would say that my overall goal is to create art that is compelling to people, to make pieces that have something to say, that get people thinking, start a dialogue… And of course there’s a lot to be said for pure entertainment as well, so I’m not counting that out. For me, I’ve always believed that an artist’s’ job is to make art, however and whenever possible, so at a very basic level, I guess the goal is always to find a way to be doing that and participating in whichever capacity makes the most sense at that moment.

PB: What are you words for our readers?

NA: If you feel like you have something to say, something to create, get out there and do it. Your world will open so wide along the way in ways you could never imagine. Ask for help, surround yourself with positive, constructive mentors and friends who are willing to dig deep and play… be willing to know what you don’t know, but also trust the inspiration that called you to begin and let your own voice guide you as you go… and for every moment that fear creeps in (and my God will there be some), check in with it, but take the next step anyway- that’s the critical piece… and let it be fun (That’s the lesson I’m on right now;))

Interview by Paul Booth, Lead Entertainment Writer

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