Filmmaker Celia C. Peters’s SciFi Future is in CBUS
Independent filmmaker Celia C. Peters found a nice niche in the New York film scene. What made her decide to set up shop in Columbus?
The Toledo-born, Michigan and New York-educated filmmaker loves what Columbus has to offer.
After graduating from the University of Michigan, Peters attended graduate school in New York. She intended to become a clinical psychologist when she started writing her first script. She got involved in the New York film scene and felt at home there.
“I was really fortunate and blessed to be in a place where I could do it and people needed help,” she says. “My first job on the set was as a script supervisor. The director set me up in a meeting with a script supervisor who worked for 40 Acres and a Mule for Spike Lee. I met her in her apartment in Brooklyn and she went through the basics. It was great.”
Though New York provided ample opportunity to learn on the job, Peters sees a benefit in actually making her films in Columbus.
“There are many resources and great access to them,” she says, citing affordability and an openness in the community to participate.
“The pros of a lower price point, the value of that can’t be overstated. When you’re an independent filmmaker and budget is your guiding star, you need to maximize every dollar that you have,” she says. “If you can get what you need for less, you can get more of what you need. That puts you in a position for a better outcome for your film.”
The city itself is also very welcoming, she says.
“The fact that there’s still the novelty factor here – people are excited about film happening here,” she says. “People want to help. And there’s a lot of diversity in terms of the geography, topography—you can get a lot of different things. The city has a lot to offer to filmmakers.”
Following several acclaimed short films, Peters’s immediate task is to shoot a proof of concept short for her planned feature.
“I’m developing my first feature film for production here,” she says. “It’s called Godspeed. We’re shooting a short most immediately to expedite conversations with investors and corporate partners and distributors. That will be a scene from the film.”
She describes Godspeed as near-future SciFi.
“It’s about a woman who is successful, driven. She’s living in New York and starts to fall apart. She believes that she’s becoming schizophrenic until someone she trusts tells her that she’s not human, and the only way she can survive it is to go back to the place she’s from, but she doesn’t believe it, and at a certain point she has to make a decision. And we’ll see what she decides!”
Godspeed is not Peters’s first foray into science fiction, a genre that also suited two previous shorts, Roxe15 and Mission (edited through a residency at the Wexner Center for the arts).
“The possibilities,” she says. “Beyond the creativity that is a part of writing, you have this complete freedom in terms of reality.”
“I’m very drawn to science,” she says. “As time goes on, science and science fiction are converging. Many of the things that our parents or grandparents thought of as science fiction are our reality. I’m fascinated with technology and really curious with where it goes. A lot of people are fearful because there’s a capacity for bad things, but there’s also the capacity for great things.”
Peters is patient about filmmaking, saying that the rush to complete something can adversely affect the final product.
“When you’re creating a film, this is about your brand,” she says. “Wherever you are hoping to have it shown, then it becomes the reflection of somebody else’s brand. If it looks crappy and sounds crappy, who’s going to want to be a part of that? I understand the impatience, I want to do it now, I get that. But when you do it, you have to make sure you do it right.”
“Sound quality is absolutely imperative,” she says. “It sounds crazy but it’s just as important as the picture, because if you watch a film and the sound is bad you’re not going to be able to engage. Your disbelief will not be suspended.”
The importance of sound extends to the music she chooses for her films.
“Music is an integral part of the story. For me, it’s like a character,” she says. “When I’m writing and thinking about directing, I’m thinking about the finished product. I’m thinking about the mood and ‘what would this story sound like.’ You shouldn’t know it’s there when you’re watching, you should be feeling it.”
Though Peters has faced challenges, she’s as committed as she has ever been to her craft.
“The reason why I’m still doing film is that I’m an independent filmmaker,” she says. “At the heart of it is the fact that I want to tell the stories that I want to tell in my way, because it’s not worth it if it’s going to be anything else. I pay the cost to be the boss.”
“Independent filmmaking is an integral part of any film industry, and in Columbus in particular,” she says. “That’s not only because what people are doing here is of value, but because that’s just the industry at large.”
And she’s eager to tell her stories here.
“I’m excited about doing that work here,” she says. “I think that the possibilities are wide open. I feel like it’s the right place, right time.”
For more about Godspeed, visit godspeedscifimovie.com.