Talented Yasmin Evering did an amazing job on props and set decoration with Nina Beveridge on the Sloppy Jones shoot.
Yasmin is an emerging filmmaker and passionate storyteller who frequently addresses issues of race, and gender in her films. A proud Toronto native, born and raised in the cultural mosaic of the GTA, she uses her roots to inspire her artistry. She is a graduate of Film Studies at Brock University and Sheridan College in the Advanced Film and Television. Her most recent project “The Onyx Butterfly” has been screened in various film festivals throughout Canada; including Montreal, Toronto, and Halifax. It was also featured by WIFT.
Interview with Yasmin by Lory Mpiana
What made you decide to become a filmmaker?
I’ve always been interested in telling stories as a child. I decided to become a filmmaker because I rarely saw myself portrayed in film. I knew that there was something lacking but also that there was an avenue that needed to be explored. I love film and I have always had a good relationship with it. I wanted to tell my stories and I am determined to make sure that my stories and stories like mine are being told.
Last week you were placed on set for a commercial. How was that experience, being back on set during a pandemic?
It was interesting. It shows how resilient the industry is and how much people are very excited and determined to get back to work. I enjoyed being on set. It was nice being surrounded by my peers who are working towards similar goals. It was also very different because everyone was wearing face masks. You could sense anxiety which is reasonable because we are still in a pandemic. That aside, I enjoyed being on set again! It was also refreshing because I can now foresee how the industry will move forward again. There is an opportunity to work even though we have to take precautions. We can still get out there and create content that we love. I enjoyed it!
Why did you name your film “The Onyx Butterfly”?
I was going back and forth on what to name my film. Near the end of my film, I had to decide on what the title would be… I decided to go with “The Onyx Butterfly”. Onyx is a black stone that absorbs and transforms negative energy. I immediately thought of Jordan Allenye, (who is the main subject in the film). I know Jordan on a personal level, he is a very exuberant, positive, beautiful human being. I thought it was something that he absolutely represented because he tends to exude positive energy regardless of the circumstances. From the beginning of making the film and even at the development stage I was always interested in the imagery of a butterfly. The concept of being inside a cocoon then breaking away and truly evolving. I very much saw Jordan as this butterfly going through a metamorphosis, of just coming into your own and being more authentic.
I had the opportunity to watch “The Onyx Butterfly” and may I say that it was a riveting piece. What are you hoping will be accomplished with your film?
Thank you. I wanted to make a film that would inspire little Black boys and little Black girls to just dream and aspire to be anything that they want. Even though Black and Queer people are subject to systemic barriers that have been implemented to continue to silence our voices. I don’t want them to feel that their race, sexuality, or anything would hold them back from accomplishing their dreams. If that is what someone is able to take from my film, then I’ve done what I was set out to do. I want to be able to inspire people. As a filmmaker, I hope that any film that I make is something that empowers at least one person in some way.
How did you get involved with the Sloppy Jones Show?
It was through Pathway 2 Industry! It is an initiative that supports Black creatives in the entertainment industry by providing mentorship and networking opportunities as well as on-set experience. There was a call for a set designer, and I put out my resume. Even though I direct, I do love the art depart. I have done set dressing in the past, so I decided to apply. Then producer Nina Beveridge reached out. That’s how I got the job!
Congratulations on having your film “The Onyx Butterfly” selected for the 11th annual WIFT-T Showcase. Tell us about that experience?
It’s been great! Obviously, the pandemic has made it harder for festivals to have screenings right now. They have not screened it yet, but they will screen it sometime in the fall. But I think it’s been great. The interesting thing about WIFT is that they have been doing these cool interviews on Instagram called “Snack Chats”. It is good because they are still creating a buzz!
This is a big year for you, congratulations on graduating from Pathway 2 Industry! How has Pathway helped you with your career as a filmmaker?
Pathway 2 Industry has helped me a lot! It has also fostered a community for me amongst other black creatives. Most of my job opportunities since graduating has been from the help of Pathway 2 Industry, I’m truly grateful to this initiative.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
My goal is that I will have directed my first feature and some television. I see myself exploring my artistry more. Being more confident as a filmmaker. I see myself being a mentor and also creating a community with other younger black filmmakers as well. I just hope that I’m still carrying on that sense of community as I grow as a filmmaker. I’m still looking back and I’m still trying to help people who are in the same situation as I am now. I want to grow and be more of a creative filmmaker. I just see myself in five years doing more, having more, having access to do more and also having extra credits under my belt.
Are you currently working on any projects that you can disclose?
Right now, I have a few projects I’m developing but one of my focus is on a documentary photography series centred around sexual expression amongst black women and non-binary individuals.
What advise can you give to another female wanting to work in film?
My advice would be not to be afraid to take up space, I definitely have experience of imposter syndrome on set. Nonetheless, it’s so integral that we as women and women of colour are in these spaces. Our stories matter and we deserve a seat at the table.
What are your hopes for Black creatives in the film and television industry?
Definitely my hopes are to have more visibility. There are conversations that are happening right now. Making sure that we don’t just have POC representation in front of the camera but also behind the camera. There definitely needs to be more Black executives who have the power to greenlight more content from Black creatives. My hope is that there is more inclusion, especially in the Canadian entertainment industry. For there to be more opportunities for Black creatives.
Writing can be a tedious affair. What is your process?
My writing process is not set in stone, but I attempt to write every day even if it’s just a sentence or sometimes watching a movie or looking at art or listening to music that may inspire my writing is part of the process as well. I am trying to be a little more structured getting up at a certain time every day and writing for 2 hours is something that I am hoping to do. But I also feel like you shouldn’t pressure yourself. If one day you feel like writing a sentence, then that’s okay.
If you could give your younger self advise. What would it be?
Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Being your authentic self is the most important thing and realize what makes you unique now is going to be the thing that people love in a few years. It’ll be the thing that makes you money. Hopefully right? Be yourself and don’t try to change for anyone.
Interview by Lory Mpiana