MINSTRELL VS PUPPET was the winner of BEST FILM at the January 2020 Experimental FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.
Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?
Hannah Bonecutter: The trials, tribulations, and conflicts (internal and external) that I, as well as many others, endure as a woman of color today motivated me to make this film. Upon careful observance and personal experience of the various stigmatization, stereotypes, and limitations society places upon women of color, and with the current wave of women empowerment here in America, I was compelled to make a statement on these important issues; a statement that force people to face, discuss, and hopefully work to improve these issues facing women of color today. This film is that statement.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?
It took about 3 months from the idea to the finished product. I remember having the idea in December during holiday break, then immediately reaching out to people I wanted a part of it, including the Director Marcus Aubin for his thoughts on his abilities to make my vision come to fruition. We got the team together and it was shot in early February over two 8-hour long days. Final product was ready by March.
3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
The biggest obstacle in completing this film was deciding on final dialogue between the two characters – a significant amount was cut from the initial script – and finalizing the last 20 seconds of film during the editing process in post-production. I always knew we would end the film with the split face image, but right leading up to that was carefully contemplated over and discussed between the Director and I for some time.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I was extremely excited and happy while listening to the audience feedback in film! I think many of them understood the duality in the film quite well, and the women’s responses were extremely satisfying to hear, especially the comments on how Minstrel vs. Puppet was “refreshing” and how it calls for us to “pull together.”
Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:
6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?
Reflecting on my own life and the roles I have to play at various times, in particular contexts in order to achieve specific goals was the foundation of this film vision. From this, I knew two characters would need to represent one person, and these characters needed to be quite opposing.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?
I think FilmFreeway is a great, extremely efficient submission platform to use for any filmmaker, especially independent filmmakers.
9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?
Intentional by Travis Greene
10. What is next for you? A new film?
Often referred to as a Renaissance woman, I keep my hands busy in a few things. My latest endeavor is obtaining a Masters of Public Health (MPH) with a division in Health Policy and Administration as well as a Global Health Concentration and Health Disparities Certificate at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). In addition to being a graduate student, which takes up much of my time and energy, I am also a licensed eductor, currently privately tutoring students. Further, I presently balance professional organizing for clients with my business BoneClutter. While I am not acting as much right now while pursing my MPH, I am still writing, performing spoken word poetry live, and public speaking at various events.
In terms of Minstrel vs. Puppet, it is still on the film festival circuit worldwide and may even be screened at a city near you soon! There is a lot of planning and organizing going behind Minstrel vs. Puppet right now, as it is far more than a film. It is an educational tool that must be used for exposure, awareness, and learning purposes. Indeed, it has begun its journey in this direction with its first private screening, presentation, and facilitated activity (given by me) held on February 21, 2020 at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). I plan to do many more similar events across the nation at universities, colleges, high schools, and various organizations in the near future. Further, I and other professional educator peers of mine are creating curriculum around Minstrel vs. Puppet to be used in courses at higher education institutions across America and beyond, so be on the lookout for that in the future too!
I will indeed make future films while serving in multiple roles on these films, such as actress, writer, executive producer, director, and more. I have several visions for these films and even scripts written already! However, I believe these films, as well as other related projects and endeavors, will be within a brand new industry that I aim to trailblaze in years to come. This industry will provide informative content to the mass public on important societal issues that they need to understand, but in a highly engaging, creative, and entertaining way that demands their attention. My goal is to utilize my knowledge, skills, and networks within my careers of education, professional organizing, public health, and film entertainment to create and grow this new industry.