Interview with Filmmaker Tristien Winfree (PAIN IS THE AGENT OF AGE)

PAIN IS THE AGENT OF AGE played to rave reviews at the October 2020 FEEDBACK Film Festival.

What motivated you to make this film?

At the time I was really struggling with my identity of being STRONG all the time. I was so programmed at a young age to be strong no matter, and it caused a mental impact on my health. So I began to get curious about my feelings and thoughts, and did the work to understand where it all stems from. How we look at, unblock, wrestle with, and shed light on the distance and detach from our own personal pain. The arts can heal us by giving these bits and pieces the attention they deserve and need. There is so much power in talking about it. We should be able to talk about mental health, we should be able to talk childhood trauma, and we should be able to talk about grief, but as a culture we shy away from the uncomfortable conversations

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

The entire process took about a year and a half from start to finish. The beginning stages of pre production sorta felt like a deer in headlights for me because I was so use to being an actor in front of the camera, but now I was playing both fields of having to hire a crew, do marketing, scout locations, etc, The whole nine yards and then on top of that. I took the liberty to produce, direct, write, and be in my own work. You wanna talk about being tenacious? Ha! That was my middle name, It was a constant grind, but I truly enjoyed it. I felt like all of my entities above were working through me with each new production phrase I embraced. The year of 2019 I lost my brother to gun violence, my grandfather to a heart attack and my mentor through natural causes. And while I was grieving. I knew that my project was bigger than me. It was the thing that pushed me to where I am today. It’s the best thing that has happened in my life.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Life Changing

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

The biggest obstacle was the scene we shot of how my brother died. That was hard for me to put into the film to begin with. I was reluctant because I could still vividly see the footage of how my brother died, but as a storyteller and artist I decided to push myself out of the way and tell the story. Now on the day of shooting I was told that the production assistant couldn’t drive the vehicle, and the other crew members were busy working on various tasks. Which resulted in me having to drive the vehicle. So if you’re following…. I saw how my brother passed, and now I have to reenact how it happened. Now I’m a team player, but that was very difficult. I watched the actor point the gun several times, and it put me in a different world. I remember talking to grandmother after we got done filming. I mentioned to her “I have no fuck*** clue how I mustered up the strength to drive that car in that moment.” My grandmother very calmly says to me “Baby that wasn’t nothing but your brother giving you that strength.” And I just cried.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I remember watching the footage and just being speechless because I felt as though they were in the room with me during my process. Each person that gave feedback was spot on with their feedback. One of my favorites was from the gentlemen that stated “It reminded him a little bit of Manchester By The Sea.” I later watched that film and it’s so interesting watching how that story unfolds through the power flashbacks.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

The idea came very naturally. I know in the past we’ve seen many therapy scenes, but what I have not seen is a black male in therapy and being so open and vulnerable about his feelings. As black people I believe the thing we want out of life is forward progression. We don’t need to be reminded of what we’ve been through, Because we have the blueprint of our identity & circumstances in our back pocket. The real work begins when we become upfront & honest about what we are going through to work through our pain.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Crooklyn by Spike Lee. I can watch that film everyday and never get tired of it. Absolute perfection

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

It’s great! Really easy, and accessible as a filmmaker.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Hmm! I generally depends on my mood, but what’s coming to mind at the moment is “You Gotta Be’ by Des’ree

10. What is next for you? A new film?

Yes! I’m currently writing it at the moment, and it’s under wraps, but it’ll be a feature. So be on the lookout for it.

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