Interview with Filmmaker/Actor Lauren Harris (DEFINING DODO)

DEFINING DODO was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the June 2021 LGBTQ+ Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

First off, thank you so much for including us in your festival and for honoring us with the audience feedback award! We are so grateful for the opportunity to share a bit about our film. Defining Dodo came about as my coproducer and writer, Alejandro Valtierra, and I had been having an important conversation about the potential pressures of machismo culture in the LGBTQ community. Alejandro was my boss working at, a community website intended to establish a community among educators and administrators in the dual language education field. We wanted to make a film that would authentically represent Latinx culture and showcase the importance of accepting who you are, no matter how you are.

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

I would say around 6 months. We first began discussing the idea for a film in June 2019, and were able to film January 2020- right before the pandemic hit.

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

Authentic bombazos!

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

I would say challenges came about more during completion, as the pandemic hit and there were more coverage shots we had been hoping to film after our initial shoot. We needed the coverage shots to finish putting together the film and due to stay at home orders, couldn’t complete it. Eventually we were able to but given the pandemic, the festival season is a little different from what we anticipated. That’s why we are so grateful for opportunities like this one to discuss our film!

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

How sweet and special, it’s such a wonderful feeling to put your heart and soul into a project and have people “get it”. In the industry, we spend so much time creating meaningful work and then worrying about what will happen with that work. Is it enough? Will it succeed? Will I succeed? How do I make my work mean something? To see how our work has touched people and allowed them to see our vision is an incredible feeling that we are beyond grateful for.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I always knew I wanted to be in films from the age of 4. I fell in love with acting during a kindergarten play, “Strega Nonna”, hanging out backstage and reminding all the other kindergarteners of their lines. I didn’t know I wanted to make films until I graduated and saw the lack of authentic representation and roles for both women and diverse communities. I was tired of playing “hot girl by the pool” and “somewhat attractive ingenue”, and wanted to make the craft that was so important to me mean something. I began producing, and my first project was It’s A Girl Thing, which focuses on the trials and tribulations of college dating culture and won awards in over 14 international festivals.

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

If I’m being honest, probably Breakfast at Tiffany’s! The scene with Audrey Hepburn singing moon river outside her balcony still gets me every time!

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

I think it allows filmmakers to have an easy one stop place for all festival submissions, as the festival process can often be daunting as there are so many festivals. As filmmakers, we’d love to be included in all of them as the connections and similar perspectives of likeminded individuals coming together to share their work is invaluable.

9. What is your favorite meal?

Rigatoni amatriciana and fried artichokes from Ristorante Pecorino in Rome, Italy. I think of that meal all the time!

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

I’m currently working on a documentary project on human trafficking happening outside of Philadelphia in Kensington, PA. As a native Philadelphian, the horrors happening so close to home have showed me how long human trafficking has stayed overlooked by our society. We are basing our project off the film, A Shield Against the Monster by Anne Marie Jones and Carol Metzker, two of the most inspiring women I’ve had the pleasure to know. We were miraculously able to film on a Covid- compliant set during the pandemic in Philadelphia this summer, and hope to have the documentary released in the fall. Stay tuned!


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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