Interview with Filmmaker Avery Harris Stedman (RISING – LIL BERETE)

RISING – LIL BERETE was the winner of RISING – LIL BERETE at the July 2022 DOCUMENTARY Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I had been tracking Berete’s rise early on in his career. A musician friend of mine was showing me his music videos and we both couldn’t believe how young everyone was but also how good the music was… how charismatic of a performer Berete was. When I created the Rising series, I always had Berete at the top of my list for candidates. When a friend of mine joined his management team, the stars aligned and we were able to make it happen.

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

We started ideating the film with Yaya and his team in September 2021 and finished the final delivery in May 2022.

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

Artist authenticity.

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

Berete had a very tight schedule around shooting. There was a two day window that was heavily contingent on him returning from Montreal early the morning of our first day of shooting. There was a mix up in communication and he ended up being almost 2 hours late which really put us behind the gun. From there, we were playing catch up but found a way to make up ground!

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

Very flattered but was so relieved to see Berete’s story — and the deeper meanings of the film — were received with the clarity and measuredness I was hoping for. Having filmed responses also gives you a unique window into the stream of consciousness/mind of a judge/audience perspective that feels authentic and rare. It’s validating. I actually would have loved a few more critical notes!

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

When I was in middle school, a friend of mine had access to his dad’s new video camera. It had all the bells and whistles of a high end miniDV camcorder at the time: nightvision, mood filters, slow motion, wide angle adapters. We started making action films and then realized, with some convincing and massaging of our teachers, we could swap essays and other school projects for videos. From there it became my passion and I sort of knew I had a knack for communicating visually. In films, I could be funny, or sad, or angry, or serious, whatever the emotion, my films could take them on. I continued making films through middle and high school.

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

Moulin Rouge or Goodfellas. I come back to them both every year.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

I think a local physical screening is always something filmmakers want — connections and the overall experience is always so rewarding. Also, judges POV into what could have been improved on or what may have been lacking from the narrative or visuals, etc.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?


10. What is your favorite meal?

In a world with no consequences — ramen all day.

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

Currently working on more episodes of the same series. I also have a short narrative film that I’m hoping to shoot next summer.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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