"It wasn’t until I was accepted into my first group of universities that I sat back and said, 'I don’t want to be a teacher. I want to be a director/filmmaker'."
About Erica Tamposi – filmmaker
Erica is a 23 year old filmmaker from New England living in Los Angeles and currently working in Post Production on the TV show Mr. Robot. She enjoys writing and directing and strives to help people through her work, even if it’s just a smile.
She has a puppy named Thor, who provides a lot of inspiration and also encourages her to J-walk once and a while.
Her favourite soda is root beer, but she will settle for diet if it’s the only thing available. She appreciates all types of life, except those who do not eat gluten BY CHOICE. (She has celiac disease and really can’t eat it.) She hopes to someday direct a film about these people and their strange behaviour.
Erica is currently looking for funding for her short film ‘Extended Release’.
“It is not only a short drama that is filled with emotion and pain, but also portrays a powerful message that raises awareness about those who suffer with the agony of substance abuse. ” Learn more about how you can help.
1. What is the force that drives you forward? What fuels your ambition?
The driving force with my work is my deep desire to learn and create. If I go too long without doing something that expresses myself creatively, I feel completed stifled and drained.
I want to impress yet, it’s this feeling of accomplishment when I create something I’m proud of. I get high off that feeling. The need to get better fuels my ambition. Someone told me when I was eight years old,
There is no such thing as perfect and you can always improve. That stuck with me.
2. Can you talk about your greatest “failure”? (something that led to your most significant shift in consciousness, and made you who you are today).
This question was very hard to answer! Not because I haven’t failed, I have failed in many things, but because I don’t really accept failure.
Everything is a learning experience. I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason and works out the way it is supposed to. When I first moved out to Los Angeles from the East Coast, I had this fresh mentality that I was going to be very successful right off the bat. I applied for a bunch of jobs and heard back from none of them.
I probably sent over one hundred emails and got zero response. It was surprising and embarrassing at the time. If anything, it taught me to hit the ground even harder. You can’t expect to sit back and that good things will come to you. You need to go out there and show your attitude, your willingness to work, and how bad you want it. The harder you work, the more rewards you reap.
3. Are you happy? What does happiness mean to you?
I struggle with this question everyday. I constantly ask myself, “are you happy?” If not, “What can you do to change that?” Name one thing, big or small that you can do that will aide in your happiness.
As many other artists, I struggle to confidently say “I’m happy” when I’m not working (or when thing’s are not going my way). It’s easy to forget the success you’ve had previously because you’re stuck with writer’s block, your angles were completely wrong in what you just shot, or someone who was “very excited” about your script won’t call you back.
After reflection, it’s very easy to honestly say how happy I am. I am happy most days. I am happier creating, and I am happiest when I am writing and directing. I find true happiness happens when it is shared. Although I live for my work and creating, I think the most raw form of happiness is when I am making others I care about happy as well. Even better if my work can contribute to someone else’s happiness.
4. What do you think is your greatest strength? On the reverse, can you identify a personal challenge (something you currently struggle with)?
I believe my greatest strength is my ability to care for others. I am told I care too deeply sometimes. I am very easy to talk to and I find people confide in me a lot. I love to listen and help and I think putting others first is my greatest strength.
On the contrary, it’s also my biggest weakness.
I trust very easily, and try to see the best in people. I sometimes feel let down in certain situations, because if the roles were reversed, I would have done anything I could for someone else. When it isn’t reciprocated, I think I take it more personally than I should.
5. When did you first realize that you wanted to be an artist? Can you talk about that moment or time in your life?
I have always loved creating.
I was voted class clown in middle school and again in high school. I took improv, loved joking around and having fun. I love making people laugh.
I never really thought I was talented enough to enter into the film industry. I loved making home movies, and then editing them. It was just a side passion of mine. I was involved in an education program and wanted to be a teacher.
It wasn’t until I was accepted into my first group of universities that I sat back and said, “I don’t want to be a teacher. I want to be a director/filmmaker.” It was a last minute adjustment, but I wasn’t being true to myself moving forward without giving it a try. Granted I could have had a little more experience in the film industry or perhaps gone to a more renowned film school, but I am so happy with my choice and my career path thus far.
Maybe that’s my biggest failure? Not applying to the big film schools because I “didn’t know what I was doing, so why would they accept me?”
6. Habits, routine, morning rituals — What are the positive things you do daily that have had the most significant impact on your life and work?
I wish I could say that I get up at 6 AM, do yoga after my run and make a healthy breakfast before work, but that isn’t the case. I am currently working on the TV show Mr. Robot on USA and that has me very tied up during the week.
I try to get up, walk my dog, and then head to the office.
It’s usually at night when I have more of a routine. After work, I walk my puppy again (he’s 7 months old and named Thor). My walks are my time to reflect on the day. Did I do the best job I could at work? Did I communicate the best way I could have that day? What could I change?
As far as artistic rituals go (and this is a weird one), if I find myself at a creative block, I get up and brush my teeth. Sometimes that clean fresh feeling is enough to knock my senses into overdrive!
7. How do you deal with doubt? Where do you go for support?
I love a post circulating on instagram. It goes something along the lines of:
“An artist’s method of creating:
1. The idea is great.
2. This idea is amazing!
3. This idea is horrible, I am shit.
4. Self doubt.
5. This is actually a good idea.
6. I’m going to do this and it is amazing.”
As funny as it is, it’s also very accurate.
I find myself in these stages all the time. Sometimes you need to know when to stop after #3. However, if an idea isn’t working, it doesn’t mean that you are bad or untalented. It’s good to get rid of dead ideas- but the good ones you need to stick with.
I go to friends and family for support.
It’s important to confide in people close to you. Sometimes it’s hard because they don’t understand what you’re going through. “You have to say that!” comes into my mind a lot. I think dealing with doubt is so common, and I like to revisit old work that I am proud of. Yeah, I created this and this is awesome. I can do this type of work again.
8. What, in your opinion, are the qualities of someone who is a “great” artist (in whatever discipline)?
A great artist has passion, drive, and love for what they create.
An artist, especially in the film industry, can’t create their vision on their own.
I think a great artist is someone who can see the talents of those around them and utilize those skills to work together to create the end goal. I am an artist, but I am not the only one. There are many of people that can contribute to my work and make it better.
9. Any advice for artists on a similar path? (Perhaps advice you wish you’d been given when you were first starting out).
Never mess up a coffee order.
You would be amazed as to how upset the higher ups can get (to the point of you not getting rehired) if you mess up food or coffee orders when just starting out!
Show up with a good attitude and be a team player. Earn trust before throwing your talents on people. Be weary of people but never of your own work. It’s easy to get stuck in a certain space and start to doubt, but when that happens use it as motivation. Acknowledge it, accept it, but then try to change it to the best of your ability.
10. Could you talk a little bit about your relationship to money? Has your relationship to money changed over the years?
Money is everything. You can’t make money without spending it. You can’t expect to have exposure if you aren’t willing to travel, promote, or even go out to network.
I have had a job since I was fourteen years old, saving up for my move out to LA, school, and other things. Were there times that I thought, I need to make a living? I need to do anything to pay rent? Of course!
Is that enough to make me compromise my vision or passion? Of course not!
Money taught me to be resourceful. I save, I work a full time job during the week, and then set aside time to do my own things. One day, hopefully, I will be able to make my passion my full time job. I work in the industry and am constantly learning. It’s moving in the direction I want to go. There is a way to incorporate your dreams and passions into paying your bills. It’s not about money, it’s about happiness, contributing to value of life, and to help others.
If I can find a way to do those and make money, great! I need to pay rent and bills to live, so yes it’s absolutely necessary. I just don’t see it as the driving goal.
11. Ever experience flow/being in the zone? What does it feel like for you, and can you tell us about a time when you experienced it?
Being in the zone is the most amazing feeling in the entire world. It’s like every single nerve ending in your body is on fire. You can’t stop it.
I recently finished a feature script (first draft!) in one week. It was 100 pages. I just could not stop writing. It wasn’t that I had a deadline, or that I was forcing it out of me, the story just would not stop. It felt as if it were telling itself and my fingers were merely a tool to get it done. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t focus, the only thing I wanted to do was write.
The feature script went on to be a finalist in the California Women’s Film Festival.
12. What is your favourite book?
My favourite book is Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton.
It’s a heartbreaking story about struggle and hardship but also has immense joy and love. A lot of people I know don’t like the book. They think it’s depressing. I see it as a tragedy but one that has moments of such passion and life. Plus, it’s so beautifully written, it’s hard to not sympathize with Ethan. He fights for what he wants, and finds a way to make it happen, while also being the dedicated hard worker he is. It’s just an extremely powerful book.
Connect with Erica Tamposi
And learn more about how you can support Erica in her film ‘Extended Release’ – by visiting her Kickstarter Campaign. At the time of this publishing, they’re already 1/3 of the way towards their goal. If you’re able to donate even $5 or $10, I know it would help a lot. Learn more here.
“This film is a dream to create, not only for the humble chance to direct it, but to show people the hardships attached to substance abuse in a heartfelt way.”
About The Creative Life Interview Series
“Theatre is a safe place to do the unsafe things that need to be done” said John Patrick Shanley. Likewise, Creative Life is a safe place to share ‘unsafe’ things that need to be said.
The stories and interviews from this site share the personal experiences of courage, fear, vulnerability, flow, creativity, and happiness from the perspective of the artist.
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