Local Artist Check-in: Amanda Patterson

Posted on October 29, 2014 by


Amanda Patterson is living proof that the artistic community of Charlottesville draws filmmakers year-round, not only in November when the Virginia Film Festival comes to town.  A native Virginian, Amanda moved to Charlottesville this summer to begin work as a mentor for young filmmakers at Light House Studio.

Her film Goodish, a comedy about whether or not friendship can survive sex, is premiering at the festival. Patterson and her co-writer/co-director, Michael Leonberger, wrote most of the screenplay at a diner in Fairfax that resembles Cville’s own Blue Moon Diner. During the festival, Patterson will also be overseeing Light House Studio teams competing in the Adrenaline Film Project, a frenzied 72-hour competition to write, shoot, and edit a complete film.

Check back next week as we introduce a special series featuring many more great locals from the film world – The Makers of the Virginia Film Festival.

amandapattersonAmanda Patterson

Where are you from? If not Cville, what brought you here?

I was born and raised in Herndon, Virginia. I moved to Charlottesville after becoming the Lead Mentor at Light House Studio. I love it here!

Share your story. How did you get into filmmaking/directing?

Admittedly, I got into filmmaking surprisingly late in the game. I was always interested in music growing up, so never had much time for any other extra extracurriculars. I applied to VCUarts, knowing only that I wanted to live in Richmond, and that I was impressed with the artwork I saw whenever I visited. I took a liking to claymation early on and applied to the department of Kinetic Imaging, where I learned so much so quickly from my creative teachers, peers, and mentors. I was leaning towards short narrative films, and applied to the University of Edinburgh to study documentary filmmaking in 2011, where I had one of the best years of my life. It was probably some time around there that I figured filmmaking was for me. Not soon after graduating with a co-director credit and a few festivals under my belt, did I start writing Goodish.

What drove you to pursue a career in film? Talk about your passions and any advice you have for the next generation of filmmakers.

I’m going to be painfully honest. Filmmaking is a stressful career choice at times, and one that is hard to predict: “Can I write an entire screenplay about this?” “Will I be able to fund it?” “I don’t know enough actors!” “Will this be successful?” But, somehow, I enjoy every part of it.

While writing our feature film, Goodish, my co-director, Michael Leonberger, and I wrote the alternating one-sided parts of the script separately and then pieced them together. We raised money to help fund equipment and to ensure that our cast and crew would be paid at least something. We auditioned local actors, researched locations, and called everyone and anyone who might be willing to help out. Just by the end of pre-production, I was exhausted. Production and post- were by no means easy either. It’s the feeling that comes afterwards that makes it worthwhile: That “I did it” moment. That’s something that nobody is going to be able to take from you. It’s scary, ya know? We wrote, directed, shot, edited, scored, and even acted in it. We’re all over this film. The idea of someone tearing it down was very scary at times. I kept the mentality of, “You hate my film? Well, let’s see yours, then,” to keep me from even considering walking away. That’s the main piece of advice I’d give to the next generation of filmmakers. Hold your head up high, have a tireless support system, work until you feel physically ill, and know that the “I did it” moment makes it all completely worth it.

goodishDescribe your relationship with the Virginia Film Festival.

This year I’ll have a feature film, Goodish, in the festival, and I’ll also be overseeing three separate Light House Studio teams for Adrenaline. I’m excited (if just a little bit nervous) for both! Basically, I’ll be connected to an IV tube full of coffee for the majority of the time.

How many Virginia Film Festivals have you attended?

This is, surprisingly, my first Virginia Film Festival! I’ve heard excellent things about it for years, but could never attend. I’m so excited I can see some of it this year!

What sets the Virginia Film Festival apart from other film festivals?

Definitely the Virginia pride. They waive all fees for filmmakers from Virginia, films set in Virginia, and films made in Virginia. Next year, I’ll be submitting a film called Virginia Virginia Virginia, by Virginia, about Virginia, starring Virginia. They’ll accept it before even watching it, I bet.

Finish this sentence. Film as an arts platform is…

… pure creativity which is continuously changing, updating, and learning from itself.

What films are you excited about this year at the festival?

Ahh! Too many. But my top 5 would be: Foxcatcher, Fed Up, Led Zeppelin Played Here, Mr. Turner, and She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry. Oh! And A Leading Man! And Red Army!

Where do you go for a quick bite in Cville between screenings?

I’ll definitely be stopping by Escafé or Paradox Pastry when I’m near the Downtown Mall. If I’m near the Corner, I’ll be at The Pigeon Hole eating all of their mac & cheese.

Where do you go for a post-film screening drink?

I like The Whiskey Jar for beer and Mudhouse for coffee.

Dinner and a movie VFF 2014 weekend – What eatery would you recommend for dinner?

Depends on what you’re seeing! Setting is key. Talk about the classic you just saw over Zocalo. Comedy over The Local. Drama over Maya. Documentary over Sushi Love! If you see a movie like Goodish, you should go to a diner afterwards. That’s where we wrote most of the film. I’m partial to Blue Moon Diner on West Main Street.

What makes Cville special for artists of all forms?

There’s so much to do! First Fridays, different festivals nearly every weekend, a gallery on every corner? It’s nonstop! I wouldn’t doubt it if you told me the ratio of restaurant to single person is 5:1! The artists are everywhere. These are the areas where creativity thrives, and everyone wants to participate and get involved. For a fairly new transplant, it’s an inspiring community.

Favorite place in Cville to be creative?

Personally, I get my best ideas when I people-watch while walking around. Charlottesville is great for both! I love all of the used bookstores, cafes, and parks. Everywhere is a creative spot in Charlottesville. You can’t go wrong as long as you keep your eyes open.