In the vibrant, creative city of Austin, Ava Wilson is capturing attention.
Ava is a promising young filmmaker and currently attending U.T Austin. At first glance, one would think she is a novice at best, but her film work and knowledge of her craft prove otherwise.
She is the definition of an artist with foresight, ahead of the game. Not limited to short films, she is also a songwriter, music video producer and has a solid, impressive YouTube channel.
The up-and-coming artist’s highlight reel has the sophistication and feel of a veteran filmmaker. The multi-talented artist spoke to us on her creative endeavors and her plans for her future in the film industry.
How did you get into filmmaking and songwriting, and what led you to Austin?
My grandmother introduced me to filmmaking! My grandmother made movies as a hobby in her retirement community and whenever I would visit her over the summer, I would crew on her films. This made me realize my passion for filmmaking at an early age and would eventually lead me to pursue filmmaking as a career, bringing me to where I am today.
As for songwriting, I have always been a very musical person. I distinctly remember waiting years to reach fourth grade and so I could join my school’s orchestra and pick up my first instrument: the violin.
My music journey would grow from there, leading me to learn the ukulele, the guitar, and the piano.
As anticlimactic as it may seem, my family led me to Austin. I am still young, only seventeen years old, and my family and I moved from Florida to Austin to support my dad when he got a new job five years ago.
Your work is impressive, as a songwriter and filmmaker is there a certain process or method that goes into making your art. Especially when combining the two?
I know that many people swear by their own method when creating art, but I never use a specific process and have never seen a need for one, personally. When I make my music videos, sometimes I will start with an idea of how I want the music video to look (use water elements, fire, etc.), or I have a music lyric that resonates with me that I want to bring to life in a music video!
Whether starting with the film aspect or the music aspect, both music and film bring emotion and tone to the table that can be enhanced and reinforced by the other, making it very easy to start with one and then go on to the other.
You have a unique style of making films, where do you get your inspiration from?
Thank you for the kind words! My style of filmmaking is simplified to the extremes, from having the least amount of equipment to the least amount of crew and talent. This is because of being a young filmmaker and COVID-19. When COVID-19 hit, as you most likely know, film sets were shut down everywhere and were only opened back up months later with very strict policies in place.
In my personal experience, I was not able to have crew or actors on my film sets for a year and a half, but I still had to make films during that time.
So, while quarantine was happening, I was the only one that could build, work, or break down my set. At first, it took me FOREVER to shoot even a ten-second shot, and I remember having to take triple the time it would have taken to film if I had an actual crew and actors.
After a while, though, I started learning different tips and tricks to be more efficient and I was eventually able to film quick, good-quality content all by myself. I didn’t need to keep doing this when I started my YouTube channel, but I decided to do so because it makes me learn every position on a film set a LOT quicker!
So, while I may be stuck putting my camera on a tripod, and I can’t use my really cool dolly, filming alone makes me problem-solve and improve my skills, which is more important than a cool-looking dolly shot any day!
Austin is a great city for creativity, do you think it inspires or enhances your job as a filmmaker and songwriter?
I love Austin! Austin is a location scouts dream because of its extremely unique infrastructure! You can be in the middle of downtown Austin surrounded by skyscrapers and then drive 20 minutes and be in the middle of nowhere! You have city, you have country, you have rich, you have poor, and because of the huge amount of local-run companies, Austin also has a very distinct culture that can be beautiful to film!
This makes it so that as a filmmaker you never feel land-locked when you’re thinking about filming locations, and this can make it much easier to be creative when writing screenplays.
Many of your films are inspirational but you also put the spotlight on mental health with your piece ” Suicide Salad” Is it difficult mixing lighthearted themes with more serious topics? Would you consider yourself a mental health advocate?
I would say yes and no. When making my films I focus on showing my audience a different perspective, whether that be bringing awareness to a unique way of life, a potential problem society is facing, or a story never told from the opposition’s point of view.
Mental health needs to be addressed in society and stop being labeled as fake just because it cannot be seen. So many other issues need to be brought to awareness as well, such as climate change, homelessness, and racial and gender equality to name a few. I would say that I am an advocate for change instead of an advocate for mental health.
What is the project, whether it is music or film, you take the most pride in creating?
Amazing question! I take the most pride in my most recent project, Artiste, because it was the most challenging film to make out of my entire portfolio. Artiste is an experimental film following an artist that makes paintings for the mafia to sell and use as a cover for money laundering.
Artiste took me over a year to make from script to screen, triple my average turnaround time of four months for my short films! I am so happy that I didn’t give up on it though because I believe it is my most visually stunning film to date.
Are there any rising actors or creatives you enjoy working with in the Austin area or anywhere else?
I have had the honor to work with several amazing actors and creatives in Austin and I know that they will definitely rock the industry once they get out of school. Mia Nyugen was my starring actress in Artiste and she was extremely easy to direct and I can tell she will do great things in the future!
I’ve also loved working with Trinity Johnston, an amazing actress that I took on as my assistant director that did a fantastic job problem solving and keeping the set moving. A few other amazing creators are Johnny Hernandez, Jamie Nichols, and Harper Sharpe.
What is your vision pushing forward in music and film? Any features or albums you are set on making?
As for the future, I plan to focus more on the filmmaking aspect and shift from making music videos to making films with my own film scores. This will allow me to continue combining my filmmaking and music abilities while focusing on more plot-driven projects.