By Yelena Sapin
|Photos by Melissa Donald|
Picture this: The camera zooms in on a pair of feet in canvas Vans slip-on shoes, then travels up the figure of a woman peering intently into a camera viewfinder. We see her from the back — a pair of legs in black jeans, a black sweater-clad torso, her upper back and shoulders obscured by a curtain of blond hair. She senses our presence and turns around to look directly into the camera, then breaks into a smile of recognition. She’s Soozie Eastman, documentary filmmaker and executive director of the Louisville Film Society. And it’s her turn to be the focus of the story.
The alarm rings in Soozie’s bedroom. We see her stir awake in a luxuriously comfortable bed, hair splayed over a pillow covered year-round in a soft flannel pillowcase. She usually works until 3 in the morning, and her alarm is always set for 10:12 am. “I’m very precise about time, but 10:10 or 10:15 just seems too on-the-nose for me,” she says. “I like to come into the world every day at a little bit of an odd time.”
For the next half-hour or so, she stays in bed going through her work and personal emails. “I like to tackle that first, so I know how my day is going to shape up. Those first emails tend to set the tone for the rest of the day.”
Soozie’s role with the Louisville Film Society is to make sure that local filmmakers have opportunities to get seen and heard, to network, and to collaborate, but it’s a part-time position.
“My main job right now is the producer and director of Overload, which is a documentary on the synthetic chemical industry,” she says. “As a filmmaker, I’m really passionate about media that can help impact, change, and educate. But another thing I love about the industry is that there is no day like the one before it. From the moment I start reading my email, it’s anything goes.”
|Soozie adds the base plate to her camera for the tripod in preparation for filming.|
We hear the whir of the blender in the kitchen. Soozie is making a shake with unsweetened coconut milk, almond butter, dates, and maca powder. “Maca is an Incan superfood from Peru,” she says. “I drink this every day for breakfast around noon. I find that it gives me a clear head and makes me feel nice and full for a while.”
|Eating healthy foods keeps Soozie in the right zone for thinking clearly.|
Because she’s not filming today, Soozie spends the afternoon in producer mode. “That’s all about logistics — making phone calls, worrying about the budget, and putting together the interviews and shoots.”
She also puts in a few hours of work for the Film Society and makes phone calls for the Louisville Film Commission, a Louisville Metro government organization dedicated to promoting the city as a location for film and media production. “I think I’m pretty efficient in my day,” Soozie says. “I’m not so much a dreamer artist as a doer artist. I love to-do lists. They keep me organized. Organized confusion has always been the way I thrive.”
|Soozie has an extensive collection of film books she relies on for honing her craft.|
It’s a little after 5pm, and Lily Wigglebottom, Soozie’s rescue dog, is waiting by the front door. The toy poodle wags her entire body in anticipation of the daily walk that marks her owner’s transition to director mode. “The walk is a time to digest what I’ve done in the first part of my day and to get some fresh air, see the weather that people have been talking about while I’ve been cooped up in my office.”
| When Soozie walked into a high kill dog shelter in California, she asked to take the next dog on the list|
without seeing it first. The staff brought Lily Wigglebottom to her.
An hour later, we hear water running in the shower as Soozie gets ready for the next eight hours. “At this time, my day is just beginning,” she says.
Having gotten herself put together, Soozie heads out to meet friends for dinner, then knocks out a brief business meeting over a late tea. She usually just noshes on vegetables during the day, doing most of her eating at dinner and as late night snacks.
Her dietary preferences lean toward whole, healthy foods. “I lived in Los Angeles for 12 years, and I find that heavily influences who I am even though I’m back home in Louisville,” she says. “I loved being a Kentuckian in California, but now I’m acclimating to being a Californian in Kentucky. And thankfully, we have so many alternative resources that I can be very comfortable here.”
It’s 9:30 in the evening. Soozie is in her office watching a short documentary for inspiration. A wall of index cards outlining the story of her film is sporadically illuminated by the flickering computer screen. She sits back and goes into her head, letting her imagination roam. “That’s when I put on my director’s hat. I start formulating more of the story structure and looking at interviews to see what I did, what I could have done better, where the story is going to go.”
|Soozie edits her work at the home office with Lily Wigglebottom nearby.|
At 1am, Soozie’s creative juices are running dry. She puts on music and has a dance party for one to get her second wind. “I like to utilize somebody else’s successful creativity to springboard my own,” she says.
Two songs later, she’s back in the working groove but is suddenly seized by self-doubt. “I am perfectly imperfect,” she reminds herself, shaking it off. “There are going to be things I trip up on, but if I do the best I can and reveal myself as genuinely as I can, then I can ask or do no more.”
We can't wait to see what Soozie will do next! Also, if need a little inspiration to rev up your creativity or motivate you in another way, take a look at what this woman did.