Chloe and Hobbes of Red Lighter Films call us while we’re laying in bed on a Friday night. We are holding glasses of $2.99 wine and string cheese.
If we had it our way, these two—who we’ve already featured—would be in every one of our print issues. In their work, online interaction and ideas, they work towards a utopia of intersectional creative feminism. The two have a bit of a cult following online, but seem humbly unaware of the impact they have on this generation.
Together Chloe Feller and Hobbes Ginsberg started Red Lighter Films, a Los Angeles-based production company “with a purpose.” The idea for the company was largely conceived by Chloe, an actress, producer and feminist who was frustrated with the lack of multi-faceted female characters in film available to her as an actress. Her partner and co-founder Hobbes is head of #aesthetics. A photographer and artist, she is a natural fit as a videographer and cinematographer.
In October they released a mumblecore superhero film called “All Encompassing and Everything.” Directed by Hobbes and Mackenzie Greer, starring Chloe, Anita Vora, and Lexington Vanderberg.
Now on the phone, we talk briefly about movies, giggling when Chloe reveals that Hobbes’ favorite movie of all time might be School of Rock. Chloe laughs when she mentions some of her favorite directors, “David Lynch… and all those guys.”
We also talk about how there aren’t many short films that have both a powerful narrative and powerful visuals, let alone films made by women.
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Where did the inspiration to start a production company come from?
Chloe: I think that the start of the production company was kind of something I pioneered. I’ve been an actor for a really long time and then I moved to [Los Angeles] to pursue acting, and it stemmed from being frustrated with the amount of roles that were available to me not just as a woman, but a woman who isn’t stereotypically attractive. I’m not super skinny and I have tattoos. I’m not a very “actor-y” type. But to me, acting is something I’m really passionate about and I’ve been doing it for 10-plus years. I love it so much, and I was just getting work that I didn’t like at all and it was hard on me creatively. I think Red Lighter was motivated by this idea of being able to create roles for myself and for other women and other people in general who are frustrated by what’s available. It was a slow grow, though, it wasn’t a goal I had.
I love that you talk about representing non-Hollywood women in film, because even though I have a pretty standard body type, I can hardly think of women in movies that look like me or my friends.
Chloe: To me, that’s ridiculous. That these are things that are supposed to represent the human experience and be super relatable, and yet the people performing these things are completely unrelatable in that sense and don’t reflect a lot of people. It’s ridiculous. That was a huge motivation behind doing what we’re doing.
“Things that are supposed to represent the human experience and be super relatable, and yet the people performing these things are completely unrelatable in that sense and don’t reflect a lot of people. It’s ridiculous.”
As your first film, do you think that, in a way, ‘All Encompassing and Everything’ embodies your goals as company?
Hobbes: It fits in line with what we’re hoping to do. In the way that the story of it is something we felt was very personal and very vulnerable and very empathetic towards the kind of people who aren’t given that kind of treatment in mainstream media. It was made by people who experience those things [mental illness and post-trauma.] We were able to come to the story with a certain sense of responsibility that we want to approach all of our projects.
Chloe: I think it was also a great example because of how collaborative it was, and that reflects our goals and what we want to be doing. That it was a product of a lot of different people. It was a wonderful experience and we’re just hungry to keep doing it.
Can you tell us a little more about your collaboration experience?
Chloe: Yes we can! This is our favorite subject! [everyone laughs]
Hobbes: We had a pretty small crew working on this movie, and basically everyone had a multi-tiered role in the film. Me and Chloe, we came up with a story in the first place and sort of brought the foundation, but we took that to a friend of ours who helped us actually write the script, and that we took to one of our roommates and best friends who is co-directing with me, and then we rewrote the whole script with the actors improvising, and everyone kind of took this idea. Amanda, who’s directing our next film, “Revenge of the Flower Girl,” was the AD [Assistant Director] on this film, and that kind of also plays into how we approach collaboration. It’s not just on a per-project basis. Anyone who’s working with us in any capacity also has the opportunity to be the boss and create something of their own.
You’ve talked a lot about how important intersectionality is to you. Do you think that being collaborative helps represent that better?
Hobbes: Yes, for sure. This is something that we’ve paid attention to and is really important to us, to bring a diverse group of people together on both our cast and our crew; we had a lot of diversity in the people we’re working with that brought different perspectives. So it wasn’t just me and Chloe telling everyone how everything needed to be. Also, I think, at least the way that I personally try to approach intersectionality is that it’s not about trying to put every perspective into one movie or piece of work. It’s more about that whatever subject you’re approaching is done in a way that is nuanced and in a way that comes at it from multiple angles and isn’t just a surface-level telling.
“The way that I personally try to approach intersectionality is that it’s not about trying to put every perspective into one movie or piece of work. It’s more about that whatever subject you’re approaching is done in a way that is nuanced and in a way that comes at it from multiple angles and isn’t just a surface-level telling.”
I was thinking a lot about it while I was watching All Encompassing and Everything, about how that idea fits into the central story, and I didn’t even think about it until you said it. It’s true, it’s impossible to represent every experience in one thing. I think that’s an important perspective to have. I think a good film needs to be simplistic in a lot of ways.
Chloe: I think it also relates back to our future goals, and we’re also approaching stories that deal with things that Hobbes and I don’t personally face. I think that elements of the intersectionality aspect come from having a healthy boundary and a recognition of our own personal privileges and realizing when it’s our place to step back and let people take charge over their own stories and deal with it an autonomous way. They’ll have our undying support and we’ll help facilitate in any way that we can, as opposed to being super hands-on with it and trying to make stories that aren’t ours about us.
I think that’s a really important part of what y’all have going. I don’t think enough people try to do that. What kind of subjects do you guys wanna tackle next?
Hobbes: What we’re doing next is probably going to projects we aren’t really spearheading. We just did this big project and we want to bring more people in and give them what they need to do what they want. We have a couple people who we are bringing in who want to talk about things like immigration, and being an Asian American, and those are things that are outside of our scope. We’ve been meeting with a lot of really cool people within the film scene here in LA who are dealing with those kinds of issues, and we’re just trying to put them in contact with each other and just share our resources and just use the community we’re building to help tell those stories. That’s kind of our next project.
Chloe: We have things personally that each of us want to explore individually in regards to the future of Red Lighter and the stuff we want to pursue. Personally, I’m enjoying the part of filmmaking, the behind the scenes is sort of where I can work out my own issues through film. I’m interested in examining sexual assault and things like that, and my own personal experiences in a cinematic way to get through it and to cope with it. I know Hobbes has her own ideas too.
“Personally, I’m enjoying the part of filmmaking, the behind the scenes is sort of where I can work out my own issues through film.”
Hobbes: I’ve been playing around with a lot of vaguely sci-fi, futuristic stories in my mind that are probably not going to be the next project, but sometime soon.
One of my favorite things about “All Encompassing” was that I watch a lot of short films, and I rarely see something that actually has a message you can identify with and that looks so good. It was so beautiful, it was insane. I often feel like I see stuff that has a really good narrative and it doesn’t hold up visually or vice versa, and whatever y’all have going on that creates that is crazy.
Hobbes: Thank you, that’s definitely something I tried really hard to make sure was there. Because I also watch a lot of shorts, and I’m really annoyed with that whole sort of scene because it’s either always just someone trying to make something that looks cool and their whole movie is just kind of based around the visual aspects, or they just wanna try out some cool visual effect thing they learned. People just see short films as a way to make something that is substanceless, and that was something we really didn’t want to do.
How would you describe your different styles?
(Both, arguing playfully): “You say you, and then I’ll say me.” “No! You first!”
Chloe: I don’t know how to describe my style, and it’s probably going to change so much throughout my career, but as far as what I’m interested in… Very complex ,narrative-driven work with elements of surrealism, and I like to incorporate a lot of different aspects like music and visuals, the dialogue, just combining everything together. I like very polished products.
Hobbes: I think that what maybe the biggest difference may be… I feel like I lean a lot more towards doing things really subtly and I always want things to be [more minimal] than Chloe.
Chloe: I don’t agree.
Hobbes: I feel like that because, at least when we’re talking about other movie ideas, I feel like I always lean towards things being really loose.
Chloe: Oh, you mean like you like metaphor and I like things that are a little more literal?
Hobbes: No. I kinda think it’s the opposite.
Chloe: I don’t like metaphors!
Okay so, what are some of your favorite movies?
Chloe: I really like Showgirls. I think it’s my favorite movie ever; I think it’s really underrated. It’s a very campy movie that I appreciated a lot. I saw Goodnight Mommy recently and I really enjoyed that. I really enjoy play adaptations into films. I love that so much and I live for it. I love David Lynch, Quentin Tarantino and… all those guys. [Laughs]
Hobbes: I always say my favorite movie is Slacker by Richard Linklater.
Chloe: But I honestly think her favorite movie is School of Rock. I think that’s her real favorite movie.
Hobbes: But also Slacker.
Chloe: You won’t admit it, but I think [“School of Rock” is] really the real one.
Hobbes: That’s just the movie I’ve seen the most in my life.
Chloe: And you love it so much; you talk about it all the time.
What we’re working on right now is talking to people about when they’re the most comfortable and the truest version of themselves. And we’re big internet junkies, so we feel like the truest versions of ourselves is online. We were thinking about how we live in a very curated internet bubble, where we are only surrounded by stuff we like and just ignore all the negativity online. How do y’all deal with life outside the bubble?
Chloe: I think we find a lot of that in our peers and our friends. People that we create with and engage with here. We’ve been lucky enough that in LA we found a group of people are very aligned, artistically and morally, with what we’re trying to do. It’s a very comfortable place to be in.
Hobbes: The good thing about living in a big city is that it’s not incredibly hard to mimic the kind of group you find online in real life.
Chloe: It’s a place a lot of our friends pass through a lot, too.
Is there a place, person or thing that makes you feel like your truest self?
Hobbes: Just when I’m at home. Our house. When I’m by myself.
Chloe: I’m going to… This is going to be a little sappy, because… now I’m embarrassed to say it. I think, because of the relationship that Hobbes and I have and how it started, I feel very comfortable and very much myself when I’m with her. And we spend a lot of our time together and we live together and she’s just the only person who’s seen just every part of me, you know what I mean? I feel very safe from that and I derive a lot of comfort from that. I think that enables me to be very open and honest. But I would also say by myself at the same time.
Hobbes: I feel the same way.
Hobbes: But I also don’t not feel like my true self ever. I most of the time feel like my true self.
Okay, the last question, and we don’t even have to publish it, but I just want to know. Chloe, I’m obsessed with Nicki Minaj, and I’ve learned that you also love Nicki Minaj, and I want you to speak about why you love her.
Chloe: Oh! You can absolutely put this in here if you desire. I am very happy to talk about it.
We might have to. Okay, we listen to Nicki the whole time we make the magazine, and whenever people are mean to us we play “Pills n Potions,” and we’re like, “We got thisssss.”
Chloe: Really? I’m so hyped on her for like so many reasons. I’ve legit cried about this. She’s super important to me. She represents a lot of what I appreciate. She’s very much a symbol of non-complacency with an industry that doesn’t necessarily cater to you, and I really relate to that. I also think she makes so much of an effort to be positive and include other women of varying identities in her sphere. I appreciate that she genuinely loves and cares about people. I also really like that she’s so emotional and that she speaks her feelings all the time. And is just really unafraid of them. I really appreciate emotional vulnerability in celebrities who are in the public eye, because I imagine that that’s so hard and it’s so risky, but I get this sense from Nicki Minaj that she’s just very much—
I really appreciate emotional vulnerability in celebrities who are in the public eye, because I imagine that that’s so hard and it’s so risky
Hobbes: Her true self.
Chloe: I very much love and respect that. But she’s also just like badass!
Badass as fuck! Like jeez.
Chloe: She’s so smart and so kind, and she’s been through so much shit. And she’s so talented. [Jokingly pretends to cry]
I feel like everyone just wants to talk about her ass and just dismisses that she’s such a talented person. But she doesn’t give a shit and uses her perceived image to her advantage. I hear so many negative things and I’m just like, “Y’all are totally missing out on the fact that she’s hella famous, hella successful, and people are inspired by and love her.” I just had to ask.
Chloe: Oh my gosh, I’m so glad you did. I’m pretty sure I’m getting a Nicki Minaj butt tat. I already have Harry Styles tattooed inside my mouth, but I need Nicki Minaj. Like her name in a little heart on my butt.
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