“Quitting is easy, but hanging in there is the hardest part. It shows the power in your ability more than anything else.”
Along the way to winning multiple awards for her web series and films, Danielle Earle earned a reputation for never giving in or up. Maybe she learned about hanging tough from being born in the Bronx and raised in New Jersey, the baby sister of two older brothers. It’s a trait that has served her well as she blazes trails in the world of making indie films for web distribution.
As a youngster, she loved to draw cartoons. This led to her studying at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California, where she majored in Animation and Visual Effects. She created the animated series, Lost and the Suburbs and The Perfect Life. Even as she displayed her gift for animation, a professor saw a potential for more, and sent her a note suggesting she make the leap to live film.
She started her Master’s at City College of New York in their Documentary program. She began a project that ultimately became the documentary On the Scene, which featured interviews with bands in the U.S. and U.K. Working on that project “sort of gave me the motivation to write some narratives,” she says. “I was in my early 20’s, and I thought, let me see what I can do with my own projects.”
She won five awards from the LA Web Series Festival in 2012 and 2013, for her groundbreaking series, Brooklyn Is In Love. Earle had fallen in love with Brooklyn, and wanted to feature it in a way that both Brooklynites and non-residents could relate. At the same time, she was going through her own mid-20s crisis. Was she where she was supposed to be at her age, personally and professionally? Brooklyn follows three 20-somethings as they struggle with the anxieties of pressure to achieve. Though one of the characters is a gay man, and a lesbian love interest was introduced in the second season, Earle does not make gender/orientation the focus of her films. Rather, she explores the complications that arise from all kinds of relationships.
Conflicted, complex relationships form the nucleus of Earle’s stories. In Lover’s Game, (http://www.loversgamefilm.com) a married art gallery owner falls for a seductive lesbian. Anna and her husband Vincente want a child, and are increasingly frustrated by failed attempts to conceive. Both throw themselves into their work, especially Anna, who finds an unexpected complication in the artist she chooses to showcase in her gallery. Earle says that Lover’s Game grew out of a difficult time. She was 29. The second season of Brooklyn Is In Love had ended, and her grandmother passed away. “It was an incredibly emotional time for me, especially because I was also dealing with an internal battle with my own sexuality.” She wanted to write something that was very relatable – a fictionalized intimate portrait of her own life. “I realized that this was an important message for all women, especially the lesbian community, and I wanted to create a heartwarming story about love, heartache, and the challenges that we face in relationships.”
Even as she promotes Lover’s Game, Earle is deep in development of more projects. Up next is The Haunted Mind of an Insomniac. It’s a Hitchcockian thriller that follows writer Terence Cleaver’s haunted dreams from his unfinished novel after a murder in his peaceful Harlem apartment building. Or are the dreams coming from his dead wife, who killed herself in the apartment where he still lives?
Earle says the rapid changes in technology are making it much easier to break into filmmaking, especially digital film for the web. “Even when I started out, things were on tape. Then digital came along. We used to have these meetings at Borders, right about when YouTube was starting. We’d talk about getting the right structure and all. Now kids at the age of like16 are starting to do their own web series, and make their own content. Very advanced.”
She advocates traditional learning to get the basics, yet puts more value on networking and on-the-job training. She says starting as a PA (Production Assistant) and then learning more about each aspect helped prepare her to do her own projects. Even with the various crowdfunding resources like Kickstarter, funding remains a challenge. She paid for Brooklyn out of her own pocket. To grow to the next level takes money for equipment, song rights, better pay for her crew and talent. Like all producers, she is constantly networking, finding ways to expand her resources.
She loves the diversity of the communities who embrace her projects. She writes about the pain of relationships in any form, straight, gay, bi, trans. She delves into the painful complexities of all kinds of love, and how people cope. She likes writing projects that appeal to the LGBTQ community, yet retains a universal appeal. Of Lover’s Game, she says, “I want people to be able to watch it, and for them in some way to understand that there is always hope in certain circumstances. Always hope, and just know that something good is going to come along if you wait.”
Find Danielle Earle’s series and films on Facebook, Twitter, and the following sites:
Brooklyn Is In Love
Mad About The Boy