Yucatán has always been a source of inspiration for creators. And how could it not be? With its superb nature, history, and culture, our state allows our imaginations to run free. For Vanessa Coleman, artist and gallerist turned filmmaker, Mérida was the first place where she instantly felt at home and that, in turn, provided her with a magical impulse to try something new.
Vanessa tells me about how she met her husband swimming in the sea in Belize, her previous work as an artist (creativity has always been an integral part of her life), and her eventual move to the capital of Yucatán.
The plan was to open a gallery in late March, then the pandemic hit. “I’m the type of artist that needs to keep going at all times,” she shares. She tells me about dabbling in macrame but how she also felt ready for something new. Inspired by a series of homemade short films on Netflix, she decided to record “this portion of life, especially for [her] son who is so young.” First, she wrote a poem, then realized that poem was the film. Vanessa saw the opportunity to break free of her usual creative outlets and shoot a short film documentary.
Through the poem and stunning black and white images of Chelem, we are able to see the world through the eyes of Zephyr, Vanessa’s son, and gain insight into how he perceives the world around him. This is how “Outlying Zephyr” was born. While filming, Vanessa tells me she could hear her stepfather, flamenco player Robert van Sluis, playing his guitar behind the scenario she put together. He later created original music for the short. “For me, it’s hair-raising,” she continues with awe. Inspired and empowered, she began submitting her short to film festivals all over the world. To date, it has received 17 laurels including Best Documentary Short at both the Sicily Independent Film Awards and the Madras Independent Film Festival, as well as Best Original Score at the Indie Shorts Film Festival.
Currently, Vanessa is working on an online workshop for first-time filmmakers who want to learn how to navigate the film circuit. Through her experience, she wishes to teach others how to maximize their budget and share tips and tricks that have helped her. On stepping out of your comfort zone and going for it, Vanessa tells me: “We all have creative bones in our body. Create it, believe in what you’ve made, and know that the rest of the world deserves to see it.” Isn’t Yucatán the perfect place for that?
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Editorial by Greta Garrett
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