#BonfireStories — Introducing Filmmaker Natalie Jasmine Harris
Introduce yourself to the world.
Hi! My name is Natalie Jasmine Harris and I am a filmmaker from Maryland. I am an undergraduate film student at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. My most recent short film, Metamorphosis, is a queer coming of age story and has screened for a wide array of film festivals.
- When it comes to storytelling, where do you get your inspiration from?
I began my storytelling journey by making documentaries. I started seriously making films after the spark of the Black Lives Matter movement and ever since then, I have been passionate about finding ways for my art to impact social change. My difficulty with documentary storytelling, however, was that I rarely had the chance to tell my own truth. Now that I have the tools for more narrative filmmaking, I am inspired to create the kinds of stories that the younger version of myself would have benefitted from seeing.
2. What was the inspiration behind your recent film Metamorphosis?
Metamorphosis was inspired by some of my own personal experiences, but it was also heavily inspired by my own fantasies about things I wish I could have had growing up. My film tells the story of a young girl who is days away from leaving her hometown for college. She has a lot of insecurity when it comes to her sexuality and turns to her support system of best friends as well as her mother for guidance. When I was in high school I didn’t know who to turn to for this kind of support, but I would often imagine what it would be like to have another queer best friend and to be out to my mother. So, in Metamorphosis, I channeled all of those figments of my imagination/fantasies into the reality that my main character, Amani, experiences. I hope that in using my art to introduce the things that I once imagined for myself, those fantasies can become possible for someone else.
3. Tell us about being vulnerable in your work? Do you think there’s a line?
I have been vulnerable in my artwork for a long time, but I am rather new to the world of sharing those works with the world. Writing poetry is what first taught me how to express vulnerabilities in my art — some of these poems I shared with others or performed, but many of them I keep to myself. I think the line is wherever you as an artist draw it. You are in control of how much of yourself you share through your work and to with whom.
4. What is the toughest challenge you’ve faced so far?
For me, this relates a lot to the last question. One of the toughest challenges I’ve faced is, in fact, growing comfortable with being vulnerable in my work — especially within a predominately white institution like NYU. It can be quite uncomfortable to present my personal and vulnerable stories for evaluation alongside many of my classmates; many of whom tell stories about things that are completely detached from their personal lives. While this has been a challenge, I have found that the impact I’m able to have on other people through my art is well worth the discomfort I may face in the classroom, so I persist.
5. What kind of world do you want to see now that your film “Metamorphosis” is made? (For clarification) We know that there is a message you as a filmmaker are conveying to your audience, what is that message?
Now that my film is made, I want to see a world where parents of color are supportive of their queer children. I also want to see a world where girls are not shamed for having desires and being sexual beings. I have had the pleasure of screening my film in front of quite a few youth audiences and a lot of young girls have come up to me afterward to talk about my film. They mentioned how validating it was to see girls talk openly about their sexuality because that is not something they see on screen often.
6. What would you say is your unique responsibility as a filmmaker?
As of now, I think that my unique responsibility as a filmmaker is to continue sharing my stories in an effort to provide validation to other people who are going through similar situations — especially my fellow people of color, women, and members of the LGBTQ community.
Lastly, How can others reach out to you and/or stay informed about your upcoming projects?
You can reach me through email: firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow my website as well as my social media for updates on my work: nataliejharris.com and @nataliearising (IG & Twitter). Metamorphosis will hopefully be available online for viewing soon!