mini MUFF Profile: Maria Mealla
“I am glad that we are living in an age in which there are multiple outlets through which we can express the need for more female stories.”
The MUFF Society San Francisco returns triumphantly to the Alamo Drafthouse in San Francisco with a screening of Desperately Seeking Susan opening with the amazing local short film, Scratchers. Scratchers looks into the world of the cash-strapped duo, Alex and Charlie. When Alex decides to make light of the situation by spending the last of their change on scratch tickets, neither of them is prepared for the possibilities of what’s next, or their desperation for financial relief.
Scratchers has screened at the Portland Film Festival, and our very own SF Indie Fest, and now we are delighted to feature it at our Alamo Drafthouse debut!
Learn more about the badass San Francisco-based filmmaker behind Scratchers: writer/director Maria Mealla!
LET’S START THIS OFF WITH THE BASICS: YOU!
Maria Mealla: I’m a Bolivian filmmaker based out of San Francisco, California. I originally moved to Texas to pursue a degree in Theater Arts, the path kept leading me to filmmaking, until I gave it a try and immediately fell in love with the craft. After a couple of years of “learning as you go” by making short films, I founded Sad Clown Films in 2010, and have since written, produced and directed feature film Women and Cigarettes, a collection of romantic short films titled Business Affairs, and web series The Push Hard Inn.
I am currently working on my next collection of short films, addressing the lower middle-class conflicts of this day and age. I am an active member of Scary Cow, a Bay Area film co-op that allows filmmakers to share their skills to complete passion projects through work-trade, and the Shorts/ Web Series chapter leader of the SF Film Fatales, an international network of female filmmakers.
TELL US SOMETHING FUN OR INTERESTING ABOUT THE SHORT WE ARE SCREENING!
MM: I spent my first few years out of college chronically broke. A dear girlfriend of mine made a point of showing up with scratchers to “maybe” solve all my problems. It was hilarious and lifted my spirits — mainly because she won something every single time we played. Even though we promised to split all the winnings equally, I never took my share of $2.50 or $5. One afternoon I walked into a corner store to cash in a scratcher and the cashier pointed out a man at the little lotto station and told me he had just won TWO $500 tickets. I immediately noticed and inquired as to why the guy was still playing. The cashier shrugged and said “That’s what he does. Everyday.”
TELL US ABOUT WHY YOU ARE A FEMINIST AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO YOUR FILMMAKING.
MM: I am glad that we are living in an age in which there are multiple outlets through which we can express the need for more female stories. Not only is it disheartening to watch two-dimensional, un-relatable characters, but kids coming of age tend to model their lives after what they see on screen. They want to be “that girl” that gets the boy, and I desperately want to show them that they are just the girl they should be. I want to create hundreds of complex female characters, rich in flaws and gigantic dreams.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT SOME/ALL OF THE OTHER AMAZING WOMEN IN FILM WHO WORKED ON THIS SHORT?
MM: My two lead actresses are my dearest friends in the world. Natalie Conneely plays Alex — we’ve known each other since we were 4 years old and I’ve watched her dominate the stage since she was 12 and getting standing ovations for lip syncing TLC’s “Waterfalls.” Sarah Burkhalter plays Charlie — we went to college together and when I decided that I wanted to focus on directing instead of acting she became my muse. She can play anything, she has impeccable comedic timing, and a superior understanding of portraying multiple emotions at the same time — which is how we experience life, with a mixture of emotions.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE WOMEN WORKING IN THE FILM INDUSTRY?
MM: Women in comedy are KILLING it in the television world and it is exciting to watch their momentum grow and take in so much incredible content. Jennie Snyder Urman with Jane the Virgin, Jenji Kohan with OITNB, Lena Dunham, Ilana Glazer, Abbi Jacobson… Isn’t it exciting that I could keep going and continue to name excelling content?
IF A MOVIE ABOUT YOUR LIFE WAS CAST/CREATED, WHO WOULD STAR AS YOU AND WHAT GENRE WOULD IT BE?
MM: Winona Ryder would star as me. She is 13 years older than me, but that is irrelevant because the genre is magical realism and everyone has the same first name, eats wall scraps, and bleeds perfume. I’d only be concerned that Winona would get bashed by the media for playing a Latin woman.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE ABOUT FILMMAKING YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
MM: Be direct, be kind, always follow your gut and never start a sentence with an apology.
WHO IS THE BEST/SUPERIOR BATMAN?
MM: Christian Bale forever.
IF YOU COULD HOLD ANY GUINNESS WORLD RECORD IN THE WORLD, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
MM: Most hot dogs eaten in a day.
PUT TOGETHER YOUR DREAM TEAM (WITH YOU IN ONE OF THE ROLES, OBVS!)
MM: This is too hard of a question to answer right now. I have thousands of women I would like to work with.
WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO JAM?
MM: “Bathwater” by No Doubt
WHAT MALE MOVIE/TV CHARACTER ARE YOU DREAMING WOULD GET A GENDER-SWAP?
MM: Tyler Durden
RECOMMEND ONE #MUFFAPPROVED FILM FOR OUR BLOG READERS:
MM: Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain
#miniMUFF is our short film program to celebrate local female talent. We do so by screening a short film before our monthly features and highlighting the filmmaker on our blog. Learn more here. Read past mini MUFF profiles here.