Introducing first-time filmmaker Laura Checkoway. Laura began her career in the media industry as a journalist. She then decided to make the transition from journalist to filmmaker. Laura talks to us on how she began her filmmaking career and her experience filming her documentary LUCKY.
1. How did you discover Lucky and what made you want to document her life?
Lucky and I met in 2007 on the Christopher Street Pier in NYC. My background is as a journalist so she and her friends invited me to write a story about them and soon I started filming. Lucky has a captivating persona and a lot of fire inside. Her life embodies so many issues that need to be looked at more closely like homelessness, abuse in foster care, and other broken systems. She’s trying to survive yet lives life on her own terms unapologetically.
2. You filmed Lucky’s journey over the course of six years. How did you decide which scenes and/or moments were going to be in the final cut?
It took a lot to figure out how to craft the story and I was blessed to work with some great editors and mentors along the way. We had a lot of compelling footage so it was a matter of honing in on what’s essential to the story.
3. We see Lucky go through many changes in her life in the film. Where there any moments were you felt were difficult to film?
I was rooting for Lucky so it was hard to see her going through it and often getting in her own way. There were a lot of difficult moments, a few come to mind that might be spoilers, like when Lucky goes out to escort at night as well as some moments with her son and her sister’s kids.
4. This documentary is your directorial debut. Where there any challenges you faced? What part of filming and/or editing did you enjoy the most?
I really love observing and connecting with people while filming and then the intricacies and craft of editing; I get why they say the film is made in the editing room. The challenges were ongoing, from physically carrying heavy gear on the subway to self financing the production to following such a volatile protagonist. I’m thankful that I was able to learn the ropes–how to direct, produce and edit–through making this film.
5. What advice would you give to first time filmmakers?
If you believe that the story you are filming needs to be shared, be perseverant and patient and see it through.
Watch Lucky on iTunes.