t 25, Erica Watson has enough accomplishments for someone twice her age. This native Detroiter has a bachelor's degree in music performance from Wayne State University and a film production company (Hyphenation Nation Productions) that has produced 10 short films to date. And this month, she will graduate from the University of Southern California, where she currently lives, with a master's degree in film.
But hold your applause, as she's only just beginning. Watson will screen her newest short film Roubado-which she wrote and directed-on May 19 in Los Angeles before it shows in the summer film festival circuit.
Looking through her creative lens, Watson shared the story behind Roubado and her filmmaking process. Action!
What's the focus of your newest film, Roubado?
The film is about a young Afro-Portuguese photographer named "Alain"-a 16-year-old male who's sort of navigating his way through his loss of innocence as he deals with his mother's new boyfriend.
How does the film deal with loss of innocence?
I don't want to give away the story, but there are some difficult things that Alain goes through at the hands of his mother's boyfriend that opens his eyes up to the world in a way that cannot be taken back, and he has to make some very difficult choices.
Where did you get the inspiration for the story?
About two years ago, I was at Cannes (International Film Festival). I was with my best friend and film partner, who is also from Detroit. We were walking down the street and we saw this 16-year-old Afro-Portuguese photographer, and he had the same camera that my friend had. He didn't really speak English, but he started taking pictures of us, and we became friends. I still talk to him to this day. It was my first time going to Europe, when I was 20, and seeing Black people who look like me, and have completely different stories, and they spoke different languages. It just blew my mind.
So as I talked to him and became his friend, I thought it would be interesting to tell a story from the point of view of a character who is similar to him, but not based on his life.
What's your favorite part of the filmmaking process?
Seeing something that you wrote come to life. I was watching (Roubado) the other day, and I couldn't believe this thing that existed in my head, now exists in real life. We actually traveled to France and shot parts of this movie. Even small details have come to fruition. It's a powerful thing.