Filmmaker Pamela Vergara Heels Her Heart Out About Her Art & Instafame
We Had An Exclusive Q&A With Creative Mind And It Girl AKA @pameluft
We live in the digital age: a time where every person has every opportunity to express themselves in every possible way. 2017 will probably be the year to define the digital generation's ability to unite, reach out to each other and acknowledge individuality as the norm.
We spoke to one of the youngsters about the urge to express yourself through art and what having more than 150k people following you everywhere on Instagram is like.
Meet Pam, an early twenty-something filmmaker and USC graduate from the Bay Area of California - a human with a lot on it's mind and heart:
Hey Pam, how are you doing?
I’m doing great! A little busy because I’m in the middle of graduate school applications, an internship, and classes... but busy is ideal to me. I’m always happy when I have a lot of things to do.
When did you start making films?
I guess you could say I started making ‘real’ films during my first year at USC because that was the first year I got a professional camera. But before that, I’ve been making and editing videos for as long as I can remember. Windows Movie Maker was my best friend as a kid.
If you could collaborate with any director who would it be?
Wong Kar-Wai, Derek Cianfrance, Mike Mills, or more recently, Barry Jenkins. Each of these directors have zeroed in on one thing– telling an individual’s story. When it’s done right, more bases can be touched and more issues can be addressed. Naturally. With care. I want to be able to do the same. Collaborating with any of them would teach me so much about proper and effective storytelling. Narrative aside, though, I would give anything to work with Guillermo del Toro, Wes Anderson, or Baz Luhrmann. Collaborating with them on production design and art direction would be insane.
"Some days, ideas flow incessantly. Other days, I just draw blanks"
Any other creative skills than filmmaking?
I consider myself a dilettante and dabble in a little bit of everything! I remember teaching myself how to use Photoshop on our family computer as a kid, and I would make my own graphics to go with MySpace and Xanga layouts that I would code and post on places like CreateBlog or Blogring.net.
Writing, however, has always been my first love. I initially wanted to be a published author when I grew up, but my love for so many different mediums led me to film– a happy marriage of literally every form of art you can imagine.
Would you consider yourself an artist?
I never really liked saying it before because I wasn’t quite sure if my stuff qualified as art (or at least, art that was good enough). But I’ve been saying it recently. If it’s what I want to be and it’s what I’m aiming for, then why not? I’m an artist.
What weighs more for you: fashion or art?
Fashion is a form of art in itself, so art, indefinitely.
What is it like to have 158k Instagram followers?
It’s weird. And sublime. I still can’t believe it. Trust me, I am as soft-spoken as they come. So in a way Instagram has been a blessing. I’ve been able to become apart of a community of creatives and artists... all through an app on my mobile phone. Some I’ve collaborated with on projects. Some I’ve shared artwork and fashion with. Some I’ve even been able to meet. A few of them even becoming dear, cherished friends in the process.
I think the best part about Instagram and social platforms like it is that (if you approach it this way) it is very non-exclusive. You are constantly meeting people. If you come across someone’s art, fashion, or photography you admire, you comment, follow, and maybe even get a comment and follow back. You create a rapport, a friendship, and days later maybe they see your friend’s work and they comment and follow them, too. There is no limit on the connections you make. Whether it be the friend you make from a mutual friend’s friend or the stranger who commented on your last picture all the way in New Zealand or Mexico. The whole point is that there is infinite room for collaboration.
Was it ever a goal for you to gain instafame or did it just randomly happen?
I created an Instagram account around the time I graduated high school. At that time I was really into doing small DIY projects and finding ways to share my art. Instagram, in a way, exposed me to a crowd that I never got the chance to meet in my hometown. I met other people who were into the same things I was into. I cultivated a lot of creative friendships. Being on there also challenged me to push my creative boundaries– I was so inspired by the content that was being shared by both my peers and established accounts. It wasn’t necessarily about making a name for myself. But being that connected to creativity made me want to hone in on my own. Becoming a ‘public figure’ (though even I don’t consider myself established enough to be dubbed this) was never part of the plan. It really just happened.
"I don’t ever want to speak out on issues where it simply isn’t my place to, (...) so I can bring attention to how “socially aware” I might seem to be. Words are more powerful than we think, even more so with the presence of the internet"
Do you ever have days where you feel like Instagram is a burden to you?
Absolutely. Considering what I want to do in this life, I don’t think there’s any way I can take the platform lightly. Saying the number ‘158k’ itself almost minimizes the fact that there are singular people behind each and every one of those accounts, with their own lives, thoughts, careers, and futures ahead of them. That accumulated number of followers means less in comparison to all the individual impacts you can make with each person you reach. It’s entirely a blessing to have that kind of an audience– especially as an artist. I can’t take it for granted.
Because sure, I want to make films and art. But the long term goal as an artist will always be to get my message across. And there are so many topics and issues I’m passionate about. So much that it turns me into someone volcanic, emotional, and highly enthusiastic. I usually try to be very transparent when it comes to personal issues and insecurities. I don’t do it very often. I don’t do it for the sole purpose of trying to get a certain image across. So on the rare occasion that I do post about something personal, you can be sure that it is something authentic and true. The biggest chunk of my followers are young girls. I feel like seeing anyone that you look up to be vulnerable and honest without any pretense can mean a lot for someone. Knowing that it’s very much possible for those people to have their low moments makes it seem all the more likely that you can get through yours.
And there’s also the fact that you have a platform to educate. When it comes to social issues I care about, I find that it is 100% important to be mindful and informed in what I say. I am a big believer in speaking out for causes but I also grow wary of the crowd that sees this as simply a trend to follow. A hashtag to click. A facade to appear ‘woke’ (this generation’s word for socially conscious). I don’t ever want to speak out on issues where it simply isn’t my place to, nor do I want to take away from the plights of the unfortunate so I can bring attention to how “socially aware” I might seem to be. Words are more powerful than we think, even more so with the presence of the internet. Because we really can reach everyone in this way. It’s important we remember that when it comes to speaking about global and universal social problems. We can’t treat them as trends or pastimes– things to just throw around without any concrete action behind them.
So yeah... it’s definitely a burden in the sense that I take the platform pretty seriously. Haha.
What are you working on right now?
Right now there are two big projects I am working on. The first is a book of poems and various pieces of writing. It was initially supposed to be a gift for some friends, but it wound up becoming bigger than I expected. The second is a short film that started out as a treatment for one of my grad school applications. I’m hoping to get it finished by the end of the year.
Tell us about your creative process:
Volcanic. It comes in bursts. Some days, ideas flow incessantly. Other days, I just draw blanks. But my creative process, at its core, is to write everything down regardless of where I’m at. I have at least five active notebooks right now, each for a specific purpose. Writing things down on volcanic days is a given, but on drier days, it also surprisingly helps. I can’t count the number of times I’ve went back through a notebook and stumbled upon an unused, scrapped idea that eventually turned into something entirely lovely, way beyond its initial lack of purpose.
What are your dreams for the future?
Still trying to figure that one out. I think I’ll quote my Twitter’s pinned tweet on this one– “I want to help people. I want to reach people. I want to be happy with what I'm doing and feel ok with myself at the end of the day.”
Anything else you’d like to say to our bad ass readers?
“Damn the man, save the Empire!”