Sydney Clara Brafman is an award winning writer and filmmaker living in Brooklyn, NY. Her focus drives her to study the human condition, the irony of circumstance, the tragedy of humor and the environments they inhabit with a wicked sense of humor and style. When she's not making movies, she's passionately hating cocoa, removing stage blood stains from her clothing, and enjoying cats on the street.
What do I do best?
You could probably walk past 5 filmmakers a day in New York, and all of them have some special trait that sets them apart from each other. When you’re writing with wit, sometimes you wonder if it’s a little too sick, and in that moment I keep writing. An antagonist has their own story, far more interesting than they’re given credit for. Everyone can be a psychopath, it just takes the right situation. It’s called the “eggshell moment” (I’ve coined the term myself), where someone who’s lived a seemingly normal life experiences a singular event that triggers psychopathic characteristics. Someone can live their whole life unaware of their true nature, until that one moment breaks the eggshell. Hence my company, Squib Films, a moment of impact that blurs reality and fiction. This stylistic attitude can only be visualized with an equally bold atmosphere; strong bright colors, stylistic set design. But with more blood, of course. At least, that’s how I see horror.
What makes me the best version of myself?
For me, humor and tragedy are two sides of the same coin. I’d never consider one without the other. That’s what’s most frightening, how things so terrifying can also be full of humor. Often, you don’t see how difficult it can actually be to kill someone. It can take up to 4 minutes to fully strangle someone, and that’s IF it’s done correctly. Don’t tell me that’s not in the slight bit humorous. That’s an ordeal. What’s going through someone’s head in that amount of time? Well, the victim is probably terrified and begging for their life. But the killer? They could be wondering if they left the oven on. Which not only means they were using the oven to cook something, but that something potentially distracted them from turning it off. There’s a whole plot right there. Being able to casually think about these things while in a Starbucks has really paid off.
What are my aspirations?
I’m in the process of financing my first feature film, which will be my next large project. During that though, I’m really looking forward to continuing with my anthology series of shorts called Tiny Terrors, with the first season being about phobias. I also have 2 films I wrote coming out this year, so keep an eye out for those! One should be released in the fall. After my current feature, I have a second screenplay I’d love to dig into, as well. Overall though, I’ve been playing with the idea of starting an accelerator for other filmmakers. It’s something I constantly wish I had when I was younger, and I love bringing new people on sets and teaching them the absurd codes we all use over the walkie-talkies.
My Biggest Success?
I’ve been awarded several accolades and laurels so far, but most notably would be my mention in Variety Magazine, in honor of its 110th anniversary, Variety selected 110 filmmakers who represent the future of film, media and entertainment. Of course, success isn’t all about awards. I’m also quite proud of learning how to pick locks, subdue someone using pressure points, and play fetch with my cat.
My Most Challenging Moment?
We’re usually plagued by some monumental and menial challenges every day. Getting in a car accident or dropping an ice cube on the floor are both upsetting, but obviously have vastly different consequences, it’s all a matter of perspective. I’ve been in several car accidents, and dropped even more ice cubes on the floor. It’s hard to pin-point a specific moment that changed my life, because I find it hard to make a distinction between something dramatic or mundane. Both can equally change your life, it’s just a matter of how you look at it. I’m extremely grateful for not being involved in anything with earth-shattering consequences, but there’s always the chance they haven’t happened yet. I tried espresso for the first time the other day, who knows what disaster that could cause.
“Well, I didn’t throw up.” - Signifying that although the experience was unenjoyable, it was not an entire waste.
My Favorite People/Role Models?
In terms of filmmakers, I think there will always be a special place in my heart for the Coen Brothers, Tarantino and Wes Anderson, but I've sort of graduated to a more diverse palette and am continually inspired by Lynne Ramsay, Ruben Östlund, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and Yorgos Lanthimos. For literature, I have to credit Douglas Adams, and Daniel Handler with a heavy influence on my style. Honorary mentions go to Junji Ito, Bryan Fuller and the entire creative team behind the Dead Island launch trailer.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
When I’m writing, I like to spend several hours in a place that combines the comfort of my own sofa and the lively atmosphere of the subway. I often find the only place that satisfies these specific requirements is the IKEA in Red Hook. I love to grab a plate of meatballs and kick my feet up in the ultra-cushy display room. There’s nothing more inspiring than watching the people pretend they live in the display rooms. Something about their vulnerability and the facade of a living room is a perfect atmosphere to brainstorm in.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
There’s not really a ton of tools you need when writing, aside from a laptop and software. I prefer Celtx, it’s really good for collaborative writing. What’s been really helpful in the writing process however is Tumblr. I can spend hours cataloguing an aesthetic before I even start writing. I make a page for every script I write, and fill it with thousands of photographs, illustrations, music and texts that build a world. World-building is vital to creating a story, and you need to be able to put yourself in that space easily or else it acts as a road-block. This scrapbook-esque pile of content makes it easy.
My Current Passions?
I’m a hobby-bug, I love to start crafts and activities and then completely abandon them after a month. I’ve spent countless hours enjoying papercrafting, bonsai pruning, playing console games, playing desktop games, playing board games, playing card games, listening to podcasts, journaling, exercising, baking, eating, shopping, 3D printing, wax stamping, couponing, blogging, reading, geocaching, listening to police radios and bingeing tv. We’ll see what I discover next!