Truth be told, right now, Dominga Martin is living out of her suitcase between the cities of Los Angeles and Bed-Stuy.
Her home base is Brooklyn. But over the past year, she’s lived on the road, traveling from New York to California to Italy and back. This is the life Martin has chosen; this is her life as an independent filmmaker.
She is always on the move, in pursuit of a new project or fresh setting… or both. And since her nomadic life behind the lens has taken her to some unexpected places (and since she always has a camera in her hand), she figured, why not film the stories of her creating the stories?
Martin is putting the finishing touches on a docu-series entitled, “Diary of a Reel Girl.”
“I thought it would be aspirational for young filmmakers to see the process of the filmmaking, to see that it is not all gravy,” said Martin, a Boston native. “When people watch movies, they see what is all shiny in the end. But they don’t see what it takes to get there.”
Martin said she’s toyed with the idea of filming her own work-in-progress for a few years now. But she decided to push it forward this summer, while she was in Italy participating in the Cinema da Mare Film Festival.
The festival is a months-long competition of international filmmakers that travel across ten regions of the country. The filmmakers are given only a few days to shoot a short film and then they screen their films at the end of the week in a competition for prizes.
“When I first went out there, I had an idea ready for what I was going to do,” said Martin. “But I had to adapt to the actors that were there available to us; I had to adapt to the work ethic out there. And so, midway through, I became inspired by the environment and I decided to do all of the movies in Italian instead of English, although I didn’t speak Italian…
“I started doing charades, all of a sudden,” said Martin, laughing. “I learned to talk in diagrams and imagery. And it was interesting, because instinctively, we were able to communicate! Learning to be so resourceful and to make movies on-the-go really enhanced my craft as a filmmaker while I was there.”
“Diary of a Reel Girl” is an inside-look at Martin as she works through the challenges of making movies in a foreign country with limited resources and a language barrier.
“I was the only African-American out there out of 100 filmmakers. So [how I adapted] to the language is something you’ll see,” said Martin. “You’ll see the difference in work ethic, as far as how we hustle in New York. The spiritual journey was amazing.”
Martin will be contributing as a writer to the Brooklyn Reader where, each week, she will unveil a new episode of her docu-series “Diary of a Reel Girl: Vol. 1, When in Rome.” The first episode kicks off with Martin as she’s preparing to leave Brooklyn for Italy.
“You can look forward to seeing me as a fish out of water,” said Martin, laughing. “You will get a chance to see some of the films, and you’ll see the food!
“My whole perspective on my life here has changed, because I never realized how many people in other countries wished they could be where I am right now,” said Martin. “So many people think New York is the entire United States of America.”
Debut episode of “Diary of a Reel Girl”
Check back into The Brooklyn Reader as Dominga Martin rolls out more episodes of “Diary of a Reel Girl: Vol. 1, When in Rome” weekly!
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of BK Reader.