Yesterday, director, Naomi Merlain, released her first short film, “The Genesis Project.”
“The Genesis Project” is a 19 minute and 34 second long visual about what it means to live and express yourself as a woman. The entire project was directed and curated by Naomi and her team of four stylists, creative directors and videographers.
Read our interview with Naomi Merlain below to learn more about the production and meaning behind “The Genesis Project”:
S: How long did it take you to film this project?
NM: The entire project was filmed in 62 hours, spread out between 6 days. Everybody that worked on the project did it pro-bono, while in school, right before finals. We would meet Saturday and Sunday from 8 am to 8pm, and then everyone would get a week off and then we would meet again the next week Saturday and Sunday for weeks. Every Monday morning I would wake up physically exhausted…But, in terms of when I personally started the project, I got the idea November 12, 2018, and then compiled by team of four December 5, 2018.
S: What gave you the inspiration to want to tackle this subject in a short film?
NM: The project aims to be an exploration of what it means to be a woman, but viewed through the lens of a reinterpreted Gospel. The project, in a very artistic way, was therapeutic to me because it is my story. When asked the question of what it means to be a woman, as someone who grew up in the church, I can not answer that without bringing God into the discussion. When we were making the script, my writer and creative director and I would actually read through a lot of the scriptures in the Bible. We found that the idea of how people view women in the Bible is misconstrued—how people say the Bible limits women and tells them how they can’t do this and can’t do that. But, through reading, we saw women put in places of power. The Messiah came through a woman. The first person to name God as God was a woman. The first person to witness that Jesus rose from the dead was a woman. We saw that if you look at these scriptures through a different lens, these scriptures, although there are few, empower women greatly. Women are trendsetters. Women stand at the forefront. We wanted to keep that theme and embody it throughout the entire movie.
S: What was your favorite part about filming this short film?
NM: My favorite thing about making this project was the growth of my team and my personal growth. Like I said, I grew up in the church, and the church always asks what’s your purpose, and since I was a kid, I always thought of myself as a molder. I help people step into their purpose and help them grow. I loved working through this project and seeing a lightbulb go off in the eyes of the videographer or the writer or the actors. Seeing their first drafts to their final drafts, and how much they grew put pure joy into my heart. Then, for me, when I made this, I was talking to my mentor and telling him that I had never done anything like this before. I had never directed a short film and I didn’t even know if I was capable, but my mentor believed in me so I thought ‘OK, I’ll go for it.’ Then working through the project, I realized that I had never before had a moment where I was like I prayed for this an now I’m here. Before, things used to just fall in my lap and I would just go with the flow and people would love it. I never really had to work that hard. But I wanted this to be my moment, and because I was inexperienced I had to work harder and I had to pray harder. It forced me to have faith that I never had before because I would get rejected. I got rejected by three sponsors, and I cried about it and even thought maybe if no one else believes in the project I might not have it, but I felt God telling me to get up. He said you cried about it, get up and keep going. We had no money so I learned to work without money…Other people had always seen me as this creative genius, but I just saw myself as Naomi. It was a mixture of being humble but also being insecure. After this project though, I saw God telling me that I was capable, that I could do this, and that was very eyeopening for me. Being able to look at this project and be proud of myself and see for myself that I had a gift was like wow.
S: Do you plan to direct more films in the future?
NM: I do want to be a director, but even just figuring out what that means will be a journey. Making this film was really revolutionary for me because I do this thing where I see things— I’ll read a book or listen to a song, and I’ll get this creative idea in my head that I can’t shake off. People will be talking to me but I’ll be seeing people dancing in the background. I’m talking to you but I’m seeing ‘oh if we put crystals on your face that could mean this.’ And the idea will just nag me until I have to do something about it. Creating for me is almost just trying to give myself relief from that constant nagging, chasing this feeling until the end. So, for this project, initially I wasn’t thinking anything of it and now I am going to be submitting it to festivals, but I didn’t create the project to do that. I just chase the feeling, and I don’t see myself ever stopping chasing this feeling. But I don’t put myself in a box and other people shouldn’t in a box either. The next thing I come out with could be a collection, or a fashion show, or an album.”
You can watch The Genesis Project on Youtube.
Stay up-to-date on Naomi Merlain’s upcoming projects by following her @thenaomimerlain on Instagram.