While we wait for 'Harbor Island', we were delighted to sit down with Tiffany Rhodes and talk about her experience of life as a filmmaker.

Here’s why you’ll want to sail to ‘Harbor Island’ by Tiffany Rhodes

Tiffany Rhodes is an American filmmaker, writer, director, visual artist, and actor. With over a dozen awards for her direction and writing, Rhodes is known for her combination of surrealism set against realistic and grounded storylines. 

Rhodes has developed a unique cinematic style and has been compared to the likes of David Lynch. She has a strong vision which she weaves through all her work, making use of the richness of her cast, crew, and set design to create dreamlike worlds for us to fall into and in love with.

Rhodes’s storytelling tends to the darker side of people and relationships and weaves intricate stories which hint at an undercurrent of violence in their portrayal of humanity. Her work is known for disturbing and mystifying her audiences – but mostly leaving them wanting more.

Tiffany is now working on her next project, a TV series set to film in North Carolina starring Lacey Caroline.

On September 29th, 2019 Rhodes’s team will host an open casting for the pilot of Harbor Island, created by Tiffany Rhodes and Pamela Trank. Casting will be held from 2pm to 6pm at 

Fuzion Force Dance Complex
3716 West WT Harris Blvd,
Charlotte, NC 28269

Filming is set to begin in North Carolina this December.

The pilot is the beginning of a ten-part mystery series directed by Tiffany Rhodes (Collision, 2018) who also wrote its script. Kimberly Skyrme joined the show as creative producer:

“I have always been drawn to esoteric projects that are derived from true stories that have the ability to educate under the guise of entertainment. That coupled with my dedication to finding strong female driven content and supporting female storytellers Harbor Island ticks all the boxes.  

“Working with Tiffany Rhodes to develop Harbor Island was not a choice but a calling. My instinct drew me to her and the project.” Skyrme is known for her work on Emmy Award-winning Netflix series House of Cards, Unsolved Mysteries, Deep Impact, Hearts in Atlantis, Beloved, The Pelican Brief, and True Lies.

Set in 1992, Harbor Island is a period psychological show including elements that tease at the supernatural. You can expect to see Lacey Caroline as Jamie, a young teen who leads viewers to adventure and mystery on this fictional island. 

Lacey remarked about her role: “I’m excited and honored to work with Tiffany [Rhodes]. Jamie is a brave girl that people will relate to.” Caroline’s break out performance was as Mariah in the 2019 Hallmark Hall of Fame Christmas movie, The Christmas Love Song, directed by Eric Close, and she is currently the NASCAR on NBC Kid Reporter.  

Tiffany Rhodes herself describes that “Harbor Island is a place full of secrets. A place that will make you want to visit and a story you will want to follow. Try as many people do, it’s hard to bury their unresolved issues from the past, and in this series we witness a day of reckoning for many of them. 

“What I find fascinating is the way Harbor Island deals with the idea of a harmonious adolescence, freedom from phones, electronic devices and helicopter parenting. Looking back at the time in your life with romantic sentiments of childhood yet, at the same time, your most horrifying experiences. It’s confessions of your own the truth, the unsticking yourself from the depths of denial.”

Tiffany’s had a prolific career as a director following her directorial debut, Promise Me, which was shot in Sicily. The film garnered both domestic and international laurels including CICI Festival & Miami Independent and was broadcast in France on Art District TV. 

In 2018, Rhodes wrote, directed, and starred in Collision, an existential look into a writer’s mind. The film premiered in Los Angeles in April 2019 at the Laemmle and has gone on to rule the film festival circuit. 

This year, Tiffany wrote and directed The Blackbird Interviews, set in 1982 in a mental hospital where four women all claim to be the same person. This film premiered August 8th on YouTube. It’s rumored that Rhodes directed this film in character as her newest project. Her new movie Matilde toys with the moral lines of filmmaking, and how far is too far to go in the name of art.

All eyes are on Rhodes’s forthcoming movie, Matilde, which critics and industry folks alike are pegging as her breakout project.

Here’s what we’ve heard about Tiffany on the grapevine:

“Tiffany is an enigma. An artist that searches the capacities of the human condition and then twists them into her voice through her characters. She’s not afraid to tackle dark matter which makes her quest for the truth much more potent. When so many artists are looking to be the next someone Tiffany is holding fast to who she is and I believe her stories will stand the test of time.”
—Ryan Kwanten, actor, HBO’s True Blood

“Tiffany Rhodes is a force of nature and a certain rising star in the film industry.  Her voice as a writer and director is very singular, her work demonstrates a maturity that is far beyond her years, and she sticks to her guns. She is definitely one to keep a watch for.”
—Melanie Wise, Artemis Women in Action Film Festival

“Tiffany is a rare bird! The way she thinks about art and film is the way she thinks about life. She treats her art as a way of getting to know all the sides of herself. The layers of thought, intention, detail and understanding that go into her character development and sequencing, blow my mind, not to mention the spectrum of humor she fluctuates between – usually uber-corky or totally twisted and flat-out funny.

“At the end of the day, I don’t think I’ve worked with a more reverent, curious and fun director/ producer, who not only cares about her work but those that help bring it to life. I’m excited for the world to know Tiffany Rhodes and for us all to witness her creative unfolding as an artist in film.”
—Monique Benabou, singer/artist, contestant on The Voice

“Tiffany holds a great presence, both on set and off. She gives you the space to create as an individual artist, while guiding and directing you towards pushing boundaries for the project at hand. It was an honor to be a part of the project, and a joy to be on set with Ms. Rhodes.”
—Megan Marlow, Actress 

While we wait for Harbor Island, we were delighted to sit down with Tiffany and talk about her experience of life as a filmmaker.

Tell us about your history as a filmmaker. How did you start your journey?

I’m not sure we are all not in a movie right now. Question is, who is the director? That’s how I have felt since I can remember – seeing this life as a movie and wondering who’s watching.

My family was kind enough to let me play with our large RCA camcorder and later a much smaller Panasonic handheld. I don’t know where those films are now, but I can tell you I have always loved a good mystery, humor, and the desire to make things uncomfortable.

Who were your early influences?

It’s hard to pinpoint all of my influences, but my mother showed me Gaslight (1944) directed by George Cukor based on the play by Patrick Hamiliton. This film has stayed with me at the top of my mind, in how I witness humans interact and drive their own plots. 

I grew up obsessively watching everything Woody Allen. When I realized he and I shared the same childhood fear of the pending doom of our universe, I never looked back. I would sneak and watch Kubrick and Lynch before I hit puberty and marveled at Coppola’s Godfather.

How did you find working on Promise Me? What did you learn from the experience? 

Top experience of my life. My family is from Sicily, so to be able to go there and make this film hit me on many levels. I fell in love with the cast and the crew; we all still stay in contact. It was making a film with my family – only most didn’t speak any English and my Italian language skills proved less than impressive. 

But we felt each other, communicated better than I have with some people in LA. They love film, truly love it. Unjaded and willing to do the unexpected.

What was it like directing yourself in Collision?

Strange – yet normal. The most challenging part was to be contributing as an actor to the cast, while keeping everyone focused, without losing that soft, intimate feeling. Then detach between my shifting roles. It was a bizarre and beautiful experience. I created this alternate reality for us on set that everyone really believed in and trusted. This was a huge learning experience for me that I value immensely. 

Tell us about The Blackbird Interviews. Where did the concept come from?

I can say this: it’s the beginning of something much larger. Call The Blackbird Interviews an intro or origin story, a peek into a new universe. Take as it is or when the time is right to connect. These four women in 1982 all claim to be Violet Ford. Before the internet and chat rooms, we witness a conspiracy that is hard for an esteemed psychologist to understand. It’s a dream of a larger mind. 

Tell us about your creative process.

Paul Coelho wrote: “Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.” 

The stories I write appear to me in dreams – deja vu pretty much – which at the time seems random. Then I follow the story or the characters where they lead me. I’m seeing, to much of my own humble surprise, it’s not random after all. 

What tips do you have for new filmmakers?

Be you. I see so many people trying to become a checklist of preordained director-like qualities. Screw it; that’s boring. As a filmophile, I am more interested in the people that draw from within. Stand strong in your stories and your process, or it won’t ever happen for you. Be honest with yourself. And most importantly, don’t wait for anyone to give you permission. Start now.

You’re very hands-on with your projects. How hard is it wearing all the hats?

It’s great. I expect people to take a leap of faith in me and my projects. I’d better be the hardest working person on set and know everything that is going on – they deserve that. 

What’s your next project?

Matilde (feature film starring Ryan Kwanten) is in early stages of pre-production with Natura Films, who produced My Happy Family, which premiered at Sundance, and The Bra, which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival. 

Matilde is special to me on many levels: it’s a true crime story that has never been told in a movie about a mass murderer about the dynamic between an auteur female director and her lead actor who breaks out of television into film. It’s set in the 1990s and the characters are my favorite to date. Expect life imitating art and art imitating life in one continuous circle.

Have you worked with mentors in the past? How would you recommend people go about finding them?

Yes. Most mentors have been “life” mentors. But this last year working with Ryan Kwanten on Matilde, I learned so much from him about storytelling & perspective. He’s as talented as he is generous and kind. Working with Ryan showed me how much more I have to give as a storyteller. 

As far as finding a mentor: look around, listen, and watch. Some of my greatest lessons have come from people who didn’t believe in me or had malintentions. Simply ask.

What’s the main mission in your filmmaking? What’s the one thing you want your viewers to experience when watching your movies?

My mission is to leave an audience with questions and more curiosity in their own life and this existence we are all in right now. It should be an emotional experience. And if I do it right, all spectra of feelings should arise. 

Can we expect to see any episodic television from you anytime soon?

I get this question a lot. For now, my focus is film in theaters. Every project should be met with clear intentions, and if a story permits, I would display it on TV/streaming.

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