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SYFY short 'Faces of History' is a meditation on 'challenges and obstacles' overcome as a woman
In honor of Women's History Month 2021, SYFY and Tongal, a global community of content creators, invited three women animators and filmmakers to create video shorts that represent their experiences through the lens of science fiction and fantasy.
Starting March 1, these three shorts will premiere on the SYFY network throughout the month — and beyond. To further celebrate these original shorts, SYFY WIRE got in touch with the creators in order to break down their work and take a closer look at what inspires them. First up is Valerie Thueson, creator of "Faces of History."
Tell us about yourself!
I am a video/film producer and director. I’m originally from Arizona and moved out to Los Angeles about 5 years ago. I have been working on commercials, music videos, and short films since I was in high school, but thankfully they have improved in quality over the years.
In 2020, despite the pandemic, I went ahead and started my own production company, The Opposition Party, with my partner Noah Miller. Our company has been profitable working on commercials, music videos and we currently have our first feature film in development. I also spent this last year decorating my apartment in a Victorian aesthetic for others to rent out for shoots and am now working on opening a warehouse as another rental space.
Tell us about your piece. What inspired you and what does it mean to you?
When I saw that Tongal was working with SYFY to put together something for Women’s History Month, I knew I had to be part of it. Our company has created various SYFY logo idents in the past which is always fun for us, but this time I felt inspired that I could have a voice for all the women that would see the piece.
What about this piece makes it a reflection of yourself and your love of genre?
This piece allowed me to not only speak to different genres, but also allowed me to reflect on the different challenges and obstacles I have overcome as a woman as they relate to those genres. Like Lieutenant Ripley, I have worked through many battles in my field and continued to prove myself. Like the Bride of Frankenstein, I have preserved to be the main character of my own story. Like Spider-Gwen, I have taken on new opportunities to make loved ones proud. Like Doctor Ryan Stone, I hope to take my knowledge and experiences to advise other aspiring women. Like Professor Louise Banks, I have prevailed even when my goals seemed hopeless. Like Sarah Connor, I have never backed down when I was met with difficulties and became a woman who could always save herself.
Not only have the powerful women I have seen on screen influenced me, but the incredible women I have worked alongside on set have made me the woman and the producer/director I am today.
What and/or who inspired you to become an artist?
My initial inspiration to enter the world of film, actually came from World War II propaganda. The art and psychology that went into making the iconic posters like “It's a Woman's War Too!,” “I Want You,” and “United We Win,” lit my desire to work in advertising. From there I went to planning, filming, and editing videos for my high school which made me want to pursue commercial production.
Once in college, my short films and video projects made me realize my talent for producing. Once I started producing music videos, commercials, and short films I realized I was not only organized, but my creative input was valid which has led me to directing more often. Through every video and project, I get inspired to understand all the production roles and to continue to make new and exciting projects.
What do you love about genre? Tell us about some of your favorite works and why you love them.
I have always loved psychological thrillers, those of the '90s have a certain look and quality that I have always been intrigued by. The Silence of the Lambs, American Beauty, Se7en, Basic Instinct, The Crush, The Game, Devil’s Advocate, Dead Calm, American Psycho, Disturbing Behavior, and so on. They all have these twisted and off characters that I find so fascinating to watch unfold on screen in juxtaposition to all these characters that are seen as “normal” in comparison.
Of course, I always have to talk about my love for Alien when I have the chance. I always thought the movie was revolutionary for its time. The spaceship set, the space suits, the practical effects, the crew’s personalities, and relationships, and the powerhouse that is Ellen Ripley were all reasons to watch again and again. However, when I was presented the opportunity to produce an Alien short film for Twentieth Century Fox in honor of the 40th anniversary of Alien, I discovered a whole new love for the original film we were looking to emulate. Suddenly I had to find a way to help my crew come together to create a story worth seeing and hearing, like that of Alien, but with a micro-budget. I am so incredibly grateful to have had a small voice and played a role in such an amazing franchise. Plus creating our short, Alien Alone, allowed me to meet so many skilled individuals that I still have the pleasure to work with.
What women characters do you feel a connection to and why?
Once I found Silence of the Lambs, I always had a connection to Jodie Foster’s character Clarice Starling. I loved to see her evolve over the course of the film. She seems naive and unsure of herself at first, even though she is intelligent and quick-witted. Clarice is a pretty woman and constantly spends the film trying to prove herself. She is a woman trying to fit in, in a male-dominated industry. Over time I think she starts to discover who she really is and who she wants to be out in the “real world.” Clarice is empathetic even to those who are widely screwed up and goes above and beyond, even when she is scared.
What does being a woman mean to you?
I have always loved being a woman and all that comes with that. I am intelligent, clever, funny, beautiful, loving, organized, caring, practical, personable, creative, and more! I think when I was younger, it was really hard to see all those things in myself, and it still can be on certain days, but it has become a lot easier. I think that is in part because of having so many honest women on social media right now who are not scared to talk about anything and everything which makes my problems feel very relatable and reminds me that none of us are alone. The other helpful part is the amazing women I have around me, family, friends, clients, and crew. All these women are inspiring in their own ways and have lifted me up when I needed it the most.
So to be a woman means to embrace all the amazing qualities I have and to find ways to help other women see their amazing potential too.
Check out Valerie Thueson and our two other creators' work below, as well as on SYFY.