Today we’d like to introduce you to Mackleen Desravines.
Mackleen, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Becoming a filmmaker was not what I set out to do. I have always been a writer/ journalist, but filmmaking fell into my lap in graduate school when I took a screenwriting class. That class led me to take a seminar in film, and I wrote an hour-long pilot. From there, I wanted to create a web series about the struggles of being a part-time professor.
When I graduated, I did just that. I wrote my scripts, made some phone calls to people in the film industry I knew, got a crew, cast actors, and started “The Adjuncts.” I haven’t stopped since. I only grew as a filmmaker from my web series.
I decided in 2017 that I wanted to do a movie. I got an article from my sister about a man who killed his family for the second time and couldn’t stop reading about it. I wrote the script in a weekend (after weeks of outlining, research, and second-guessing.) When I finished the script, I called it “Smoke.” It was my first feature, and I was looking to work with new talent. I wrote found a director that I thought could direct the film for me, but it did not work out in the end. My mentor told me it was time I stepped up and directed the film myself. I was terrified. I refused and tried to find someone else. Principle photography started in days, and I had no director. I felt like Jon Snow screaming, “I don’t want it!” Nonetheless, after talking to other directors, watching more movies, and getting closer to my cinematographer, we agreed to move on with the film with me as the director.
“Smoke” ended up selling out the AMC movie theater and received positive reviews when released in 2018. All the doubt I had from seeing everyone watching went away. This was my destiny.
Now I am working on turning my web series into an hour-long drama, and I have a few shorts I am also working on and look to release next year.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has not been a smooth road. Starting from the time I was filming “The Adjuncts” web series, I had to hold three jobs to pay for everything from locations, food, equipment, etc. Since my cast and crew weren’t being paid, I was always scavenging for people to work on set. On top of all of this, I was a part-time professor myself! I was lucky enough to have so many jobs to cover my bills and pay for other things.
The hardest blow I faced was making “Smoke.” I was smart enough to try to get an investor on, but last minute he pulled the plug on us, and we lost our budget, some locations, and connections to free equipment. Not to mention, we didn’t have a director at one point. I wanted to quit. I couldn’t handle the finances of the film on my own this time due to my savings being tapped out from the first project.
I rounded up my crew and told them the situation. We came together and figured out how we can pull our funds to make the film. Then I called my sister, Berkeley, who offered up most of the expenses to pay for the rest of the film. I maxed out my last credit card to invest in my dream. Finance was the hardest lesson.
The second hardest was realizing ‘sound’ was one of the most essential aspects of the film industry. Because I was so new to film, my web series, the sound in the first few episodes were not very good. I didn’t invest in sound until later, and when it came to post-production, I was devested to see the sound was far from good. The same happened with “Smoke” but not as bad. As much work as I put in with my team, it is heartbreaking realizing people may be turned away from the story because our sound wasn’t perfect. It taught me a very important lesson when it comes to sound production.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Mack Escape Hatch Productions, LLC story. Tell us more about the business.
In addition to making films, I run a production company with my partner Doryan Sparkman. We have done corporate commercials, and we film tv shows for online streaming networks and platforms like Facebook. We specialize in creating visual stories to sell to consumers. We work with businesses to improve their online presence with creative videos that attract customers to their business.
We are most proud of the film we create, of course, but also taking a product and showing customers how it will benefit their lives. A big part of what separates us is we are visual storytellers. Everything we touch has a story behind it, and we are proud to show people what that story is.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
When it comes to luck, I would say it plays a role, in my business, when I meet someone or a client I didn’t expect to meet on a day when I wasn’t networking. Every step towards success came from planning, trying, and asking. I don’t know if luck held me back or thrust me forward.
- Website: www.mackleen.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://instagram.com/boujiemack/
- Facebook: Facebook.com/boujiemack
- Twitter: twitter.com/justmackleen
- Other: www.dsparkmanshots.com
Reuben King for the first two pictures