Sundance 2022 Female Instructors: Meet Abi Damaris Corbin – “892”

Abi Damaris Corbin is a Boston-bred writer and director based in Los Angeles. Corbin’s BAFTA shortlisted live action card “The Suitcase” had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival 2017 and was shown worldwide as an official selection at over 50 festivals. It was distributed on ShortsTV, ARTE and HBO, and won several awards and was nominated for awards at internationally recognized festivals. The cutting-edge technology developed on the project has been adopted as standard by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, with Corbin contributing as a speaker. Outside of production and creative technology, she works with non-profit organizations in urban areas that deal with social and economic change.

“892” will be shown at the Sundance Film Festival 2022, which runs online from 20-30. January. More information can be found on the party’s website.

W&H: Describe the film for us in your own words.

AC: It’s a true story of a sincere rebellion and what it looks like and means for a person to rebel against a broken system.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

AC: I read an article by Aaron Gell: In it, I recognized a story I had lived through with my father. My heart was broken and I had to tell it.

W&H: What do you want people to think about after watching the movie?

AC: What can they do – where they are – to do right by people around them.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

AC: COVID! It added so much complexity to every step of an already complex production, but wow – our team was so adapted to health protocols and innovative in finding ways to create quality with additional communication barriers. I learned to project through that mask!

W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share a little insight into how you got the film made.

AC: Our incredible development partners at Salmira came in as the key financiers. It was their first project as such and they jumped at the chance and took a chance on me because they believed in the story wholeheartedly.

W&H: What inspired you to become a filmmaker?

AC: It’s a way to leave a mark, to change hearts and minds. In addition, I love every piece of art.

W&H: What is the best and worst advice you have received?

AC: Best advice: Give yourself a sulk. When bad things happen – which it will in indie filmmaking – regret it, put one foot in front of the other and move towards your goal.

Worst: On the next project, you can stay true to your vision.

Do not work from a place of fear. It’s easy to do when you’re early in your career and surrounded by people with more power. Stay true to your voice and find a way to make it true within the parameters you have.

W&H: What advice do you have for other female instructors?

AC: Learn to write.

W&H: Name your favorite movie directed by women and why.

AC: Recently I reunited and loved “Little Women” by Greta Gerwig. She took such a familiar story and made it feel new to me and the modern audience. What a company.

W&H: How do you adapt to life during the COVID-19 pandemic? Do you stay creative, and if so, how?

AC: Well, I’ve learned I need people! That’s why I tell stories and where I get all my ideas, so I’ve had to seek them out.

W&H: The film industry has a long history of under-representing colored people on screen and behind the scenes and reinforcing – and creating – negative stereotypes. What actions do you think need to be taken to make it more inclusive?

AC: Do not just say a person’s name in a room; hire them. If they are not ready, train them.

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