Dreams do not come without sacrifice and both give up their posh-high rent N.Y.C. apartment-living for a retreat to parent’s digs plagued with young siblings and no privacy. “Eros ultimately rules and inspires their solution to ‘being together’ but not without hilarious situations that involve getting to know their neighbors habits and pets just a bit too well! However, all is well that ends well and they land in new careers paths --- still madly in love.”
At a run-time of 20 minutes, the film was such a hit; it won an Indie Fest Award for the first-time filmmaker.
Susan Turner says, "The Mattress Hustle is a funny, touching and sincere look at a young couple who are creatively trying to find themselves—to discover and capture their dreams. Comedy historically has been a means for shedding light on some of our most vital topics. The extended family existence historically has been a way that young people were able to maintain a quality of life when goals required sacrifice. The combination of the comedy and the situation is the pleasing palate of The Mattress Hustle.”
She adds that launching from young adult hood into life is a road that comes with bumps and detours. The young couple in The Mattress Hustle is no exception.
“As director, I used the image of a song to guide me through the line and the image of 'shining the proverbial light on the end of the tunnel'—to drive the script. “The ballad was entitled, ‘I Miss the Hungry Years,’ I remembered hearing this song years ago and the lyric reminisced fondly … ‘the lovely long ago…we didn't have a dime … the days of me & you …’
“When I approached The Mattress Hustle directorially,” she continues, “I hoped to capture the delight that young—struggling---love uniquely reverberates. As art imitates life or vice versa depending on your point of view. The Mattress Hustle production process is also a product of extended family. The vibrating energy from Vanessa at the helm of this project connected people from various walks, generations, skills and talents. The whole process was and continues to be inspiring as The Mattress Hustle has ultimately helped us see and understand how we are intertwined and why.”
The 29-year-old Vanessa recently gave some insight into what it was like making her first film. She’s a true go-getter with bright ideas and someone who prefers New York City over Los Angeles.
Q: Did you always want to be a filmmaker?
A: Filmmaking has always been an interest of mine. My parents are cinema enthusiasts and raised me to share the same passions. What I had always wanted to do was to write film scripts and produce.
Q: How did you get started?
A: When I first came back from living in Venezuela, I needed to make some quick cash and I called a friend of mine that worked in film production. One thing led to another and I was working as a production assistant on commercials for Pepsi, Proactive, The Gap, etc. I really enjoyed the film production working experience and paid close attention when I was on set. Soon after, I began the relationship that the film is slightly based on. As a break and distraction from working on my Master's thesis, I would work on the script for The Mattress Hustle. In May, I graduated and by June, I was scouting out a crew and conducting reading of the scripts.
Q: Why did you decide to write this particular script?
A: The Mattress Hustle is slightly based on my friends and I and our life in New York City among rising rents and job loss. Rather than consider the issue in a dramatic light, I thought comedy would be a better genre. Also, for some outside of New York, who may not be aware of the housing situation, I thought this would be a timely and enjoyable way to raise awareness about a serious social issue.
Q: What was the chemistry between you and your director and actors?
A: I was so blessed to have an amazing and dedicated cast and crew. There was a very organic energy amongst us all on the set and we genuinely enjoyed each other's company despite long hours and arduous scenes. The Director, DP, and I shared a similar vision on how we saw the film played out. In fact, we built and improved on each other's ideas.
Q: Did you have any unusual difficulties during filming?
A: Film production is the metaphor for Murphy's Law, whatever you think will go wrong, definitely will. One moment of panic occurred when our Assistant Director/ Assistant Camera was locked in the bathroom. The Director had to dismantle the knob to get her out.
Q: What lessons did you learn as a first-time filmmaker, and what advice do you have for other first-time filmmakers?
A: I was very lucky to work with people who were very supportive of my vision and idea but who I also had great confidence in getting advice. As a first-timer, it is important to have a system of support but to not be shrouded and deaf. Be open to other points of view, especially from those who are experienced.
Q: Will winning an award from the Indie Fest help your career and help promote your film?
A: Winning an award at the Indie Fest will certainly help my film stand out and give it greater weight in a competitive field.
Q: What's your next project?
A: Currently, I am working on the feature length version of The Mattress Hustle and another feature length slightly based on my family's experience in the United States.
Q: How closely did the characters resemble you?
A: The characters in the film are a well-balanced mixture of me, friends, and ex-boyfriends. Olivia is the character that resembles me the most. I am interested in international development and poverty alleviation. I think she and I share similar attitudes when it comes to relationships. Rather than leave James and find someone else, she recognizes the significance of what they have and even though the situation is stressful, it is temporary. The male characters resemble the men in my life -- both romantic and friendly.
Q: How long did it take to make the film?
A: The film was shot over three days, one day of B-roll, and three months of post.
Q: How much money did it cost?
A: I won't give an exact figure but it was made for the less than $10,000.
Q: Where was it shot?
A: The Mattress Hustle was shot entirely in New York City and predominantly in Harlem. Many of the interior bedroom scenes were shot at my home and the homes of friends and neighbors.
Q: Did it turn out the way you envisioned it?
A: The film is an even better version of how I envisioned it.
Q: Are you and the director close friends?
A: The Director and I are related by marriage. Susan Watson Turner is my sister-in-law.
Q: Do you have a full time job?
A: I work freelance in art administration and filmmaking
Q: Why have you not relocated to L.A., the so-called film capital of the world?
A: I am a native New Yorker, which means by definition that Los Angeles is not my town. The film Annie Hall deals with the N.Y. vs. L.A. rivalry best. Sure, the climate of L.A. is enticing, but I enjoy the summers more in N.Y. because you have to wait damn near 6 months to get it. So, we appreciate them more. N.Y. is loud, aggressive, pulsating with energy. There is a rhythm to everything here. From the way the lights change on First Avenue to the manner in which people ebb and flow amid the sea of bodies walking down the street. There is a tremendous irony to the city.
Q: Such as?
A: For example, you are constantly surrounded by people but can feel terribly lonely. Or that the diversity of people often makes us terribly intolerant. New York to say the least is just stimulating. L.A. is not even the opposite of N.Y. because it doesn't even have enough qualifying characteristics to compete. It's too spread out and there is a lack of genuine human connection; human touch. You have to drive everywhere and sit in a car for hours just to get a Starbucks. The demographic segregation harkens back to the antebellum South. And the people are just not as sharp. When I go to L.A., I feel like I am in, as my N.Y. friends and I call it, ‘La-La-Land.’ You cross the county line into L.A. and you have been transported to an ulterior universe where the reality of the outside world cannot penetrate. It's just bazaar.
Q: So, bottom-line is?
A: I enjoy L.A. in bits and pieces, but I could never live there. I will always prefer to live in a place that is by definition: The City.