Rebecca van der Meulen is a Brooklyn based filmmaker and visual artist. Her films mainly focus around real-world stories, looking at topics such as reproductive rights and drug addiction through both documentary and narrative work. Before graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Cinema & Photography from Ithaca College, she filmed and produced a short documentary in West Virginia about the opioid epidemic ravaging the state. The film, titled ‘Out of the Pills’, was nominated for a Student Emmy Award in 2019. She was also Director of Photography for another short about food deserts in Baltimore, MD, which is currently streaming on PBS. Her latest film ‘To Wade or Row’ portrays an underground abortion clinic, looking at the possible future of reproductive rights in America should Roe v Wade be revoked. Rebecca also works as a technician in the lighting and camera departments on both commercial and narrative sets. One of her first professional sets was as an electrician on a feature film shot in 2017 with an all-female crew.
Her film, To Wade or Row, is part of BIFF 2022.
What was your first experience on a film set?
“When I was 11, Ang Lee came to New Lebanon, NY, to film ‘Taking Woodstock’ and, just like everyone else in town, my family signed up to be extras. After getting terribly lost in the massive background wardrobe department, I remember going to set for our scene and marveling not only at the equipment but also at just how many people were working there. As it was a large crowd scene, we were all split up and I was assigned a fake grandfather for the day.
Then, when I was 17, I got my first job on set as a PA on a shoot in the Berkshires before heading off to film school a month later. The following summer I worked in the lighting department on my first feature-length job with an all-female crew in Chatham, NY. I turned 19 on that set, much to everyone’s surprise. One of the actors even turned around and shouted “who here is 19???” when he read the number on the cake they had bought. It’s incredibly exciting to be a part of BIFF this year, especially as all of my early on-set experiences were in The Berkshires and Columbia County. ”
What was the first film you directed/wrote?
While in school, I wrote and directed a short film about a man trying to find food for his now-zombified little sister in a post-apocalyptic world. We filmed in a junk yard over a long weekend with a 15-person crew and made a lot of mistakes along the way. ‘To Wade or Row’ is my first film in the festival circuit, and was shot in March 2020 as my senior thesis at Ithaca College (we actually wrapped principle photography the day our school shut down for the pandemic).
Who is your favorite filmmaker?
Oh, it’s so hard to choose! I’ve never been able to pick a favorite director (or movie even for that matter) so I’ll just say I was struck by Lynne Ramsay’s directing style when I saw her film Ratcatcher a few years ago.
What are you working on that no one knows about?
I’m currently in the process of writing two features, with plans to move them to development soon. In the meantime I’ve been working in the camera and lighting departments on a bunch of sets, though there are a few NDAs so I can’t say too much…