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FilmmakersFilmmakers 2024

The Filmmaker Four: Yoyo Blair

By April 29, 2024No Comments

Hailing from Great Barrington itself, Yoyo Blair studied film and anthropology at Connecticut College and began filmmaking life while still in school as an assistant editor on Jenifer McShane’s award-winning documentary feature Mothers of Bedford. After working as PA to a supermodel between London and New York then running restaurants in Brooklyn and London, Yoyo began producing shorts and web series, which have all been awarded, nominated and screened at a range of prestigious festivals worldwide. Yoyo takes a global approach to projects; her most recent short, A Wait, was shot in the US, post-produced in the UK and has screened in Berlin and Cleveland, OH, so far this year. Alongside her creative producing work, Yoyo is a Senior Producer at DDB’s Cain&Abel. Yoyo is also a sought-after artist with a thriving portrait practice. She is currently developing a proof-of-concept piece for a docu-series about regenerative practices in agriculture and beyond.

What it the title of your film in BIFF 2024?
A Wait

What was your first experience with film and how did it influence your first project?
When I was growing up, I was not really allowed to watch films. It was a rare treat and I would get so immersed in the story world that coming out of it was really hard (think tantrums!). So it was both a deep pleasure and quite painful – I loved being carried away into other lives, time periods, experiences. I was a little obsessed and I really wanted to be able to create that feeling. I guess that obsession followed me into flimmaking as an elated determination in the face of ridiculous odds.

My first experience making a film, I was in that sweet spot where you know enough to get on board and take charge and responsibility, but not so much that you can see the madness that’s coming. I think that’s an important place to start from, actually – if I had known, I probably wouldn’t have done it. But because I didn’t know, I jumped in with full belief and energy and I think that is often what makes crazy ideas possible. My first producing role was a six part web series. We shot six episodes in seven days, in six locations, created a fully animated title sequence, wrangled some really incredible talent and did our post between London and Paris. I used just about every favor available. I think not knowing all the pitfalls, just needing to do it and jumping in, meant that there was big vision, bold decisions, agility and hyper-attentiveness that kind of lifted everyone involved to a level of joyful, focused creativity and really paid off in the end. The moment we wrapped, my voice disappeared for two days. Just gone. Done. It was a wild ride but it gave me a lot of confidence to see what can be done on a tiny budget and tight timeframe and with real joy in the making. I definitely don’t want to work in those conditions all the time but I am glad to have done it (more than once)!

Who is (are) your favorite filmmakers?
Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Taika Waititi, Celine Sciamma, QuentinTarantino, Bong Joon Ho, Wes Anderson… the list goes on and is always developing – I imagine we all feel that way, though. That’s pretty cool, to keep discovering new films and filmmakers and one’s taste/mood and who really has a compelling voice for each of us in any given moment.
What are you working on that no one knows about?

I am working on research and funding applications for a docu-series about regenerative agricultural practices. I have a lot of ideas about how it could be made to really help people beyond just putting a film out there for viewing pleasure. I mean, I hope what comes out of this will be beautiful and meaningful. Documentary is new for me as a producer but I am really excited and it feels right.

Who would play you in a movie?
Jennifer Garner…. she has this mixture of elements that create an essence that feels familiar. She’s much cooler than I am but you’re allowed to fudge that in a movie.

What’s your go to movie snack?
Salty popcorn and Junior mints or malted milk balls (chewing quietly).

What’s the film that best describes your life?
Definitely the hardest question – I actually have no idea but I would be very happy if some of my later years resembled Nomadland.