DELMAR – Creative partnerships come in all shapes and sizes. For this particular duo, Heather and Hunter Frederick have harnessed the close kinship they’ve acquired over their life as twin sisters and poured it into acting and filmmaking outlets. Young, determined, and passionate of their craft, the Frederick sisters have certainly already started making a name for themselves and are surely just getting started, as several irons are in the fire at the time this article is being written. Turning their penchant for clever storytelling from media giants such as Hitchcock and John Carney, the crucible through which their influences become their own take on the craft is an interesting one.
I had a chance to sit down with Heather and Hunter this past week. What follows is our conversation.
Lucas Garrett: Heather and Hunter, thank you for taking the time today to sit down. Nice to meet you!
Heather & Hunter Frederick: Nice to meet you too, Lucas.
LG: I heard you’re working on a lot of new stuff. Why don’t you tell us a bit about that?
Hunter Frederick: We have a lot of things coming up. We’ve gotten into the film scene in the 518 region, which is really exciting. One of our screenplays just got an honorable mention at the Big Apple film festival.
LG: What one was that?
Hunter F.: That’s called A Little Vagabond. It’s based off the romantic poet William Blake and his poem Songs of Innocence and Experience. We’re English majors; we pulled from that. We pull from a lot of history and English when we’re writing.
LG: Apart from writing, do you have any projects going on?
Heather F.: On the acting side, I have an independent feature film that’s shooting in June in Amsterdam, New York.
LG: What’s your biggest project on the horizon?
Hunter F.: Our biggest upcoming project – endeavor – that we’re taking on is we’ll be directing our first film. This process is just starting, but we have this piece that we wrote together in college, and we’ve been very lucky to meet with the really great 518 Film Network Community. Now we know we’ll have the support to get this short out there.
LG: Who are some of the people you have worked with in the past?
Hunter F.: Spencer Sherry as a producer and filmmaker; Ron Jenkins on Anomaly; Ember Autumnskye on her film You’re So Shy.
Heather F.: I’ve worked with Lora Lee Ecobelli on La Transazione, the short film she did.
LG: She’s a really nice person.
Heather F.: Yeah, she is. I also worked with Chris Gaunt on that film.
Hunter F.: We’ve worked with Cameron Gallagher on The Undoing, and I know he has a really big project coming up which is really exciting. There are so many awesome projects that are in the area. It’s cool to be a part of… have a community …
Heather F.: …where we all work with each other; support each other.
LG: That’s awesome. Everyone you’re naming off right now I’ve spoken with. It shows you how close-knit the area is.
Hunter F.: It really is.
LG: I know it’s like that in music, but I had no idea it was like that in film.
Hunter F.: We got our start in theater in the area. We went to Siena College, and there’s a good theater community there.
LG: Is that where you grew up?
Hunter F.: Yeah. We’re from Delmar. We were born and raised here and love it; there’s so much to offer. Of course, you can go down to New York, and there are a lot of opportunities, but it’s really cool that we have such a great arts scene.
LG: I grew up with three other siblings – none of them are my twin! If I had to work with my siblings in music, I don’t know if I could.
Heather F.: Hahaha.
LG: How do you two make it work, and why did it end up being that way?
Heather F.: The main thing is that being a twin… we’ve had so many shared experiences growing up; we understand each other really well. When we do disagree on creative concepts, we’re good at explaining why it should be this way versus not. We understand where each other is coming from. The creative process is a flow of ideas versus a combative thing.
LG: I think, from my experience, it can be hard not to have that combative nature to it when it comes to siblings. Has it ever happened between you two, or not?
Hunter F.: Not really.
Heather F.: We’re really connected.
Hunter F.: Growing up as twins and being in the arts puts us in the unique position of being set up as storytellers. We’ve had to be in tune with each other our whole lives; we understand the importance of human connection. Doing film, doing theater, and doing the arts helps create that shared experience through the characters you’re doing on stage or watching on screen. It’s really important for us to share that spark of human connection through our performances as actors and our work as writers.
LG: What made you want to get into film?
Hunter F.: The main thing that turned us toward film was the pandemic.
Heather F.: Our whole lives, we were always drawn to acting and the arts; seeing shows. It’s how we always were geared. We really were more into theater, but the pandemic put a stop to the live performance pieces.
Heather F.: So, we started researching more about film; there were so many more opportunities that we could do. It really sparked our interest, and then we found the 518 Film Network. It’s so good and so supportive.
Hunter F.: We met so many people that helped us out. We know so many amazing theater people in the area, too. Dr. Krysta Dennis, who is the producer of the creative arts department at Siena, has been such a mentor for us in connecting with the community on a larger scale for theater and helping us get into our creative endeavors, taking our first step at writing, she was there guiding us.
LG: Heather, what are some of your favorite film influences?
Heather F.: I really love Hitchcock. I’ve always been intrigued by the thriller-mystery that he portrays. And, also strong female characters – Hitchcock always has them even during a time where it might not have been so common. We took a Hitchcock course in college, and it really set my fire for him. I really enjoy thrillers, a lot, and those plot twists that kind of get you out of nowhere. I think a really good example of a modern-ish Hitchcock thing would be the film An Invisible Guest. That’s a Spanish Film. It’s great at playing with your perception.
LG: How about you, Hunter?
Hunter F.: We’re very similar, so I do love Hitchcock as well. But on another vein – another genre – something that is a little bit closer to what we’re going to start out going into… we love John Carney. He’s done Sing Street, Begin Again…
Heather F.: Once…
LG: I loved that film.
Hunter F.: He incorporates a lot of music into his work, and I love that. Just his outlook on a lot of the characters; they have really hard lives, they’re going through a lot of things, but they make it out of that. They see the light in the world even though they’re going through struggles. That’s something that really resonates with me and us.
LG: Perhaps a more complicated question, but as two female filmmakers, do you feel the failure of the Bechdel test makes a film less valid, and if it does, are there any areas that this can be excused?
Hunter F.: That’s a really great question. I think the Bechdel test is an important measure. So many films fail that, and to disregard all the films that fail that as not being good films – some of my favorites fail. In terms of entertainment, a good film is a good film. I don’t think we can write off films that fail. Of course, in order to tell a more authentic story, we do need to take films that pass because women are the majority; we’re more than half.
It is getting better, which is a great thing to see – not even just a representation of women on screen but more characters that are more in-depth. You see a lot of the most interesting characters written that tend to be male characters. They don’t develop women as much, but we see that is changing; it’s really exciting to see.
On the other side, women behind the screen seem even more of a challenge. No women were nominated for the Oscars for “Best Director” this year. We’d love to see more of that. There are definitely mountains to climb, but I think we’re headed in the right direction, which I’m hopeful and happy about.
LG: As two women in the industry, have you encountered anything unpleasant?
Heather F.: We’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by really great people and to work with them.
Hunter F.: On personal interactions, we haven’t. In terms of casting breakdowns and roles that are introduced to us, women are often very sexualized in media. There’re so many roles that are very sexualized. As a young girl or young woman – especially for so many films that aren’t offering payment beginning of your career – there’s the expectation to be sexualized in the film. It’s very common.
Heather F.: Most male roles aren’t like that.
Hunter F.: That’s just something you see. I hope that gets better. I do know that intimacy coordinators are a bigger thing on sets. It’s an actual position and requirement in a lot of films.
LG: What is the role of an intimacy coordinator?
Heather F.: They’ll come on the scene, and if there’s an intimate scene, they’ll choreograph it.
Hunter F.: Like a dance.
Heather F.: They make sure to chat with all the actors involved in the scene to make sure everyone’s comfortable with it so no one has to do anything where they feel uncomfortable but don’t want to speak up.
LG: Is there anything that you want to talk about that I may have missed?
Hunter F.: I think that covers it! Thank you!
LG: Heather and Hunter, it was so nice meeting you today. I’ll be in touch soon!
Heather and Hunter F.: Thanks so much, Lucas!