For Scottsdale-based Alexandria Rizik, writing has always been a natural aspect of who she is. I recently had the chance to chat with the writer/author/actress/filmmaker while she was in Nashville visiting her country singer sister.
We talked about her current projects, inspirations, and the inherent need to tell stories.
So…you’ve basically been writing since you were a kid.
Yeah forever. It’s always been a creative outlet for me and I’ve been writing more professionally over the past seven years or so. Writing has always been my main focus. It kind of happened naturally on its own.
When did it turn into filmmaking?
A few years ago a family friend of ours had written a screenplay and it was kind of based on something she went through as a teenager. At the same time that she let me read this script of hers I was going through my first real heartbreak and being a writer I always channel my experiences good and bad into my writing. I was like ‘I want to try this, I want to try scriptwriting.’
So I wrote this screenplay that was based on my first real heartbreak, my first real love. It kind of started there and a few years later I wrote my first short film ‘Contentment’ which is now on Amazon Prime. I’m addicted, I caught that film bug.
You directed that as well?
Yes with Contentment I wrote it and acted in it and directed as well so it was a fun experience. It’s the first time I directed anything so it was pretty exciting. I learned a lot from it. I love directing, I definitely want to focus on it more. Writing is almost like second nature to me so I’m always doing it.
With directing it’s more like I get to do it and learn from it. I currently have three short films out. A longer short called The Middle got into Cannes film festival which opened a lot of doors for me for my career in general.
Do you tend to work with the same group of people?
In school, I majored in English but I knew all the film people. The first project we did was an experiment outside of school. I met other people through doing that, one of which is my friend Nate who I do all my stuff with now. He does the cinematography and all the editing for my films. We’re a really great team, we always end up with a great project in the end.
Do you frequently write from personal experience?
There are things that come from a really creative space obviously but there are a lot of things that I incorporate in my writing do come from a very personal space and things I’ve been through. That way I’m able to connect and people can relate to it more.
Is that ever vulnerable for you?
It kind of depends. When I’m going through something I turn to writing, it’s therapeutic in a sense. But it can be an emotional thing because you’re reliving it in a way. It’s a great outlet.
Tell me about your children’s book.
Chocolate Milk is a children’s picture book that I wrote. It’s about a cow who’s teased and made fun of because she produces brown milk, unlike her sisters. Then the doctor comes to the farm and discovers it’s chocolate, so it becomes a huge success. It’s a story about not judging a book by its cover type of thing.
I wrote it a few years ago when I was also running an anti-bullying campaign. I just wanted to get that message out there. It’s so devastating all the sad stories you hear about young people taking their lives because of bullying. Especially with the social media and all of that, the cyberbullying. I wanted to get involved.
Did that come from personal experience?
I’ve never experienced intense bullying that kids go through these days but I remember when I was in seventh grade I switched to a public school from a private school where everyone knew each other.
I didn’t know anyone and I remember it was hard to make friends. This one time, in particular, I remember sitting down at a table, and all the kids kind of looked at me and got up and left. It’s hard, I think everyone has gone through something like that.
Tell me about your writing process.
It kind of depends. I’m bad at structure, I kind of thrive in disorganization. Sometimes I get an idea and I just have to sit down and write it down right away. But I also try to force myself even when I don’t want to write, even if it’s just a page, something small.
Just to stay in the habit of doing it and create that discipline for myself. I keep a journal and I try to write in it every day even if it’s nothing, just to keep the discipline.
What are you working on now?
I’m going to be shooting my first feature film at the end of July, early August. It’s about a group of young filmmakers who are trying to shoot a student film but everything that can go wrong goes wrong.
It’s a dramedy, I’m going to be co-directing that. I’m excited about that. I’m also set to shoot another short film called Synchronicity in the fall that I’m starring in. But other than that I do a ton of writing, I write all the time. I’m currently editing a novel that should be out next year. It’s based upon the first screenplay I wrote when I was 17, it’s called 21 questions. I adapted it into a novel.
I’m really inspired by people and their stories. I like hearing people talk about their lives and their own experiences. I write a lot of coming-of-age stories and just stories about real people. How people have gotten to be where they’re at. I think that’s the most connectable point for a reader.
My main goal is to do independent films, but I’d like to get into television, write for TV eventually. I play around with genre and style, I’ve written poetry, children’s books, films. For some reason, I always end up writing things into a drama but I also love comedy. That’s a challenge so I feel like I want to do it more. I just have to write. It doesn’t matter what it is.
Alexandria Rizrik has a variety of projects in the works. To keep up with the writer and creative, find her on Instagram and at alexandriaroserizik.com