Having been involved in numerous film projects over the last five years, Hendrix says her favorite to date was a Vimeo Staff Pick short, Grape Soda, written and directed by Justin Robinson. "I will never be able to convey to people the rich gratitude I have from working on that film. It changed me." Hendrix stated in an interview with Christian Cinema. Hendrix met Robinson on the set of the feature film Coffee Shop where he joined the camera department as the 2nd AC. After watching him voluntarily pick up everyone's trash for three days during meal breaks, she approached him to ask about his story. "That's how I typically start a conversation with people instead of asking what they do or where they live. It's immediately human instead of feeling contrived," she stated. Learning of his filmmaking ambitions, Hendrix said she 'felt like a stalker' and watched all of his films online in one night. Drawn to the works' grit and rawness, she immediately wanted to get involved in some way and stated, "I kind of threw myself out there in this desperate attempt to connect with this guy's ideas. I just hoped he would have me."
Four months later, Robinson reached out about a role in his upcoming short and Hendrix was on board. "After we shot the film, it was revealed to me the possibility of creating high-quality, impactful films with little to no budget. In my head, I'm thinking "how is this going to actually turn out well?" Hendrix stated in an interview with Belief.net. "But then the film was incredibly moving and beautiful (due in part to the cinematic genius of the DP Brent Christy). People love Justin and what he does with a story, so they showed up and did the work for pocket change. This was my first experience on the set of a passion project and the common thread between everyone was this desire to serve Justin and serve the story well." Being involved with projects of all scope and scale, Hendrix concluded, "It challenged me to get outside of my comfort zone and actually ask for help from people who may want to stand behind the films I want to make... maybe I'm being naive, but I definitely pick up people's trash now where I didn't think about it before." Hendrix hopes to foster that same kind of atmosphere for the cast and crew involved in her projects.
Using this newly acquired knowledge while understanding the challenges actors face in between jobs, more particularly with female actors, Hendrix set out to begin creating her own content to fuel the creative fire by challenging herself to imagine stories with strong female protagonists. Spending months at a time with fellow actress Shari Rigby, a 'mover and shaker' in Faith-based Hollywood, Hendrix grew to learn of the tremendous imbalance of female opportunities in the filmmaking world. (For example, only 15% of clearly identifiable protagonists were female in 2013's top grossing films. That number dropped to 12% in 2014. And of the supporting roles, only 30% of the speaking characters are women.) "They're the girlfriend, the mother or the wife. Their value is determined in relation to the people they bed, marry, or birth." - Brent Lang, Variety. "This news kind of blew me away even though I later discovered is wasn't so shocking to the rest of the world," Hendrix stated. "As much as acting is my passion, all parts of the filmmaking body interest me. Film is a story-telling engine, and that engine is a direct access to influence." Hendrix hopes to have influence over those numbers changing and wants to see more women in front of and behind the camera, stating, "My hope is to create a set dynamic with as many opportunities for women as there are for men. Women aren't going to get the job because they're women, they're going to get the job because they are just as good as the men they're up against."
After locking herself in a room for 12 hours, the idea for THE STAYING KIND was born. "This is the first project I've written and apparently people believe in it enough to get involved." With the help of friends in the industry and her family connections in Alabama, principle photography is scheduled to begin in November. Production is currently in the process of casting the remaining supporting roles and securing crew members. "I've been living in Florence's head for months now. It's time to tell her story."
Hendrix lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband who only slightly resembles John Lennon. To find out more, visit www.rachelhendrix.net.
GRAPE SODA short film on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/106886061
Women in TV & Film: http://womenintvfilm.sdsu.edu/files/2013_It's_a_Man's_World_Report.pdf
Women Lead Roles in Movies Study:
All photography provided by Elu Productions