MEMBER MONDAY | Evelyn Sifton
is a filmmaker, professional Cyclist, and an advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusion in sport from Canada now living part-time in Austin, Texas. Learn more about Eve’s world on this week’s Member Monday!
Tell us about all things Evelyn and what brought you to Austin and our creative hub!
I am a filmmaker, a professional Cyclist, and an advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusion in sport.
You are from Canada! What was the driving factor(s) to relocate to Austin?
I grew up in small town Canada, Snowball Ontario to be exact. But I've spent the last 5 years in the Capital: Ottawa. I had finished my undergraduate in Media Studies at The University of Ottawa, but found that while I learned a lot of theory, I didn't learn any skills that I needed to work in the world of filmmaking. I knew I was going to do a film program somewhere, I was at a toss up between Toronto or Vancouver at first. But when I discovered ASoF it just made the most sense. I needed a school that would work around my race calendar, was affordable, and would teach me the skills I needed. The fact I can bike all winter here in Austin is a bonus too.
Tell us your favorite things to do so far here! What have you seen and done that you’ve enjoyed?
“I knew I was going to do a film program somewhere, I was at a toss up between Toronto or Vancouver at first. But when I discovered ASoF it just made the most sense. I needed a school that would work around my race calendar, was affordable, and would teach me the skills I needed.”
Well for one, the cycling here in Austin is incredible. I ride a few hundred kilometers a week and I'm always finding new roads to explore and new sights to see. My second favourite thing to do here in Austin is go to the movies. You have no idea how spoiled this city is for great movie theatres. Back in Ottawa we only have one cinema chain, its large, it's corporate, it's expensive, and it kinda sucks. So I was shocked when I moved to Austin and discovered cinemas like Violet Crown, AFS, and Alamo Drafthouse.
In addition to your passion for filmmaking, you are also a part of a professional women’s cycling team. What’s that like?
It's busy. When I'm not in class or working on a project, I'm on the bike or in the gym training. When the season starts I'm traveling every weekend for races, sometimes it's flying, sometimes it's road trips. But I only ever get to stop home for 2-3 days at a time before I'm back on the road. But at the same time I'm so fortunate that I get to travel the world and do what I love.
How do you balance the two worlds of film and cycling? Would you say you equally focus your energy on both passions? Have you seen or forsee the worlds intersecting for you?
It's more of a juggle than a balance. I spent the last two years getting to where I am in the cycling world but put my filmmaking goals on pause during that time. Part of my reasoning in attending ASoF was to re-focus and kickstart my filmmaking goals while maintaining what I've achieved in cycling. As for combining the two worlds. This summer I will be filming a documentary short series following the new team I've joined, our travels, our racing, and generally the stories of WTF's (Women-Trans-Femmes) and bicycles.
We’re always hearing about the various productions you’re working on in Austin. You’re so new and already such a busy bee! What’s a piece of advice you’d give someone to get connected and involved with the Austin creative community?
Put yourself out there! There are so many great events here in Austin with opportunities to meet other filmmakers and get involved. I've found it's so much easier to make connections when you meet other creatives in person as opposed to over the web. I'm always attending events; industry nights, meet and greets, screenings, mixers/socials, really any opportunity to meet other filmmakers. And when I'm at these events I make a point of meeting everyone or at least as many people there as I physically can. Meeting someone in person gives them a much better sense of who you are and vice versa.
What would you say has been your biggest obstacle as a creative thus far?
Time. I spend 2-6hours a day training on the bike, and usually another 8 hours a week at the gym. And while a lot of my best ideas come to me while riding, it takes up a lot of time and I find myself cramming lots of my creative work into the little bits of time I can find in a day.
How has being a member of Austin Cinemaker Space and utilizing the Motion Media Arts Center facility helped you continue your craft?
“When I'm in that space I get work done. I know I probably sound like such a jock saying this but for me it's like a filmmakers "gym". You are surrounded by other people working hard on their projects and it motivates you to get things done. When I walk through those doors I know I am there to do work.”
It's helped me focus. When I'm in that space I get work done. I know I probably sound like such a jock saying this but for me it's like a filmmakers "gym". You are surrounded by other people working hard on their projects and it motivates you to get things done. When I walk through those doors I know I am there to do work. The free coffee is nice too.
Do you have someone/something you look up to that inspires you to create?
This question is always a hard one for me. There have been so many pieces of media that have inspired me that range across several mediums. From feature films to YouTube shorts, BMX edits to music videos, animation, comic books and manga. I know Edgar Wright's "Scott Pilgrim vs The World" like the back of my hand. I've lost track of how many times I've seen Guy Ritchie's "Snatch". And I'm a sucker for Tarantino films.
From the medium of animation I absolutely love the works of Makoto Shinkai, Hayao Miyazaki, Hideaki Anno, and plenty others. I'm a pretty big Otaku (anime fan) and it definitely makes up most of the media I consume.
With that said, what piece of advice would you give young emerging creators?
Don't wait! My biggest regret was putting my filmmaking goals completely on pause. Even while I working my way up in cycling there is no reason I couldn't have put more time and effort into filmmaking. If you have a camera, or even a cell phone, then start shooting. If you have a laptop or a pen and paper, start writing.
Are you currently working on any projects?
My main focus right now is a short film about the concept of "chosen family" and the LGBTQ+ community. I wrote the script when I realized there are so few queer films that don't centre around queer romance. I wanted to make something that was inherently a queer film, but was about a familiar love and not a romantic one. The film is called "Friendsgiving" and we're shooting this weekend! (Or last weekend when this article goes live).
On top of that I'm working on a feminist, dark, comedy script. As well as preparing for the cycling docu-series project this summer.
Anything else you’d like to share? Shout out? Tell the arts community?
I want to give a shout out to Faiza! When I registered at ASoF I had never been to the space in person. So I had to sort out a lot of the details over email with her. But no matter how many questions and requests I threw at her she was always helpful and accommodating.