Books were a very important part of my childhood. TV had not been invented so we learned from books and listening to the radio. And…
Among the artists and creators that hail from Topanga are a filmmaking sister duo: Claire Andrew and Lily Bleu Andrew. At the young ages of 24 (Claire) and 21 (Lily), they have already produced several short films and one feature-length film titled Max & Me that was filmed partly in the heart of Topanga at our very own Topanga Community Center.
After years of writing, acting, and movie-making throughout their youth, Claire and Lily realized they have quite a lot of stories to tell; so in 2018, the Andrew sisters formed their own production company, The Wildflower Sisters Productions. Claire says, “It was a natural step for us because we were wanting to make films and tell stories that are important to us and just needed the opportunity. So, we made the opportunity for ourselves by forming our own company. We kinda just leapt into the unknown and figured it out on the way down.”
The sisters have a highly collaborative writing and production process and work together as if nearly of one mind. As close sisters, their shared creations emerge in an uninhibited and encouraging way.
“We count ourselves lucky to have such a great writing partner in each other. We are never self-conscious about pitching ideas to each other,” Claire continues. “Usually, we break down the outline together and divvy up scenes to write and then edit the drafts together. Every script kinda comes together in a different way though. Depending on the story, how we complete the first draft can be different each time, which has been interesting. Sometimes we divvy up scenes, or whole acts, or we write for certain character’s dialogue. It’s always a unique experience.”
While both of the sisters performed in plays at Theatricum Botanicum and with Topanga Youth Services throughout their younger years, Lily is the featured actor in their own productions. She is versatile, with a strong presence and a lot of experience. Her film roles range from an Old West cowgirl, to a teenage ghost, to the house sitter in their recent thriller short.
Claire directs and edits the films. With a lifelong passion for photography, Claire has an eye for angles and lighting, and builds mood with carefully selected color palettes. She is a gifted editor, always balancing the essence of the story with artful choices.
Claire and Lily had a childhood full of exploring the creek, rescuing animals, and making films with friends. They were part of a homeschool group and grew up with a lot of freedom. They were always inspired by the community of artists around them. When asked about their youth in the canyon, the sisters had this to say: “Growing up in Topanga gave us so many opportunities to try new things and be creative, like performing with Melanie Kareem’s ukulele band and belly dancing at Topanga Days, fundraising for “Topanga Stands with Standing Rock,” making short films for the Topanga Film Festival, horse riding through the canyon, acting at the Theatricum and working at their Halloween Boo-tanicum, learning pottery with Kirsty Iredale, writing and directing a play of Anne of Green Gables for Topanga Youth Services, and even filming our first feature film at the Community House and Topanga State Park. We are so grateful to all our mentors, teachers and the people who constantly inspired us growing up in the canyon.”
The Andrew sisters learned about filmmaking by jumping right into making their own movies. About their earliest creations, Lily said, “As kids we were constantly making short films. Our friends, family and pets were the actors, Topanga was our set. Zombies roamed the canyon, cowgirls saved horses, medieval maidens discovered they had magic…all in our backyard. These days of playing and experimenting taught us so much about filmmaking…like how schedules are important (especially when your actors have to leave mid-shoot for surf camp and you have to rewrite your script on the fly)…continuity is also important (like when characters’ outfits accidentally change from shot to shot mid-scene)…also how to make realistic wounds from putty and fake blood (very important).”
These last couple of years have called forth new and more diverse voices in the movie-making industry. As young women, Claire and Lily have recognized the current shift and have taken the initiative to create a platform to tell their stories. They are using their voices and catching that wave of change. They are each armed with a solid writing partner and clearly have all the skills needed to continue to produce great films. They are already in pre-production on their next feature film and are doing their best to move forward while keeping everyone as safe as possible during covid. Check out thewildflowersisters.com to watch a few shorts and to keep an eye out for their upcoming feature. Their 2020 release, Max & Me, is a heartwarming coming-of-age love story, available to watch now on Amazon Prime. The Wildflower Sisters are just getting started.
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