February 2017 – AJ of the Month

Written by: Fanny Lau

Who: Alayna Silverberg
Hometown: Vancouver, Canada

Sometimes the universe sends a message to let you know you’re exactly where you need to be.

For Alayna Silverberg, the moment she realized that she had found her calling was on the set of her first fashion film at Vancouver’s English Bay in 2014. She recalls, “It was a beautiful shot, the colours were gorgeous. I just stood back and had this moment looking at all these people around me sharing in the joy of this one shot. That was the moment I told myself, ‘Whoa, I think I found my calling’ – so that was really cool.”

I met Alayna a year ago and quickly learned of her passion for filmmaking and love of sci-fi, and her general appreciation of the arts. Shortly after our meeting, Alayna flew out to Toronto for a “whirlwind experience”, as her 2015 fashion film for Elle Canada made the Top 3 and she was flown out for the screening during Toronto’s Fashion week. I remember following along to her adventure on Instagram, and felt inspired by her drive to support other women in film. This was one of the first facets I learned about Alayna, and our friendship has since developed into visits to a cat cafe, conversations about Stranger Things, and deeper talks about life.

“I have incredibly vivid, detailed dreams and I often write them down.”

Her recent labour of love is a short film called Static Alex, a story written and directed by Alayna. The inspiration behind the film came to her in a dream, and she often has “incredibly vivid, detailed dreams” which she would share every morning with her husband Jon. He encouraged her to write down and record her dreams. One dream in particular saw Alayna with the power of static electricity, which caused annoyance not only to herself, but to others around her. She related this to her high school experience and the teenage struggles of self-acceptance and dealing with your critics. “I was able to use what was going on inside of me to be an actor,” Alayna shared, “I kind of think that was the case for Alex – she had this annoying power that was making her feel lonely, or hurting people, and now she suddenly has this power where maybe she can help people.” 

“I think it’s pretty cool to think about my past, and where I came from and how I had so many people along the way mentoring me and supporting me, and believing in me to the point where I started believing in myself. That’s what I feel like that mentor is to Alex, it’s someone to help her believe in herself.”

Static Alex won a $10,000 grant from Storyhive, a digital funding platform supported by TELUS, which focused on supporting the work of female directors. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to be the behind-the-scenes photographer on the set of Static Alex, where I got to watch Alayna and crew in action. Something that was important to Alayna was ensuring a balance of women and men on the cast and crew, which she succeeded in.

“I had so many people along the way mentoring me and supporting me, and believing in me to the point where I started believing in myself.”

One thing you take away after a conversation with Alayna is her compassion for others. “I’m sure other women can speak to this as well, in my personal experience, there’s just been this ingrained feeling that maybe we can’t do bigger things or maybe we can’t do as big of things as men,” said Alayna, “I’m really blessed because I have a husband who thinks that I can do whatever I set my mind to, and if it’s bigger than him, he’s not intimidated by it, he’s empowered by it.”

She acknowledges the great support that  Storyhive has provided throughout the entire process, partnering her with mentors from National Screen Institute Canada to support the development of her production.

Alayna wants to be the change with every film that she creates: “I don’t want to just make a film and create something artistic – I do want to do that part of it, it’s great, but I also want to empower people and help people feel included in the growth that I have. I want to take people along the journey with me, especially women.”

Her advice to her teenage self?

“Don’t worry, everything is going to be alright. Just keep going.”

Static Alex will be premiering among the Top 30 digital shorts by female directors on Storyhive on February 6th at storyhive.com.