TFF had the pleasure of meeting up with the clever and humorous Caryn Hayes. Caryn is a Fab Femme making her mark in Hollywood on her own terms. She received an Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series award for her second series, “Breaking Point,” from the 2011 Los Angeles Web Series Festival. To date, "Breaking Point" has been nominated/awarded over 20 times - including nods for Best Drama and Best Directing from the 2012 International Television Festival.
Her most recent web series, a relationship dramedy dubbed “Entangled With You”, has already been the recipient of five awards. Let’s not forget that Caryn also produces her own work under her multimedia production company, Hardly Working Entertainment (http://HardlyWorkingEnt.com).
The award-winning director and writer from New Orleans (now Los Angeles resident) premiered her latest short “Clean Hands” earlier this year at the 2014 Pan-African Film Festival before taking it through the film festival circuit with screenings at The Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and the Women’s International Film & Arts Festival.
TFF: What was the LGBT scene like growing up?
Caryn Hayes: I wasn’t very active in the LGBT scene while growing up so I can’t say I had any particular experiences growing up in NOLA. I do miss home because of my family and friends. The profit I make from my work goes right back into my projects so I’m not able to visit as much as I’d like.
TFF: How do you like living in the Los Angeles area?
CH: It was hard making friends out here. I came to LA for an internshipand knew one person. Everyone else just seemed to be constantly hiding behind a facade. Eventually I came to know like-minded and genuine people.
TFF: Tell me about your first film experience.
CH: The first film I did I wasn’t the director but I did write the script. I always was inspired to write. Even at a young age I knew whatever I did it had to be something I would be able to express myself creatively. After taking a few media classes I fell in love with production and immediately began coordinating shows and filming for friends. At that time web series were a new wave of entertainment with the film guild on strike. It opened the door for people like me to take charge and get their work out there as oppose to relying heavily on the traditional route of submitting a film to Sun Dance and hoping to get noticed.
TFF: What did you want to achieve when writing and directing Clean Hands?
CH: I wanted to tell a story about a couple we can all relate to. They love each other but have completely different views of the world. This turns problematic situations into devastating blows as they face a terminally ill father, homophobic family members, and different religious perspectives. This story isn’t romanticized, but there is a beauty in seeing two people wanting to survive together with so many odds against them.
TFF: Did it take long to film?
CH: No actually. From the time I had the idea until it was time to film the process took 3 months including script writing, casting, and location scouting. I was applying for a directors program and they wanted a short submission. I took this opportunity to create my first high quality production. My focus was to create something simple, relatable, and powerful. I didn’t get into the program but the work I created was a reward in itself.
TFF: What is the message behind Clean Hands?
CH: There isn’t one definite message I wanted my audience to leave with. This film will give you something to leave with depending on your perspective, but it is based on the idea of unconditionally loving the person you have chosen to be with.
TFF: What would you say is your favorite book?
CH: I use to read so much, but now it’s very far and in between. Back in 97 though I could read two books in a day! No joke don’t know what happened lol. One particular book I enjoy reading over and over again is Remembrance by Jude Deveraux. It’s an old romance novel and may be some of an influence in my films.