Forget about actress-waitress or producer-bartender and rather meet director-priestess Cartter Evans — a woman who is redefining what it means to be an entertainment industry multi-hyphenate.
When creating her short film, Wake, which is set to hit the festival circuit this year, Evans embraced her priestess training and years of studying the Divine Feminine to tell a story that came from deep inside her. Instead of the traditional approach of picking a topic and writing a script with a beginning, middle, and end, Evans “got witchy” taking ritual baths, meditating, dancing, and rolling around on the floor using sacred herbs and ceremonial fires to bring forth her story. “I wanted to use every part of me in the process — my body, my voice, my words, my movement, all my gifts,” she explains. “I wanted to share all of this with the world somehow in a film that was the truest expression of me.”
Evans’ creative process for Wake was very different from how she’d been taught to make a film. She tapped into her intuition through her priestess practices and worked with the elements, nature, and goddesses in a process that was often unconscious to her. She channeled messages and visions for about six weeks, and when she finally put the pieces together, wrote her film in just two days. “I learned that I don’t do it like everyone else,” Evans admits. “Most of my time writing is not writing. I’m experiencing ‘stuff,’ and the writing is the last piece for me.”
As it got closer to filming, Evans says she was met with resistance towards her script. “So many people said it was impossible,” she recalls. “They read the script and said ‘You’ve never directed anything before, this is too big for you. Don’t do it.’”
But Evans comes from the belief that anything is possible and didn’t let the discouragement deter her. Despite her own fear, she followed her intuition and moved forward in bringing the film to life, sharing that the feeling inside of her was so strong it sometimes felt like she would die if she didn’t make it.
The budding filmmaker received a grant and put together a primarily female crew to film, produce, and edit. Her team traveled to both the desert and the ocean to film a visually stunning story of a young woman trapped in her own psyche after her father’s suicide — Evans’ own story.
Although Evans didn’t set out to write about losing her father and grandfather to suicide, she wanted to create a film that showed her deepest truth. Through her intuitively-guided creative process, she came face-to-face with her own grief and let the story unfold from that.
The deeply personal roots of the film did bring about some challenges during production. Just before Evans was set to start filming, the anniversary of her father’s suicide coincided with her producer quitting, losing film locations, and a number of other developmental obstacles. Overwhelmed and grieving, Evans chose to shut down all pre-production activities for a week. Her grant required filming to happen during a specific timeframe, so this pause could have meant the end for her idea.
However, the shutdown was an intentional time inspired by the archetype of the Wise Woman from her priestess training. The Wise Woman’s medicine is “sacred pause” — the time to stop and listen — through which she aligned herself with the will of the Spirit and unlocked her full creativity and potential. Evans shares, “By embracing the Wise Woman way and doing nothing, it became clear that my soul really wanted to tell this story, so I followed my heart and trusted my intuition instead of living for what I thought I was ready for.”
Evans calls directing Wake the hardest thing she’s ever done. For the full year of development, filming, and post-production, she constantly battled doubt, fear, and overwhelm. But it all came together when she saw the first edit of the film. “I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me,” she remembers. “It made sense in a way that it hadn’t when I was writing or filming it. I felt like I was the vessel, but something bigger than me brought it through.” In the end she believes that embracing her own grief and her father’s suicide allowed her to heal personally, while also bringing about familial and ancestral healing.
When Wake hits the festival circuit Evans hopes her creative process and deeply personal subject matter will resonate with people who are aligned with her — both in audiences and within the industry. The emerging filmmaker says she wants to attract people who are like-minded and who share her vision, and that this will be the first of many films she makes in her unique feminine-inspired, non-traditional way. She smiles as she says, “I ultimately want to create films that are true expressions of me, that open people’s hearts and bring a bit of magic into the world.”
Ashley Cramer is an entrepreneur, business strategy consultant, and sometimes freelance writer. She left a career in corporate marketing and sales to follow her obsession with all things wellness, which has included opening a barre studio and becoming a shaman. Ashley lives in Palm Springs, California where you can usually find her sitting poolside with her laptop. Connect with her at @ashley.cramer on Instagram.