April 14, 2021

Michele Ohayon on the Healing Power, and Directing Strip Down, Rise Up

Michele Ohayon is an Academy Award-nominated director, screenwriter, and producer. She is also the CEO and Co-Founder of Kavana Entertainment. Her documentaries include It Was a Wondeful Life narrated by Jodie Foster, Cowboy del Amor, and the Academy Award nominated Colors Straight Up. Her most recent film is Netflix’s Strip Down, Rise Up. which follows the journey of a diverse group of women who heal trauma and body image issues through sensual movement and the art of pole dance.

Strip Down Rise Up Movie Poster

What you will learn:

  • Michèle’s inspiration for and intentions when she began working on Strip Down, Rise Up; how she was surprised by the supportive and cathartic experience that unfolded during the classes she filmed. How she was able to strike a balance between showing authenticity while not being exploitative of the subjects of hte film. [0:00-9:55]
  • The grim statistics of sexual abuse and harassment in America, the problem the male gaze has created for women, and how the subjects of her film were able to find ways to heal and take back power through dance. How Michèle worked to create a safe space for the dancers in Strip Down, Rise Up and the powerful potential documentaries have to promote healing. [9:55-17:50]
  • Why Michèle chose to hire a male editor for Strip Down, Rise Up after having a nearly entirely female cast and crew, what men in general can take away from the film, and the importance of not sensationalizing the female subjects. [17:50-21:46]
  • How Michèle approached working with the women in Strip Down, Rise Up, from initial interviews to the commitment required to capture the perfect moments for the story. The 24/7 work schedule that comes with creating a cinéma vérité documentary and the connection it creates with the film’s subject(s). [21:46-28:01]
  • The nitty gritty of film budgeting and making enough to financially stay afloat as a documentary filmmaker; Michèle’s experience making a documentary for Netflix. What first called her to documentary filmmaking. [28:01-36:01]
  • How documentaries are making a resurgence in popularity, how filmmaking is more accessible than ever, and what Michèle has planned next. [36:01-46:18]

Resources Related Michele Ohayon:

Check This Out:

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“Period. End of Sentence.”, with Rayka Zehtabchi

Hollywood, Harps, and the Healing Hands of Chris Kinkade

Rayka Zehtabchi and Sam Davis on Life After the Oscars and Filming/Directing “A Woman’s Place”

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