Filmmaker/actress Angela Matemotja
Most people find themselves struggling against their inner demons at some point in their life. It’s the degree and depth of that fight that differs from one person to the next.
Filmmaker Angela Matemotja
weaves together a story of individuals fighting to step out from behind their darkest fears in the dramatic feature film “Elevate.”
The premise follows an overweight elevator switchboard operator (Matemotja) struggling to achieve even one day of healthy eating. Her conflict is worsened by an abusive boss, trapped elevator occupants, and her fitness guru as they all find themselves caught face-to-face with their inner demons.
“Elevate” was recently released on iTunes, Amazon Prime and Google Play by popular indie distributor Gravitas Ventures. It first gained momentum on the film festival circuit, picking up numerous awards including Golden State Film Festival’s ‘Best Inspirational Feature Film’ and Silver Screen International Film Festival’s ‘Best Feature Film’. Angela picked up several for her feature film directorial debut efforts, including Female Pioneer Award (Downtown Los Angeles FF), Best Director (Rainbow Umbrella LGBTQ FF), and Best Leading Actress (Accolade Global Film Competition).
Angela has been nominated for an NAACP Award and picked up top honors at numerous festivals for her short films “The Encounter” and “The Untimely Concurrence”. The actress-turned-filmmaker is known for her role in Tyler Perry’s “The Single Mom’s Club” and in “Something Like A Business” with Kevin Hart. She has also appeared on “How I Met Your Mother,” “Bosch,” “Castle,” “Don’t Trust The B…” and “The New Normal” among others.
I recently caught up with Anglea Matemotja to find out more about “Elevate”:
Tell us about your film “Elevate.”
ANGELA MATEMOTJA: “Elevate” is a dramatic feature film of intertwining stories about people who must fight to overcome their struggles with food addiction, homophobia and racism. Set around broken elevators, our Protagonist Trina, is an elevator dispatch operator who tries to accomplish just one day of healthy eating. Tormented by her boss and the elevator occupants that reach out to her for help, she seeks refuge through a fitness guru who she desperately tries to emulate.
You wrote, directed and also star in the film; what was that like?
AM: I am NOT acting in my next feature! It was so hard and I love acting and directing equally so it’s hard to say that I gave each of those the proper chance to really shine in “Elevate.” I’m very proud of the film, but I can’t help and wonder if my acting or directing could have been even better if I didn’t wear so many hats. I produced it as well!
What message do you hope audiences to take away after watching the film?
AM: Perspective. We live in such divisive times, so any contribution I can make to unify folks by way of allowing different and even opposing perspectives to be fully expressed, I think is invaluable. Hopefully people walk away from the film having a little bit more compassion and to remember we all have struggles, doesn’t mean one is right or wrong, it’s just part of being human. My human may not agree with your human, and that’s okay. Let’s try to understand each other and not judge.
Any interesting stories from the set you can share?
AM: We had the bar location for a very limited amount of time, I think it was like two or three hours. When our lighting was being set up, we blew the fuse of the entire bar. No electricity! The bartender was doing us a favor by letting us shoot there on the dl and the owner of the bar didn’t know we were there shooting. We HAD to call him to figure how to regain power. It was horrible!
It was an old bar so nobody knew how to operate the fuse box so we lost an hour of shooting because we had no electricity. Suffice to say, those bar scenes in “Elevate” are my least favorite! We had to shoot so fast and even have shaky camera, it was horrible because I didn’t get the coverage, I needed so our choices in editing...ah! Those were the hardest scenes to cut. It was a nightmare and we even ended up totally cutting out one of the bar scenes.
Before releasing publicly, “Elevate” earned several awards on the festival circuit; tell us about that experience.
AM: I loved our festival experiences! We got lucky because each festival was so different and special in its own way. I even ended up going to South Africa for our two screening at Rapid Lion, South African International Film Festival. It was amazing! Then of course our world premiere at Downtown Los Angeles Film Festival was fabulous! People responded so positively to the film. I love watching my movies with a live audience. BEST THING EVER! Winning awards is icing! I’m so grateful when anyone appreciates the film. Please watch it on AMAZON! link
What’s the biggest lesson you learned from creating this project?
AM: So many things I learned. The most important lesson for me was patience. We had so many starts and stops, post production was pretty brutal and at one point I thought the project was dead and I almost gave up. I learned “a pause in the road” does not mean the end of the road. Patience. I learned about cultivating the skill of patience. I’m not a patient person, so for me, that was a huge lesson.
And, now just for fun:
Who’s your favorite actor/actress?
AM: Forest Whitaker, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, Angela Bassett, Regina King and Nicole Kidman. Steve Buscemi is interesting too. Hard to pick just one!
What role from the past do you wish you could have played?
AM: The role of Vanessa in Athol Fugard’s “Valley Song.”
Favorite movie or TV show from your childhood.
AM: “The Facts of Life.” I saw myself in Tootie! Not only was she black like me but she always wore roller skates and I lived in my roller-skates as well! I was really good too!
Tell us one thing that would surprise our readers to learn about you.
AM: Russian is my first language. I don’t speak much of it anymore, but I did when I was a kid.
How can fans keep up with you?
AM: On Instagram: @angelamatemotja link
Twitter: @matemotjafilms link
Websites: angelamatemotja.com link
and elevatefilm.com link
"Elevate" - still
"Elevate" - still
"Elevate" - still
"Elevate" - still