Creative MVP: Lily Baldwin

Lily Baldwin

Lily Baldwin is creating in film.  

She is a filmmaker and dancer working in New York and Los Angeles. Recent film work includes Sleepover LA (SXSW premiere, Berlinale EFM, Vimeo Staff Pick and Short of the Week), A Juice Box Afternoon (Lincoln Center premiere, Dance on Camera tour), and Sea Meadow (SXSW premiere, V&A Museum London, Art Basel Miami, Academy-Qualifying theatrical run). Her films are featured on ShortsHD, Filmmaker Magazine, NOWNESS, and Fandor, and have screened internationally at festivals, art fairs, galleries and museums. Music videos include Blood Orange: Sutphin Boulevard, The Forms: Fire To The Ground, Joan Osborne.

Prior to filmmaking, she worked as a professional dancer with The Metropolitan Opera Ballet, The Trisha Brown Dance Company, and other NYC companies. She performed with David Byrne on his Everything That Happens Will Happen Today World Tour, and in its documentary Ride Rise Roar (SXSW). Lily was recently chosen to direct a film on ballerina Misty Copeland for Glamour’s Women of the Year Awards at Carnegie Hall.

Her new horror film, Swallowed (Palm Springs ShortFest), is one of five films comprising the omnibus feature Collective:Unconscious (SXSW ’16, BAMcinemaFest). She is developing two episodic series, and directing a VR project, THROUGH YOU, with Saschka Unseld, which received the 2016 Sundance Institute New Frontier / Jaunt VR Residency.  This year she will be directing her first feature film, GLASS. Lily was named by ShortsHD as one of “The Top 10 Emerging Directors to Watch.”

What are you creating?
Nearly too much, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Currently I have two babies.

My first feature, GLASS, is a stalking thriller about a dancer and an insidious fan. It’s inspired by my experience of living with a stalker for 7 years and going. GLASS pushes genre into a visceral space, in addition to exploring what it means to be living in our private-gone public world: It’s a double-edged sword of empowerment and insidious unwanted gaze.

Alongside this film I am starting an anti-stalking movement to create awareness around this prevalent issue and to provide support. Glamour Magazine will be launching my story this fall, and supporting me in Another baby is THROUGH YOU, a VR project I am directing with Saschka Unseld and the support of Sundance. It’s a wild, beautiful and heartbreaking love story that puts you inside a sentient body throughout a lifetime spanning the 1970’s – 2050.

What inspires you?
Multiple reflections on glass. Unexpected combinations of things I didn’t think could go together — from flavors in my mouths to clothes on my body to storytelling tools in a film — I call it “synergetic incongruence.” Anything rigorous to the point of ruthless. Hot wind on a hot night that makes me “flat-out-STOP.” People who cope with physical obstacles and have to find creative ways of living. Dancing for hours in a dark club in Berlin. Clouds.

Who has influenced your creative journey? 
My mother, May, who first taught me about living with death on my shoulder, as she did hospice work when I was a kid, and helped many people with AIDS die as gracefully as possible — And now she puts me in her elaborate garden and has me studying the inexplicable ways nature grows.

When I was dancing on tour with David Byrne, he who showed me what it meant to take every inch of my curiosity seriously. Every dance teacher and dance partner with whom I’ve explored my body’s limits, and with whom I’ve understood the power of discipline.

What’s been the biggest surprise?
At this point in my career (dancer first, filmmaker second) I crave unexpected things, and have built a life that sets me up for surprises. There’s no “biggest.” I throw myself hard into whatever I do so that I’m constantly surprised.

How do you define success?

1. Knowing what brings me fulfillment, and not being shy about the questions I ask and the answers I come up with.  

2. Being surrounded by people who challenge me to take risks, dare me to trust myself, and the cherry on top is having people I’ve never met be moved by the outcome.

Explore Lily’s work on her website, FacebookTwitterInstagram, Tumblr, Youtube, and Vimeo.  

Photo by Lily Baldwin

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