Marlene Rhein has spent over 15 years as a music video director, involved with over 50 videos. In 2000 she was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. In addition to writing and directing The Big Shot-Caller (2008) Marlene co-starred in the film, demonstrating her versatility. She is also known for the series My Parents Are Crazier Than Yours (2013) as well as Amy Winehouse’s F-Me Pumps (2003) and 2Pac Shakur’s last music video!
What do you do currently and how did you get here?
I’m a filmmaker/actor and I started with directing music videos, eventually shooting a self-starring short film, then a feature film, and now I have several web series on YouTube. My favorite being ‘MY PARENTS ARE CRAZIER THAN YOURS.’
What has been the “highlight” of your career thus far? Perhaps a specific moment, rewarding result, or exciting ‘project.’
Directing 2Pac’s last video (which I didn’t know was going to be his last until news of his death). It was the biggest budget music video I’d ever done ($300,000) and I was very young at the time.
I also felt this incredible high after wrapping production of episodes 2 and 3 of ‘MY PARENTS ARE CRAZIER THAN YOURS.’ What an honor and miracle that I had been able to shoot this series EXACTLY the way I wanted to and to do the kind of acting/comedy that I love so much.
Do you believe in specific moments or points in time when your purpose just clicks? If so, what has been one of your ‘aha’ moments? How did you seize that moment?
I believe this happens at several times, and you have to be open enough and TRUST that inner voice/feeling when it happens. When your heart leaps and almost jumps through your throat because you love something so much – then you know your purpose. We’re created with this inner guidance system and it’s in our heart. I’ve watched (occasionally very good) movies that have conveyed a message of compassion or inspiration, and I knew that I wanted to do that. Inspire people and really reach their hearts with my stories.
When my brother called me long distance, utterly defeated and depressed about something that had happened to him because of his vision disability, I was instantly inspired to write the feature film script about him and convey the message of seeking self-love first. ‘THE BIG SHOT-CALLER was born. It screened in theaters in May 2009.
Who has been helpful in supporting you and your dream? This could be a specific person or an organization or institution.
This is a tough question to answer, because I feel like I’ve been on my own with this. It’s mostly the people who have seen my work, or my friends who remind me that I need to keep on doing this that really keeps me going and makes me feel supported.
How did you get their support?
I tend to get people’s support with my passion. I believe in my projects so much that I become very alive, and it tends to garner interest.
Have you ever been fired from a job? If not, what was the most challenging obstacle that you faced? How did you handle it?
Yes, twice. From my first job at Baskin Robbins at age 16. And then from a recent waitressing job I was doing to support my filmmaking – which seemed devastating at the time – but then it inspired me to write MY PARENTS ARE CRAZIER THAN YOURS. The experience essentially gave birth to the project I’m most proud of today. A comedy about how you hit rock bottom, face your dysfunctional past, and yet find a way to see the silver lining in life. Everything is a gift in life if you’ll just choose to look at it that way.
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice what would you say?
Stop doubting yourself – stop caring what other people think of you –and don’t ever let fear stop you.
What is something that you never expected to happen but ultimately helped you live your dream?
When we got angel investors to finance my first feature film. I didn’t think that was going to happen. I got to not only make MY movie, but also co-star in it with my brother. I felt grateful every single night of the shoot when I went to bed. I felt, for once, that dreams really do come true.
What are the attributes that you believe are most important for young women to have in order to stand out and find success?
Firstly to accept and love themselves exactly as they are now, and to find a dream within them that they are truly passionate about – and to proceed without worrying about what other people will say. To achieve success in today’s world, you have to be a true champion and a warrior. It starts with absolute resolve in being true to oneself. You can be daring and vulnerable at the same time.
If you could share just one piece of advice to all young girls what would it be?
The fear doesn’t have to go away – you just have to know it’s not the truth. The world needs positive inspiration, so be bold, step out of your comfort zone, and always stay connected to your heart.
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