…honestly I think we have the power to make an impact on our laws. It all starts with the community, our society, and especially our politicians. Our community must be aware of the dangers of distracted driving. In 2013, 3,154 people were killed in distraction-related crashes. About 424,000 people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. It’s no longer on highways, but it happens in our neighborhoods. Yet, we are all guilty of it. It’s come to the point that people are no longer just texting and driving, they’re scrolling through their social media feed while their foot is to the pedal. Thus far in 2019, 14% of distracted driving deaths were attributed specifically to cell phone use. Our society can help us address the root of this problem by putting an end to using their phone while driving. So many lives would be saved if we simply put our phones in our bags and ignored them for the short or long amount we’re driving. This is completely in our control. Our politicians can help by putting prohibitions on hand-held cell phones in their respective state. Only 17 states prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones.
As a part of my series about people making an important Social Impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing American actress Christina Hastings. In 2018, she began her acting career and has been cast in 24 productions. You may know her for her roles in ’Til Death Do Us Part, It’s Always Necessary, or her Series Regular role in the new series, Vice Squad. Alongside acting she is also a writer, producer, and photographer. She has written and produced It’s Always Necessary, Caged-in Bird, and A-Wake which will all be released this Summer 2019.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
To become a screenwriter and producer crept up on me.
Growing up I loved to tell stories. I was really into English class, writing essays, making short films, creating things… as a kid I would write stories for fun. Weird, right? I spent months writing one book then I’d move onto the next. I went as far to write a sequel of five books. I’d distribute my hundreds of pages of stories to my relatives at family gatherings. My mom even begged me to get my work proofread and published. I basically told her no way. I thought it was really embarrassing.
In school, I was always the leader. In a group project, I always liked to schedule our meetings and to piece the puzzle together on how our project would work. I felt comfort in having a certain level of control; whether that was on what grade I’d get or how people would be entertained. That eventually led to me becoming editor of the yearbook and leading Drama Club.
As I started acting, I constantly heard people tell me to create my own content. I understood “creating content” as creating a really bad comedy skit with your friends, filming it with your iPhone, and putting it on YouTube. I wasn’t interested. Then, I realized, I could put all my writing skills together along with my planning skills and create something impactful, something that would be an immense joy to create. And, so, I did. I knew exactly who I wanted on my creative team and I knew of their crazy talent. This didn’t have to be just some bad skit on YouTube, it could be something distributed worldwide that would make people think. It’s Always Necessary was my debut as a producer and screenwriter.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Before we started filming It’s Always Necessary the majority of the crew got together, without my knowledge, just to talk about the story. They all met up on their free time just to discuss the morals of the story, to secure in all their ideas, and to pitch new ideas if necessary. I later got a text from our Director of Photography stating how passionate everyone was about the project and how they’re all looking so forward to tell this story. That meant the world to me and was definitely the most interesting thing that’s happened, something I never planned for. It felt great knowing people were as passionate about It’s Always Necessary as I was.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When writing It’s Always Necessary, I just wanted to tell a story that was very dear to me and would make an impact. That was my only inspiration. I had written stories and small novels before, but never a screenplay. The first draft for It’s Always Necessary was over 20 pages long, and had about 25 scenes. I was under the impression we could shoot all 25 scenes in two eight-hour days. My Director and DP sat me down and said “listen… that’s just impossible.” I thought with great productivity and efficient planning it could be done, never even thinking of my typical shoot days and how long those can be… a page in a screenplay is averaged about taking an hour to shoot. With our short film, it took about two hours/scene. If we stayed at the 8-hour long days, we would’ve needed at least six days to shoot.
Can you describe how your organization is making a significant social impact?
Our film is the story of two sisters grieving the death of a loved one after losing him in a car accident related to texting and driving. Our film advocates for the permanent dangers of distracted driving, and how distracted driving must be stopped. The life lost isn’t the only life that’s been taken. Our film empathizes with those who have lost their loved ones, we demonstrate the difficulty a family endures after the terrible accident, and we show how much the tale of distracted driving lives in each and every one of us. Every year approximately 9 people die daily due to distracted driving. Yet, distracting driving is so avoidable. This film will be submitted to over 60 film festivals worldwide and submitted on new media platforms. We will target the legislature capitals of America. We aim to make our difference in the world today. We aim to inspire lawmakers to encourage change. We are pushing boundaries with a message that needs to be told.
Wow! Can you tell me a story about a particular individual who was impacted this cause?
I was impacted by distracted driving. When I was just eighteen years old living in Los Angeles, I was taking a left turn through an intersection. To my right I saw a girl scrolling on her phone. Keeping her eyes glued to her phone, she never stopped at the red light. She t-boned me right through the intersection. Luckily I survived, but many people are not as lucky. Distracted driving affects every single driver on the road. Every single day. Our odds of being a part of the 9 people killed daily, are not slim.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
Well, sure, they can watch my film and tell everyone else to watch it! That would be great, but honestly I think we have the power to make an impact on our laws. It all starts with the community, our society, and especially our politicians. Our community must be aware of the dangers of distracted driving. In 2013, 3,154 people were killed in distraction-related crashes. About 424,000 people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. It’s no longer on highways, but it happens in our neighborhoods. Yet, we are all guilty of it. It’s come to the point that people are no longer just texting and driving, they’re scrolling through their social media feed while their foot is to the pedal. Thus far in 2019, 14% of distracted driving deaths were attributed specifically to cell phone use. Our society can help us address the root of this problem by putting an end to using their phone while driving. So many lives would be saved if we simply put our phones in our bags and ignored them for the short or long amount we’re driving. This is completely in our control. Our politicians can help by putting prohibitions on hand-held cell phones in their respective state. Only 17 states prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones.
How do you define “Leadership”?
Leadership is swimming against the current and showing everyone the way.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Funding is very, very difficult. Be prepared to spend your own money.
Because of the short time frame, we had very little time to secure funds. As a first-time producer, I had no contacts and no interested investors, so it all came straight from crowdfunding. I have this theory (probably not even a theory) that no one understands the importance of money on the production, unless they are the producer! Every single dollar amount mattered deeply to me, every donation was a big success! Making your first film will be difficult, be prepared. Five months in and we have only secured funding for about 20% of our budget. I had to put a good amount of money into the production because the funding just wasn’t there. We are currently in need of $10,860 to continue editing this film and making sure it lands in the hands of those who need to hear this message most. If you are interested in helping us out and making a donation, please visit: www.christina-hastings.com/it-s-always-necessary
2. You won’t sleep
When you are working on a project you are passionate about, it will consume your mind. I thought about It’s Always Necessary so much that I began to dream about it. I went three months with very minimal sleep. I often woke up in the middle of the night because I had to submit some paperwork, I had a new idea, or I had some e-mails to attend to. By the time filming came around, I was so sleep deprived and stressed that I had gained a good amount of weight and I started having very serious pains grow in my feet and up my legs. Walking and standing became a struggle on set and I definitely needed a break, but couldn’t afford one. From this I learned…always prioritize your health, take time to relax, and get good sleep in, and always give your project more time than you think.
3. Being an actress and a producer on the same project is not easy.
Perhaps it’s because I always wanted to make sure everything was running very smoothly on set. There is a certain oblivion when you are acting. You are locked in the moment with your scene partner, you are only focused on your work, you arrive to set when they tell you to. It’s a very laser-focused job. When you are a producer, you are the oversight for everything. I was constantly making sure everyone had everything they needed. If there was a question, it came to me. I was helping to cook for the production, designing the production, running around to make sure each shot looked great. It took the focus out of my acting. I was this hyper-aware actor, I wasn’t in my character’s world. I was in the world of the set.
4. Take it all in.
I was so determined during pre-production to get everything right, to cross every “t” and dot every “i” that I never really stopped to just be in the moment. This film is something so personal and important to me, but production flew by so quickly. I wish I could go back and take a second to breathe and soak it all in. It was such a joy to see the whole thing come together and I wish I could witness it all over again.
5. It takes a long time to make a film.
Of course I already knew this, but I didn’t really know it. As an actress I was aware of the 16-hour long days we have and the sleepless nights, but as a producer I realized… this doesn’t just go on while you’re filming, it starts from the moment the idea begins. I gave myself three months. Three months total to write the film, to hire the whole crew, to cast the production, to secure funding, to find all the equipment, to work with the creatives on their visions, to file paperwork, and to work on this film as an actress developing her character. I thought three months was a long time and it would be done quicker than expected. Wow, was I wrong. I spent about 12 hours a day working on the production to bring it to life. I had no one to learn from and no one to guide me through the process. As a first-time producer I had a very short time to get everything together.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Off The Grid Day. A movement to get off all social media, all technology in general, and spend some time outside with your family and friends. Revolving around social media and technology can distract us from the people who love and care about us and this beautiful world we have. Let’s be present with one another and our world!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“You can do anything if you put your mind to it.” With no college education and only a year in the entertainment business, I wrote my very first screenplay, I produced it, I cast it, I acted in it, and it will be submitted to over 60 film festivals worldwide and released on new media. I am now producing, writing, and acting in two more short films to be released this summer. You can do anything as long as you care, and you put the work in!
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Margot Robbie, Timothee Chalamet, or Chris Pratt. They are so incredibly talented and appear like wonderful people.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
@its.always.necessary on Instagram
@christina_hastings on Instagram
Sign up for our newsletter at: www.christina-hastings.com/it-s-always-necessary
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!