‘Split’: An Interview With Creator And Writer Yael Shavitt

Have you ever wondered where you would be had you taken a different path? Have you ever asked yourself, ‘what if’? Could one decision change the trajectory of your life? These are just a few of the questions that the upcoming web series Split dives into.

Split follows one woman on two different journeys, journeys that begin when she is thirteen. Sammy auditions for a drama high school, and it is her two separate reactions to the result that splits her life. One timeline follows Sam, a promising, albeit slightly self-centered actress. The other follows Samantha, a shy but reliable assistant director.

The concept itself is incredibly intriguing. Haven’t we all felt split at one point or another? Yael Shavitt, creator, writer, lead actress and editor of the series, opened up about the inspiration for Sammy’s story.

“It’s something I think about often: which events in my own life directly or indirectly led to other seemingly unrelated events; and how would things change if one of those events played out differently. I do think there are certain events that can greatly shift our lives, but I also believe there are different paths to get to where we need to go. So hopefully a single decision can’t irrevocably send you off track.”

Sam and Samantha lead incredibly different lives. Just viewing the pilot, I was amazed at how Yael is able to capture these two women. Their personalities shine through even in their subtle movements, but she still manages to explore their similarities. After all, this is the same woman we’re watching, just on two different journeys. And both Sam and Samantha reap rewards and face challenges in their day-to-day lives.

split two

“They certainly don’t have perfect lives, and as the season continues we’ll get to learn more about each of them, and see that they’re both complex, imperfect human beings. Like all of us. I see them both as two sides of the same character, rather than two separate people. Some days I feel like I’m showing more of my inner Samantha and some days my inner Sam pops out…”

Split is all about exploring every side of a person. The idea of sexual fluidity is one that’s slowly emerging more and more in the film world, and it’s something you can find in this series as well. When we meet Sam, she’s currently on a break from a long term relationship with Emma (Kristen Parker). Samantha, however, is in a stable but slightly stale relationship with Matthew (Cory Censoprano). This exploration was always important for Yael.

“I think I knew it was going to be part of the story right away. I played around with different jobs for Sam and Samantha, and didn’t know what their names would be for a while, but dating people of different genders was an integral part of the story from the beginning.”

The series also tries to steer clear of labels, and honestly, I think this only strengthens the series. The idea that we are always evolving, and that a few decisions could alter this evolution is almost mind-bending. It’ll be even more fascinating to see if Sam and Samantha end up becoming one and the same by the end. Do all roads lead to the same destination? We shall see!

split three

By watching the ups and downs in both Sam and Samantha’s lives, we are able to explore different versions of ourselves. This series is incredibly introspective, but what impresses me most is the dedication to inclusion. Three of the five main characters are female, and three are LGBTQ. And you won’t just find diversity on screen. Split has an all female Creative Team. What does that mean? That means that the producer, director, DP, and writer/creator are all women. How amazing is that!?

“Working with an all female creative team and on-set crew has been such a great experience for me, and for the rest of the team as well. I feel extremely lucky and grateful for every one of the filmmakers who joined me on this journey and proved to be a badass, professional, and pleasant person to work with. I can’t imagine doing it any other way.”

I was particularly amazed at how much work Yael herself has done for this series. Not only does she star as both Sam and Samantha, she is the creator and writer. She also produced and edited the pilot! I had to ask how she managed to balance it all, and the answer? The combination of a fantastic team, and taking everything one step at a time.

“It can definitely be challenging at times. I aim to focus on one aspect of it at a time, since each of these roles requires me to be in a slightly different head space. Luckily most of these roles take center stage at different parts of the production process. For a long time, I was focused only on writing and didn’t worry too much about anything else. While I was on set I was focused only on acting, letting my team handle everything else, particularly our producer, Hannah Hancock Rubinsky. We’re partners in producing the series, but on set she was the sole producing authority, so that I could just be an actress. That was extremely helpful. Then, for post-production I put on my editor’s hat and dove into that.”

Everyone experiences self doubt. The entertainment industry in particular, while it can be extremely rewarding, is also challenging. The demands can be tough, so I asked Yael if she had any advice for aspiring artists. How do we silence that question of What If? Her answer, I think, is applicable to everyone.

“Learn how to be a happy person outside of the business. Find out what makes you feel good and balanced and make sure you do it. Be ambitious and go after things, but keep a sense of humor about it. Find your artistic community – people you love creating with, and make stuff with them. Enjoy the process. Have fun.”

Even though only the pilot has been released, I already find myself hooked and begging for more. The first episode is already live, so go ahead and take a look! Believe me, you won’t regret it.

 

The series also currently has a campaign running over on Seed&Spark! You can read more about their story there, as well as making a contribution! With just under two weeks left, they’ve almost reached their goal with 81% of their funds raised! You can also support them by sharing their story. Feel free to share this article with friends and family and let’s help get this fantastic web series made!

As always, thanks for reading! And thank you so much to Yael for speaking with me. I cannot wait to see what happens next.

Sincerely, Fiction’s Mistress

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