Show cover of Head Above Water - A Filmmaking & Mental Health Podcast

Head Above Water - A Filmmaking & Mental Health Podcast

With Head Above Water, host and filmmaker Jason Charnick takes listeners on a deep dive with intimate and thought-provoking conversations with some of today's most influential independent filmmakers and creatives. In the vein of WTF with Marc Maron, each episode will focus on in-depth discussions with filmmakers, performers, and creators to discuss the mental challenges of expressing one's self creatively in such hypersensitive times. We get personal with our guests, talking about their fears and personal struggles, what they worry about when they go to sleep, and how they work overcome their own self-imposed limitations.


Episode 19 - Jack Gravina & Diliana Deltcheva
Today's episode we chat with filmmaking duo Jack Gravina & Diliana Deltcheva. Separately, they've been successful filmmakers working for Discovery Channel and marketing/branding production company Framework Studio, and together they're a powerhouse couple running Gravina Films, their own production company.This conversation took place before Covid, so while we don't discuss the effects of a global pandemic had on their creative endeavors, but we do get down to the nitty gritty of how they, as a married couple, work both together and apart, what success means to them, how to handle the stress of work, and how family planning impacts their professional plans moving forward.Follow both Jack & Diliana - and Gravina Films - on Instagram:@gravina_films@diliana_deltcheva@jackgravinaGravina Films Official Web Sitehttps://www.gravinafilms.comDiliana’s Free The Work Profile the show (
68:14 01/22/2021
Episode 18 - Tanna Frederick
Welcome to Season 3 of Head Above Water!We have lots of big plans for our third season, and we open with a very special episode! Today we talk with actor and producer Tanna Frederick, star of the new film Two Ways Home, available to watch now on VOD (links below).Two Ways Home is very unique in that its portrayal of mental illness and mental health issues has been approved by NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI's mission is to remove the judgment and stigma associated with mental illness.Tanna talks with us about collaborating with NAMI, and how important it was to her and her team to portray the characters' struggles with compassion, empathy and authenticity.You can watch Two Ways Home now at iTunes or Amazon Prime, and you call follow the film on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram!Support the show (
51:27 01/07/2021
Episode 17 - Evan Kidd
Greetings friends, and happy holiday wishes to you all!We're bringing season 2 to a close with a fantastic conversation with microbudget indie director, Evan Kidd! Based in North Carolina, Evan has been on the cutting edge of microbudgets for a while now, culminating in his current feature, Panda Bear It, which cost only $500 to make and is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video right now!Making a feature film for such a limited budget can be creatively freeing, but it can also be the source of a lot of stress and sleepless nights. Evan talks openly and honestly about those challenges with us, and it was a great conversation!You can watch Panda Bear It on Amazon Prime here: some of Evan's older films:Son of Clowns - of the Picture - be sure to follow Evan on Twitter and visit his official production company website, RockSet Productions!Support the show
57:20 12/24/2020
Episode 16 - Alex Ferrari
On today's episode, we talk with Alex Ferrari (IMDb), filmmaker, entrepreneur, and creator of Indie Film Hustle, one of the premiere destinations anywhere for information, advice and encouragement for independent filmmakers all of all kinds.Alex has blazed a path in independent film that saw him running his own post studio, starting the YouTube film tutorial phenomenon, writing two books, and directing two features, both after the age of 40! He provides inspiration and motivation to independent filmmakers around the world, and he joins us for a frank and honest conversation about his own mental health. We talk about how his own mental roadblocks have hindered his development in the past, how he overcomes them, and how his definition of success and happiness have changed over the course of the last 20 years as a working filmmaker.Check out his two books:Shooting for the MobRise of the FilmtrepreneurHis two features, both available to watch now on Amazon Prime!This is Meg (IMDb)On the Corner of Ego & Desire (IMDb)And don't forget his other filmmaking endeavors:Indie Film HustleFilmtrepreneurNo intro/outro this week, our conversation was Alex was so amazing, we ran super long, and I'm pushing to get these down to as close to an hour as I can get 'em! I know your time is valuable, so we appreciate you all and your continued support!Support the show (
63:44 11/19/2020
Episode 15 - Liz Manashil
Greetings friends!On this week's episode, we talk with Liz Manashil, writer & director of Bread and Butter and Speed of Life.Liz has worked with some the industry's finest acting talents, including Ann Dowd (The Handmaid's Tale), Jeff Perry (Scandal) and Allison Tolman (Emergence). She is active in the independent film community, specifically microbudget films, and is as knowledgeable and talented a filmmaker as I've spoken to in this series.And yet, in this new day and age, as we find ourselves often struggling to cope, Liz's expertise in the industry gives her a unique perspective on our mental health, specifically as it pertains to maintaining a sustainable career and navigating the film festival scene. So ultra-low budget filmmakers, this is the show for you!But wait, there's more! We also speak with Liz's partner Sean Wright, with "his side" when it comes to working closely with your significant other and how to best play to each other's strength and keep the a positive working atmosphere! Be sure to check out Liz's official site at!Join us next week as we'll be back with another seasoned veteran of the indie film scene, Alex Ferrari from Indie Film Hustle!Support the show (
73:56 09/25/2020
Episode 14 - Cat Rhinehart
Greetings friends!This week's episode is our Atlanta Film Festival special! On today's episode we talk with director Cat Rhinehart from the documentary What's Eating Ralphie May, playing in this year's festival at Dad's Garage Drive-in theater next Thursday, September 24! If you're in the Atlanta area, you can purchase tickets to the screening at the link below: and I have a great discussion about a variety of topics including proving your worth, working full time while working on a documentary, getting married while working on a documentary, and how keeping a habit journal helps maintain a sense of control over one's schedule.You can also watch Cat's first two features online, her first feature Trashed Nation over on her Youtube Channel, and Brand New Old Love, starring Aya Cash & Arturo Castro on Amazon Prime Video.Support the show (
65:27 09/18/2020
Episode 13 - Chelsea Christer
Greetings, friends!This week's episode is a San Francisco DocFest special!Today we talk with our first documentary director on the show, Chelsea Christer from the SF DocFest closing night film, Bleeding Audio!SF DocFest runs a little different than other virtual festivals in that all the films streaming online are available for the entire run of the festival, rather than at specific times. That means that even though Bleeding Audio is the closing night film, you can still purchase and watch it RIGHT NOW throughout the entire United States. Purchase your festival pass and check out this fantastic music documentary about the band The Matches: and I had a great conversation about coping with a festival run that was upended literally right in the middle of their world premiere at Cinequest 2020, as well as the mental toll working on a documentary for nearly a decade takes on a person. You can follow the film (and The Matches) as it makes its way around the virtual circuit on the following social media platforms:Bleeding Audio FacebookBleeding Audio TwitterBleeding Audio IMDbThe Matches Official Web SiteThe Matches FacebookThe Matches TwitterThe Matches InstagramChelsea's TwitterChelsea’s InstagramChelsea’s IMDb PageSupport the show (
73:11 09/10/2020
Episode 12 - Megan Petersen & Hannah Black
Season 2 of Head Above Water rolls on! This week's episode is a Dances With Films festival special!On today's show, we talk with Megan Petersen & Hannah Black from the film Drought about being first-time feature filmmakers, the excitement and subsequent pressure of winning crowdfunding platform Seed & Spark's Hometown Heroes contest, working with Mark & Jay Duplass, and why their filmmaking home will always be Wilmington, North Carolina.Drought's second Dances With Films screening is tomorrow, September 1, 2020, and tickets are still available!!! Watch the trailer and purchase your tickets right now at the festival's virtual box office here: can follow the film as it makes its way around the virtual circuit on the following social media platforms:Seed & Spark Fundraising PageFacebookTwitterMegan's TwitterHannah's TwitterMegan's IMDb PageHannah's IMDb PageSupport the show (
68:05 09/01/2020
Episode 11 - Peter Sullivan
Welcome to Season 2 of Head Above Water!On the season premiere, we talk with veteran Hollywood writer, producer & director Peter Sullivan! Peter graduated from the prestigious NYU Tisch School for the Arts, but don't let the early pedigree fool you. Peter's journey from film student to today has been filled with many challenges, both internal and external, and Peter discusses some those obstacles that he's had to overcome to build a now 20+ year career as a working writer and director in Hollywood.Peter has directed a number of films over the past 2 decades, and is widely considered one of the kings of Christmas and holiday movies and his latest, Fatal Affair starring Nia Long & Omar Epps premieres on Netflix today!Enjoy the show, and when you're done, head over to Netflix and check out Fatal Affair!Netflix's Fatal Affair Sullivan's IMDb Page the show (
68:04 07/17/2020
Episode 10 - Ben Berman
This week’s episode is a brutally honest and frank discussion with director Ben Berman. Ben has an extensive list of impressive of credits in film and television. His first feature, The Amazing Johnathan Documentary premiered at Sundance 2019 and is currently available to watch on Hulu.He recently took advantage of being locked down at home during the current coronavirus pandemic to make and release The Follow-Up which comedically deals with mental health issues that can arise in all filmmakers and creatives during this trying time.Our conversation covers a wide variety of mental health topics, and Ben has unique takes on anxiety and insecurity, the concept of happiness, the pitfalls of pursuing a career as a filmmaker, and also a quite commendable view of positively dealing with one’s critics. It was a fascinating conversation, and I think you’ll all enjoy it very much.You can also watch Ben’s earlier shorts, I’m A Mitzvah (Sundance 2014) and How To Lose Weight in 4 Easy Steps (Sundance 2016) and other work (including the music video he shot using my Zhiyun Crane Plus gimbal!) by visiting his Vimeo page.Be well, be safe, and we’ll be back next week with an all-new show for you!Produced & Hosted by Jason CharnickMusic by Jason David WhiteSupport the show (
47:09 04/03/2020
Episode 9 - Mike Peebler
Greetings friends! All apologies for the delay between episodes, but we are back and we have a lot of fun, new interviews to share with you all! I know the world had changed significantly for all of us since the last episode, so hopefully these conversations can be a welcome distraction and get your mind off of things... for an hour at least.On this week's episode we talk to Mike Peebler, a veteran of stage and screen, who is pivoting away from acting in the middle of a successful career to follow his heart and give directing a shot. His current short film, Evie, just finished up its run on the film festival circuit, and it available to watch on Vimeo right now for FREE!A modern-day story of child marriage in America, Evie was made in part to support Unchained At Last, an organization dedicated to ending forced and child marriage in the United States through direct services and advocacy. You can also learn more about Mike and his production company, Upstart Crow Films, by clicking here.Hope you enjoy our conversation with Mike, our best wishes to you all, please stay safe, and take good care of yourselves and your neighbors!Produced & Hosted by Jason CharnickMusic by Jason David WhiteSupport the show (
55:06 03/27/2020
Episode 8 - Ben Wiessner
It is with a heavy heart that we present to you this week's Sundance special episode of Head Above Water. With the tragic, sudden loss of Kobe Bryant and his daughter and friends this week, we just wanted to take a moment to send our condolences to the families that have been affected by this week's tragedy. Grief is something that affects each one of us in its own way, and Kobe meant so much to so many people, that we wanted to remind you to mourn in your own way, and however long you feel is necessary. Take care of yourself and give someone you love a hug.On this week's episode we talk to Ben Wiessner, producer of Beast Beast, which had its world premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival last week, and still has now THREE more screenings coming up:Monday, January 27th 9:00 PM / Salt Lake City Library Theatre / Salt Lake CityThursday, January 30th 3:00 PM / Park Avenue Theatre / Park City TheatersSaturday, February 1st 9:00 AM / Holiday Village Cinema 2 / Park City TheatersBen also produced Thunder Road, the 2018 SXSW Grand Jury Award winning film, which is now available to watch on Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, Google Play, Vimeo On Demand, and more! It was our favorite film coming out of that year's SXSW, and we recommend you check it out!Ben has a very unique perspective on finding happiness and success in the film industry, and talks about how his team at Vanishing Angle has found a method in which they can avoid the usual anxiety traps that come with being independent filmmakers, while also producing quality content that connects with a worldwide audience.Produced & Hosted by Jason CharnickMusic by Jason David WhiteSupport the show (
57:30 01/28/2020
Episode 7 - Ken Spooner
This week's episode - lucky number seven! - brings us New Jersey documentary producer/director, Ken Spooner. Ken co-directed the magnificent Life With Layla, a touching depiction of life as a young girl in a family struggling with the ravages of heroin addiction.Ken's journey through a multiyear production process doesn't go without leaving an indelible impression, and we discuss the many ways spending time with a family of multiple drug addicts affects a filmmaker. Life With Layla is currently conducting local screenings throughout New Jersey, and is seeking national distribution.You can find Ken's earlier short film, To Be Strong, online. The 14 minute documentary chronicles the struggles of Anthony Daniels, a 22-year-old man from Ridgewood, New Jersey, who is battling Lymphoma for the third time.Hope you enjoy this episode of Head Above Water, and stay tuned for next week's Sundance Special, where we talk to Ben Wiessner, producer of Beast Beast, premiering at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival this weekend!If you've been enjoying the show, please think about supporting the show by buying me a coffee!Produced & Hosted by Jason CharnickMusic by Jason David WhiteSupport the show (
48:40 01/21/2020
Episode 6 - Numa Perrier (Part 2)
Greetings friends and happy new year! We're back! Sorry for the long wait (across two decades!) for the second part of our interview with Jezebel writer/director, Numa Perrier, but the holidays often get hectic, and it was a good opportunity to recharge the batteries as we dive head first into 2020!This second part of our interview with Numa is a special one, and we hit upon some really personal subjects, such as dealing with negative reviews, how to stay authentic to your artistic voices across multiple genres, as well as success, failure, and how we define happiness for ourselves. We also talked about how to relax and relieve stress in such a high pressure industry, which was very interesting. Numa likes to use the Abraham Hicks guided meditation app, which you can check out for yourself here.Don't forget! Jezebel is playing theaters across the United States right now, and you can find out where it's playing near you, but checking out the official web site over at Array Now. And if it's not playing near you, check it next week on Netflix, premiering on January 16, 2020!If you like the interviews we've brought you so far, and want to hear more, please consider supporting the show by saying thanks and buying me a coffee! Head Above Water is a complete solo production, and we can sure use your help to keep the show "afloat!" You can also help by leaving a rating or review on your podcast platform of choice. Every little bit helps spread the word, and we'd love to hear from you!Stay tuned for more fun interviews with today's hottest independent filmmakers and more... coming soon!Produced & Hosted by Jason CharnickMusic by Jason David WhiteSupport the show
24:23 01/07/2020
Episode 5 - Numa Perrier (Part 1)
This week's episode of Head Above Water brings us the writer/director of the feature film, Jezebel, the inimitable Numa Perrier. Jezebel had its world premiere at SXSW 2019 in the avant-garde Visions category and was recently acquired by Ava DuVernay's ARRAY.The film will be premiering in theaters and on Netflix on January 16, 2020. I was lucky and honored to moderate a Q&A for the film at its buzz screening at SXSW: a sold out, packed out at the ZACH Theatre in Austin, Texas.Numa and I have a fantastic conversation where we cover a whole range of topics concerning independent filmmakers today, such as the fear of making an autobiographical picture, how one comes to find their creative voice when growing up in a non-creative environment, and why a SXSW selection of your film isn't necessarily the cure for one's anxiety when navigating a career as a filmmaker. This episode also marks our move to a weekly format! For the time being, we'll be breaking up our interviews into half hour episodes, so you don't have to wait for 2 whole weeks anymore for a fresh episode! This should also make the shows easier to listen to for folks who can't always find the time to dedicate to an hour-plus long show.Don't forget to leave us a rating or a review on your podcast platform of choice, and we'd love to hear from you! Stay tuned for more exciting news about the show with a little side of bonus content coming at you soon!Produced & Hosted by Jason CharnickMusic by Jason David WhiteSupport the show (
30:19 12/18/2019
Episode 4 - Paulina Lagudi UIrich
This episode features an intimate conversation with Paulina Lagudi Ulrich, the writer and director of the Showtime feature film, Mail Order Monster. We discuss a variety of interesting topics, including the dangers of social media, working with her new husband Cooper, and her struggle to finally overcome a devastating eating disorder early in her career. We lighten things up at the end by talking about the joys (and expense!) of shooting her latest project on Super 16mm FILM!Here are a few links to some of the books and movies we talk about in today's episode, including some of Paulina's earlier work. I highly recommend you check them out, very powerful stuff!THE PRODUCER BOOTCAMP IS THE KEY - Ryan Holiday GOOD THEY CAN’T IGNORE YOU - Cal Newport ORDER MONSTER - list of places to watch itTHIS IS HOW - second film in episode 4 of Discover Indie Film on Amazon’S GIRL - third film in episode 10 of Discover Indie Film on Amazon & Hosted by Jason CharnickMusic by Jason David WhiteSupport the show (
62:39 12/03/2019
Episode 3 - Anna Keizer (Part 2)
Part 2 with Writer and Producer Anna Keizer from the upcoming short film, She Had It Coming, continues our crowdfunding conversation with Anna telling us why she probably won't be doing another campaign in the future, while host Jason Charnick tells us why crowdfunding is probably the only way he'll be able to make another film in the future. It's a different kind of conversation on crowdfunding you won't hear anywhere else.We also touch upon a myriad of other important topics, such as how creatives define both success and failure for themselves, and why it's important to have your significant other support you in your creative endeavors.This episode is brought to you by Upstart Film Collective. If you're an independent filmmaker in need of affordable post services, including standards-compliant DCP's, drop us a line, and we can help!Produced & Hosted by Jason CharnickMusic by Jason David WhiteSupport the show (
43:00 11/19/2019
Episode 2 - Anna Keizer (Part 1)
Writer and Producer Anna Keizer from the upcoming short film, She Had It Coming, joins us for a frank conversation on her first foray into crowdfunding to raise money for her project.Crowdfunding has been instrumental in shifting the fundraising dynamic in independent film over the past few years, putting millions of dollars and more at the fingertips of small, microbudget filmmakers. With this newfound access however, comes a litany of new worries and concerns that extend far beyond just filmmaking for many aspiring artists.Join us for the first half of an enlightening two part discussion with Anna, talking all about her first crowdfunding experience through Seed & Spark, and the challenges that still remain for her new project.This episode is brought to you by Upstart Film Collective. If you're an independent filmmaker in need of affordable post services, including standards-compliant DCP's, drop us a line, and we can help!Produced & Hosted by Jason CharnickMusic by Jason David WhiteSupport the show (
63:32 11/05/2019
Episode 1 - Elena Weinberg & Duncan Coe
Microbudget independent filmmakers Elena Weinberg & Duncan Coe join host Jason Charnick for an in-depth and honest conversation about the challenges of being indie filmmakers in today's highly competitive entertainment industry.Elena & Duncan moved out to Los Angeles from Austin, Texas 4 months ago as they try to take their career and their craft to the next level. We talk about the fear and anxiety that comes from making a move to LA, as well as a myriad of other topics such as jealousy, determining one's own self-worth, and what it takes to define happiness on your own terms in an industry that constantly tries to take that power away from us.We hope you enjoy this first episode of Head Above Water and we look forward to bringing you the best conversations with a unique perspective available nowhere else!Produced & Hosted by Jason CharnickMusic by Jason David WhiteSupport the show (
77:06 10/22/2019