About directing and producing The Haircut, Alexis Korycinski mentioned that her father, grandfather, uncle, and cousin all served in the military. Yet, she was fascinated with how women function in society during the 1970’s, and through her work with The Haircut, she wanted to show a time and period when women struggled to join the military. In this film, you’d notice how 18-year-old Amy, played by Bailey Noble, had to endure mistreatment and ridicule by her male counterparts including her commanding officer.
Highly recommended by casting director Lauren Bass, Noble had the ability to make her character authentic. “Amy was a tiny person who did not have the same strength as male cadets, and she had to find ways to overcome her obstacles,” Noble said. She mentioned that she loved the script when she auditioned for the role of Amy. “I was able to do only one pull up,” she said, laughing.
Shooting the film in San Pedro at Fort MacArthur Military Museum, Korycinski did an excellent job making the scenery appear as if the story happened during the 1970’s.
For her student project, Korycinski was fortunate to have members from various car clubs in the Los Angeles area donate their vintage cars that were made during that period. Featuring the film with over five donated vintage cars, the director comments that she truly appreciated the car owners’ contribution to the authenticity of the 1970’s era.
Noble calls Korycinski an incredible director—which is interesting to hear because Korycinski primarily comes from documentaries but her preceding background was in musical theater at Syracuse University.
Korycinski produced this film as part of her thesis while studying film at the American Film Institute (AFI) as a participant in the 2014 AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women (DWW). It was persistence that brought Korycinski to be part of the 2014 cohort at the AFI—after applying there four times. Patty West, Director of DWW, added that this program only accepts about 3 percent of the applicants per year; therefore, this program is very competitive to get accepted to. Applicants to the DWW program must submit the following: screenplay(s), resume, Narrative Statement, Work Sample, and Letters of Recommendation, West explains.
Then the DWW staff runs a series of selection which results in selecting about eight participants per cohort, West said. “I’m incredibly impressed with Alexis’ vision and follow through. She dreams big and pulls it off with a smile on her face, which inspires those who are hustling for her. She has the work ethic, drive and leadership that makes people really successful in this business,” West said.
Following graduation from Syracuse University in New York, her focus on film was in the area of documentaries for seven years so at the AFI, she wanted to add narrative content development to her repertoire as an artist. “The AFI provides excellent support for women who want to be involved in film, and female filmmakers add the female perspective,” Korycinski said. “Times have changed since the 1970’s, and I am passionate to see more women behind the camera.” Women can act and be filmmakers. “The DWW gives women tools as directors to hone their craft and their voice. Additionally, we’ve begun to focus on how to build and navigate careers as visual storytellers. A big part of that has been mentorship – from their peers, to emerging directors to master filmmakers to managers, agents and executives. We’ve found that mentorship really does matter,” West said. For example, Korycinski’s mentors at the AFI were Michael Urban, Daisy von Scherler Mayer, and Jamie Babbit.
Aside from being an artist, Korycinski is also an advocate of disability in media. As Chairman and Founder of GEMAI (Global Event & Media Accessibility Initiative), Marc Bovee donated open captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing viewers and an audio description track for those who are blind. “I have family members who are disabled, and I want to see them reflected in the media,” Korycinski said, who also became close friends with Bovee. “I feel it’s important to have the power of the story accessible to everyone. Audio description tracks and closed captioning are very important, and every filmmaker should work towards incorporating accessibility for all.”
Describing Bovee as an amazing advocate for the disability community in making films accessible, she also added that more filmmakers should be educated about how to provide accessibility for their audiences who cannot hear or see well. “Educating filmmakers is one of the many experiences that I have been working on since GEMAI’s inception in 2012,” Bovee said. “GEMAI’s first event in Hollywood was an honest discussion with filmmakers who had championed the subjects in their creative legacies as well as talent who themselves identified blind or deaf. The reaction from the many people who came was both appreciative and engaged in wanting to be a part of this cultural renaissance.”