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Speaking through film: ‘How Does It Start’ is director’s ‘love letter to Santa Fe’

A scene from the short film “How Does It Start” by Santa Fe native Amber Sealey.

Film is where Amber Sealey has found her voice.

The medium gives her an expression that no other activity has matched.

With her latest short film, “How Does It Start,” Sealey is opening the dialogue about sexual politics in film.

“It’s loosely based on when I found my own diaries from when I was about 10 or 12,” says Sealey, who grew up in Santa Fe. “This is when I started thinking about expanding the canon of films on female sexuality. It’s a very different time.”

The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.

It will screen on Friday, Oct. 18, and Sunday, Oct. 20, as part of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival.

The shorts program is titled “Surrealism & Sexuality” and will feature the following short films:

“How Does It Start,” directed by Sealey.

“Ponyboi,” directed by River Gallo, Sade Clacken Joseph.

“Deep Tissue,” directed by Meredith Alloway.

“Under Covers,” directed by Michaela Olsen.

“Lady Parts,” directed by Erin Rye and Jessica Sherif.

“Lobster T*ts,” directed by Jessica Guerra.

“Kiko’s Saints,” directed by Manuel Marmier.

Sealey, who lives in California, says being able to have a New Mexico premiere for the short film is amazing.

“Being able to come back home and screen a film that I’ve been working on is like nothing else,” she says. “There are plans to make this into a feature film, and I’ve already decided that it will film in Santa Fe. Production should start sometime next year. There’s no other place that I could film this project. Santa Fe is the place.”

Sealey is part of the directing workshop for women, put on by the American Film Institute.

“How Does It Start” is the short film that came out of the workshop.

“They accept between five and 10 women in the program,” she says. “Each director has to make a short film, which is shot in the studio zone of Los Angeles. That’s where it was filmed in five days.”

Sealey says the feature film, set in Santa Fe, follows a family falling apart due to divorce.

“What I love about Santa Fe is that the buildings haven’t changed much,” she says. “Many of them are historical preservations. The storefronts and restaurants that I grew up around are the same. I grew up around Arroyo Hondo, and I’d love to film around there.”

Now a mother, Sealey wishes that her children could have a childhood similar to hers in Santa Fe.

“My kids can play outside where we live, but it’s very different,” she says. “My sister and I would roam the wilderness. I wish I had that for my kids, access to nature. This film is my love letter to Santa Fe.”

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email Follow me on Twitter @agomezART.


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