Spotlight on Emilie McDonald
Emilie McDonald - Filmmaker

NMFO: Why don't we start by telling us a little about yourself.

EM: I'm Emily Blythe McDonald. I'm a filmmaker. I went to junior high and high school in Albuquerque, then moved away for college. Then, I lived in LA and New York for quite some years. I came back in 2021 and have felt inspired creatively since then.

NMFO: You completed the Stowe Story Labs Fellowship Program this past year. How did you hear about the program, and what made you want to get involved?

EM: I believe I heard about it through the New Mexico Film Office platforms, and it sounded like a wonderful opportunity. I was really excited about having opportunities for filmmakers who live in New Mexico because there's amazing work coming in. But there are also a lot of writers and directors here, so I was just thrilled about the opportunity.

I had friends in New York who had attended Stowe, so I had heard good things about that. The combination of the two really, really made me interested.

NMFO: That's great, so what made you want to get into filmmaking in the first place?

EM: I had a different childhood. My mom was a bit of a nomad, so we moved a lot. I was born in Georgia, but we lived in South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia, Oregon, and different parts of New Mexico.

Living around different types of people in rural and cities, I was interested in people and always wrote stories. Then, I fell in love with films at a certain point. As a kid, I wasn't allowed to watch TV, but later, when I was watching movies, I found that film can convey many things with the combination of image, sound, and story. I became obsessed in high school and studied film in college. I did different things in film for many years, and I'm still just as passionate about it.

NMFO: You mentioned hearing about Stowe through the New Mexico Film Office. Would you mind sharing your experience of screenwriting and storytelling, as well as how this program helped you progress your story and work with the mentors within Stowe?

EM: Yeah. I've been writing stories since I was a kid and screenplays since I was in my 20s. I've taken different classes over the years, but it came from instinct. I've been very rigorous about rewrites and trying to tell the most human story. However, the Stowe program was incredible because it was six months long, and we got to work with David Pope, who's based in the UK. He brought up ways of approaching the material I had never heard of before.

I had worked with different teachers, and it was a way of simplifying it but also seeing deep inside the story. That was helpful. Seeing the story more in the big picture than at the retreat in Las Cruces, my mentors were Melody Cooper and Stacey Davis. They both gave my script a good read and had some very insightful notes.

Everyone was at a different place on their script. I had been working on my script for almost two years at that point, but there were still changes and notes that were very helpful, and they were so generous with their notes about my script and suggestions about ways to move forward with making the film.

NMFO: What recommendations would you have for somebody applying this upcoming year now that we're doing another round of applications for the fellowship?

EM: I would say apply. If you're a writer or filmmaker in New Mexico, apply. It's a wonderful program. Put your best foot forward and try to have your script or idea as far along as possible when submitting.

One of my favorite parts of the program was meeting other filmmakers in New Mexico. I met some incredible people, and we support each other, send each other opportunities, and still meet monthly on Zoom to check in and discuss our goals. It was an incredible experience on many levels, and I would say apply.

NMFO: How far along are you on your project, or what other projects might you be working on?

EM: My project is called “Amman and Floor Against the World.” I hope to shoot later this year. I also got accepted as one of the top three finalists in the High Scribe Screenplay Competition at the Sun Valley Film Festival. Attending the festival would be a wonderful opportunity, and I'm really hoping to work with many filmmakers here in New Mexico.

Also, the support of the New Mexico Film Office will be vital. I couldn't be more thrilled and encouraged to continue doing this because some great stories will come out of New Mexico.

NMFO: Thank you so much for sharing. Is there anything else you would like to add or share about your projects? Do you have any words of wisdom, or where else can people find you?

EM: I'm working on a “Mon and Flor Against the World.” It's about two teenagers in Truth or Consequences who are best friends desperately trying to get to their favorite punk concert in Las Cruces. They share everything until one day, Flor realizes that Amon has a dark secret, which will challenge their friendship. She must decide whether to risk the friendship and be a good friend. That's the project I want to shoot this year.

I'm working on another project called “Forth in Aztec.” It's about a young college dropout who is forced to take a job at a senior center. She starts to have feelings for a gentleman who strangely looks like Mick Jagger, her childhood crush. Those are the two projects I'm focusing on right now.

Words of wisdom are to make time for creativity. Even if it's a few hours a week, it's worth it. Shut everything else out, go into your creativity, listen to your intuition, and you'll be amazed at what will come.

NMFO: How can people find you? Do you have a social media or website that you can share with folks?

EM: My website is, and my Instagram is at @EmilyBlythe.