Except for raising money, there was nothing I didn’t like about making my first film. What I liked best is that every choice I made, from hiring a production designer to selecting a scarf for an actor, became, in some way, part of the film. It was not the power I had over those choices that I loved, but rather the part chance played in them. If the production designer who accepted the job originally had not had a previous job moved up on her, we would have had a different movie. Not necessarily better or worse, just different. If Scott Cohen, who plays Nick, weren’t allergic to cats, we would have shot the last scene in the first kitchen we chose with which I fell in love. The kitchen we finally found to replace it was completely different, and, I thought, not half as perfect. But having a new kitchen required that I rethink my shots, and because of that I believe the ending is much better than it would have been. It’s a little like cooking. You adjust for ingredients you don’t have, improvise when a utensil is missing. You can never be sure what the result would have been had you had that ingredient and utensil, but if you have any skill, it will be delicious and unique.
I also adore collaboration. While working on the film, I welcomed suggestions and ideas from everyone. I listened carefully, thought briefly and made quick decisions. I was happy to discover that after years in casting and producing, my instincts were totally in operation all through the making of this film. But because much of this was new to me, I also had to depend on others, particularly for technical information. It was thrilling to have so many people (to whom we could pay so little money) willing to share their knowledge so enthusiastically.
Making a first film is a steep learning curve. It helps to have a story you feel passionate about and collaborators (actors, crew, production staff) you respect and who respect you. I was extraordinarily lucky to have all of that. Psychoanalysis Changed My Life is, I’m proud to say, the result. It was an Official Selection at eleven film festivals in the US and Canada. It won the Audience Award and the Story Screenplay Award at the Crested Butte Reelfest in Colorado. It was the recipient of a Finishing Grant from Women in Film and Television and ran for three years on IFC-TV.
My second short film, The Getaway, starring Ana Reeder, Jayne Atkinson and McCaleb Burnett, has been shown in festivals around the country. You can watch it here.