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How I Shot That (LAFF Edition): Confronting Drunken Neighbors While Shooting ‘Out in the Night’

How I Shot That (LAFF Edition): Confronting Drunken Neighbors While Shooting 'Out in the Night'

In 2006 blair dorosh-walther, who identifies as gender non-conforming and uses male and female pronouns, read an article in The New York Times entitled “Man is Stabbed after Admiring a Stranger” and was immediately compelled to make a film. “Out in the Night,” premiering at LAFF this year, takes us beyond sensationalist headlines and gives a voice to the four women labelled as a “Gang of Killer Lesbians,” who for all intents and purposes were simply defending themselves one hot August night.

[Editor’s Note: Indiewire reached out to filmmakers with films
playing at the 20th LA Film Festival (June 11-19) to ask them about how
they shot their indie, and what advice they had for other filmmakers.
We’ll be posting their responses throughout the run of the festival. Go
HERE for the master list.]

What camera and lens did you use? Our Cinematographer Daniel Patterson shot primarily on the Canon 7D, but when we started shooting, we had an Sony SD Cam and then the Panasonic HVX. At the end, we did a little shooting with the Black Magic. Daniel shot with a range of prime lenses.

What was the most difficult shoot on your movie and how did you pull it off? We did a re-enactment with the women at the IFC Theatre in New York City. It was our largest shoot – with a twelve-person crew – and we shot in the middle of the night after the theatre had closed. This shoot involved two of the women walking through their memory of the night of the fight, step by step. This was hard enough, but before we even got our first shot off, someone in the neighbourhood – who was drunk – began hitting on one of the women’s girlfriends. Even when the crew surrounded her to protect her, he did not stop aggressively approaching her. Eerily, this was exactly what the women had dealt with that first night. As we all saw first hand how the women had been targeted, it became an even more emotional and nerve-wracking shoot.

What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you BEFORE you started your movie? That you would never have all the money you need at one time. I didn’t quite understand that you get in a little here and a little there. The first money in, I thought we were successful, but that went in seconds and then, there was no more money. And that shocked me a bit. I remember thinking, “if these people believe in me, why don’t other funders?”

What’s the worst piece of advice you ever got? That the title should be “Attack of the Killer Lesbians.” And I got that a lot.

What’s the best? Darius Clark Monroe (Evolution of a Criminal) told me, before I got started, “it will take over your life.” Not sure if that was advice as much as it was a warning. I had been thinking about starting this film for two years. And his words reminded me, just as I decided to start it, that if I was going to make it, I was about to dedicate my life to it.

What advice do you have for aspiring or first-time filmmakers? I firmly believe that it’s all or nothing. If you are going to start a feature documentary, you better be prepared to sacrifice a lot. And there is no reason, no matter how hard it gets, to let the film go before it’s what you’ve envisioned.

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