Rebecca Green and Laura D. Smith have produced the feature film It Follows, written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, which premiered to rave reviews at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in Critics’ Week 2014.
I’ll See You in My Dreams will premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on January 27.
W&H: Please give us your description of the film playing.
RG&LDS: The film is about Carol, a widow in her seventies, who is propelled into the dating world for the first time in 20 years and finds herself swept up in not one, but two unexpected relationships that challenge her assumptions about what it means to grow old.
W&H: What drew you to this story?
RG&LDS: In our attempt to get a number of projects off the ground over the past few years, we’ve realized that in order to build a career, we must find stories that have commercial appeal in addition to the independent spirit to which we’re drawn. If we take on a project, we can’t just do it for the love of the script; we must also be certain from the get-go that we can raise money and sell the film.
I’ll See You in My Dream walks that independent-yet-commerical line perfectly. It’s a film with universal themes that asks big questions about life, but also has a specific and target demographic and audience. The sincerity of the characters and honest, human approach to their journey makes this a surprising and unique film that we immediately knew was one we wanted to produce.
W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?
RG&LDS: The biggest challenge facing all independent filmmakers on each film they make is sustainability. For this particular film, we made it a priority to fight for the financial integrity of the film in addition to the creative integrity. We challenged ourselves to come up with unorthodox ways of building a financial model that would be responsible and fair to both the film and the filmmakers.
We met a lot of resistance along the way, but we remained persistent and eventually found the right partners who understood our motives and embraced our need to do things differently, creating a more balanced structure with everyone’s best interests in mind.
W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theatre?
RG&LDS: While the film has serious themes, the characters embrace joy and spontaneity. We want the audience to feel that spirit and walk out of the screening inspired and invigorated about all of the unexpected moments in life that await them. We all feel nostalgia for the past at times, but it’s also important to never stop living in the present and to stay open to possibility.
W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors/producers?
RG&LDS: Don’t define yourself as a ‘female filmmaker’; you’re a filmmaker who happens to be female. In perpetuating the distinction, we’re only calling attention to what might be perceived as a limitation as opposed to working as equals and succeeding based on our merits. But, as an old boss once said, don’t be afraid to ‘use your womanly charms to your benefit.’
W&H: What’s the biggest misconception about you and your work?
RG&LDS: When most people think of producing they imagine the work that needs to be done for production but in reality, production is often the shortest and easiest part of the job – especially on independent films where budgets and support are limited. These days, finishing the movie is often when the real work begins – navigating film festivals, sales, delivery and distribution long after everyone else has moved on to other projects.
People also often think of producing as such a glamorous job but the reality is that it’s a lot of hard work, instability, financial stress, and thanklessness, making it that much more important to love the projects that we do and the people with whom we do them.
W&H: How did you get your film funded? (Is it a studio film, a crowdsourced film, somewhere in between?) Share some insights into how you got the film made.
RG&LDG: The film is entirely independent financing from a pool of resources. We began with a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising enough funds to make the movie in the most basic way. Once we had those funds, we were able to set a start date and make the project a reality, which was key in getting the rest of our talent on board which, in turn, would attract more equity investors as we built out the package.
So many independent films are shopped and never made that it’s often hard to convince people to pay attention until the train is leaving the station, at which point they’re much more motivated to get on board.
W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.
RG&LDG: Since we’re producers, we’re going to mention two of our favorite woman producer instead. Christine Vachon for her fearlessness and her impeccable taste in both material and filmmakers. And Lynette Howell for how she’s built an amazing career for herself in this challenging independent landscape, going from working with first-time filmmakers to a legend like Tim Burton in such a short span of years, and staying a kind and generous person all the while.