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AFI Docs Women Directors: Meet Laura Naylor (The Fix)

AFI Docs Women Directors: Meet Laura Naylor (The Fix)

Writer-producer Laura Naylor first discovered her interest in documentary-style representation while studying visual arts and art history at Columbia University in New York City. In 2011, she co-directed and produced her first feature-length documentary film, Duck Beach to Eternity, which premiered at the 2012 Seattle International Film Festival, played at the 2012 Salt Lake City Film Festival, and aired multiple times on BBC3 in the UK. In addition to directing and producing independent documentaries, Naylor creates fundraising videos for non-profit organizations. (Press materials)

The Fix will make its world premiere at the AFI Docs on June 19. 

W&H: Please give us your description of the film.

LN: The Fix is a tale of recovery and redemption that paints a portrait of life after heroin addiction in the the Bronx.

W&H: What drew you to this story? 

LN: When I began production, I knew I wanted to tell a personal story about addiction and addiction-related disease to give voice to a very marginalized community. As a chronic, relapsing disease that takes and destroys lives, addiction lends itself to media representation that is dark and demoralizing. While tragedies are all too often the outcome of this horrible disease, they are not the only stories to be told. This is a story of possibility.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

LN: We had a tiny budget for the film and operated with a bare-bones crew. Because of this, I wore many hats over the course of the production, and at times it was a challenge to effectively drive the story while simultaneously recording audio or operating a camera. 

W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?

LN: Don’t be afraid to be the boss.

W&H: What’s the biggest misconception about you and your work?

LN: I come from a background in documentary-style photography. A few years ago, when I made the transition into filmmaking, there was a misconception that this move was a complete redirection. In fact, the transition felt natural — creating films has simply expanded my toolbox for storytelling and given me a more powerful voice.  

W&H: Do you have any thoughts on what are the biggest challenges and/or opportunities for the future with the changing distribution mechanisms for films?

LN: Because of expanding platforms for digital distribution, a lot more films have a chance to find an audience. It’s a step towards leveling the playing field, in a sense, which is a good thing. However, if we continue to be over-saturated with easily accessible digital media, the medium may be devalued, which could further threaten the ability of less established filmmakers to generate income from their work.

W&H: Name your favorite women directed film and why.

LN: That’s impossible to answer because, happily, there is such a growing universe of films made by women. I will say that Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing’s fearless storytelling in Jesus Camp sparked my interest in creating documentaries. And the film I most look forward to watching is the 2014 Sundance US Grand Jury Prize Winner Rich Hill, directed by Tracy Droz Tragos. 

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