A one-eyed boy and an overweight girl fall madly in love, but high school graduation separates them, causing them to move in different directions and threatening their relationship.
Interview with director Ian MacAllister-McDonald
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thanks! The film came from a few different places, but the big one was watching other Young Love Movies and being just generally kind of bummed out by the representation I was seeing again and again. Everyone in them were pretty and financially stable and romantically adept (i.e. they hit all the romantic beats in order and in the way you're supposed to-- first flirt, first kiss, first sex, mutual frustrations, etc.).
At the risk of over-sharing, I'll say that as a 17 year old falling in love for the first time, I was insecure, clumsy, occasionally cruel, occasionally the victim of cruelty, and and did just about everything wrong. This is what makes teenagers interesting to write about for me. The newness and the hugeness of the adult world.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
I'm of the mind that the value of film-- and all art, really-- lies in its ability offer and express shared experiences. This is why even very dark movies ultimately feel uplifting to me. They're a reminder that other people feel the way you do. Ultimately, Some Freaks is a film about self-destructive people. People who say terrible things to people they love, and hate themselves for it later; people who look at themselves in the mirror and wish they could magic themselves into another body; people who (often with the best of intentions) paint themselves into corners that they can't get out of. If this sounds familiar to you, then the film might have something for you in it.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
I honestly try not to dwell on what is or isn't universal-- it's too daunting and often leads to narrative generalizations. I focus on the personal and the immediate and just hope that I'm not an alien and that other people have felt these things too. Sometimes this backfires and I get strange looks, but more often than not it seems to work.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
Everything was originally much longer, and we found in the editing room how lean we could make the story while still getting everything we wanted to across in a clear manner. Of the characters, Patrick probably changed the most over the course of the writing. He began as a much more stereotypical jock, and we found that the more we endowed him with inner conflict and his own neuroses (revealing how he too is a freak), the more compelling the character became, despite some of the choices he makes in the story. Our actor Lachlan Buchanan, who played Patrick, identified these shifts in the character and ran with them beautifully over the course of filming.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Oh man, it's just been amazing. We premiered the film at Fantasia to a sold out audience and even had to turn a few dozen people away at the door (which is unfortunate, but also, y'know, kind of flattering?). But what really thrilled me was when the lights came up and I'd say 90% of the audience stuck around for the Q&A. The audience was warm and appreciative, and asked great questions. It really couldn't have gone better.
Since then, a handful of reviews have trickled in, and almost all of them have been just wonderful. Whenever you make a piece of art-- and especially a piece of art that maybe deals with some ugly topics -- you hope that people will take away from it what you want them to, but know that things get lost in translation, or the ideas themselves can be rejected. But so far, in this case, the audience really seems to have understood and embraced what we set out to do. So yeah-- no complaints.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
It's surprising only insofar as I honestly expected more negative pushback. The amount of love we got at Fantasia was really kind of stunning.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I think we are very eager to share the story and performances in the film with as wide an audience as possible, largely because we've grown so attached to what these characters have become thanks to our brilliant actors. Thomas Mann, Ely Henry, Lachlan Buchanan, and Tony nominee Marin Ireland give tremendous performances, and we have such a touchstone in the transformation that our leading lady Lily Mae Harrington crafted for the role of "Jill."
The character is required to be very different physically in the two halves of the film, and Lily committed to that so fully. Our producers of course supported her by providing an extensive three-person health team, and she truly embraced all the demands of this part, which she can of course speak about more eloquently than I can. Consequently, everyone involved with the film has done so much hard work to tell a story we believe in, and now our goal is to help everyone who would identify with it find their way to it.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
We are currently beginning distribution conversations, so we welcome any inquiries in that regard. We also are of course eager to continue sharing the film with festival audiences after such an amazing premiere with the awesome audiences at Fantasia in Montreal. Next up is the Rhode Island International Film Festival in Providence on August 12, 2016, and we're of course open to other festival opportunities after that as well.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
Honestly, my ambition here is pretty humble. I hope the film reaches the audience it needs to reach and that it means something to them. Everything beyond that is decoration.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
This question won't make too much sense without having seen the film, but I think a hotly debated conversation that inevitably arises for anyone who watches the film is: "Why does each character attend the parties they go to during the movie?" A touch cryptic, but hopefully it will make you want to watch to see how that question could potentially be so loaded.
Would you like to add anything else?
Nope! Thanks for reaching out to us. I hope you enjoy the film.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Right now I'm working on treatments for a few horror films. While "Some Freaks" wouldn't necessarily indicate this, I've always been a huge genre fan, and really want to make a horror movie next. I also just finished writing a new play that was commissioned by Theatre Masters. As for our cast: Thomas Mann just wrapped production as a member of the lead cast of "Kong: Skull Island" opposite Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson; Lily Mae Harrington can be seen as a series regular role on the new YouTube RED original series "Sing It!"; Ely Henry is currently recurring in Showtime's Cameron Crowe series "Roadies"; Lachlan Buchanan recently finished appearances on MTV's "Teen Wolf" and CBS' "NCIS"; and Marin Ireland was just nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for her role in "Glass Chin."
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Length: 97 minutes
Director: Ian MacAllister-McDonald
Producer: Lovell Holder, Mia Chang, Tim Harms, Ryan Smith
Writer: Ian MacAllister-McDonald
About the writer, director and producer:
Ian MacAllister-McDonald (writer/director) is a playwright, filmmaker, and educator from Portland, Maine. He is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University and Brown University. He is the recipient of two Edward Albee Foundation Fellowships, a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, the Visionary Playwrights Award from Theatre Masters, and a Playwriting Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Lovell Holder (producer) is a graduate of Princeton University and Brown University. In addition to producing "Some Freaks," he recently directed the feature film "Loserville," which he also co-wrote and which stars Darby Stanchfield, Matt McGorry, and Chris Bellant.
Mia Chang (producer) has produced the films "Struck By Lightning," "Kid Cannabis," and "Boulevard," which starred the late Robin Williams. She also served as an executive producer on "It Follows." She is currently a founding partner of the management company Brio Entertainment.
Tim Harms (producer) has worked extensively alongside playwright and filmmaker Neil LaBute, producing his films "Some Velvet Morning" and "Dirty Weekend," as well as the TV show "Billy and Billie." Harms also produced Lee Toland Krieger's debut feature, "The Vicious Kind."
Ryan Smith (producer) founded Mountview Creative, a full-service production company and creative agency based in Nashville and Los Angeles. He has previously produced the documentary "When the Night Comes," and his next feature is the dance film "Heartbeats."
Key cast: Thomas Mann, Lily Mae Harrington, Ely Henry, Lachlan Buchanan, and Marin Ireland
Where can I watch it in the next month? The Rhode Island International Film Festival in Providence, RI: August 12, 2016 at 7:00 pm.