In the American Old West, Jack convinces her friend Dana to live life on their own terms.
Interview with Writer/Director/Producer Victoria Keon-Cohen
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
I wanted to make a western with strong multi-dimensional female leads. A Civilized Life was inspired by the spirit of Thelma and Louise, the romantic violence of Cormac McCarthy’s book Blood Meridian and the political undertones of William Mastrimone’s play Extremities.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Britt Lower, Tanya Fischer and Dean Winters all nailed their performances. It's got dark humor, confronting action and layered relationships. But you should just go for the bad ass chicks who take over the screen.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Friendship, loyalty and independence are at the heart of the conflict in this story.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
A Civilized Life was originally written as a proof of concept for a feature. In post, we cut two whole scenes from the film. Firstly, this is because the film was too long and secondly, one of the scenes introduced new characters leading into a broader story, which was unnecessary. We reduced the script in the edit so it could stand on its own legs as a contained piece.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Women have walked out elated (throwing a few air punches) while a few men walked out feeling somewhat overwhelmed. The words "bold" and "feminist western" have been thrown around. Some people specifically compliment the electric guitar and sound design, which enhances a visceral experience building to the climax of the story.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
During our LA screening, I was surprised and delighted at some unexpected moments where a few laughs broke out. I didn't expect the "feminist western" reaction. For me in the writing it was just a story with female leads.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
First of all, thank you for featuring our piece! Everyone involved in the production worked so hard and deserves to have their work seen. It's a pleasure to be able to share it with you alongside such talented filmmakers.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
The film has screened and won awards at various festivals in the US and now AUS. It would be wonderful to secure online distribution.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I'm just grateful that it's being shown and having a life of its own. It has been such a great experience to make and I hope the audience enjoys the ride from their perspective.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
How far would you go for a friend?
Would you like to add anything else?
The film is raising awareness of the human trafficking charity Nor For Sale. Not For Sale grows self-sustaining social projects and purpose driven business to end exploitation and forced labor.
From Britt Lower (Jack): "I found it empowering to step into the perspective of such a resilient character. I am so proud to be a part of this film and inspired to continue carving out spaces for the untold stories of our culture to be shared. This film is a tribute to the grit and grace of women."
From Tanya Fischer (Dana): “These women are so relevant for today's audience because of the strength and courage they found in each other. My favorite moment on set was pulling the gun out of the kitchen pot!”
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I am meeting with representation in Los Angeles and have been offered a feature to direct, which is another western (details not announced yet). Britt Lower (Jack) just wrapped a role on HBOs HIGH MAINTENANCE. Tanya Fischer just wrapped a film SMALL TOWN WISCONSIN. Lawrence Bender (Producer) Produced ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO which is airing in Australia on Fox8 this week, FONZO featuring Tom Hardy in post-production and just announced KILL BILL VOL.3, being Directed by Quentin Tarantino. Emily Korteweg (Co-Producer) is Producing an Untitled project for THE HOLLYWOOD ROOSEVELT HOTEL. Caleb Heymann (Director of Photography) just wrapped a feature titled THE MORTUARY COLLECTION. Chilly Nathan (Production Designer) was just in Paris designing an ESPN commercial. Ninet Tayeb (original song) is a lead in TV series WHEN HEROES FLY, which just got picked up by Netflix. Dror Mohar (editor / supervising sound editor) is about to start editing a TV show, working on music videos for UK artists and along with A Civilized Life composer Joseph E-Shine is launching STAR DRAGON MUSIC.
Interview: January 2019
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTQIA+, POC, First Nations, scifi, supernatural, horror, world cinema. 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
A Civilized Life
In the American old west Jack convinces her friend Dana to live life on their own terms.
Director: Victoria Keon-Cohen
Producer: Lawrence Bender, Victoria Keon-Cohen, Dean Winters, Andrea Harrison
Writer: Daniel J. Sheiman and Victoria Keon-Cohen
About the writer, director and producer:
VICTORIA KEON-COHEN (writer/director/producer) graduated BA(Hons) Production Design from Central Saint Martin’s University in London; worked as personal costumer to Robert De Niro; Wrote/produced/directed short films ETERNAL RETURN (2013) featuring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and A CIVILIZED LIFE (2018), which has won multiple awards to date.
DANIEL J. SHEIMAN (writer) is an American screenwriter based in Los Angeles, California. He has received multiple nominations, including the Austin Film Festival and BlueCat Screenplay Competition.
LAWRENCE BENDER (Producer) is an American film producer whose films have received 36 Academy-Award nominations, resulting in eight wins. He received three Best Picture nominations for producing PULP FICTION, GOOD WILL HUNTING and INGLORIOUS BASTARDS.
DEAN WINTERS (producer and lead actor) has featured in award winning TV shows and feature films including HBOs OZ, DIVORCE with Sarah Jessica-Parker, BROOKLYN NINE-NINE and JOHN WICK. A Civilized Life is his first production as Producer.
ANDREA HARRISON produced the award winning short films, THE EMISSARY(2015) and A DOG’S STORY(2017). She wrote, produced and sold her first feature film BNB HELL(2015) and was Executive Producer on TV show MIRACLE MILE GIRLS (2012)
Key cast: Britt Lower, Tanya Fischer, Dean Winters
Looking for: sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors
Facebook: Victoria Keon-Cohen
Other: Raising awareness of human trafficking charity www.notforsalecampaign.org
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month? We are open to possibilities.