Logline: When oldest sister Shrader has to decide whether to stay in her deadbeat town and take care of her family or pursue her dream of joining the US Marine Corps, her entire life changes in one single moment.
Length: 17:30 min
Director: Amy Russo
Producer: Caitlin Langan, Mo Hussain, Emma Doherty
About the director and producer: Amy is an award-winning screenwriter and director, newly graduated with a BFA in directing from Emerson College. Caitlin, also an alum, is an experienced live TV broadcast producer. Both are from New Jersey, and this is their directorial/producing debut.
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): Representation, journalists/media coverage.
Funders: See full list at http://kickstarter.com/projects/748259570/racing-the-sunrise
Made in association with: Emerson College
Release date: May 2016
Congratulations! Why did you make a film called RACING THE SUNRISE?
The film is based on an event that took place in my life. Making the film was my kind of therapy. It’s supposed to lay the cards on the table about the abruptness and ugliness and gray areas surrounding sexual assault.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
It doesn’t bother with “prettiness” or “correctness.” Nothing about rape is pretty or correct. The film is minimalist and aims to streamline your attention toward the issue. You should watch it because it’s uncomfortable. Living in that uncomfortable space is the first step to acknowledging the problem, which is the way conversations (and solutions) get started.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Well, #1: don’t rape. I hope that’s a personal and universal theme for everybody. It deals with a lot of rock-and-hard-place themes that many people deal with, even if their problems seem very small or they keep their cards close to their chest. The film has a lot to do with things like the importance of finding sanctuary, how safe spaces are crucial and often right under our noses.
How has the script and film evolved over the course of its development and production?
The script went through about 17 working drafts and the film took 2 years to complete. It started out as a catharsis and then grew into something so much bigger. I never set out to be an activist, but that’s what I’ve turned into—what the film has spoken for.
I’ve gotten messages from total strangers saying they’ve been inspired by our efforts. It feels bigger than me now. What started as my college senior thesis project has turned into one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Inspired. Very, very encouraging. People saying “thank you.” Both the script and film have garnered numerous accolades in festivals and contests, so that’s reassuring.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Both. The awards don’t hurt. But it’s the relationships I’ve developed from the film’s success that matter. I never expected to reach an audience outside the classroom. I can’t help but be in awe when I see people encouraged to speak out and finding power in their own voices. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
I guess “challenged” wouldn’t be the right word—I’ve had to educate people who don’t know how to talk properly or informedly about rape. But that’s part of it. That’s only a good thing. I feel challenged now to work even harder, and I love it.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
Start talking about rape. Start talking about rape culture. Move to end rape and rape culture. And, of course, funding for my next film wouldn’t be a bad perk, either.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
All of the above, I guess. But I think this film has had its run. It’s done what it needed to do for me and for the people it’s touched. I’m ready to move on.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I want people to be okay with talking about the things in life that suck, or are gross, or are uncomfortable. Rape happens, and it’s awful, but it’s not going to stop happening unless we put our foot down and open our mouths. What people think of the film as a work of art or cinema doesn’t much matter, as long as they’re talking about the important things.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
“Did you know that 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime?”
Would you like to add anything else?
Thank you very much!
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Currently, I am working on producing my second short, HANGDOG COMPANY, which just won first place in the Short Script category at Cannes Screenplay Contest.