A suburban Mother’s world is upturned by the beast growing inside her.
Interview with Writer/Director Lily Baldwin
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
This film began as a creative assignment of sorts, into which I folded a bunch of ideas I have been marinating on. Dan Schoenbrun asked me to adapt someone’s 2 sentence dream however I wanted to. I saw this as a meaty opportunity to take risks I don’t usually.
I was sick of dance being pretty and ornate, and I wanted to use bodies to unearth something subterranean in us. In preparation for my upcoming feature GLASS, I’ve been studying the pacing and suggestion of thrillers — so I jumped at the chance to flesh out the idea of “a parasite” without the predictable gore.
I wanted to push into a higher-concept art horror realm. How scary could scary be—? And what even IS scary, that isn’t just herky-jerky sound design?
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Because it might make you feel something that you can’t necessarily put into words.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Sure and absolutely yes — as in there’s been lots of consideration here. I think all work should be a balance of expression and communication. Leaning to one side of these could yield indulgence/masturbation or something completely absent of distinctness.
All this being said — I’ve been thinking about this idea of “IDEAL” — and how we work so hard for a picture of who we think we should be, rather than for what makes us genuinely happy.
This isn’t about judging or hating anyone or anything, but about acknowledging that kernel of questioning and perhaps doubt — and then asking — what do you do: swallow it? keep it and grow it? get it out?
SO — on an intellectual/metaphorical level, SWALLOWED the film is the story of a woman’s swallowed truth that grows into this thing she’s living with that sometimes comes out, and sometimes stays in.
On another note, I’m also a tad sick of the “mother” brand that is proposed as such a qualifying event for women these days, so there’s a slice of commentary here as well.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
The script pretty locked long before production. There are always performance variables, especially with dance, that throw proper wrenches into what you thought your film was going to be— so in this edit I had more to work with than I anticipated.
In post I spent a lot of time going back and forth with my friend and co-editor Chris Radcliff, trying to push a non-verbal and clear narrative trajectory. I worked in heavy dialogue with my composer and long time collaborator, Mark degli Antoni, and sound designer Jay Nierenberg. Temp sound and musicwould directly effect the edit.
All this exploration brought the invisible parasite (sub-protagonist) to life, and therefore changed dramatically in post!
What type of feedback have you received so far?
People seem to be effected in a plethora of ways — from complete disconnection, “what the fuck was that” and “you must not like babies” (which couldn’t be farther from the truth!) — to people saying “I know exactly what you mean” and “I’ve never been able to put that feeling into words” and “thank you for daring to go there.”
I’ve gotten lots of appreciation from mothers and fathers who seem to resonate with the complexity of growing a child. Also people have dug my oblique-yet-polished approach to horror.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Showing this piece makes me feel naked, so I tried to ween myself from feedback expectations. In general though, the more I watch it and hear reactions, the more I want to trim it and make it more concise. Just saying— it never ends! What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com
To keep building the film village with rich discourse — and to meet people who work hard for what they stand for.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Journalists who want to talk about what this film is doing and producers and investors to help future projects would be lovely.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I’d like to wake people up, and have them question the places where they may have settled into complacency.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
What is YOUR PARASITE— Your swallowed truth?
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Producer Andrew Houchens is developing the first film finance forum and co-production market for The Los Cabos International Film Festival, in addition to developing a short with a queer hip hop duo from Chicago.
Our DP Dagmar Weaver Madsen just wrapped Noël Wells feature in Austin and will be heading to London for Carlos Marques-Marcet's second feature.
Composer Mark degli Antoni's latest film with Werner Herzog 'Lo and Behold' has just been theatrically released with a premiere at BAM. Mark is currently scoring the feature ’Darker Than Blue’, directed by Matt Ruskin, starring Keith Stanfield, Nestor Carbonell.
This year I’m shooting my first feature film, GLASS: A true stalking story, and will be directing a Virtual Reality project, THROUGH YOU, with Saschka Unseld, in partnership with Sundance. Additionally I have a short episodic series in the works and am beginning to work in the interactive space. So basically no sleep for a year
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: 17 minutes
Director: Lily Baldwin
Producer: Andrew Houchens
Writer: Lily Baldwin
About the writer, director and producer:
Lily Baldwin's work has been featured at festivals, museums, art fairs, and galleries—including SXSW, Berlinale, Film Society at Lincoln Center, V&A Museum in London, Art Basel Miami, and in The New York Times. This year she is shooting her first feature film GLASS: A true stalking story, and will be directing a Virtual Reality project, THROUGH YOU, with Saschka Unseld in partnership with Sundance. Lily was recently selected by ShortsHD as one of the "Top 10 Emerging Directors to Watch.
Andrew Houchens is a producer, programmer, and film and media professional. He currently serves as Industry Liaison at the Los Cabos International Film Festival, helping develop the festival's first film finance forum and co-production market. As producer, he recently produced Lily Baldwin's SWALLOWED for the COLLECTIVE:UNCONSCIOUS omnibus feature (SXSW and BAMcinemafest 2016, Palm Springs International Film Festival). Formerly he produced the Gotham Independent Film Awards
Funders: Kickstarter and private donors and lots of sweat equity from all the artists involved.
Made in association with: EAMS Productions
Release date: We world premiered as part of the omnibus feature, collective:unconscious at SXSW ‘16 in narrative competition, then at BamCinemafest in NYC, and we will be coming to theaters this August.
Where can I watch it?
Right now we’re in conversation with some International festival, so if you’re curious, stay tuned on my Facebook page or website.