Two lifelong friends come together in Los Angeles searching for a reason to live.
Interview with filmmakers Charlotte Rothwell, Alessandro Nori and Jeff Bomberger
Congratulations! Why are you making your film?
C: I feel that as a filmmaker we have a right to tell stories that spread awareness and I feel passionately about telling stories that encourage worldwide equal rights for women and for LGBT people. These are subjects that are very close to my heart and I feel angered when I hear of any sort of discrimination towards women or the LGBT community. Enough is enough: it’s time to make a change, together.
A: I started to write Sonnet in July with the intent of telling an important story that so many gay men and LGBT friends share, which is how hard it is to love yourself when your own family and society have a homophobic view of the world, and how rejection and homophobia can lead to suicide.
J: I chose to join the project because to me it really captured the emotional toll of feeling like a social outsider, the consequences of marginalizing one another. Yet at the same time the piece demonstrates the power of just one true friendship.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
C: Despite the dark subject matters, it is ultimately a film about hope and the power of friendship. I think it is vital that we all open our eyes to the consequences of discrimination and abuse, and open our hearts to those battling depression or suicidal thoughts. Awareness is the first step forwards.
A: To me, this is a story about the tragic consequence that our actions can have on other human beings. We are all responsible to lift each other up, and I think you should watch this film to either find more empathy for women and LGBT people, or if you are feeling isolated and alienated this film will hopefully make you feel less alone in your pain and suffering.
J: You should watch this film if you deeply care about anyone. Depression and suicide can strike all, and as we’re touching on, particularly in LGBTQ youth and women who’ve been sexually assaulted. What we’re hoping to accomplish here is to paint a portrait of the polarizing emotions we feel about life when we’re stripped of our humanity.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
C: I think that ultimately, we are all ‘human and need to be loved’, as the song by The Smiths goes! We all also universally deserve equality, acceptance and respect, regardless of our sexual orientation, race or gender, and that is something that affects each one us personally in different ways. In Sonnet, we explore the discrimination a gay man has faced because of his sexuality, and the trauma of a woman who has been sexually abused. These are subjects that are major topics of conversation in today’s society, and I am glad that there is now an open dialogue surrounding this where people are fighting for what is humanly right.
A: I believe our human experience is both personal and universal: our joy, our struggles, our wounds feel so personal, but I believe that in realizing that they are also universal, that everyone around us can empathize with us, and us with them- will make us feel more connected and less alone. So, when our protagonists come together with their own personal traumas, they can find hope in the unity they experience with one another.
J: To me the personal is universal and the universal is personal. Despite Leonardo’s and Juliet’s differing backstories, they’re unified in both their crushing despair and the light of their relationship. So to me, their wounded journey is a little microcosm of a universal suffering we all feel in way or another.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and pre-production?
C: With everything going on in society at the moment, we realized that we owed it to people to make this film as impactful as possible, so the story grew and evolved from there, even though the integrity of the message stayed the same. The size of the production increased in different ways- and of course, the budget too! They say ‘it takes a village to make a movie’!
A: Charlotte and I started working on this screenplay back in July 2016 and we went through something like twenty drafts! The core of the story and the relationship stayed the same, but as we dived more into researching about suicide, the more we explored our themes, the more our screenplay got closer to our last draft. Entire scenes were cut, and new scenes took their place. Then Jeff came on board as our director, and he helped us shape the screenplay into what it is today!
J: Once we all got together, we knew the heart and soul was there and as a director I’ve just tried to bring ideas that help create the most profound emotional impact on the audience. I think we’ve accomplished that by messing with time a bit — which is tenet in any sonnet!
What type of feedback have you received so far?
C: We have received so much encouragement, which we are incredibly grateful for. People feel that this is a story that needs to be told more so now than ever, and the generosity of people who have contributed to our Seed & Spark crowdfunding campaign has greatly touched my heart.
A: I feel very fortunate to have received such positive feedback, with most people understanding the importance of the message we are aiming to get across with this film, and others sharing the sentiment that we chose to tell the story in such a beautiful and compelling way.
J: I’ve been very humbled by the response I’ve received from people. Everything from how relevant the topic is to the look of even the teaser we shot. It’s been a great affirmation that we’re doing something meaningful.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
C: Talking to so many people about the project and hearing their enthusiasm definitely made me raise the bar and challenged me to make sure that this story was being told in the best way possible, that the film would be the very best it could be. We have discussed even the smallest of details in great length to make sure that everything had a reason and a purpose.
A: I wouldn't say that the feedback has challenged me. As the screenplay was in development I received some amazing notes from industry professionals I trust and love, and their point of view just help me clarify my own vision, and most of all it confirmed how important this story is today: with the current political and social climate, we need women and LGBT people to be heard in their struggle for survival.
J: I don’t think it’s challenged my point of view, but more affirmed how important it is to dive right into these subjects. For some reason openly and intelligently discussing the impacts of homophobia, violence against women and suicide are the taboo, ‘hush hush’ subjects, but we’ll never grow if we can’t be adults and maturely have a dialogue about reality.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
C: We really want this film to be a part of the dialogue about women’s rights and equality for the LGBT community, which we are all deeply moved by and passionate about. We want to fight the good fight for humanity, spread awareness far and wide, and hopefully give hope to people who have shared similar experiences to the characters.
A: I'm hoping to reach more and more people. I really dream of taking this film to as many film festivals as possible, screen it in small towns and big cities alike, so that we can open a conversation on the subject matter. I believe the more people will see it, the more awareness on these issues will be generated.
J: We hope have as many people join us on this journey. To me the film should be a conversation starter. We want people to know we’re here, we’re gonna tell a mature, emotional story and we’d love for you to join the conversation.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
As we are in the last stage of financing the film, we need all the help we can get and are extremely grateful for any support. We are also hoping to engage with journalists, distributors and film festival directors who can help us to give our film an even bigger platform. It would be a dream come true to see Sonnet being screened at film festivals all over the world, so we can spread a message of equality, hope and friendship.
A: Right now we are in the last phase of financing it, so we are hoping to get as many people to join us on this journey who want to see such an important story come to life. We are also welcoming journalists, film festival directors and distributors to start a conversation with us on how to ensure that Sonnet is seen by the widest audience possible.
J: Those passionate about meaningful film to donate to the campaign, festival directors, distributors, anyone willing to engage in the subject matter to elevate the conversation.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
C: It is my ultimate goal for this film to give hope to anybody who is suicidal or battling depression for whatever reason, for them to realize they are not alone, they are understood and that they are worthy of happiness.
A: I would like this piece to offer hope to women and people in the LGBTQ community who are struggling with depression and who might be suicidal while at the same time showing everyone else how their actions can negatively affect someone else who's struggle we might not be aware of.
J: As the director I want people to be moved by this film, to make them reflect on their point of view towards their neighbor and ask if they hold any disparaging beliefs. And if they do, hopefully they’ll be compelled to dissolve those ideas.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
C: How can I be more accepting and supportive to those around me?
A: Is there anything I could do to make sure I'm an ally to women and LGBT people who might be going through a rough time?
J: How am I alienating others around me?
Would you like to add anything else?
C: I am so humbled to be on this journey and am so thankful to everyone who has joined us on our way so far.
A: I'm really grateful for the positive response we have gotten so far and for the amazing team we are gathering to work on Sonnet!
J: Couldn’t be happier Alessandro & Charlotte brought me on board to tell such a beautiful story!
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
C: We are excited to be in pre-production and finessing the look, feel and sound of the film with our team. I am also doing lots of research for my character and really getting to know her before I bring her to life.
A: We are currently working with the DP on gathering the right equipment and started to visual board. We are also talking to editors, composers and wardrobe!
J: The DP and I are discussing the visual style, look and cinematic feel of the piece. Conversations have also begun with other creative positions such as music and wardrobe.
Interview: January 2017
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
Two lifelong friends come together in Los Angeles searching for a reason to live.
Length: Unsure, as we are still in pre-production. Estimated 15 minutes.
Director: Jeff Bomberger
Producer: Charlotte Rothwell, Alessandro Nori, Jeff Bomberger
Writer: Alessandro Nori and Charlotte Rothwell
About the writer, director and producer: (25 words each)
Charlotte Rothwell: Charlotte is a British actress, who started acting at the age of four. She trained with the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and was named one of BAFTA-Los Angeles’ Newcomers of the Year.
Alessandro Nori: Born and raised in Milan, Italy, Alessandro is an experienced theatre and film actor. He is the face of Fiat's original campaign Neighbors, produced as a limited web series in collaboration with Funny or Die.
Jeff Bomberger: Jeff is a filmmaker born and raised in Southern California. Jeff has worked as a writer, director and editor on a variety of projects for Unified Soul Theory, an online inspirational platform that boasts over 800,000 followers. He also helped create digital campaigns for various organizations tackling social justice issues, political corruption and helping the homeless.
Key cast: Charlotte Rothwell and Alessandro Nori
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): additional funding.
We are currently crowdfunding on Seed & Spark and have raised almost 70% of our budget in ten days, but still need additional support to reach our goal! The link is: https://www.seedandspark.com/fund/sonnet
Funders: We are very grateful to all of our friends, family, peers who have contributed to our Seed & Spark campaign!
Made in association with: N/A
Where can I see it in the next month? We will be filming mid-February, but if you donate just $25 you will receive a free digital download as soon as the film is ready!