Midwest Independent Film Festival - Miriam is Going to Mars

Miriam is Going to Mars

Miriam is Going to Mars

A woman with schizophrenia attempts to escape a psychiatric hospital by signing up for the first human mission to Mars.

Interview with Writer/Director Michael Lippert

 

Congratulations! Why did you make your film? 

I wanted to tell a story that felt relevant in terms of where are headed with space travel. The idea of getting to Mars has always fascinated me, because on some level it seems so impossible, but companies like Space X are making it look more inevitable all the time. And I also wanted to tell a small, human story, about an unlikely candidate who would sign up for a mission like this. So I think it became a very tragic story once it really evolved into a mother's struggle with mental illness and having to come to terms with that.

Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?

You should watch this film if you like emotionally challenging character studies. I do think that Miriam, while severe in her own condition, is still very universal. Hers is an extreme manifestation of what many of us fear. We want to know that we are going to be competent citizens, good parents, able to find our place in society. But Miriam struggles with all three in a profound way, so it's a bit scary to think about, but I feel it's relatable because we all carry similar worries.

I also think people will relate to the idea of overcoming impossible odds, especially when the conditions are so precarious. A mission to Mars seems dangerous and likely to fail, and so does our hero, who is trying to escape a psychiatric ward while clearly dealing with major schizophrenic symptoms. And yet, if we relate, we will be rooting for her by the end. We'll think, maybe she can really do the impossible ...

And furthermore, I want people to see more representations of mental illness that aren't just buried in tropes and stereotyping. Miriam is a human being, plagued by an illness, but she is not defined by it. And I think that's important for people to distinguish.

Miriam is Going to Mars

Miriam is Going to Mars

How do personal and universal themes work in your film?

Personally, I am a new parent, and so this idea of wanting to be everything for my daughter is very real. I can't imagine not being able to take care of her, and I think that's Miriam's struggle too. The tragedy is that she really is not in any shape to be looking after a child. And universally, I think Miriam represents a larger human need to fit in, to be accepted, and to be in control.

How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?

What started as a story about someone applying to a mission to Mars turned into a film about someone really having a very internal struggle with schizophrenia. It went from being very outward, to very inward. Also, it wasn't until my wife suggested I write a female protagonist that I came up with Miriam. I'm sure the story would have been much different, and more "run of the mill" with a male lead. In the end, I wouldn't have done it any other way.

What type of feedback have you received so far?

People are very moved. It's what you want, but at the same time it does remind you of the sad nature of the piece. I do think people find a beauty in it at the same time, however. And that would be my hope in general, because I do think Miriam is an optimist, despite her circumstances.

Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?

Some struggle with the ending. And I don't want to spoil that, but it's been the most debated piece to it all. It's not an easy ending.

Miriam is Going to Mars

Miriam is Going to Mars

What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?

I hope people will want to watch the trailer and look out for it in festivals coming up. And if anyone wants to see it, I am happy to send a private link.

Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?

I would love to find distributors, and also to partner with someone working in mental health and see if there's some way to promote awareness.

What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?

I'll go back to my earlier statement: I want people to see more representations of mental illness that aren't just buried in tropes and stereotyping. Miriam is a human being, plagued by an illness, but she is not defined by it. And I think that's important for people to distinguish

What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?

What kind of people would apply to a mission to Mars, having no prior experience? And who would be rejected?

Miriam is Going to Mars

Miriam is Going to Mars

What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?

I'm working on a documentary about a rehabbed 1940s movie theater being renovated into a music venue in North Carolina. It's called Reeves Theater, and you can learn more at: https://www.facebook.com/ReevesTheater/

My producer writes and produces a web series called Raising Adults:  https://www.facebook.com/raisingadultsseries/

 

Interview: November 2017

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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

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Miriam is Going to Mars

A woman with schizophrenia attempts to escape a psychiatric hospital by signing up for the first human mission to Mars.

Length: 13 minutes

Director: Michael Lippert

Producer: Brittany Wagner

Writer: Michael Lippert

About the writer, director and producer: 

Michael Lippert is an award-winning director and editor, and has worked on several major commercial campaigns and multiple documentary and narrative films. Michael's short film Reversal ran the festival circuit last year and garnered several awards, screening all over the world, including Los Angeles, Montreal, London, and Chicago. Reversal won Best Sci-fi at the 2016 Juggernaut Film Festival, and was nominated for Best Actor/Actress and Art Direction at the Midwest Independent Film Festival. He lives in Chicago, Illinois with his wife, Kate, and their dog, Duke. Miriam has already screened all over the country, and won the Grand Jury Prize at the Midwest Independent Film Festival's Advertising Shorts Night.

Bio: Brittany Wagner (Producer)

Brittany is a Chicago-based writer/ producer of award-winning independent & commercial works, including short/ feature films, music videos and brand films. She's also created her own comedic web series, RaisingADULTS, which follows two young girls raising their crazy, disabled parents trying to grow up themselves; Season 1 (released) & Season 2 (in pre-production) - with intent to pitch.

Key cast: Ann Sonneville (Miriam), Nathaniel Buescher
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists

Social media handles: 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MiriamsGoingtoMars/

Twitter: @MGTM2017

Instagram: MiriamsGoingToMars

Made in association with: Cutters Studios, Company 3, Noisefloor

Where will the film screen in the next month?

We're currently nominated in 4 categories for the Midwest Independent Film Festival's annual BMAs Award Show, including best director, actress, cinematography, and short.