Sometimes the only thing harder to face than death.... is life.
Interview with Writer/Director Caitlin Dahl
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
It had been years since I had written and directed a short-form piece and I wanted to get back in the game and make something! I originally wrote "Grown-Ups" as a one-act play, but during the re-writing process, I decided that I could reach more people if it were made into a film.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
I feel that the visuals in this piece are very strong, but the strongest element may be the performances of my amazing cast. Alexandra Breckenridge (the lead) may be very familiar to audiences, having appeared in many television series, from "American Horror Story", to "The Walking Dead", and currently, the hit show "THIS IS US". But her contribution was matched by Sondra Kerr Blake and Melinda Dahl and their chemistry energized the film beyond my expectations. We rehearsed ten times before we even filmed anything so the piece felt natural and not "acted". Those three ladies really knocked it out of the park and are reason enough to watch.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Addiction is an issue that is very personal to me. I have many family members still struggling with drug and alcohol use. It is a rampant issue in this country and a lot of people can identify with the characters on both sides. Also, PREGNANCY! I was pregnant when we were shooting this film, and so was Alexandra Breckenridge - with our babies that are three weeks apart, so it was a very hormonal set - even though Melinda who played "Lizzie", the pregnant character was NOT pregnant!
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
I re-wrote this piece a total of twelve times before we started filming. It was constantly changing, even up until the first day of shooting. After our premiere screening, I had received feedback from numerous people that the opening scene was too long and was not essential to the story. So, I took the feedback and cut out the first ten minutes. In retrospect, I am very glad that I did this because I feel that it is a much stronger piece now and also, it's a lot easier to sit through a 19 minute short as opposed to a 29 minute one!
What type of feedback have you received so far?
We have received a lot of positive feedback since our last screening with the shorter cut. After the Flickers screening in Rhode Island, someone commented that it was very easy to identify with all of the characters and that each of their perspectives were understandable and relatable. Another interesting comment was about the artwork hanging on the walls in the piece - as it was very prominent. I was happy that the artwork made an impact, because most of it was done by my sisters - photographer and actress Melinda Dahl and artist Lauren Dahl.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
As a filmmaker you have to be open to receive criticism. I was glad that I took people's suggestions to make the film shorter as it helped strengthen the piece. As humbling as it can be sometimes, constructive criticism can help to kick an artist's work up to a higher level. I feel that listening to feedback from viewers helped to make my film - like the three characters in it - a continuing "work in progress".
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I would like for more people to see my work and know who I am as a film maker, as I plan on making more films in the future.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
We are looking for a buyer and for distribution after the film has played the festival circuit in the hopes of getting the film out to as many viewers as possible.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I would like for people who see this to feel something when they walk away and have something to talk about - particularly when it comes to the topic of addiction. Sometimes in the case of addiction, I think more people are lost simply because no one in their lives has the courage to confront them with honesty, and the love and care to help them, find their way out of their problem. I believe we all know someone who struggles with some form of addiction, and if my film were to compel even one person to reach out to a loved one in need, that would honestly be a greater reward than any positive feedback or critical acclaim.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
I guess there are many. What makes people abuse substances? Is it a gene? Is it a weakness? Does it mark a point in life when a person can no longer cope with their feelings and the day-to-day challenges of life and has given up? At what point in life do children become the caretakers of their parents? How alone do we feel when the ones we once depended upon are no longer there for us? And will we be strong enough to face the emptiness of that without also being tempted to numb ourselves to those same feelings and challenges?
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Director - Caitlin Dahl: I have written a full-length feature screenplay called "Blackhearts Circus" and I am also applying to AFI's Directing program 2018, while also currently working on the screenplay for another short film which I hope to shoot this year.
Actress - Melinda Dahl - recently appeared as a guest star on the upcoming series, "Loudermilk", also in a guest starring role in "American Crime Story - Versace" as well as a recurring role in the series "Casual".
Actress - Alexandra Breckenridge - can currently be seen in a lead role on the popular series, "This Is Us", and is also recurring in episodes of "The Walking Dead"
Actress - Sondra Kerr Blake continues to perform and teach acting in Hollywood, serving as a mentor and guru to many young creatives - including myself!
Interview: August 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
Sometimes the only thing harder to face than death.... is life.
Length: 19 minutes
Director: Caitlin Dahl
Producer: Caitlin Dahl, India Dupre
Writer: Caitlin Dahl
About the writer, director and producer:
Caitlin got her start as a lead editor on Tim McGraw’s videos “Suspicions”, “Southern Voice” and McGraw and Def Leppard’s “Nine Lives”. Following the release of the videos, Caitlin was invited on Tim McGraw’s North American 2008 tour to shoot and edit for documentary purposes. Upon her return to Los Angeles, Caitlin and her twin sister Melinda formed their Production Company Dahlhouse Productions where Caitlin has been the head writer, director and producer of the film and television division. Their most notable clients include: Guess, Guess by Marciano, G by Guess, Sexy Hair and Bosley Professional Strength.
Caitlin began her career as an actress and has since appeared in numerous commercials, films and television productions, including, Nip/Tuck (FX), House M.D. (FOX), and American Horror Story (FX). She also sings and plays lead guitar in her band The Dahls with her sister Melinda. Caitlin is married to Executive Producer/Writer Danny Smith on “Family Guy”.
Key cast: Alexandra Breckenridge, Melinda Dahl, Sondra Kerr Blake
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): Yes. All of the above
Social media handles: www.grownupsshortfilm.com
Made in association with: Shorty's Porch Inc., Dahlhouse Productions
Where can I see it in the next month?
Cinema Los Angeles Film Festival 2017