Funeral’s ain’t fun y’all.
Interview with Directors Catherine Dee Holly & Fray Forde
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
KAT: Fray and I went through a whirlwind of emotions when my grandmother passed. We found that this is a major chapter of adulthood: when you have to bury your loved ones and make amends with your upbringing. Though, through laughs, tears, and lots of moonshine, we got through it. Once it was all said and done, we started trying to find what our next film would be. The experience of going back home kept coming up until we realized that’s where we wanted our story to live. The result of that is “Pop-Pop is Dead.”
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
FRAY: One thing we’ve learned since creating this story that is very specific to us is that almost everyone can relate to it. Even though everyone doesn’t come from the South or hasn’t lived this certain set of circumstances, everyone understands trying to overcome loss while also wrestling with your own personal identity. And even more than that, everyone just wants to laugh, even in the toughest times. So, while this movie may be based on our lives, this story is everyone’s story.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
KAT: We both were raised in South Carolina, where the film takes place, and we really wanted to explore a version of the South that was true and authentic to our experience. That’s why self-identity is a huge theme of “Pop-Pop is Dead” as my character Layla is trying to accept her family and her southern roots. No matter what she does, she can’t run away from her past. Instead, she has to run back and embrace it if she ever wants to truly move on.
The other major theme in the film, which is universal for everyone at some point, is grief. Fray and I have both lost people very close to us and we wanted to show that the state of grief is full of emotions, not just sadness. As much as we cried during these times, we’ve also laughed the hardest we’ve ever laughed. That’s because, when you’re going through something that life-changing together, every emotion is heightened. Which is how you end up with a movie like “Pop-Pop Is Dead.”
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
FRAY: The film had major evolutions from conception to screen. As an example, the plot initially was going to to focus on us going home to take care of a younger sibling. It took awhile to find the story that the final film eventually landed on. Once we had a script and a cast, we started working with the actors to make each line their own and bring the characters to life. We heavily encouraged rewriting and improvisation with our actors in order to make sure everyone has a piece of themselves in the final version of the film.
The biggest shift would be the actual length of the film itself. Initially we wrote a 30 page “short film” if you can call that a short film. Yet, since we’ve never written action set pieces before, we didn’t realize how much that would lengthen the film in comparison to the length of the script. Not to mention, our actors were improvising in every scene, dramatic or comedic. So once it was all said and done, we went from a 30 page script to a 60 minute movie, making us possibly the first people to accidentally make a feature film.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
KAT: We are so proud to say that the film premiered in front of 600 people at LiveNation’s Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta, GA this past August and was a huge success. Now that we are based in LA, we are very interested to see how this southern dramedy plays in-front of non-southern audiences.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
FRAY: We were shocked by how many people from all walks of life told us they related heavily to this story and these characters. After spending a year diving into some of the most personal elements of our lives, it was so beautiful to see that it resonated with so many people. As an artists, that’s all you can ask for.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
KAT: We are looking to expand our network of movie goers, indie filmmakers, and, of course, distribution.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
FRAY: We need to take our filmmaking to the next level. We are known for our DIY low budgeted projects. It would be amazing to have a bigger budget and to work with a team that has been around the block before.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
KAT: We want you to laugh, cry, call your family, and go home more! Always remember that where you’re from is apart of who you are and you never want to lose that part of you.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
FRAY: I think the biggest question is “Have I been there when my family needs me?” Even if you’ve been burned by someone you love in the past, have you still showed up when they were truly relying on you? Sometimes, the answer is you haven’t and you have to come to terms with that. But you can amend that right now. That’s the beautiful thing about family: you can always come back home.
Would you like to add anything else?
FRAY: Check out our movie, Good Hair, on Amazon Prime while you wait for Pop-Pop Is Dead to come to your town! Also, honey taste better in coffee than sugar.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
KAT: We are currently in LA developing a potential series based on our films Good Hair and Pop-Pop Is Dead. Not to mention, working on some amazing upcoming projects we’ll be able to talk about more in the future!
Interview: November 2018
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTQIA+, POC, First Nations, scifi, supernatural, horror, world cinema. 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
Pop-Pop is Dead
Funeral’s ain’t fun y’all.
Length: 60. Min
Catherine Dee Holly & Fray Forde
Director: Catherine Dee Holly & Fray Forde
Producer: Andrew Lee
Writer: Catherine Dee Holly & Fray Forde
About the writer, director and producer:
Real-life couple Catherine Dee Holly & Fray Forde are America’s next sweethearts. The couple’s short film, Good Hair, is an award-winning short film selected by Kevin Hart to screen at the world’s largest comedy festival, Just for Laughs, and is available to stream on Amazon Prime. Pop-Pop Is Dead, the duo’s first feature film, premiered and sold out LiveNation’s Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta, GA to over 600 attendees on August 29th, 2017.
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): ALL
Social media handles:
Hashtags you use: #poppopisdead #cokiproductions
Where was this filmed?
Funders: Yoshee Sodiq, Alex Kahn, Jane Levings, Tommy Rybert, Shellie Wylie.
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month?
LA Comedy Festival! Friday November 16th, 9:30 pm, Let Live Theatre.
Tickets are available at poppopisdead.com