A troubled young girl is tormented by bullies and enters an altered state.
Interview with Writer/Director Cath Gulick
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
I don't really know why I made it. I don't have a message. I like books and movies that sort through and reinterpret human experience and I always wanted to be able to do that too. It was actually having material to interpret that was always a challenge. Somehow this idea arrived of a girl who can travel to another dimension in response to being bullied, and it was something I was able to devote years of my life to.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Come watch this film if you love gritty, depressing, tear-filled virtuoso acting and films whose sense of reality is sort of slightly left of center.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Hm. I mean, the obvious universal theme is that bullying sucks, but a sort of more general theme is that life sucks. I'm not really a very positive person, I suppose. I had some feedback on the film where the viewer said, "Your movie is so depressing that the character's depression became my depression," which is cool. If I were to try to phrase any of that more elegantly, I might say that I find much of life too absurd to be very real at all, and that is why alternate dimensions are so useful.
Personal themes.... I'm very interested in faces? Movies give you an opportunity to stare at someone's face for a very long time, which you can't do in real life without varying reactions of terror. I make use of this opportunity in my film.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
What is the word for when your learning curve has a learning curve? The script stage was interesting because I was a white lady writing about characters in the Filipino American community. I wrote the script for my actress Adelina, and if you see the movie you'll understand why anyone would kill to work with her. I wrote it and handed it over to her and she was like, "You would never say this to your grandmother." So little cultural tweaks were made, which leads me to say to other white writers: you CAN write what you know and still cast people from backgrounds that are very different from yours. Write what you know, and then make your cast comfortable enough to tweak the script until it rings true for them. Some other Filipino-American stuff that found its way into the story but are not obvious to non-Filipino-Americans are that we don't know what happened to Eleanor's mother.
Shirley, who plays the grandmother, took me to a Mother's Day party at the Bayanihan Filipino Cultural Center in Queens, New York. The center was giving a party for the mothers because they had all left their children behind in the Philippines in order to come work in the U.S. The mothers at the party brought pictures of the children they hadn't seen in years, and the white children they now cared for as nannies. I was floored. This dismantling of families is partly the result of the Philippines' Labor Export Policy, the current solution to unemployment in the Philippines. There are more Filipino nationals living abroad than at home.
Families are routinely torn apart. And of course things are made even worse here in the U.S. by the ongoing challenges to family reunification. This is all a very long way of saying that when a Filipino-American person watches the movie and sees Eleanor's piecemeal family--only a grandmother at home, supported by a cousin across town--that is what normal feels like. The grandmother is likely petitioning for the mother to come to the U.S.
As for the film itself, I just did not know what the fuck I was doing when I shot this movie. I understand the need for film school now. But I would still rather learn the hard way so that I can bitch about it later. Things I learned: how not to operate a camera. How to edit. How long it takes to do things The Right Way.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Are gifs acceptable?
There are generally two very different responses to the movie.
Here's the other: https://media.giphy.com/media/itDBteCsTFSVO/giphy.gif
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
At first, I was surprised people could not relate to my depressing, fucked-up, surreal movie. I had to learn to spend more time during the scripting process for my next projects to see what was landing for everyone and what only lands for a small number of people. Then I can knowingly choose between the two, instead of hurtle blindly towards one.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I really want people to learn about my movie and think, "this sounds like the movie for me," then see it, and feel satisfied that they have found another freak like themselves, and they are not alone. I love movies. I LOVE movies. Certain movies feel like friends. I want my movie to be someone else's friend. I am hoping that someone on www.wearemovingstories.com will connect deeply with the film and help me find others who connect with it.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Distributors, sales agents, buyers, and audience! Our first audience will be viewing this film at our March 23 premiere at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, NYC, as part of the Queens World Film Festival, and we'd like word of mouth to spread both among industry people and film fans. We want to fan the flames and have our audience continue to expand. This film is especially for teenagers. If you know any teenagers or have been one yourself, please check out our film.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
My dream would be for a young person to see this film and feel like they are watching their own experience up on the screen, to fall in love with their own story, and then to have fond memories of the film as a sort of life marker when they are older--the way you do with your favorite albums.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
What steps could have been taken by any of the adults in this film to prevent the situation Eleanor faces at the end?
Would you like to add anything else?
I am just so excited to share this film with others who will connect to it.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I have a couple of scripts ready to go and so does my producer Victoria Negri, straight off her feature debut GOLD STAR. Our actress Ivory Aquino is about to appear in HBO's HIGH MAINTENANCE.
Interview: March 2018
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTIAQ+, scifi, 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
The Fever and the Fret
A troubled young girl is tormented by bullies and enters an altered state.
Length: 76 minutes
Director: Cath Gulick
Producer: Niki Janowski and Victoria Negri
Writer: Cath Gulick
About the writer, director and producer:
About the writer/director:
Cath Gulick is a New York-based filmmaker and Slamdance alum. She has produced burlesque shows and previously worked assistant camera on Jeremy Saulnier’s MURDER PARTY.
About the producers:
Niki Janowski has most recently worked as a production manager for Lewis Black’s BLACK TO THE FUTURE and 2nd AD for Gillian Robespierre’s OBVIOUS CHILD.
Victoria Negri just finished her first feature GOLD STAR, reviewed by The Hollywood Reporter as “emotionally resonant” and “compelling.” Her next feature is currently in development.
Adelina Amosco, Ivory Aquino, Kathleen Changho, Shirley Cuyugan O'Brien, Vanessa Carmona, and Jenny Moon.
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):
Distributors, sales agents, buyers, and audience.
Social media handles:
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month?
March 23 at Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, NYC, as part of the Queens World Film Festival. Tickets: https://1282.blackbaudhosting.com/1282/tickets?tab=2&txobjid=2c7bbd55-92cb-49cb-a99a-b969728c09ab