Marina Rice Bader is no stranger to lesbian feature films. She was Executive Producer for both Elena Undone and A Perfect Ending, both of which were directed by her then business and life partner Nicole Conn.
Now, Bader has blazed new territory with Anatomy of a Love Seen, her first stab at feature-film directing. Shot in five days, this improvised film based on Bader’s story, characters and outline fulfilled her desire to create a very organic and visceral experience.
LesFan had the pleasure of interviewing Bader as Anatomy of a Love Seen was just released to the public, after debuting at Outfest Film Festival.
Well this has certainly been a different route to take to create and release a film. What inspired you? Why do you choose this unique path for this unique film?
Yes, it’s been quite an incredible journey! It was a 30-day whirlwind from inception to the completion of filming of a fully improvised film shot in five days! I wanted the entire project, from beginning to end, to feel “different and unique” because love and our stories of love are just that. Love confounds me on a daily basis, which is clearly reflected in Anatomy of a Love Seen.
In regards to distribution I really wanted to try something different with this film, after all the entire project was made very much outside of “normal”. I thought it would be amazing to have people from all over the world be able to enjoy the film immediately after the premiere. I made the film for our community, so it made sense to me that I should get it to them as quickly as possible. In traditional distribution a film can be available in the US months before anywhere else, and I’m just not a fan of that type of exclusion. The awesome news is that it’s working – Anatomy of a Love Seen has now been viewed in over 70 countries!
You are in the film as the character of the director. How did you manage to direct and act – as a director – and direct your talent all at the same time?!
I was originally going to cast the role of Kara, but quite honestly I couldn’t wrap my head around directing an actor to play the director directing actors in an improvised movie. It was one too many layers for me!
I had a great time playing Kara, and it was relatively easy to switch from director to actor since the character was basically me. I just had to be real and organic and in the moment. The challenge was the improvisation – you never knew what the talented Sharon, Jill, and Constance were going to toss your way – and of course there are quite emotional scenes as well that I had about 30 seconds to prepare for, which was interesting.
By playing Kara I was able to accomplish what I initially set out to do (although I didn’t know what it meant when I first said it), which was to direct from inside the story.
Sharon Hinnendael, Jill Evyn, and Constance Brenneman were really terrific. How did you find them, and what made you realize they were your leads?
All three of my actresses are phenomenal! I met with very few ladies because I spent every night on my computer wading through what turned out to be thousands of submissions looking for just the right Zoe, Mal, and Anne (Constance Brenneman). In the end I saw eight actresses for Zoe, six for Mal and none for Anne, because the actress I cast in that part came in for the role of Mal. I think it took me all of two minutes to say “look, I know you came in for Mal, but would you please be my Anne, because you are so very Anne.” Yippee gut instincts because Constance Brenneman was more than I could have dreamed of for Anne. Of the six I read for Mal there was not a good fit, and since I had no time to go back and start the search over I decided to cast both Zoe and Mal from the actresses who came in for Zoe, which was an extremely talented bunch. I put Sharon Hinnendael (Zoe) together with Jill Evyn (Mal) for a chemistry read and to see how they did with improvisation, and they knocked it out of the park. The even better news is they did the same thing every day on set, so my working relationship with the cast was incredibly satisfying.
The film was shot in 5 days? We, as the audience, actually get to see the filming of … the filming. Tell us about this.
Yes – 5 days! The set was incredible – we had this group of 25 people attempting something quite difficult and out of the box, so we were like “we can do it” every day, and every day we did! The key was our team, truly – they rocked it so hard and brought 100% every single day. The film is quite “meta” in a way. Our working crew played the movie crew, the actors were in character at all times, and everything was fair game. This was a two-camera shoot, so you never knew if B camera was rolling on behind-the-scenes (some of which ended up in the film.) We even had to create a code word for “the real cut” because we use the word “cut” so much inside the film! My first AD and right hand Kieran Valla was indispensable since I spent some time in front of the camera. You’re only as good as your team – I truly believe that – no one makes a film by themselves.
How was your Outfest debut?
Outfest was a fantastic experience – satisfying on every level possible, including the crowd reaction. It was a packed house of folks who really went with us on the ride. I am so grateful to the LGBT festivals and how they support us indie filmmakers. Very often the festival screenings act as our theatrical release in a way – it’s an opportunity for our audience to watch the film on a big screen, the way we wish everyone could watch. Not many smaller films make it to the local movie theaters, so the festivals are critical, and I’m so incredibly happy we premiered at Outfest in my hometown of Los Angeles.
Your next film is Raven’s Touch? What are your plans after that?
Raven’s Touch, starring Dreya Weber and Traci Dinwiddie, is going through the final edit and should be ready to go this fall. I’m also in the beginning stages of a project that will shoot at the end of this year – the details are under wraps right now. Then in the fall of 2015 I’m shooting one of my favorite stories called “Red Sky Theater” in Arizona. This one’s been in my heart for a long time, and I can’t wait to get started!
What are your feelings about fanfiction?
Interesting question and I suppose I’ve never really thought about it! You’ve given me a very cool idea, though, and I’ll keep you updated on that!
Any chance you’re coming to Provincetown with Anatomy of a Love Seen or any of your films?
I’ve actually never been to Provincetown myself, but I understand it’s pretty fantastic, especially during Women’s Week! We screened both Elena Undone and A Perfect Ending there. To answer your question, I’m not sure at this moment, but it sure sounds like a good idea!
Anything else you want to add and/or share with us?
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