Interview With Katherine Brooks

Consider the journey of out writer-director
Katherine Brooks. While still a teenager, she left her home in Louisiana, drove to Los
Angeles, and spent her first night there sleeping in her
car in a motel parking lot. Eventually she landed in the world of reality television,
directing and sometimes producing shows following the lives of an incoherent rocker
(Ozzy Osbourne in The Osbournes), the
inexplicably popular (Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey in Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica), and the insipid leading the inane (Paris
and Nicole, respectively, in The Simple Life).

Photo credit: Louise Carey

Thankfully, Brooks left that world
and turned to writing and directing her own films. In 2006, she debuted her first
feature, Loving Annabelle,
the story of a rebellious, passionate and preternaturally self-assured Catholic
school girl (Erin Kelly) and the object of her desire, Simone, a guarded yet smoldering
blond teacher with a tragic past (Diane Gaidry). Loving Annabelle went on to win film festival awards from Long Island
to Melbourne, and two years later is still a top-selling DVD with a legion of devoted

Brooks recently met with me to give her first in-depth interview
about her new film, Waking Madison, which
reunites her with Erin Kelly and also stars Elisabeth Shue, Sarah Roemer (Disturbia) in the title role, and Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under). We also talked about what
she would change today about Loving Annabelle and why
she’s drawn to story lines about terribly inappropriate lesbian relationships. Waking Madison is set for release this fall.
What’s it about?
Katherine Brooks:
It’s about a young woman, Madison, who suffers from multiple
personality disorder. She’s suicidal and has really just given up on life. She decides
to lock herself in her apartment for 30 days as a last resort.

The movie is the lead-up to the 30 days, and footage of her using
her own video camera to observe her other personalities as they come out.

Brooks with Sarah Roemer on the set of Waking

AE: Is it true you locked
yourself in your apartment for 30 days as Madison does in the film?
Yes, I, too, had just kind of given up on life. I’d been in therapy my whole
life, tried medication and nothing really worked. I was always really sad and felt
very disconnected to the world.

AE: That sounds like it
would drive you insane, rather than cure you of insanity.
I think that we live in an insane world. And to actually lock yourself away
from that, you would go through stages of feeling insane, but you when you come
through it, I think you cure yourself of the insanity of the world. [You] become
sane, if that makes any sense. [laughs] I mean, it did for me. I’m not in therapy
anymore or on medication, so I guess Madison was a bit of a cure for me after all.