Marina Rice Bader on moving beyond coming out stories with “Ava’s Impossible Things”

AE: I read you also had some issues with the weather while you were shooting.

MRB: Unfortunately after we had cut from 15 days to nine days, as we’re out on our location in Santa Clarita, we had the Santa Ana’s just kind of come in. We were keeping our eye on them, but they came in a much bigger fashion than they were expected. Basically our last two days of exterior filming we had to shut down the production. Which was horrible, considering the cuts we were already making. And whenever you have to start all over from scratch, you’re spending so much money. So I had to spend the next two months raising enough to go and completely recreate our exterior set on a protected soundstage.

That was a little bummer, but there’s pretty much always a silver lining. More things have happened on this film than all the other four films combined in terms of challenges, but the good news is even that, even having to spend all our post money getting these last few days on a soundstage, it was that happening and my having to go out and start yet another fundraising [campaign] for postproduction that Vimeo saw what I was doing. I never would have had this honor, had this happen. Yes, I have to pay them back. Yes, that would be great if that money was going directly to the investors and myself, but the fact is I get to be part of this amazing thing, this amazing initiative, and the first film to receive it. And there is something to that and that’s what I’m focusing on.

 

AE: You mentioned this film had the biggest budget yet. Now you never want to tell a creative person to be less ambitious, but do you think a smaller budget would have made a difference in terms of crowdfunding?

MRB: Not really because the thing is nobody knew what my budget was. You’re doing everything you can do as a filmmaker to raise funds. You’re giving things away, you’re connecting on a super personal level, which is what I do. And I think that’s why I’ve been blessed with a great fan base so far. I mean, I answer every email. Nobody else posts on Facebook for me. I am very personally connected with my audience. That is one of the things that’s really worked in my favor and I love it. And they know my commitment to them. People come on board as they want to. Things are getting more expensive these days. Except Anatomy of a Love Seen, which was a very specific case, the other films I’ve made have hovered around $200,000. Going up by $50,000 is not a huge leap in terms of a feature film. It’s like minimal.

It’s just I think in this day and age with all the crowdfunding platforms and the GoFundMes–everybody’s asking for something. I don’t want to say it’s over, but it’s not what it once was because there’s too many people asking for things now. And even something that I’m super passionate about, that I know my audience is looking for, everybody’s kind of getting to the point where they’re like strapped and they’re keeping their money to themselves. And I get it.

The other tough thing is it’s very difficult to get women to support the films. I just found out that one of my friends who had a film last year, like hardly anybody went to her screening. Like hardly anybody would spend that money to go support a lesbian film that was scheduled at Outfest. But the boy films are all super packed. The women have to come out. When the films come out, go support them. Spend the $5 to rent it or the $12.99 to buy it if you want to or go to the screenings that are put on. There’s lots of ways to support.

Faye Ava Bed_

AE: Let’s move on to the film’s content. I was wondering if there was a specific reason why you chose Huntington’s disease as being what essentially held these women captive. Do you have a personal connection to the disease, or what was your thinking there?

MRB: Everyone knows about Alzheimer’s and a lot of people know about Parkinson’s, but Huntington’s is a disease that a lot of people have never even heard of. I kind of wanted to shine a light on it a little bit, but it’s familiar enough that people recognize it because it has a lot of the same specific issues that dementia or Alzheimer’s has. So it’s recognizable but it’s something different. In my own demographic, a lot of people are caring for their parents. I think maybe Huntington’s is something that people aren’t necessarily looking out for because the symptoms are so similar to other things. It’s a horrible, horrible disease. There’s no cure for it. And the most frightening part of it is that if you are an adult, by the time you find out that this is what you have, you’ve already had your kids. Because it’s not diagnosed until, generally, forties, sometimes into fifties. And guess what? It is a 50 percent chance that your kid will have Huntington’s as well.

 

AE: The film also tackles euthanasia and in doing so goes into controversial waters. Why that choice?

MRB: Because I believe it’s a viable choice for people with no way out. In this particular situation, I made it a choice that a lot of people will understand, especially people who are parents. If you’ve never had kids, you can make the choice to stay or go and it’s your choice to make. But man when you have kids, everything changes. Faye is laying there day after day seeing her daughter give her life to caring for her. Faye knows that everyday that Ava’s there taking care of her is a day that Ava is not living her life, and she does not have a long life in front of her. What else would you do? I clearly made this choice on what I would do if I was in the same situation that I created for Faye. I would never let my kids do that. I created a situation where it was a clear and understandable choice. Even for people that don’t believe in it, in this particular circumstance, I would have to think everyone would support her choice.