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Finding Yourself – in Film

IN THE May 10 ISSUE

FROM THE 2014 Articles,
andArts & Entertainment,
andChristine Autrand Mitchell
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by Christine Autrand Mitchell

I used to write and edit for KRL, until I moved to Portland, Oregon. If you ask me what I do, I’d have a hard time answering you, hence my handle on Twitter: @dilettantegal! I’m an optioned screenwriter as well as a script consultant/coach. I have published fiction and non-fiction and am a freelance editor and writer. My film and television credits include Screenwriter, Producer, Director, Casting Director, and a bunch of other crew jobs. I also work with arts organizations to get their business side functioning properly. This is my second career; I used to be a business consultant.

But all of these “jobs” have given me the gumption to make my own Indie feature film, Lily On Saturday. I’m screenwriter, director and producer on this project through my production company, Entandem Productions, LLC. We are now roughly six weeks out as principal photography begins June 9, 2014 in the Portland area, but we have strong ties to the Central Valley of California with cast and crew – like Producer Derek Nickell and Michael Patrick Connolly, one of our leads.

If you don’t know me, I’m a huge proponent of independent and foreign films. I was founding member of the Fresno Filmmakers Alliance. Independent films fill the enormous gaps the Hollywood machinery leaves behind. Not all of these films are good, and not all are bad, just like chocolates – sometimes we just need to take a little bite to be thrilled with the fruity center and gobble it up, but will spit out the coconut filled ones.

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Christine Autrand Mitchell

However, making films on a lower budget affords many of us an opportunity to achieve filmmaking – and good story telling, another important part of this equation. My Director of Photography, Bradley Sellers, put it best when he said that it allows professionals to make great films with affordable technology (and good stories), and I’m paraphrasing. If you’re good at what you do, the equipment becomes secondary, because you’ll know how to craft what you need from what you have.

So, back to Lily On Saturday. It was written as a true independent film: small cast, few locations, and low budget. The crux of this film is its story. Lily is forty-something and dealing with a life of tragedies and set-backs – the last one provides a reprieve from misery, confusing matters more. She travels to Caitlin’s country home, her best friend, who schemes to cure Lily of all her ails. Their friendship is veiled in innocent – and not so innocent – duplicity. When Caitlin’s immature sister arrives with a surprise guest, the turmoil interferes even more with Lily’s need to punish herself for any happy feelings she may have, and with the agendas of the other characters. The film is about empowerment and hope, and also focuses on every character in the story – not just the leads.

Lily goes beyond many of the norms. It tackles important subjects, at an arm’s length for the audience, like domestic violence, suicide, mental illness, being a single parent, drug use, and so much more. We bring awareness to these topics. In fact, our lead actress, Stephana Johnson, is an empowerment coach for domestic violence and sexual abuse victims – which we didn’t know when we cast her! Kismet? We also have two female leads who are beyond their 30s and talk about more than men, so we pass the popular Bechdel Test. People are coming aboard for the powerful story.

We are in pre-production right now. Final casting is underway as is hiring our crew, locking in locations, and too many details to list. But in order to truly make this film happen, we’ve also launched an Indiegogo campaign, to raise the last portion of our budget (having raised a large chunk through private capital). Independent film survives this way – through private capital investment, self-funding and crowdfunding campaigns. Here is our link to the trailer, interviews and our perks. I’d appreciate it greatly if you took a look and shared the information, and would be incredibly grateful if it went beyond that.

Thank you, Lorie Lewis Ham, for letting me post about my film project. We are hoping that it can change lives by touching our audience with a positive message, while being entertaining and beautiful to watch.

Editor’s Note: This weekend is your last chance to be a part of this film–consider donating to their Indiegogo campaign!

Christine Autrand Mitchell, as a former business consultant, returned to her love of film less than a decade ago. She’s an optioned, produced and award-winning screenwriter, who also works as a script consultant. In film, she’s also garnered credits in producing, directing and casting. Since 2013, she’s the Programming Manager for POWFest, a women’s film festival. She’s a published writer, playwright, and editor. Living in the Portland area with her family, she enjoys the wet weather and knitting on cold days.

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