‘Ava’s’ Director on Outfest Premiere

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Filmmaker Marina Rice Bader talked to writer Laurie K. Schenden about the making of “Ava’s Impossible Things,” getting women into the theaters to see it, and how Vimeo’s new Share the Screen initiative helped get her film made.
“Ava’s” premieres Saturday, July 16, at Outfest and becomes available on Vimeo July 17.

GOWEHO: Three films in three years, you seem to crank out films at an impossible pace; why?

Filmmaker Marina Rice Bader.

Filmmaker Marina Rice Bader.

MRB: [Laughs] That’s an easy one to answer. I started my career at age 53. So when you come to your passion late in life, there is no time to go, “OK, now I’m going to go to school for four years.” At 53, you are in a big hurry to live that passion for as many years and as long as you can.

GOWEHO: Because “Ava” will already be available on Vimeo, will it still appear at other film festivals?

MRB: I will be playing other festivals with this film for sure. Outfest is my first one. I didn’t want to play anywhere else before Outfest, and it’s very risky doing that because if by chance they’re going in a different direction and you don’t make the lineup, you have to deal with the fallout of that. But everything else was so crazy on this film … I had to rewrite the script the week before we started shooting, and we cut shooting from 15 to 9 days. Those are pretty much impossible things to have to do, yet they got done. So I was like, OK, I’m just going to go with the impossible, [laughs] reach for the stars, in every aspect of this film. I didn’t submit it anywhere else.

GOWEHO: Tell me about the Vimeo program.

MARINA RICE BADER: The idea is to address the gender disparity in Hollywood. They created this program to help female filmmakers to be heard. I’m honored to be the first recipient of the investment. Without the [funds] I wouldn’t have been able to finish my film.

GOWEHO: You released “Anatomy of a Love Scene” (2014) on Vimeo the day after it premiered at Outfest. Why did you turn to a non-traditional approach to distribution, and is that why Vimeo chose you?

MRB: I don’t like traditional distribution … some territories don’t get it until 5-6 months later. When Vimeo was deciding to begin this investment initiative … an investor dropped out of my film, and I was scrambling. Vimeo saw what I was doing and said maybe we can help.

GOWEHO: When you put a film out on Vimeo the next day, how do you compensate for the word-of-mouth that comes from a festival run?

MRB: You just hit the nail on the head. You have to work very hard on getting the word out yourself. You hire a publicist, and get as much coverage as you can to get the word out. I feel like [after a year of festivals] I lose a little bit of the freshness and the excitement around it.

GOWEHO: It seems to be getting easier to tell LGBT stories but harder to fund them, true?

MRB: LGBT storylines are more common, and maybe lesbians don’t feel the urgent need to support lesbian product and cinema. I do know this was a very difficult film to fund.

GOWEHO: In keeping with your track record of a film a year, are you working on another film?

MRB: Yes. It’s going to be a full-blown action film, with a lesbian protagonist. I want to create a new action hero. I also want to open up to a broader audience while remaining true to my audience. Like I said, it was really impossible to raise this money, Vimeo had to come in and I had to spend my own money, neither one of those things I originally planned on. So I have to look at different financing and funding models the next film.

GOWEHO: So will we be seeing the film next year?

MRB: The film will not be prepared for next year. It’s going to take more preparation, more time to raise the funds, but I’m hoping by doing this I can get into more traditional investment opportunities.

GOWEHO: In “Ava,” your characters have to deal with a pretty serious topic–but there seem to be big challenges in all your films.

MRB: You do want universal themes. “A Perfect Ending” had a different kind of tragedy; “Anatomy of a Love Scene” was broken love and what happens when you’re … facing down the realities of what happened in this relationship rather than just walking away. That is a universal theme.
I think how people choose to overcome the big challenges in their life is always interesting. People take different roads; some people end up burying their head in the sand and choose not to live a big bold life, something impossible happens to them, but I’m offering a different path in this film. It’s a heavy subject, but it’s offered in a very, easy to watch package.

GOWEHO: Another constant in your films–you seem to surround yourself with attractive women.

MRB: (Laughs) That is absolutely true.

GOWEHO: Do you have anything to add about premiering at Outfest?

MRB:  Men come out [to see the films], and women don’t do it. To get women to come out and support the films is one of the most frustrating things about this thing I’ve decided to do with my life. Even if you’re not going to invest in a film or donate to a film, buy a ticket and show that you care about supporting women in the arts. We’re making it for you!

“Ava’s Impossible Things” screens at the DGA 1, 7920 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, at 4 p.m. Saturday, July 16, 2016. Click for tickets.


Journalist Laurie Schenden covers the entertainment industry, with many of her notable celebrity interviews appearing in the Los Angeles Times and other national and international publications. As a longtime columnist and feature writer for the LA Times, she also covered events and California destinations for the lifestyle, Outdoors and Travel sections. Laurie Schenden's international pieces include the long-running Where Are They Now celebrity feature for Spotlight Magazine, published in five languages. Laurie has also contributed to numerous documentary films, and produces content via Saving Grace Films.

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