The death of Eric Garner. I wanted to comment and contribute to the conversation about race in America in 2015. I am deeply moved by the large racial divide I personally believe still exits in our country. Considering that I mostly work in the vein of comedy and that I am a caucasian female, Traction is my contribution to the acknowledgement of white privilege, of racial biases, and to the different types of racism that I have personally encountered in my own life.
How do you relate to your characters or subjects?
I relate to my characters in the sense that I interact with people like this on a fairly regular basis. I know a lot of white people who either don’t realize or refuse to accept that white privilege exits. That said, I relate to the character of Andy in that I consider myself to be a pretty conscious and just individual, and yet, there are probably times when I am influenced by my own biases and my own privilege. In many ways, Andy represents the person I’m afraid of ever becoming.
What aspect of the story changed the most during writing and production?
Nothing. 95% of the film is what was written on the page.
What influenced the visual style of your film?
Randy Wedick, my DP, had a lot to do with the visual style of the film. He and I have wanted to work together for a while because I come from a very story-based background and he is extremely visual. The two of us wanted to see how we could balance out each others skill sets.
What was the most courageous decision you or your crew made during writing and production?
I think talking about race is always risky because you never know if you’ll be met with empathy or vitriol. Like I said earlier, I am deeply moved by the large racial divide I personally believe still exits in our country, but there are plenty of people who do not feel the same way.
Were there any risks that you faced during writing/production and how did you find a way to embrace them?
We shot during 106 degree weather in Los Angeles and by the end of the day I was suffering from heatstroke. As the director and lead actress, I had a lot of responsibility at a time when I felt like passing out. My fellow cast-members and my incredible crew really rallied to make sure we got our last three shots. There was a strong sense of teamwork with this short from production to post and I guess it’s safe to say that all of our risks were taken on as a team so nothing ever felt impossible or overwhelming.
What risks does your story take?
I feel like I’ve addressed this a bunch in previous questions… There’s a big turn in the short that I think is risky. Andy, our hero of sorts, ends a date because of racists jokes, only to reveal that she too has racial bias. I think a short where the message is ‘we’re all a little racist’ is risky because some people will disagree and some people won’t like that I’m a white female talking about race.
How would you encourage others to tell their story or manage through the process of screen writing or film producing?
I would encourage other filmmakers to push themselves toward honesty and vulnerability, whatever that means to them. Embrace teamwork and be open to change and collaboration. Also, your story can always be shorter. Kill your darlings!