What inspired you to come up with the idea for the film?
When I transferred to the University of Texas, I was in a class about Ethics in healthcare, covering end-of-life issues. I remembered years before having known someone whose dying mother chose to end her life on her own terms before the disease process caused more suffering than she was willing to tolerate.
How do you relate to your characters or subjects?
I went out of my way to make it as real as possible. There were many changes along the way, but what remained constant was the simplicity and sense of “Let’s keep things as normal as possible in this really abnormal situation.” I did not want anything melodramatic or over the top, because of the subject matter.
What aspect of the story changed the most during writing and production?
When I originally outlined the story, it was enough material to be a feature. I knew I had to really narrow the focus in order to be able to tell the part of the story that I felt was most important.Early on in the writing process, Lizzie (The young girl) knew what was going on, but the more I considered it, I realized that no ten year old would ever be able to keep a secret that big.
What influenced the visual style of your film?
I’ve probably seen 500 short films in the last couple of years. I knew the cinematography had to be sophisticated, but not overly dramatic. I met with my DP more than I met with anyone else throughout pre production so that we could figure out exactly how to achieve the look I wanted. We ended up going with Cinemascope, and it turned out great.
What was the most courageous decision you or your crew made during writing and production?
Everyone who was asked to be part of this production had to legitimately be in support of the Death with Dignity movement. Some potential crew members passed because their personal beliefs were in conflict with the film’s message. I was very specific that I did not want anyone in the cast or crew to just be there for the money or for the exposure.
Were there any risks that you faced during writing/production and how did you find a way to embrace them?
There is always a risk when you make a film, and especially when you make a film about a controversial topic. As I mentioned before, I went out of my way to make sure that everyone was on board before they were hired or cast. If someone was on the fence or did not support the matter, they had no chance of working on the film.
What risks does your story take?
The film is about a terminally ill woman who lives in Longview, Texas. In Texas, physician aid in dying is illegal. Stella intends to take her own life with the guidance of an organization that provides information on how to end one’s life in a peaceful manner.
Making a film about any aspect of suicide is risky, but this is an important issue, and while it is entirely w work of fiction, it delves into something that occurs every day in the US.
How would you encourage others to tell their story or manage through the process of screen writing or film producing?
This could have many answers, depending on the type of film that is being made. If you’re wanting to make a realistic film, do your research. Write/Create based on truth and the reality of the topic rather than speculation or assumption. Have a good relationship with your cast and crew. Especially at the indie level, the people you are working with are the most important aspect of getting your film successfully made.