Su-City Pictures East, LLC

Screenplay & Film Consulting By Susan Kouguell

Month: December 2017

Susan Kouguell Interviews “I, Tonya” Editor Tatiana S. Riegel

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I, Tonya is a biopic quite like no other.

The film is a portrait of one of the most controversial figures in sports history, and follows Tonya Harding’s story from her abusive childhood to her shocking figure-skating career, all the while maintaining a tone that strikes a careful balance between pitch-black comedy and real-life tragedy.

Tatiana S. Riegel

I had the pleasure to speak with Tatiana S. Riegel, the editor of I, Tonyain a wide-ranging discussion about her long-time collaboration with director Craig Gillespie, balancing the film’s complex moving parts, setting a pace for the ambitious story while giving both the drama and the humor room to shine, and much more.

Riegel previously edited Gillespie’s last four features: Lars and The Real GirlFright Night and The Finest Hour. Tatiana has also worked as editor on some of the most original independent comedies of the past few years, including Bad WordsThe Men Who Stare At Goats and The Way Way Back.

I Tonya has been nominated for many awards, including Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for the 2018 Golden Globes.

ABOUT THE SCREENPLAY

Upon its completion, screenwriter Steven Rogers‘ script began circulating in Hollywood, eventually appearing on the 2016 Black List and placing number one on the Hit List, The Tracking Board’s influential compendium of the year’s most highly regarded spec scripts. After months of industry heat, it caught the attention of actress-producer Margot Robbie‘s company LuckyChap who sought it out as a starring vehicle for the in-demand star, in keeping with the company’s mission to develop and produce projects with a strong female perspective. Robbie, Ackerley and producing partner Bryan Unkeless warmed to Rogers’ script on numerous levels, determined to find the right director who could bring the project to life. Ironically, Robbie was unfamiliar with the Harding/Kerrigan story, initially believing I, Tonya to be a fictional story.

SYNOPSIS

Based on the unbelievable, but true events, I, Tonya is a darkly comedic tale of American figure skater, Tonya Harding, and one of the most sensational scandals in sports history. Though Harding was the first American woman to complete a triple axel in competition, her legacy was forever defined by her association with an infamous, ill-conceived, and even more poorly executed attack on fellow Olympic competitor Nancy Kerrigan. Featuring an iconic turn by Margot Robbie as the fiery Harding, a mustachioed Sebastian Stan as her impetuous ex-husband Jeff Gillooly, and a tour-de-force performance from Allison Janney as her acid-tongued mother, LaVona Golden, Craig Gillespie’s I, Tonya is an absurd, irreverent, and piercing portrayal of Harding’s life and career in all of its unchecked–– and checkered––glory.

Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding

KOUGUELL: You’ve collaborated with director Craig Gillespie on several other films.

RIEGEL: This is the sixth time I’ve worked with Craig. We have a great collaboration. We complement each other in different areas; you need that in the editing room; you need that healthy banter. We have the same aesthetic regarding tone, emotion and comedy, and we both like films that navigate both of those. The first film I worked with him on was Lars and the Real Girl which is nothing like I, Tonya but in some ways very similar in terms of the crazy dance between emotion and comedy with a peculiar yet very emotional subject matter.

SK: How long was the editing process?

TSR: Beginning to end it was nine months. The shoot was 31 days from mid-January to the beginning of March. Craig and I went to New York for six months of post-production.

SK: Were you cutting as they were shooting?

TSR: Yes, I always do. As soon as we get dailies, which is the day after they start shooting, my assistant prepares them and I jump in right away. Then what I try to do is cut scenes and send them back to the director quickly; sometimes every day, sometimes a couple of times a week, sometimes once a week, depending on how much material we’re getting. The director gets a chance to see scene by scene everything and then he can see how scenes are transitioning from one scene to the next; this allows a dialogue between us to make sure we’re on the same page. With Craig, it’s very easy because I’m very familiar with him. Then they can see if they got the coverage and tone they wanted, and adjustments can be made by me or on the set. By the time they come in to see the first assembly they’ve pretty much seen the whole movie, so there’s no great shock.

Margot Robbie and Craig Gillespie on the set

SK: Do you refer directly to the shooting script?

TSR: Absolutely. In the same way I try not to go on the set when they’re shooting, I try not to spend too much time with the script. Obviously, I refer back to it to see where we’re coming from and where we’re going to. If I notice slightly different line readings from the actors I might go back to the script to see what was originally written. I try to stay away from it a bit because I feel the editor is sort of the only person who is the audience member attached to the movie; everybody else has been through various script rewrites, casting, location scouting – all these pre-production steps. I get to look at it and see if I am reacting to this emotionally, story wise, geographically, etc. If I’m looking at it and I’m confused about the geography of a room, a performance, and so on, I try to hold on to my initial thoughts of dailies as long as I possibly can through the process. I try to stay an audience member for as long as possible.

I didn’t watch too much of the documentary footage of the real Tonya Harding that the writer watched, which motivated him to write the script, I intentionally didn’t watch it, sort of for the same reason I didn’t want to go to the set. I need to react to the movie and not to what I want the movie to be.

SK: The film powerfully utilizes several devices, including breaking the fourth wall and voiceovers. Devices like these can often take the viewer out of a film, but in in I Tonya, it further enhanced the drama and comedic moments.

TSR: The film has three different parts: the on-camera interviews, the voiceover and breaking the fourth wall. That dialogue was written into the script as interviews or voiceover. All of that was basically structured as interviews in the script. Craig brought the breaking the fourth wall to the film; it was not written into the script.

One of the things I was worried about from a visual aspect was that there would be a lot of talking heads. What I find so interesting in the editorial process is you can read a beautiful script and you can’t think of one thing you would do to adjust it, but when it goes on film, suddenly certain things can become unclear and other things can become redundant. You then have to go through and rework that script to a new form, which is this new visual and audio form, and then fix those things which are either redundant or not clear.

Craig saw a documentary interview with Tonya when she was actually only 15-years old. She was talking about the abuse in a very detached matter-of-fact way; that was her form of survival I suspect. It really struck him. Craig and I talked about it a lot and this is how he came up with the idea of breaking the fourth wall in those very violent sequences where she turns and talks to the audience. It shows, in this subconscious way, this detachment, and that she survived. In fact, a lot of it is told from the 45-year-old Tonya point of view looking back on it so there is a subconscious survival and detachment and lack of emotion that allows the audience to think she’s not in that much jeopardy right now because we know she survives.

Allison Janey as LaVona Golden

SK: The violence in the film informed Tonya’s character and was not gratuitous.

TSR: We had many discussions about this. Craig shot it both ways. There’s a lot of hard, serious violence in the film, and he didn’t want to sugarcoat any of that. He talked a lot about it with the writer and producers, and with Margot. He felt it was very important not to shy away from that as difficult as it is. It is what informs Tonya’s character and gets her to the place she is with this cycle of abuse from her mother to her husband and why people keep going back to abusive spouses.

SK: I Tonya underscores Mark Twain’s adage: Truth is stranger than fiction. The tone in the film is consistently powerful, as it balances drama and comedy.

TSR: With Lars and the Real Girl, Craig and I would say, we’re walking this fine line and five degrees in either direction will be a disaster. That was also the challenge in I, Tonya. With the comedic moments, it allowed us a dramatic break. Like in real life, you’re laughing and crying at the same time with horrible situations. The comedy allowed a little relief from all the brutality.

SK: The film integrates actual footage of Tonya Harding and other characters so seamlessly.

TSR: Obviously Tonya Harding was a phenomenal skater, and although Margot Robbie is a fantastic skater and trained a lot, she is not a professional skater and she did not do those big jumps, or extreme speed, so Craig had to come up with a way to use a double and use head and face replacements.

There are five big skating sequences, and we really wanted each one to have its own personality. The first one, with the ZZ Top music, she’s younger and much more aggressive, cocky. Someone before her is skating to Four Seasons and then she comes out dancing to ZZ Top. This is exactly the issue she had with the skating federation; she didn’t fit into that mold. And we wanted that sequence to be like her; very aggressive, fast. There are some seamless transitions, slight of eye type things we did to transfer from Tonya to the double and back again.

As the sequences progressed to the one in Lillehammer, it is actually sometimes her and sometimes a double, it is all done in one shot, so again we had these seamless transitions back and forth, which is a much more tense situation with the crowds stomping their feet, the shoelace issue – all of that is told in one shot to build that tension and emotion. The other sequences have their own personality as well. There were under 100 face replacement shots. It’s a small budget movie, so we didn’t have an endless supply of time and money to do this.

At the end of the movie, we have also some real footage, which starts with the real Tonya Harding skating, and that came about in a very interesting way. There was no title sequence written into the film, and in fact, the original film had a slightly different ending. We ended up ending spoiler alert*** (with the boxing sequence). First of all, it was really fun to cut, but to me, metaphorically, she just gets up again, which is the story of Tonya Harding, she just keeps going, she gets knocked down and she gets up. It is such a harsh, brutal scene.

In every screening we had, people were asking if this was real. ‘Is that bodyguard real with what he said,’ and we would say yes, and we got tired of saying, ‘yes, go look it up’. So we thought we would put that in the end. Craig and I had done two biopics prior to this, Final Hours and Million Dollar Arm where we had real footage, and we didn’t want to do it because we had already done it twice. The one thing we didn’t want to do was break the emotion of what was happening right then with the real people so we saved those for the crawl, and put in Tonya skating, which to me, juxtaposed with what we’ve just seen; we’ve seen the real Tonya Harding and how unbelievable fantastic she was as a skater and the pure joy on her face, right after seeing her pummeled in this boxing sequence.

SK: What was striking about the film is that it left open the question of Tonya Harding’s guilt or innocence, and how much she knew about the “incident.”

TSR: I think, honestly, no one really knows. This film is based on their interviews and their stories and they’re sticking to them, and they contradict each other. Tonya, to this day, denies any involvement more than what she admits to, which is knowing after the fact. And Jeff has another point of view, and other people have a different point of view. This was not a film to solve the mystery.

It was a challenge to have most of the people walk into the theatre thinking Tonya Harding is the villain because that was what we were told then and for most of her career. And maybe not the villain but the girl from the wrong side of the tracks; she didn’t fit in with the image that the skating federation wanted, all the way up to her being the villain in that situation, and in the last 25 years that’s where she lived in the minds of most people.

The challenge of the movie, and what I thought was really interesting, is for people to walk out of the theatre and think, maybe I judged her a little too harshly and didn’t know the whole story. Whatever you believe about her participation is up to the individual person but one of our early screenings someone said, ‘I thought she was the bad guy for the last 25 years and now I feel guilty’ and Craig and I looked at each and said, ‘Yes, we got it.’ I think it’s a very interesting place for all of us with everything that happens in the media to not just go with the simple soundbites of what they tell you, you need to do a little more research to understand more. Things are never as simple as they seem.

I, TONYA is now playing in select cities.

Susan Kouguell Speaks with ‘UNREST’ Documentary Director Jennifer Brea and Producer Lindsey Dryden


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The feature documentary Unrest is poignant and personal, and educational without being didactic. It is indeed a personal journey about Jennifer Brea and approaches a medical mystery with an examination of science and medicine that is accessible and gripping. One of the most striking elements of this documentary is that one does not need to be directly affected with ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome), to appreciate this film.
When a Harvard PhD student is suddenly stricken with a complicated illness, she turns to filmmaking to find answers. Jennifer Brea and Lindsey Dryden discuss the making of the award-winning Unrest documentary.

I had the opportunity to interview director Jennifer Brea via Skype and meet producer Lindsey Dryden in person. They were so generous with their time; their passion, not only about educating viewers about ME but also how the film evolved, the specifics about the writing process, collaboration, fundraising, and more, underscored their generosity of spirit.

About UNREST and Jennifer Brea

Jennifer Brea is an independent documentary filmmaker based in Los Angeles. She has an AB
from Princeton University and was a PhD student at Harvard, until sudden illness left her bedridden. In the aftermath, she rediscovered her first love, film. An activist for invisible disabilities and chronic illness, she co-founded a global advocacy network, #MEAction and is a TED Talker.

Jennifer Brea was 28 and working on her PhD at Harvard and months away from marrying the love of her life when she gets a mysterious fever that leaves her bedridden and looking for answers. Disbelieved by doctors yet determined to live, she turns her camera on herself and discovers a hidden world of millions confined to their homes and bedrooms by ME. At its core, Unrest is a love story. Together, Jen and her new husband, Omar, must find a way to build a life and fight for a cure.

‘What happens when you have a disease doctors can’t diagnose?’

Jennifer gave the highest-rated talk at the 2016 TED Summit in Banff, Canada, the first ever TED Talk about ME. It launched in January 2017 and has been viewed more that 1 million times and translated into more than 25 languages.

Awards for Unrest include a Special Jury Prize for editing (Sundance Film Festival), Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature, (River Run) Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature (Nashville Film Festival and Illuminate Award (Sheffield Doc/Fest). Unrest also has a companion VR piece which premiered at Tribeca and won the Jury Award for best VR at Sheffield/DocFest.

When a Harvard PhD student is suddenly stricken with a complicated illness, she turns to filmmaking to find answers. Jennifer Brea and Lindsey Dryden discuss the making of the award-winning Unrest documentary.

Brea with her husband Omar

Interview via Skype with Jennifer Brea

KOUGUELL:  Tell me about your writing process for this film. How did you determine the structure for the film and did you work from any type of script or outline?

BREA:  There are three layers of writing in this film: there is the actual story structure that is essentially the collaging of found words; the scripting of the dialogue from interviews or the dialogue that’s happening in scenes; and the voiceover that can be written over and over again. We didn’t have a script per se, but it started with a storyboard. I knew the structure of the film even before we started shooting.

Brea went on to discuss seeing Debora Hoffman’s multi-character documentary Long Night’s Journey Into Day and how it influenced the structure of Unrest. (Hoffman is also an executive producer of Unrest.)

BREA: I found it worked so well because rather than spending a lot of time trying to figure out who everyone was and trying to connect with them, you’ve already had the chance to really spend time with them in their specific world, before moving on.

We knew that my story was going to be the through line and glue, and figuring out what that meant took many months and iterations. The way the film works is that the stories are ordered by tragedy in a way, ordered to create a rising action and rising complication. We always asked ourselves: ‘Why is this story in the film?’ ‘Why and where is Jen in this moment in the evolution of her overall arc?’  With the other writing, I would write some very bad temp lines that editor Kim Roberts could cut to and based on what she cut, I rewrote, and once we laid down music then that would change things. As we added different layers, we kept rewriting again and again.

SK:  Unrest opens up the conversation not only about ME but also patients with chronic illnesses and the response by medical practitioners without finger-pointing.

JB: I wanted to create a film that could start a broader conversation and that could reach beyond the patient community; that meant a lot of different things the way we were telling the story.

When I see documentaries that are polemic, they can play a role in mobilizing people who already agree with you and people who are already prone to be mobilized. That can be a fine goal, but for me with ‘Unrest’ and my own sensibilities, I wanted to leave some room for the audience to interpret the film and come to their own conclusions about what certain things mean or what should be done.

It’s a delicate balance. I’ve seen observational films about social issues that dip into a world and don’t give you any context, and it’s frustrating. I want to see what is actually happening; it’s not enough just to know it happens yet at the same time there can be too much taking the viewer’s hand by saying, this is what you need to think about. I didn’t want to do either. I wanted to have a point of view, which the film has, but also leaves some room for interpretation.

When a Harvard PhD student is suddenly stricken with a complicated illness, she turns to filmmaking to find answers. Jennifer Brea and Lindsey Dryden discuss the making of the award-winning Unrest documentary.

Ruby and Jessica

Brea and I discussed the story that takes place in Denmark and how Brea approached Per Fink, one of the subjects of the film whose vocal oppositional of the ME diagnosis offers another side of the medical debate.

BREA: We asked Per Fink: What did he think was a fair representation of himself?  What is it that he truly thinks? We didn’t need to alter it or distort it; we could just have him speak for himself. That is what we tried to do in every situation to let people speak for themselves and tell what we thought was the truth about whatever everyone’s prospective was on their lives.

SK: You successfully found a balance incorporating several devices (voice-over narration, cinéma vérité, and interviews) which can be over-utilized or distracting in many documentaries. Each device you used had a reason to be there. Let’s talk about this.

JB: The question for me was how do you use it and use it intentionally and for what reason. I knew that things needed to be explained, otherwise people would get lost in a way that would detract from the film. The narration is about bringing you inside this internal space that would have been impossible to access otherwise.

When it comes to the interviews with other subjects, they are not talking head interviews. They are actually very intimate conversations with me, so it is very motivated; that is the way I’m able to connect remotely with people. What I’m asking them is not just to reveal their own lives; I’m asking them to reveal their lives for the purpose to try to understand what is happening to me. So everything is related back to me, the structure to the film.

Each of the stories has its own set tone. It’s very easy to make Ron Davis’s story a kind of science mystery story, it was easy to make Karina Hansen’s story a kind of thriller –each story had its own genre set point and that would never have worked. Trying to find a tone for each of these very different stories in order to have them feel that they were part of the same film was one of the big challenges. What made it work is that every time we were coming back to that well of the personal; the why and the intention, and the why do we need to be here question.

Script EXTRA: Award-Winning Documentary Filmmaker Joe Berlinger and ‘Intent to Destroy’ 

When a Harvard PhD student is suddenly stricken with a complicated illness, she turns to filmmaking to find answers. Jennifer Brea and Lindsey Dryden discuss the making of the award-winning Unrest documentary.

Jen and Omar

Final Words

JB: I started off very angry before making the film, fueling the investigation. I started over time to eventually forgive and empathize with doctors and ended up on the side of it. Doctors haven’t been given the tools and training to properly handle this illness. What doctors’ practice is from the education they receive. The system is failing fundamentally. Most people do the best they can.

I met with Lindsey Dryden at a café near the Jacob Burns Film Center; the night before she presented a Q & A following the screening of Unrest at the Burns Center.

When a Harvard PhD student is suddenly stricken with a complicated illness, she turns to filmmaking to find answers. Jennifer Brea and Lindsey Dryden discuss the making of the award-winning Unrest documentary.

Lindsey Dryden

ABOUT LINDSEY DRYDEN, PRODUCER

An award-winning Creative Producer and Director, and founder of Little By Little Films, Dryden began her career in British TV documentaries (BBC, Channel 4, History Channel) before moving into independent films for cinema. Her acclaimed work as a Director includes Lost and Sound (SXSW) and Close Your Eyes And Look At Me (True/False), and as a Producer Little Ones (nominated for a producing award at Underwire) and Unrest (Sundance). She makes intimate, warm and surprising films about the body and the arts, most recently for Tate’s Queer British Art exhibition. A recent Filmmaker-In-Residence at JBFC, and a Fellow of Guiding Lights, IFP and HotDocs Forum, she is also a Lecturer in Film.

KOUGUELL: How did you come to work with Jen?

DRYDEN: I’ve worked with Jen now for about 3 ½ years. My background is as a director and producer in the UK. I work often on films about the body; I’m interested in the human body, the female body, how they change and the unexpected things that can happen and how one copes with that. Jen was looking for a co-producer to work on the UK story with Jessica, the young woman in the film. She contacted various documentary organizations and festivals, and I think it was the Sheffield Documentary festival, which is our biggest documentary festival, who recommended me to her.

Jen had already done an extraordinary amount of work on her own and with a small team. She did a Kickstarter; she set out to raise $50K to make this film and raised over $200K. She realized there is a huge audience waiting for this story and so she was able to expand her team.

SK: Tell me about the filmmaking process and how the film evolved.

LD: Jen would shoot one day a month and the rest of the month she would be in bed recovering from that one day. She started using this amazing system where she could be in her bed and she could film people using Skype, so we would mount a teleprompter underneath the lens, and it would reflect Jen’s face onto the lens so when people looked at the camera they could see her; she could be anywhere in the world, and in her case, it was in bed. She started interviewing people that way.

Jen had a really strong vision for the film and the story, and the approach from the very beginning. I came on board because I saw a filmmaker who never made a film before, but she absolutely knew what she was doing and had huge skills as a director. I had a lot of faith about where the story was going and a lot of people felt the same way. Sundance came on board early on with development money. The Kickstarter campaign demonstrated to other parties that there was a real story here and that combined with Jen as a presence, she is a force that is undeniable.

Can a person with this type of disability make a film, and the answer is always yes. And it grew; Ruth Ann Harnish was one of the earliest people who gave financial support.

SK: The credit of producer can be defined in different ways. In your case, how would you define your role on this film?

LD: I would define myself as a creative producer. My role is a lot about relationships with contributors, with subjects, identifying an amazing team and crew to work with, and leading that crew when we are filming in the field, as fellow Producer Patricia E. Gillespie did with the film’s North American stories, and as Co-Producer Anne Troldtoft Hjorth did in Denmark. Then it’s leading negotiations when it comes to who we want to work with and how much we can afford, and finding good fits with Jen as a director, like editors and composers. It’s also about making special, impossible things happen, like getting a hospital to allow us to put lights, cameras and cinematographers in their therapy pool!

Also, the part that I love is the editorial shaping of the film that develops over time. There’s a constant rewriting in documentary: This is where we are, this is where we hope to be. Okay, this is where we are now, this is where we’re going to go next, and that process.

My role wasn’t particularly connected to fundraising, which people often assume is a producer’s only job. Jen is the most extraordinary fundraiser and also a producer of the film herself. My role was also about distribution strategy – that’s kind of my baby. Traditionally, you might hand over a film to a distributor when it’s finished, and they hopefully do what they say they’ll do with it, but every strand of distribution is so different and our audience is so specific and important to us, and there are political sensitivities in the countries we are campaigning in. We knew from the beginning that we didn’t want to hand over that to one company who may only specialise in one area.

We did a lot of festivals around the world and a theatrical release in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco in September, and the UK in October, and now it’s on iTunes, Amazon, and it will be broadcast on PBS in January 2018. What’s so great about that is that we’ll be able to do screening parties. We can engage with audiences who are home, and connect them with other audiences in other homes, and for a film like this and a community like this, who are often bed bound or homebound, that’s very exciting.

SK: Tell me about your unique collaboration and writing process.

LD: So much we did was remote and that process is certainly challenging. We started with Emiliano Battistaanan editor in the UK, and they were editing remotely together.

Jen always had a strong vision for the stories. The stories make sense because they were always answering questions that Jen was asking about her own life and her own experience. So you have that narrative spine of Jen’s experience changing over time; her questions, her needs, her relationships shifting, those questions and needs naturally leading to the people she talked to and got close to, who became the main characters. They were in place from very early on.

The writing process happened most intensely between Jen and editor Kim Roberts, and also our amazing creative advisor and executive producer Debbie Hoffmann, who also has ME. What’s incredible about Debbie is the narrative contribution she made and support she gave Jen from the very beginning; she was the first person on board, and you can’t really beat editorial experience like that. That would involve her at home on Skype, us in our various houses, talking through the narrative, talking about cuts, giving notes and giving feedback, which is a traditional way to work but we weren’t necessarily in the same room or the same country.

Jen and Kim went to the Sundance story and edit lab and it was after that the film became something that was good, to something that was bigger than itself.

Jen’s Wall of Science

SK: Many documentaries tend to make issues black and white, which ‘Unrest’ does not do.

LD: The film isn’t about a network of doctors who want to get into people’s way; they don’t have the resources or the time to treat people appropriately. It was extremely important for ME people around the world, some are considered malingerers, and critical of doctors, they are perceived to be a pain because they are asking for help, but they are asking for support. We were extremely mindful of that particularly in the UK where it is a huge political issue; the reputation of people with ME is horrendous. So we were mindful of not making a film that could be accused of that. There are so many good people who want to do good things. It was about pointing out the issues and injustices.

Many people said why the film didn’t end on a more hopeful note. Jen’s response was that if you tidy up the film at the end and it’s optimistic, then everyone has an easy way out when actually people have to do something right now; this isn’t fixed, this isn’t over, this isn’t better. Those ways of shaping the narrative are very important; to offer understanding of why and how things are going on, because that’s how we move forward and address them.

The film and our campaign is not about saying to doctors, ‘you’re really bad.’ It’s about saying, ‘this is what harms patients, this is what help patients, and we would really like to help you get the resources to help the patients more effectively’ and that’s in the campaign.

SK: The last few weeks in particular, a great deal of media attention has been on many women speaking out not only about sexual harassment, but also about women’s voices being heard.

LD:  I said at the film’s premiere and continue to say each time I introduce the film: ‘This is a moment where we need to listen, and listen to women. We need to listen to people who tell us they’re being honest, who are telling us their stories, we need to hear them, we need to take action.

SK: Your advice for documentary filmmakers and any final words of wisdom?

LD: I think it’s really important to consider ‘Unrest’ as a piece of cinema and not just a piece of advocacy. I would love if there is a homebound would-be filmmaker reading this article who feels inspired by what’s possible because it is possible. There are organizations who have been through the process with us, who know how to support and fund and resource incredible storytelling voices who don’t necessarily have a traditional experience of the world. How many people are there in the world like Jen with this tremendous talent that we haven’t seen yet? That’s what I want to spend my time with in cinema on the screen. I hope ‘Unrest’ is part of a movement that supports that.

Learn more about the film and to view Brea’s TED talk here.