1Q: Tell us a little about the origins of THE HUMAN EXPERIMENT, from concept to financing.
I was a producer for NBC Bay Area and I was assigned a series about keeping your home toxic free. It was through that story that I learned that most products that we have in our homes are not tested for their safety before they get onto the market place. I didn’t believe it was true and after a little bit of research I realized it was true! When I’m shocked about something it usually turns into my next documentary.
This film took a lot of research and a lot of pre-production because it is such a massive topic. I am not a lifelong environmentalist so it took me a while to understand and come to know the players working on this issue and it took a while to figure out which people and storylines we should focus the film around. Research started in earnest in 2010 and we began shooting in 2011. Financing also took a while and still continues as we raise money for our engagement campaign. We financed the film in three main ways. We got investors for part of the budget. We received grants for another chunk and we deferred part of our salaries for the rest. And finally after all that we had enough money to make the film we wanted to make!
2Q: THE HUMAN EXPERIMENT has done well at previous film festivals. Will you be less nervous now at Cinequest? Does this process ever get any easier?
No, it’s always nerve-wracking to be at a film festival! Always!! It’s this kind of scenario that really brings out my insecurities!! If I sit for the film, I’m constantly analyzing the crowd. Do they like it? Do they get it? Why are they so quiet? It’s not fun to be in my head while the film’s going on! Then there are the Q and A’s… I really have a fear of speaking in public that I’ve had to get over. But still it’s hard. I always think of a better way I could have answered the questions two hours after the Q and A is finished.
3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making THE HUMAN EXPERIMENT?
My best experience for this film and all my film is interviewing and then developing a relationship with the people in the film. It really is such an honor to be able to tell people’s stories and then after that to have such inspirational people in my life! I really feel like it is a gift!
The biggest challenge with The Human Experiment is that we feel so much pressure to get this film out into the world because we believe this is such a critical issue that is under exposed! Films take so long from inception to the time they can be seen by the world, so sometimes I get impatient (I’m a little like that) but I know in due time everyone will see this film and help make a change!
The very worst experience is always the raising of the money. I find that very difficult because it’s just a hard thing to do… to ask for money… over and over and over again! It’s hard to be a sales person when you’re really a filmmaker but I think all of us realize that at the end of the day we have to be both even if we don’t want to!
4Q: Festival audiences often have to make hard decisions about what to see, and the catalog descriptions sometimes run together. In your own words, why should people see your film?
The Human Experiment takes audiences on a wild ride… if people want to sit back in their seats and be shocked about an issue that is very personal to them – guaranteed – this is the film they should make sure they come to see! And say hi when you do! I’ll be there answering question!
5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won an Oscar for THE HUMAN EXPERIMENT. Give us your acceptance speech.
Oh gosh… I just watched the Oscars last night so I’m super inspired! But I feel like I’m going to jinx it if I really put a speech on paper!!
But I will say, there is so much self doubt and so much rejection in this business that I feel so thrilled for every artist who is given that amazing spotlight, because I know they have all been in a dark place at some point before, because when you put yourself out there as an artist there are always many critics!! I hope to be there one day for sure!!