Monday, January 9, 2012

The Road to Sundance: The D Word, directed by James Redford

Tell us about your film. What inspired you to make it?
My film is titled "The D Word: Understanding Dyslexia." It is a long overdue examination of the dyslexic experience  -  a reality that presents gifts as well as challenges for one in five people globally.  I know this because my son is dyslexic and my wife is an educator who became passionate about helping dyslexics and their families navigate the school years and beyond. It will premiere at Sundance out of competition.

How long did it take you to make your film?
Over two years. We will finally be finished a week before it premieres.

How did you finance your film?
The film was financed by the Seedlings Foundation. The goal was to create a film that inspired as well as informed.

What was the most challenging part of the filmmaking process and how did you overcome it?
We wanted to highlight the scientific basis for dyslexia without losing the audience. Ultimately, I settled on using animation to bridge  the gap between information and entertainment. Finding the right animation can be overwhelming. I had been to an art exhibit in San Francisco that featured the work of Myrzk and Moriceau - including an animated music video for Sebastien Tellier.  I explored other possibilities, but their work haunted me. After having my doubts as to whether or not they were the right choice for the film, I finally approached them. Good thing, too. Their work for the film was brilliant!

Tell us about your experience getting into Sundance. Are there any pointers for filmmakers for getting accepted?
I have been rejected as often as I have been accepted, so I was very honored to be included. But one must realize that it is only the beginning in terms of a long road toward getting your film to a broader audience - especially if you have your eye on grass roots and community outreach.

If you had to make the film all over again, would you do anything different?
I was lucky enough to get some extra shoots, extra animation money, and extra edit days, so in a way I got to do things over again within the overall production. This was a stroke of good fortune - and enlightened thinking - that one must not assume will come around again. 

What’s next for your film? Do you have distribution? If so, when and how can people see it and if not, what are your hopes for the film?
I am not at liberty to say exactly who, but the film is being acquired for broadcast as I type. The film also has a solid outreach plan that includes everything from additional online content to community and grass-roots screenings. Once it has its broadcast,  our energies will go into making sure that people who most need to see the film  - dyslexics, their families as well as the broader education world - have access to the film. 

Can you provide any advice to other filmmakers who dream of getting their films made and into Sundance? are your hopes for the film? 
Tell stories that are urgently important to you - stories that you feel will fill a hole in the societal fabric. If you are intensely curious and obsessed with the topic and/or story,  it will most likely be contagious to your audience.

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