Friday, January 13, 2012

The Road to Sundance: Ok Breathe Auralee, directed by Brooke Swaney

Tell us about your film. What inspired you to make it? 
OK BREATHE AURALEE (Shorts competition) is about a baby-crazed woman, Auralee, who finds herself drifting away from her baby-reluctant boyfriend, Colin and searching for something more.  It's part of an overall feature-length character driven piece that focuses on Urban American Indians, the four elements and the mystical in the quotidien.  So basically, I really wanted to make a movie that was kind of surreal with interesting (and not necessarily always likeable) characters. I have a bunch of female friends who have reached a point in their lives where they want to pop out a baby (and no, that's not me), but I wanted to explore what that must be like.  Auralee is also adopted away from her Native community (like many people of a certain generation) and I wanted to do a story about that, but not have it be so over-the-top about identity politics, rather more quiet and character specific to really get into her experience.

How long did it take you to make your film? 
On and off, over a year.  Shooting only took up around 7 days, but the edit was a doozy.

How did you finance your film? 
Friends, family, some through an indiegogo campaign (where we failed to reach our goal), some through a foundation, and some funds from the NYU graduate film program, and some of my own pocket money.

What was the most challenging part of the filmmaking process and how did you overcome it?
I think the most challenging part of making this film has been living hand to mouth and doing some serious couch surfing, while turning down more respectable work in order to finish the film.  The edit was the hardest.  After putting together an assembly cut based off the script, we knew that the film wasn't quite working.  It took months to find an editor to figure out the puzzle of the plot and the feel of the film before it all clicked.  But I knew it was in the footage there somewhere.

Tell us about your experience getting into Sundance. Are there any pointers for filmmakers for getting accepted?  
Oh man, it was amazing.  Thrilling!  I've never gotten so many emails and texts and facebook messages when it was officially announced.  Really weird, good weird.  I'd point towards honing your craft and telling a good story.  The story is key.  Ask yourself is the story something that you would want to watch on the interwebs and be inspired? 

If you had to make the film all over again, would you do anything different? 
Oh maaaaan.  I think if I was asked this question four months ago, I would have wanted to change a lot.  But now that the film has been finished properly (with a great sound design and color and score and everything), I don't think I would change a thing.  When it all comes together, those little things that you'd want to change become obsolete.

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?
More festivals!  No distribution yet, but we're working on that.  We'd love for more people to see the film, whether they want to or not and whether they like it or not! 

Can you provide any advice to other filmmakers who dream of getting their films made and into Sundance?
Work with people who inspire you to do your best.  And keep at it!  I've been submitting to Sundance for ten years now!

OK BREATHE AURALEE - TEASER TRAILER from Brooke Swaney on Vimeo.

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