Lezbelib: What inspired you to write the story of "A Reason"?
Dominique: I heard about a villa in the Pacific Palisades that was going to be torn down and would present itself as a great filming location. When I walked through the house, the story just came to me. I wrote for 3 weeks almost like in a trance.
Lezbelib: Is there a particular message you wanted to convey with your movie?
Dominique: I believe that you can’t tell an audience what to think. Art is subjective and there is beauty in people getting different things out of a piece. The messages that I tried to convey are love over greed, meeting each other as human beings without asking “what’s in it for me”, overcoming our prejudices, and breaking with destructive behavioral patterns that are so often found in families. I created the Lesbian character, Serena, to encourage young women to speak up and find their voice. Women are strong, but society conditions us to think otherwise. I also address LGBT teen suicide. Serena in the story is a survivor of a suicide attempt, but is constantly silenced by oppressive, psychological mind games that the people around her play by making her feel worthless. She learns to fight back and realizes her own strength. There’s definitely a message to young women in the film that is meant to empower them and a life-affirming message to LGBT youth.
Lezbelib: Does the lesbian character in the film reflect you at all?
Dominique: Well, let’s say the one Lesbian in the world I know best is me; so naturally, there is a little bit of me in the main character Serena. I wanted to make a film about a Lesbian without making the storyline about her sexuality. Society often reduces us to our sexuality when in reality gay women and men have interests, joys and struggles besides being gay – like everyone else. It was important to me to show that. The story is not autobiographical, but I had some crazy experiences in my life that shaped the person I am today. I, like this character, had to find my own voice and when I did it was enormously liberating.
Lezbelib: What is your favorite stage in the filmmaking process; scouting, casting, post, actual filming?
Dominique: Actual filming and working with the actors. Bringing these characters to life together is very intense and special. And then of course, I also love the very last stages of post when it all comes together and you can look at the finished film.
Lezbelib: You grew up in Switzerland and traveled a lot before moving to California. Are any of these trips or locations reflected in the film?
Dominique: Not the locations themselves, but my experiences in some of those places. I actually grew up in Germany, Italy, and Switzerland. I spent my childhood among rock stars in music studios and at rock concerts. I had a very nice life, but was quite spoiled. Then my mother and I moved in with my uncle who lives in a large historic house in Tuscany, Italy, in an artist community, literally out in nature. We had our own water source and I had to learn how to make fire to stay warm - to give you an idea of how rural our lifestyle was. In those 2 years I really learned about nature and the value of real honest connections with people. I realized that all the things society tells us that we need to be happy are really not necessary. During my travels, I saw a lot of shocking poverty that really woke me up to how obsessed Western culture is with materialism. In A Reason I address this. In the film wealthy Aunt Irene is dying and her family members want to inherit her fortune. No one cares about her. During the course of the story, they begin to see Aunt Irene as a human being who deserves compassion. They are forced to rethink their concepts of love, forgiveness and family, even if it means losing a fortune. It poses the question, what’s really important? So, some of my realizations I had in different places are definitely in the film.
Lezbelib: What advice do you have for any lesbian directors that are about to work on their first project?
Dominique: Find yourself a producer who makes your project their priority and who is as passionate about the story as you are. I’m enormously blessed with my producer Caroline Risberg, who supports my creative vision and makes mountains move. We are an amazing team. I believe it’s key to making movies, because you’re actually with your producer the longest. There are a lot of “talkers” out there so it’s crucial to find a producer you can trust. Other than that my advice would be: Trust yourself and your vision. Love responsibility. We all know the directing world is a boys club right now. That doesn’t mean that it’s always going to be like that. Every woman who fights for the opportunity to direct is part of the change.
Lezbelib: Can you tell us anything about the next project you are working on?
Dominique: Absolutely. The next project is called “Little Girl, Big Eyes” (working title). The idea behind it is: If you could rescue a child, but you would have to break the law to do it, would you do it? The main character is a female rebel hero whose life changes drastically when a smart, feisty little girl crosses her path that is in a difficult situation. When she can’t turn away, there’s a whole lot of trouble on the horizon. All lead characters are strong females and there are a couple of Lesbian characters too. I wrote the script and will be directing and my business partner Caroline Risberg of Risberg Schilling Productions, who produced A Reason, will be producing this film as well. We are very excited about this new project!
A big thank you to Dominique for this interview! For more information about "A Reason", visit the website: http://www.areasonthemovie.com/
Photo Credit: Dominique Schilling