A CHANCE, 16min., USA
Directed by Jillie Simon, Ange Arabatzis
When Mia and Caroline reunite in a city park, they soon find out that the past is not always quite past. Conflicts are resurrected, sparks fly - and then things get complicated.
Get to know the filmmakers:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
JILLIE: I’d been cast in the play version, “Be Still”, which takes place all on a park bench, and thought it was a very compelling situation with a powerful relationship between the two lead characters and clever dialogue - and I suggested to the playwright, Ange Arabatzsis that it could make a really interesting short film if we had flashbacks showing what brought them to this place - and got them off the park bench! The fact that it was a story about a lesbian couple gave me more motivation to make it, because fewer stories are told for the LGBTQ audience, and all groups that are more marginalized should have the opportunity to see themselves up on screen.
ANGE writes: He'd "originally envisioned “Be Still” as a man-woman piece. Then a seemingly unrelated conversation with a dear friend awakened in him the realization that love, true love is a meeting of the hearts. What followed was a reading at the Writers and Actors Group in NYC, where ( he) had the idea- based purely on chemistry to cast the wonderful Jillie Simon and Karen Irwin. The room held it's breath during the entire read and he knew then, that he was onto something."
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
We worked remotely together to write the screenplay version, as Ange was back in Australia, which took a couple of months, and then, as the flashbacks covered multiple seasons, we started shooting a few of the flashback scenes in the summer, then Ange came to the U.S. in the fall to shoot the park bench scene and flashback party scene, and then Thomas and I did a winter shoot for other flashback scenes. From idea to wrapping on the shoot was about a year, and from idea to finished product was probably, a two and a half year process.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
It was tricky figuring out the best way to piece it together, but that just means it took a bit of time. We tested an edit on a trusted filmmaker friend, got valuable feedback and made adjustments until we finally felt that we had a film that was satisfying in it’s pacing and story-telling; in the journey it was taking the audience on. Thomas is such a wonderful editor, because, as a musician first and foremost, he’s great with rhythm and dynamics. The biggest obstacle to overcome was in the shoot itself, as it was FREEZING in November by the Hudson River -the extreme cold made it hard for me to get out words in some moments, as my teeth were chattering so hard. But our lovely team kept my heavier coat nearby and would throw it on me between takes and brought hot tea. We were supposed to shoot in early October, but Ange ended up not being able to come to N.Y. 'til later. The glorious autumn colors that made the foliage behind us look so beautiful at that exact time that we were shooting, though, did make the freezing moments worth it! -And I think the physical discomfort in addition to the emotional difficulty contributed to an impression of how important it was for my character to be there on that bench, which was so meaningful to them both.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
It was so interesting to hear the audience members thoughts on "A Chance" and so gratifying that things we wanted to come through, did come through. And I was so happy to hear the beautiful words about the performances. Thank you, thank you!!
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
After a very cool project that I had the lead role in failed to launch because the extremely talented writer-director had unfortunately failed to get good sound on the project and then just abandoned the whole thing, my partner encouraged me to write my first film, so we could make sure the finished film would take off and soar, and everyone’s hard work would pay off. I’d been an actor-singer-songwriter for years, had been writing songs for many years - and we’d made three music videos together, two of which I co-directed, so when Thomas showed me a tiny article about a teacher who paid out of their own pocket to help kids who were going hungry throughout the day because of the cuts to the SNAP program - I wrote a short screenplay and made my first film. “Hungry”, in which Eric Roberts played the Congressman that my character confronts, won 19 awards in 35 festivals and received distribution with IndiePix Films (hungry.movie).
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Maybe “Some Like it Hot”? I did a lot of research when I was cast as Marilyn Monroe in a play (“Marilyn”), besides reading everything I could, I watched films and documentaries to get her voice and essence down. I’ve also seen “Hair” multiple times.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
Publishing interviews and podcasts are so wonderful, so thank you for this. It’s also wonderful getting to meet fellow filmmakers in person, so I hope some of the festivals which turned virtual during the pandemic, go back to having physical festivals. I know it’s a big undertaking, but it’s such a boon to connect in person, and sometimes lasting friendships are made, and connections that lead to future collaborations.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
Smooth, no problem.
10. What is your favorite meal?
I’ll do favorite breakfast (since I have a few favorite suppers!) - I start the day an apple, then I love to cook a banana with cinnamon, add blueberries onto it and then stir in cultured coconut (it’s like yoghurt but vegan, much tastier and totally cruelty-free - coconut instead of dairy).
11. What is next for you? A new film?
I'll be playing a role in a horror feature, “Ruxton Hills”, which has a terrific script by Marvalee Peart, in April. And I am also currently in development with a feature screenplay I wrote, “Real, True, 100 Percent Love”, a rock and roll spy comedy/romantic comedy.