AMEND, 19min., USA
Directed by Jianna Maarten Saada
Rachael lives an isolated existence, haunted by an unspeakable past. But when a young boy upends her tightly controlled world, she’s forced to face her own demons.
Get to know writer/producer Belinda Gosbee:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
I was so desperate to express what I was feeling about gun violence in America. As a foreigner (Australian) I was constantly in a state of disbelief/anger/fear/confoundment over the gun issue. And that nothing was being done. And then I read an article about some survivors from Columbine and it was very eye opening. I felt horrified that I'd never thought about them before. We all react heavily to the event and then things go back to the status quo and these people who are deemed to be the "lucky ones" are left with a life that is barely a life at all in many cases. I mean the suicide rates are very high and even decades later many survivors have not been able to move on and live their lives. And that's just the emotional trauma. Some have severe injuries that physically prevent them from truly "living" as well.
The trauma is almost insurmountable and there are very little resources to even begin to help them (though some organizations are starting to crop up today). They're like combat vets who never left their "safe" American towns.
So I started thinking about what that might look like. How might it completely destroy your life? What if you tried to run away and it just kept following you? How might guilt and PTSD consume you? The memories? What if no one in this "new" life you've created even had an inkling of what you've experienced? And what if the very thing you were running from (the thing you once loved - kids) was the very thing that suddenly turned up in your life. What if they were the only way forward?
I was always adamant that this film needed to be about the aftermath of gun violence, about survivors. Not the event. But when we did finally show a peek of the "event" it would be minimal. Terrifying but extremely restricted.
What I loved was that our director, Jianna Maarten Saada, absolutely took that up a notch. She was like – "It's all in the sound" and she was spot-on. If you rewatch the ending you'll realise how very little you are actually seeing outside of Rachael's face but the SOUND is leading you astray. The sound design (Thanks, Jeremy Jardine) is what's truly terrifying you in those seconds.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
Oh gawd! Too long! I believe I finished writing Amend in 2018-ish and then I crowdfunded like a wild woman in 2019, then we paused for our director to finish another project and then - COVID! Then there was the waiting to see when it would be "safe enough" to start filming. That was endless. As a producer you're now having to think about your entire cast and crew's minute-to-minute safety. Including minors.
We finally filmed toward the end of 2021 but then a few other things held us up for a bit. But we finished our final edit in 2023. And this is only a short film hahaha.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
The biggest obstacle really was COVID but the money that Covid cost us then affected our Post Production so that was another - albeit related - obstacle.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I got a little bit emotional actually. So often you don't get to hear how your film affects those "strangers" watching it - Non-family and friends who know nothing about it. Being able to hear that – especially after such a LONG journey that honestly was very difficult at times – it was like a release for me ha. And when they hit upon what you were trying to make them feel with the film - that feels really good.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
I've been film-addicted since my earliest memories. I come from a family of film lovers. I used to dream up storylines and put myself into them (not so much different from today lol.) I graduated from University with a Journalism degree first before I went back to school to train in a theatre conservatory program and the rest is history I guess. It's what brought me out here to L.A. almost 14 years ago and I've been in the industry ever since.
As for writing and producing they took a much bigger leap of faith for me. But I'm so glad I took it. I'd love to direct something at some point. I'm not sure I'm quite ready just yet... but stay tuned.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
This is never what people expect. I've always been super into drama – be that stage or screen – and there are many wonderful dramatic films I love. But my all-time favourite film, and the one I've hands-down seen more than any other, is... The Sound of Music. You can't top childhood nostalgia!
But if you take out all the singing there is actually a lot of drama to behold there...
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
I think the main one that comes to mind is publicity and marketing. By festival stage films often have very little money left – if any. So most of us certainly can't afford a PR team. Yet, publicity really can help films get more attention, more eyes on them. So any way in which festivals can help us to have access to press, or online reviews/interviews etc is really helpful. And very appreciated. I think TOFFFF is doing a great job of that.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
FilmFreeway is super user-friendy and though some may consider it a monopoly I find it so much easier having "almost" every festival in the one place.
10. What is your favorite meal?
Just cheese. Give me a gourmet cheese platter with some fig paste, crackers and some muscat grapes and I'm complete. Please serve it with a glass of red!
11. What is next for you? A new film?
I'm currently in the very early stages on a new screenplay for a feature. I finally got myself back into a writer's lab to keep me on track – I have a small child at home so life is one great balancing act!