WHEN IT PAYS, 11min., USA
Directed by Marisa Bertani
From the queer and women run production company, Late Bloomer Pictures. When struggling NYC sci-fi novelist, Erin, goes home for Passover, she must decide whether her family deserves to know a life-changing secret before they find out without her.
Get to know the filmmakers:
Director Marisa Bertani
Writer/Actress: Leah Voysey
1. What motivated you to make this film?
Marisa: Leah was the one who brought the concept and original script to the table, which I immediately fell in love with! When It Pays really encompasses our main value at Late Bloomer Pictures, which is to tell queer-led stories not centered around coming out. Our main character Erin has so much of our lives wrapped into her - which I think for both Leah and I was motivation in itself to bring her to life.
Leah: I was getting to a place in my career where I was finally feeling secure, but there was still a disconnect between me and my family. They viewed a creative career as fame, and Oscars, and billboards. But for me (and most creatives), that isn't the case. I wrote the first draft of this film in an apartment without wifi, tv, or other distractions. And because I was so motivated by the content of the story, it flowed out easily.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
Marisa: This film took about 2 years in total. We really wanted to take our time to ensure that everything was in order and given the time and creativity it deserved before completing the project.
Leah: And to be fair, this was written in 2020...so we had some reasonable, global setbacks to contend with.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
Marisa: Relatable chaos
Leah: Artist's anxiety
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Marisa: For me, the biggest obstacle was time and money. We were so grateful to raise funds for this film through crowdfunding. We did a LOT with just $7k - which ends up going MUCH quicker than you think it will lol. Regarding time - we ended up being left with less than 48 hours to film this project due to booking conflicts, and I'm so grateful to our crew and actors who were so cool, calm, collected, and on top of it in such a time crunch!
Leah: This was the biggest undertaking we had tackled together. For our first production, we hired a team with their own equipment. That helped take a lot of stress off our backs. For When It Pays, we had to rent everything ourselves, we ran a crowdfunding campaign, and on top of that, we wanted to make sure we honored our company initiation by hiring a mostly LGBT crew.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
Marisa: My initial reaction was "OH THANK GOD, THEY GOT IT!" haha. It was such an incredible feeling of satisfaction to see that so many people could relate to the story we created and could each take from it their own personal moments of connection to Erin.
Leah: Ditto to what Marisa said.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
Marisa: It's always been something that I imagined pursuing but I had always just been super focused on acting. Then, I met Leah while serving at a restaurant in NYC! We immediately clicked and would spend the down time of our shifts imagining stories and script concepts together. This led to us creating our first project together, Roommates. The fulfillment and joy that came from bringing a story of our own to life is something that I had never felt before creatively. Now it's a part of me that I'll never give up!
Leah: I always knew I wanted to be an actor, but I was tired of waiting for someone to punch my ticket and tell me I can act. Luckily, I was having this career crisis right around the time I met Marisa!! She had the drive and initiative I was looking for to start making my own work. She helped me realize that if you see yourself in a certain role – write it yourself!
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Marisa: I have seen Pride and Prejudice (2005) more times than I can count. I'm absolutely in love with the cinematography, direction, score, and Keira Knightly.
Leah: The Lord of the Rings!! All three of them. I can't tell you how many times I've seen those films.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
Marisa: I'd love to see this be an in-person event to help build more connections, see other films, and meet new people!
Leah: I've made valuable connections by attending film festivals, and I wish more would prioritize meeting and mingling with other attendees. My favorite film festival story is actually about one Marisa attended! At the festival, she met a group of filmmakers that ended up casting both of us in our first feature. This feature went on to have a six-week theater run, gross over $12 million at the box office, and is now a huge part of how I support myself by attending horror conventions and meeting fans. You can never go wrong by attending a film festival and meeting other filmmakers!
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
Marisa: Great! We love it.
Leah: No complaints here!
10. What is your favorite meal?
Marisa: Such a hard question! My family has a generations-old tradition of making the Italian pasta, cappelletti, every year for Christmas and it's extremely delicious. On the day-to-day though, a really great taco!
Leah: Eggplant Parmesan, which has always been my favorite food (even before I was a vegetarian)
11. What is next for you? A new film?
Marisa: We are currently working on the script for our next short film, Butterscotch, and we're VERY excited about this queer horror-comedy! I also just wrapped acting in a LGBTQIA+ short film, Euphoric by Cam Killion, which was easily one of the greatest short films I've worked on thus far!
Leah: Marisa and I got together the other day to work on the script for our next film, so...yes, definitely! But before that, I will be heading to Manchester for the horror convention, For The Love of Horror. I can't wait to meet the UK horror fans!