I.M.L.A. ~ A Musical Graphic Novel feature film, reactions (director interview)
I.M.L.A. ~ A Musical Graphic Novel, 83min., USA, Graphic Novel
Directed by Mae Edwards
A story about Queer Femmes of Color on their Hero’s Journey through Tinsel Town, as told in a musical video-ized graphic novel.
Once known as El Pueblo Sobre el Rio de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles Del Rio de Porciuncula.
Land of Opportunity, Fame and Fortune.
A Mecca for Poets, Mystics, Musicians and Starlets.
IMLA is the hero’s journey of Shylene Steele and is a story about friendship. 4 young LGBTQ women of color making their way to Los Angeles from the Deep South, dreaming of hitting the big time and changing the world. Their adventures in Hollywood have them meeting a mystical mentor, a gender non-conforming ally, and shadowy enemies along the way.
”It’s my love letter to Los Angeles, for better or for worse.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
It was a tumultuous time politically in the United States, where statements were made by politicians suggesting rounding up and hanging the LGBTQ+ community . As an adult, I knew it was a misdirected attempt for power and control, unlikely to take hold. But my friends who were therapists and caregivers mentioned to me repeatedly how suicide prevention centers showed a quadruple spike of calls from young LGBTQ+ people, who were wracked with fear over those comments.
I created this musical graphic novel as encouragement to young people, for them to see themselves as heroes and for them to know we see the injustice and won't stand for it... for them to feel love and support from our community and our allies.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
From the lighting bolt of seeing it all finished in my imagination to its manifestation into this dimension, it took 2 years.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
There were no obstacles, per se. It was more about putting one's head down and showing up to do the work on the docket, daily. Not trying to see the finish line, but applying ourselves to today's focus only.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I wept and wept and wept with joy and gratitude.
My smile went deep. I had the overwhelming wish to hug these beautiful people who had seen the film and thank them for their time and kindness.
I will never lose the smile they/you gave me.
And I long to support their creative endeavors, however I possibly can. Please tell me how?
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
As a musician and songwriter first, I realized visual motion picture storytelling was influencing my songwriting when I was 16 years old. When I was 25, I became a film and TV editor as my vocation and fell deeply and madly in love. The ability in editing to even rewrite the script became my secret superpower to directors I worked with.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Desert Hearts by Donna Deitch.
What is yours?
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
You have to know you have knocked it out of the park. I can't even begin to tell you what your encouragement has done for my heart. Perhaps to meet the jury or to attend the screening? But really, I am so filled up with your festival's wonderful magic. I couldn't be happier.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
FilmFreeway has been the most wonderful experience. I am thrilled with the site.
10. What is your favorite meal?
Bánh xèo is a crispy, stuffed rice pancake popular in Vietnam. The name refers to the sound the rice batter makes when it is poured into the hot skillet. It is a savoury fried pancake made of rice flour, water, and turmeric powder. It can also be called a Vietnamese crêpe.
What is yours?
11. What is next for you? A new film?
I'm currently creating two projects concurrently.
The first is called Lunare Lumen. Lunare Lumen is a study of a forgotten Ancient Persian Astrology of the Moon, where the Moon visits 28 Lunar Mansions in her transformation from New Moon to New Moon. LL will consist of over 28 short films and their corresponding musical scores. Once all the elements are created it will be a virtual art installation, which I may convert into a VR experience.
I am also creating The Tarot of Service, which is a video course showing how to meditate the 22 Paths on the Tree of Life, from ancient Qabalah.
Esoteric and lofty I do realize... but I'm hoping to make everything bite sized and accessible, as the tenets are quite interesting, helpful food for thought to clear away difficult childhood trauma and societal conditioning, to help us all live with happier lighter more joyful hearts.