Turning the Textual Visual [Q&A]

This is a Q&A with Natalie Rodriguez, who previously published on Hamline Lit Link a story that’s now a short film. 

What was the process for you in translating your written art into something visual?

For “The Extraordinary Ordinary,” it was always a mystery prior to shooting anything.

About a year ago, we shot a short film but it was also very different from the feature script. About two months ago, my co-producer and I discussed of shooting a sizzle for the feature film. This time, I had a locked cast so it was both exciting and nerve-racking. Everyone who is apart of this project can individually relate to the mental health aspect of the story. I think each of us is an advocate in a way, which made the filming process of the sizzle even more personal. However, filming the 2-3 sizzle was very soothing and more so, therapeutic. Unlike the short film from 2016, the sizzle focused more the physicality aspect of the main character, Erica, going through a panic attack. It was something that both the actress, Maddison, and I spoke about prior to shooting–how much the anxiety should be show and antics that the character would do pre, during, and after having a panic attack. That is why you see the character fumbling with both the Polaroid camera–her safe haven–and gripping onto it as well.

What was the biggest challenge in this? 

One of the biggest challenges in this process is the process itself. We are all eager to start filming the feature film; however, preparation and patience is key.

What was added by adding visuals? 

This was a rewarding part! I feel the story had truly come to life once I had brought on the two leads, Maddison and Jesse. I remember during their chemistry read audition, I felt like a proud parent because I had always wanted them individually for the roles. So it was sort of fate when it worked out!

What was complicated with visuals? 

To be honest, I think most of us from the sizzle shoot were wanting to shoot more! The complicated part was, I guess, not having that other hour or two to spend more time with the characters.

How do the words you wrote and this production work together? 

I feel that the words and production itself (pre-production in this case for the feature) are so important to each other! It is a necessity to take the appropriate time per scene and with the characters so the story does not feel incomplete. Casting for both talent and crew is something I have taken my time with as well. Fortunately, with the crew and cast we have (so far), it has been a blessing because they are also talented people who just want to get filming! I think to have a positive attitude and to be on the same page as the team is key to getting, well, a movie made.

How does a first-person written piece translate into film? How did you work to express that perspective in film or was it changed?

With a film, I feel that it is personal no matter what. It is one thing to write it out and another to get up and film it. For me, it was about finding another individual who could help interpret those words in not only dialogue but reactions as well. Maddison and Jesse have done an extraordinary take with that for Erica and Alex. They sort of are the characters, which is always one of the best elements when it comes to directing and producing. My perspective for the project has changed by getting me more ecstatic to keep pushing forward and getting this feature film version finally made 🙂

Natalie Rodriguez is a writer and filmmaker from Southern, CA. In 2014, she graduated with her B.A. in TV-Film from CSUF. Her work has been featured on Amazon Books, “Dime Show Review: Volume 1, Issue 1 – ‘Apricots,’ Tribe section;” Zooey Deschanel’s HelloGiggles; All Day Media; AXS; Blasting News; Defeat the Stigma Project; Dime Show Review; Factual Facts; Fictional Cafe; FlockU; Girls Soccer Network; MCXV; Ranker; Render Media (“Opposing Views” & “This is Now”); ROSA Magazine; Scriggler; Short Kid Stories; TheGamer; The Huffington Post; TheRichest; Thought Catalog; WeekendNotes; Winamop Poetry; and Writer’s Weekly. Her horror story, “Inner Child,” will be published on The Stray Branch in March.

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