Filmmakers Dominique Cardona and Laurie Colbert Don’t Give Up

on

On paper, Finn’s Girl sounds like it includes

laundry list of modern social issues, including abortion rights, interracial

relationships, lesbian motherhood, grieving after the loss of a partner/parent,

and so on. And certainly, most first-time filmmakers are prone to overwriting

and letting melodrama bloat a picture. Thankfully, the movie avoids this with

tight writing, solid direction and some excellent performances.

In fact, Colbert actually

thought it was funny that reviewers kept harping on the point, considering they’d

never sat down to make a film about “issues”: “I’ll give you an

example — we never were writing in a biracial relationship, it just so happened

that the black woman who showed up to the film gave the best audition. I think

people thought we sat around with all these issues and then wrote the script!”

She laughed again.

Yanna McIntosh as Diana in Finn’s Girl

“What we were really

interested in,” Colbert explained, “was the doctor character and her

kid, and that she would have a love interest in the end. And she would be left

kind of high and dry with the kid — so it was just kind of the scenario we were

looking for, so for us, we just see it as a story.”

It was precisely these “issues”

that made the movie frustratingly tough to get funding for. As documentary

filmmakers, the women had something of a built-in audience as well as interested

investors who saw their activism as a kind of charitable cause, but a narrative

film was a whole new ballgame.

“It happened over a

long period of time, and we certainly couldn’t get any funding for it, boy,”

said Colbert. “With the shorts, the documentaries, we were fully funded

with no problem whatsoever; this thing we got rejected by everybody. So it was

a long process to actually get it to the camera.”

True to the scrappy,

do-it-yourself image associated with the indie filmmaker, they went ahead and

scraped together the money themselves, making use of every resource available. Colbert

said: “We edited [the film] in our own home on a Final Cut Pro, the actors

are wearing our clothes. You know the bar scene? That’s actually a hallway in

our house. In the next scene afterwards [in Finn’s house], they’re walking down

the exact same hallway.”

Brooke Johnson as Finn in Finn’s Girl

She continued: “It’s

full of borrowed cars; Max’s house is our producer’s house; the clinic that we shot

in was actually a real abortion clinic. I don’t think we spent more than $1,000

on the set in total, and that includes wardrobe as well. We just did it with

what was available to us, and that’s it.”

Lesbian films

(particularly features) are notoriously difficult to get off the ground, so

Colbert and Cardona’s experience is unfortunately nothing new. But Colbert

thinks the biggest problem is that not enough women are going out and seeing

movies: “I just read an article that said the attendance for lesbian films

is terrible — now that we’ve been to most of the gay and lesbian festivals in

America, I have to say, quite frankly, the attendance was bad.”

She sighed and conceded

that Finn’s Girl may have been aimed

more at older women, or to a stronger feminist sensibility than is typical at

the movies right now, but that didn’t fully explain the problem. “Ten

years ago,” she said, “there was a huge audience for feminist work

before. Where’s it gone?

“I think all the

festivals are struggling as well, especially to get women to come to films. And

it didn’t matter if it was Out at the

Wedding
, Finn’s Girl, Itty Bitty Titty Committee — it’s just

tough to get people to come out. I don’t know how to get the audience out. I

don’t know where the audience is; I don’t know if they’re watching TV; I don’t

know what they’re doing, but they certainly aren’t coming to movies.”

She was quick to

acknowledge that it’s not all bad news for queer women in film and TV, but it

is certainly a different atmosphere. “For us, it’s been kind of

fascinating because the whole gay and lesbian scene has changed. It really has

changed in the last five years — especially with The L Word. And one thing is that a lot of people buy DVDs now. I

think Finn’s Girl will do very well

on the DVD market. I don’t think there’s any problem there, and people will

watch it on TV. But trying to get people to come to festivals and cinemas? That’s

a tough sell.”

Moving ahead, the

filmmakers are working on a new project, which they’re beginning to write this

summer. “It’s more — if you could say any role model, it would be Little Miss Sunshine,” said Colbert.

“Going along with that, it’s very character-driven, and again, set in our

house in Toronto.”

As part of the tiny

minority of queer filmmakers who attempt a second feature, Cardona and Colbert

are practically grizzled veterans now. “It’s harder to make the second

[feature] than the first — the first one, you’re riding on enthusiasm,”

Colbert said. “[You’re riding] on that craziness and you’re naïve — it’s

fantastic. The second one, you’re much more aware of all the pitfalls.”

She paused thoughtfully. “That

doesn’t mean we’re giving up — we don’t give up easily.”

Finn’s Girl will be available

on DVD
on Aug. 5.

For more on Cardona and Colbert, visit the Finn’s

Girl
website.

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