Updated: Apr 14, 2020
April 19th 2020 via the film's website and Vimeo
Like many of you, I find myself in quarantine during a life changing pandemic that will inevitably change the course of lives and memories. My hope is that you are well and finding space for joy amidst the uncertainty of this time we share.
I cannot speak for you, but my day to day has been a mixed bag of giving myself permission to cry, laugh, wake up early, sleep in late, give the new rescue puppy a bath, talk with the trees in my backyard, go for a walk, not go for a walk, make a home cooked meal, take the easy way out and heat up tofu and beans in the microwave, eat pancakes for dinner, listen to birds chirping for longer than I ever normally would, a nap with my cat in the middle of the afternoon, reading, not reading, staring at the books I would like to have the desire to read, wondering what my job will be when this ends, quiet, 4 hour phone conversations in the middle of the night, avoiding my phone entirely, being repelled by social media and news, then consuming it without mercy, meditating, interrupting a meditation for a phone call or because the dog pooped in the house, staring out my window, puttering around the house, writing, not writing, thinking about how I should be using this time to write or be productive, thinking...so much thinking, reflecting on the moments of my life that have shaped me, online yoga, avoiding online anything, spending an ungodly amount of time with my collection of crystals, therapy over the phone, lack of appetite, eating pie for breakfast and then for every consecutive meal thereafter, then swearing I will only eat plants from now on, and so on. For me it's been an experiment in giving myself permission for all of these things and finding comfort in knowing there is no "right" way to do quarantine.
Amidst all of this I do believe it has been a healing time for me thus far, and a time to get to know myself better, and to slow way way down. Like many, I feel a sense of guilt about having this time. I am not a healthcare worker or a person with the means to donate large sums to aiding those who are on the front lines of this crisis. I grew up in survival mode and this is a state that is fortunately--or unfortunately natural for me. The best that I can do right now is stay home and spend time on the phone with my grandmother or wave to her through the window. It is difficult to digest the idea that this may be enough. But perhaps it is....
The tools I have at my disposal for connection and staying artistically stimulated are writing and the internet and others I have yet to tap but there is time for that yet...I think? So here I am. What I have to offer is these words to you and a few minutes of film that I hope will give you something to ponder in the hours you are alone or with your loved ones in quarantine. It is not a perfect film by any means, but I hope it will offer some themes to think about if you are one of the people among us with spare time during this complicated moment in history.
After completing production, Crying Wolf (or the clips that would one day be a film) sat on a hard drive for nearly two years while I pondered the daunting task of post production, something I had little knowledge of as this was the first indie I had ever made. I waited years to begin the task of what would need to come next as paid directing work and acting opportunities and survival jobs took center stage in my day to day. Without a budget, it meant calling in a lot of favors, exercising a lot of patience, and realizing that no one cared about the completion of this project as much as I did. An entirely fair quandary considering that creatives often juggle passion projects of their own alongside the litany of higher paid gigs with deadlines. It is natural that the passion projects of others with miniscule budgets fall to the bottom of their lists of to-do's. I came to realize I was driving this thing, and also came to value those with skills I lacked on the post side of film like never before. For a person who is a "me do" kind of girl, I was forced to relinquish an epic amount of control and perfectionism, which gave way to creative contributions I couldn't have anticipated and was beyond grateful for. My scope of post production talent and vision has widened like no other. But as with most indie films, I understood that if it was going to be seen through to completion, that part was on me. I am not a business savvy person. As I've told my father, I just want to wear a cape and keep crayons in my pockets and stir up creative ingenuity and let others handle the fine print. There are others who are much better at the business end of entertainment than I. At first feeling entirely alone and in over my head, I came to see that perseverance and lessons learned through trial and error are more valuable than perfection. I can't expect to be Sofia Coppola on my first shot out of the gate, but I can allow the myself to fail, to endure setbacks, and rise and continue to create with a new set of skills in my pocket from having learned immeasurable lessons.
After the final edit, the film screened a handful of times, none of which I was able to attend in person, and then I lost momentum during a particularly difficult period in my personal life, throwing it to the back-burner once more, utterly overwhelmed by what I could do with it next. It went back into hiding on a private link.
Today I find myself in quarantine, realizing there is no better time to release a project that has lived in isolation, even if it is imperfect, and celebrate the work of the innumerable people who gave their time. The creation of this film marked a profound moment in my life as an artist and in rediscovering the love of directing that has lived in me since I was a child, and that alone is something I would at last like to celebrate with you as a community by sending it out into the world to meet an audience.
While in quarantine I realized there's this thing called Vimeo(who knew it could be used this way!) that can instantly release a film to the public, and will perhaps release me from the purgatory of where it should live and instead just let it live so that I can begin the process of giving my heart to new and yet to be discovered projects. And so, on April 19th, I will send my baby out into the void to be watched or not watched, but it is time to let her soar.
If you choose to partake in viewing this film, please know that I am an open door for conversation around and about its content. Art, in all its many forms, is the great conversation starter for our world, and I do believe we need it now, perhaps more than I have experienced in this lifetime. Below you will find my director's note and acknowledgements to the cast and crew.
Wherever you may be, however your heart may be hanging today, I am sending you immense love.
I began developing this story during a time when I was living with my then boyfriend and my brother. Though my relationship with my brother is nothing like the relationship between Jacob and Izzy, there were emotional truths related to having been raised by an addict parent and abandonment which drew me to unpacking those themes further through fiction.
This film explores the line between intimacy and sex through the taboo lens of a relationship between a brother and sister who have found themselves in a highly co-dependent and intimate partnership in the aftermath of a traumatic childhood.
The film asks us to examine what happens to children who are forced to take on the role of parent and partner for one another in childhood. How do two people who have become everything for one another, have raised one another, and overcome trauma with one another, begin to separate and carve out their own unique identities as adults? What means may they use to attempt to hold onto what they know?
At the time I began writing Crying Wolf, my romantic relationship had become co-dependent and sibling-like in nature and had been for some time. I was 19 when we started dating and I looked to him for the kind of support a child might need - support I hadn’t found in childhood. We had raised each other. I knew he would always be my family, but I also knew it was time for me to move on and discover my own independence and identity. At the time, I only knew myself through the mirror of these two men I loved — my partner, and my brother.
I soon moved to New York City where four years later I would have the opportunity to explore this story further on film. I am eternally grateful to the souls who gathered to help me tell this story with empathy and care. It is an uncomfortable story. There is also a lot of misplaced love between these young people. If it leaves you with more questions than answers, I hope this means it will stay with you, crawl under you, and perhaps it will cause you to explore the different and confusing brands of love and emotion that live in you. Including shame. We all live with our own unique facets of shame. Please feel free to come to me with your thoughts, feelings, and questions about the film. I hope that it can open a conversation.
This film was a labor of love. We carried equipment onto New York subways, dedicated many a late night to editing, cooked meals for our crew in our home, which also functioned as our set, and years after the film was in the can, my brother aided me in putting finishing touches on the edit in California. We were fortunate to find a sound designer at Universal who was willing to donate his time and resources to rescue the poorly recorded sound and without him, there would be no film.
We were gifted the opportunity to record live music with Ackerman in their home studio in Brooklyn and I am still beaming from the gracious manner in which they supported this film by lovingly contributing and creating music that would become Jacob’s band. Watching artists come together to create, for fun and for free, will always be the time when my heart shines the absolute brightest.
This is the first film I was able to write, direct, and see through to its completion. I made many a mistake and I learned more than could possibly be expressed here. What I know is that this film will not be my last. I am proud that it is my first.
I am forever grateful to the great number of people who helped us to make this possible. Filmmaking is a team sport. I did not do any of this alone. I am grateful to those who jumped in and offered their creative contributions to see this vision through to completion.
This film is dedicated to the late Les Plesko who helped me put the first words to the page so many years ago, and who celebrated my move to New York City and taught me that I was worthy of an education. Thank you, Les. For all that you nurtured in me, for all that you gave this world through your teaching, your art, and your presence, thank you.