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Interview with Liz W. Garcia - Writer and Director of The Lifeguard

Interviews
by Melissa Silverstein
August 22, 2013 2:05 PM
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WaH: What was the biggest challenge for you in making the film?

LG: The biggest challenge was the challenge affecting all directors making a movie at this scale which was not enough resources and not enough time. But, that being said, we actually made a movie, which feels like an incredible accomplishment and makes me feel incredible.

WaH: Explain to people--you premiered your film at Sundance and then people liked your movie. How long did it take you to get a distributor and how has that experience been for you? Can you give people some advice on that process?

LG: Well, many movies go to Sundance and only a handful of them are actually sold at Sundance. What happens to most of us is that your film is shown a few times and during that time various distributors watch it and some express interest and they make offers. It's a process of sorting out all the different offers, thinking about offers, making the deal and that was how it was for us.

WaH: So, you came in to Sundance with an agent? Some people don't come in with an agent.

LG: Yeah. I had a very specific experience of having my agency submit my film and having a follow-up with Sundance. I didn't have to send Sundance a petition at all, but it gives me pretty much the illusion that you know what they are thinking or at least you are included.

WaH: You have been a little bit outspoken, which I love, about the issue related to women directors in the industry. I just want to push you a little bit more on that and the Go Into the Story piece you did. There are two really important prongs of it--getting more women behind the scenes as directors. But, a really important piece of this that needs so much work is the valuing of women's experiences. That's a really hard thing to articulate to people because regular people who are well-meaning don't understand how women's experiences are not valued. But, they are not valued in the cultural arena in the same way that male experiences are.

LG: There is so much to say and it becomes for me at times overwhelming. The problem has to do with a global epidemic of misogyny. American television is a huge product that is exported around the world and what that means is that what our movies and films say about who women has global ramifications. I include TV because it has such a significant cultural impact. There is a burden and a responsibility when you are someone who is very aware of how far we've yet to travel in granting women equal rights and equal respect and you are creating cultural products. You have to be responsible and be aware of the message that you are sending out. I think that the most significant thing that we can be doing is continuing to make product, through movies and television, that comes from the female point of view--that tells about women's lives.

WaH: Do you feel pressure as a female director because there are so few?

LG: That doesn't feel like pressure to me. I'm aware of wanting to serve as an example because I want someone who was the 15-year old me to be able to look on IMDB and to find more female directors who make movies. My only pressure is maybe when I wonder if I'm winning the game or wonder if I will make a better example if I make my career about money, For example should I try to get into the kind of four quadrant, graphic novel, application game. But, that's not me. If there is a woman out there who can do that and make big bucks like these dudes, then she should do that and I will really admire her.

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