REEL Ladies Spotlights Michelle Goetsch. Writer, Director, Producer, Actress, a woman wearing many hats.
Michelle’s films, “The Pill” and “Wreck the Halls”, have been making way around film festivals across the globe!
RL: When did the film bug first bite you?
MG: The first film I made was about King Arthur, for a High School English project. My best friend and I borrowed her parents’ camera, rented a knight costume and a horse, and fell in love with story telling through movies.
RL: You are married with children correct? How do you balance your family and film? Is it difficult for you?
MG: I believe that if something is meant to be, it will be. Honestly, my career hadn’t really taken off yet, when I decided I wanted to have children. I haven’t and still don’t give filmmaking the attention needed to be really successful. But, my kids won’t be kids forever, and I want to be here for them. It’s my personal choice. Much like taking a detour, you have to work harder to find your way, and it takes longer, but you end up where you want to go.
RL: When & how did the conception for your short film “The Pill” come about?
MG: I wanted to start building a current reel, when I found out I was pregnant with my third child. I was devasted by the loss, and had a difficult time reconciling my relationship with my husband, when he decided he didn’t want to try again. I felt the need to share the pain of loss through film, but knew that most people probably wouldn’t relate to a film about miscarriage. At the same time, I read about a medication used for high blood pressure (Inderal/Propanal) that sometimes had a side effect fo memory loss. Harvard found that, when taken soon after a trauma, many individuals with PSTD ahd difficulty remembering the event. The script basically wrote itself. It was very cathartic for me to share my real experience within the context of a film about memory manipulation.
RL: Tell us about it.
MG: It is a story about a woman who discovers she is pregnant, but there is no fetus on the ultrasound. It turns out, she had taken Inderal prior to feeling pregnant and taking a pregnancy test. The surprise twist takes place after she discovers she has taken “The Pill”. Unfortunately, I have learned that the reaction to this film was extremely polarized.
Women have cried with me, laughed at the end, and loved the film. Many men, however, have said the acting was over the top, the dialogue was unrealistic, and the story was far fetched. I know the tears were real, the pill really exists, and the dialogue between the husband and wife was word for word, real discussions. I think I made the husband character too one dimensional, but it was my perspective at the time.
RL: You wrote, produced, directed and acted in it. WOW! What was the hardest thing for you about this project? Any moments that made you wonder what in the hell you got yourself into? If so, how did you get past those moments?
MG: I would have to say the hardest thing is directing myself. There are things about my performance that I would change if I had been watching a monitor. I can get overly expressive, but on camera that needs to be pulled back a little. And there is a scene where I am crying. I am looking down, and the camera can’t that I am really crying. If I had been directing someone else, I would have told the actress to look up for a second. I’ve been told by some audiences that they can still feel it, but I think it would have been more powerful to see it.
As for moments, yes. We lost a location due to an unrelated death. The budget and permit called for that day, and that location. I couldn’t very well feel sorry for my film, when someone lost a life. But it was difficult to get that scene. We had to use another area of the location, and try to dress it as a psychiatrist’s office. The whole crew went around borrowing plants from the lobby, and the frustration actually worked with the scene.
RL: Was it your first time directing?
MG: Yes, this was my first film as a director.
RL: Your husband has Executive Produced your films too, is it easy to work with your spouse?
MG: In our case, it is really easy. My husband likes to keep the role of Executive Producer limited to financial duties. He lets me be the creative one, and actually encouraged me to work on a feature version, but I was done with this project.
RL: The film has done great at the festivals, can you tell the ladies what festivals you’ve participated in and what that experience was like for you?
MG: “The Pill” was an official selection fo the Rhode Island International Film Festival, Dances With Films, LA International Short Film Festival, Big Bear Lake Film Festival, FAIF Festival, Swansea Bay Film Festival in the UK, and won the Best Director Award at a new festival in New Zealand, Night Gallery! My new film just premiered at the International Family Film Festival.
I love film festivals. I love meeting fellow filmmakers, potential future crew, watching films, and seeing what festivals program.
RL: Your new project, Wreck the Halls, stars a well known actor, Mickey Rooney, how did you get him to come on board your project?
MG: There were only two actors I even considered for this role. I looked them up on IMDB. I like contacting managers first because they have fewer clients than agents. Coincidently, Mickey Rooney’s manager has an in the town I live in. It was an instant connection. He read the script first, then gave it to Mickey and his wife Jan. After they gave their approval, I was put through to the agent and all that was left to do was negotiate salary.
RL: Was your second time around easier than the first?
MG: Some things were easier; for instance, I already knew how to do the insurance, and SAG paperwork, and had half the crew. But, this production was twice the budget, twice the cast, studio teachers, 13 kids with work restrictions, and a lot more film permit hoops to jump through. I collaborated with my co-director, David Abramson, because there was no way I could produce, act, and direct this one by myself.
I was first on the set, last in the makeup trailer, and signing the craft service invoice, when the 1st AD knocked and called that second camera crew wanted to see the blocking before the Gaffer set up the lights! I told my co-directo to find a stand-in because the camera was not going to roll unless I was wearing makeup! :0)
RL: Tell us how this project came about/
MG: I wanted to do a comedy with my daughter. She is an actress and used to sing for the convalescent hospitals and retirement communities. I had a lot of little funny bits, but didn’t have a plot. So I contacted a writer I met through Without a Box.
RL: What do you like more: acting, directing, writing, or producing?
MG: That is such a tough question, because I love being involved from beginning to end. But if I had to pick, I would say acting. The actors get time to eat :o)
RL: What is the ultimate goal for you in your career?
MG: I think the answer to that question keeps evolving over time. At this point in my life, I just want to be able to continue to create. For the immediate future, I think I need to make “Wreck the Halls” into a feature. I have been contacted by a couple of television distribution companies, but the networks don’t know what to do with shorts.
RL: What would you like to see from women in film?
MG: I’d like to see women not need a “Women Filmmakers” sidebar in the larger film festivals.
RL: Where can the ladies find you?