Life isn’t going to plan for Emily, a bisexual woman who ends up finding the joys of polyamory in romantic comedy, Two In The Bush: A Love Story. Debut director, Laura Madalinski, talks to us about drawing from her own experiences to represent polyamory, something which is so rarely seen in stories, both fictional and true.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO DIRECTING?
LAURA: I actually started out in post production. The first feature I ever worked on was We Live In Public by Ondi Timoner. At the time, I was an assistant editor at a commercial post house and I just fell in love with features. After that I edited two more features and a TV historical documentary, all while still editing in the commercial world. Throughout that time I listened and learned and came to the realization that I could write and direct my own feature. I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I knew it was possible.
WHERE DID THE CONCEPT OF THE STORY COME FROM?
LAURA: A lot of the inspiration came from my own experience and the experience of those closest to me. My partner and co-writer Kelly Haas and I wanted to create something that was reflective of that lived experience. We wanted to create a love story for the queer community, the sex worker community, and the polyamorous community because we need and deserve love stories.
DID YOU COME ACROSS ANY OBSTACLES DURING THE MAKING OF THE FILM? IF YES, HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
LAURA: Oh my, yes, so many obstacles. The main one would probably be just a lack of time and money. We were completely self-funded with a total budget of less than $50,000, and so we could only afford 10 days of shooting. Luckily, we had an amazing cast and crew who were all passionate about the script and committed to seeing it completed. The crew worked so fast, and the actors nailed every single take. We also made use of what we had access to, our primary shooting location was my house, and we used every single room. All of the other locations, including the dungeon, were owned by friends. Most of the costumes were pulled from my closet, the actors closets, and thrift stores. All of the artwork in the film was from local artists. We just got really creative, and again, really lucky.
WHAT WAS THE BEST PART OF THE EXPERIENCE OF MAKING THIS FILM?
LAURA: There's this magical moment that happens on set. You stop, look around, and see all of these people. Some have just met you, some have known you for years, but they are all working so hard to make your dream come to life, because they believe in it. There's no greater feeling in this world than being able to inspire people like that.
HOW DID YOU FIND EXPLORING THE DYNAMICS OF UNCONVENTIONAL RELATIONSHIPS THROUGH POLYAMORY?
LAURA: As a bi/pan, polyamorous woman, it was important to me to tell a story that felt true. One of the difficult things about polyamory is that there really isn't any kind of cultural script to follow. It challenges so many long held beliefs about what love is and what a successful relationship (or relationships) can look like. There's also a profound lack of representation in media regarding that journey, so you really have to listen to your heart and find out what works best for you. There's a great quote in the film about that, "just because you haven't read this in a book or seen this in a movie to tell you it's right, doesn't mean it's wrong. Only you know what's right for you."
WHAT DO YOU WANT THE AUDIENCE TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR FILM?
LAURA: I hope that audiences connect with the characters, their motivations, their choices, because only through understanding each other do we make lasting and effective change. I hope this film does for someone else, what so many films have done for me. I hope that it echoes their experience, that it gives them hope for their own happy ending, and that it makes them feel less alone in the world.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?
LAURA: Kelly Haas and I are working on another screenplay, this one is a horror/comedy where strippers save the world. We're really excited about it!
ONLY 4% OF THE HIGHEST GROSSING FILMS IN THE PAST DECADE WERE DIRECTED BY WOMEN, BEING A FEMALE DIRECTOR CAN BE DISHEARTENING IN THIS ENVIRONMENT. WHAT WOULD YOUR ADVICE BE FOR ASPIRING FEMALE DIRECTORS OUT THERE?
LAURA: The best piece of advice I can give is to trust your story. There were so many times in the process of making this film when I felt insecure about myself, but I always trusted the story. I knew that I was the only person in the world who could tell that story in the way that I wanted it told. If it's a good story, not only will you believe in it, others will as well, and they will help you get it made.
Interview by Sophie Duncan & Caris Rianne
Two In The Bush: A Love Story is showing as part of the Hearts strand on Mon 25 March and Tues 26 March. For tickets and information please visit here. You can view the trailer below along with links to the film makers social media platforms.