There are some stereotypes Hollywood can’t get rid of – movie women only talk about movie men, movie women constantly worry about how fat they are because that is the most important thing ever, movie women can’t handle a high powered job and have a partner at the same time, movie women secretly hate each other, and all movie women ever want to do is shop. All these stereotypes and many more can be found in rom-coms. It’s as if Hollywood producers are in the discount aisle of stereotypes in a supermarket and they can’t stop themselves from shoving every single one into their trolley (the trolley is the movie in this stellar analogy). I don’t like it and I don’t like these movies.
Enter Rainy Kerwin, producer, director, writer, and actor who decided to take matters into her own hands. She wrote The Wedding Movie – a movie about three best friends deciding to take control – after all why wait for Mr Right to ask you out when you can ask him? – and despite a lot of interest couldn’t get the funding because Hollywood didn’t think that a movie made by women starring women would actually sell. (This was before Bridesmaid’s came out and made a lot of money.) So she decided to take back some control and make the movie anyway. With a cast to die for, and a premise that has me jumping up and down with joy, The Wedding Movie has to be one of my most anticipated movies of 2015.
When I emailed Rainy asking if I could interview her I didn’t think the results would be this brilliant. This interview is spoiler free (sadly – I love spoilers) and in it Rainy talks all things The Wedding Movie, crowd funding, filming process, motivation behind the project, and post-production. Also she had kindly let me post lots of stills from the movie!
Go forth and enjoy!
Anything’s possible, but I really doubt it. Crowdfunding is really hard. I’m not good at asking for donations. It’s not in my DNA. But I was at the point where I needed to take a risk and be uncomfortable to get this movie made. It was time. As Lucy (the lead character in the film) would say, “Leap and the net will appear.” We were on the phone, emailing, tweeting, Facebooking, rallying our friends to ask their friends. It consumes your life. Plus I feel like you’ve got one shot to hit up friends and family. They allowed me a launch point for both this film and my production company. And for that, I am eternally grateful.
Only the first part of the budget was crowdfunded. We had investors come in for the next part. But our video on Indiegogo was instrumental in getting investors interested. Having had a successful campaign was very helpful. Plus our mission to empower women by hiring an all-female crew and donating back to charities sparked people’s interest.
The romantic comedy had been dead for years. Hollywood has been giving us generic, watered-down formulaic films. Great rom-coms like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, My Best Friend’s Wedding, When Harry Met Sally, and The Wedding Date, haven’t been made in years. Even though they were all slightly different, they had heart. They were real. We cared about the characters. Trying to make an indie romantic comedy, some might call suicide. Lower budget indies that do well are typically horror films. But I love romantic comedies. I love the journey and hopefulness and the anticipation of the first kiss. All of those first moments on the journey to falling in love rolled up into 90 minutes is pure heaven. So I followed my passion and it was terribly fun to write. I like to base my scenes in reality. I ask myself “How would this really go down? What does love at first sight really feel like? What’s the truth?” Mimic life, don’t mimic art. I think that’s what women want.
Even though I had a vision for it, I certainly didn’t create this alone. To say this was a group effort is an understatement. The cast and crew were on board to make this film great. It’s hard to point anyone out because I really need to point everyone out. My producing partners Narmar Hanna and Sage Scroope were fully committed to making this vision a reality. And I will add that I am incredibly grateful to Eoin Macken who wanted to play the lead role of Graham badly enough to learn guitar for the part. The women are going to swoon. He’s pretty sexy. The time and energy this crew put in, for very little pay–and yet with smiles on their faces–will stay with me forever. It’s the reason that everything turned out so well. It is the journey that creates the destination.
You also wrote the script for The Wedding Invitation. Can you explain some of the obstacles you faced trying to get this movie made via more traditional means and when you decided to make it yourself?
I had tried to set this film up years ago. Women loved the script. Men didn’t respond to it. It was pre-Bridesmaids and the rhetoric I kept hearing was “You can’t have three female leads.” Women meant nothing in the foreign market. And the foreign market comprises 60% of movie sales. The team that was on board at that time was all women. I didn’t seek that out. That is just who gravitated toward it. The film got shelved. I brought it back in November of 2013 and decided that I was going to make it on my own. I had just had a devastating breakup. You know the kind of the breakup–what doesn’t kill you makes your stronger? After six weeks of crying and thinking my life was over, I picked myself up and took control of my life for the first time in two years. I started living it for me. I wasn’t going to go through the system and let the money people decide my fate. I knew I had a great script for an amazing audience that was craving female content. The theme in this film is empowerment. And I needed to empower myself to get this film made. It was scary and risky. But then again, anything worth doing is going to be.
I love the longline of the movie: “three girls break all the dating rules in their attempt to get dates for the wedding of the year.” How did you decide which dating rules to include in The Wedding Invitation and was it fun coming up with ways to break them?
I don’t know how to answer that question without giving too much away. However, I will say that the big rule that gets broken in their quest for true love is that they go out and hit on the guys. They don’t sit around and wait to be picked. This movie is about taking control, and that’s exactly what they do… er… um… well, at least they attempt to do that. I can’t promise you it goes smoothly.
YES! Maybe I should elaborate. YES! YES! YES! It was definitely a big bite. Plus, I’m sure if I had asked around, people would have discouraged me. Even though I’ve written three scripts and been working on getting movies produced for years, this was my first across the board. I was a first time director, writer and producer before this film. I think that only we know our true potential. I had been working on this film for many years. I knew the characters and the story so well. It was all second nature to me. Writing: It had been written and re-written so many times that I felt really good about the script. Acting: The days that were mostly my scenes were easiest. I knew what I wanted, and I’m a pretty good judge of whether I nailed it or not. I think that comes from years of teaching acting. I would do a few takes and then watch playback on the camera to see if I wanted to change something, or if what I was doing was working. It’s comedy, so there’s a cadence and a rhythm that you can rehearse, but it can’t just be that. It’s all about the truth and intention, and those things must hit in the moment for comedy to work. Plus this was my big dream, and to be able to live it everyday on set with an amazing team of people around me supporting this project made everything possible. Directing: This was definitely the hardest part. Luckily I had a lot of rehearsals with the cast. So, when we got to set, we had an idea of the direction, and then we could just play. During my coverage, I would only focus on my performance and intention in the scene. When we’d flip the camera around to get the other actor’s coverage, I would put on my director’s hat, while still giving the other actor the best possible performance to react off of. And I also had a producing partner with eyes on monitor. She knew what I wanted and could tell me if we got it or not. It was trying and difficult and amazing and magical, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
When you first started filming The Wedding Invitation what was it like knowing that you are making something which your audience – all women everywhere – will be interested in?
Well, thank you for saying that. I’m a dreamer. I have high hopes for this film. It has the potential to find a massive audience and hopefully inspire more production companies to cater to the giant female audience out there. But this film, for me, is more than just 90 minutes in the theater. Its goal is threefold: to entertain, inspire and empower women. I wrote the first draft of this film so long ago, I had sort of lost track of if it was funny or not. We were pleasantly surprised when shooting it. There was a lot of laughter on set. So, yes, I think it will make you laugh as well as surprise you. It’s both funny and inappropriate at times and also pushes the envelope. But my bigger dream for it, is that it empowers women to take control back in their lives. To ask ourselves, “What do I want and how can I get it?” Whether it’s love, career or personal goals, the message in the film is simply to try.
Throughout the whole process did you ever feel any pressure to turn The Wedding Invitation into the middle-of-the-road, vaguely bland and forgettable romantic comedies that we are used to seeing on the screen?
Nope! Never! I was very lucky in the fact that I didn’t need to. I was fully funded, and my investors believed in my vision and trusted me. I think the thing that separates independent films from studio films is risk. We had the ability to take risks. Studios have the talent. We have the talent. They have money. With crowdfunding, we now have access to money–albeit it less money. And with technology advancements and production costs so low, that money goes a long way. But what we have, and what studios don’t have is the ability to take risks. And that’s what we did in many ways with this film–a huge one being making an independent romantic comedy with three female leads.
I was following the progress of The Wedding Invitation on both facebook and twitter and the images you posted made it look as if the cast and the crew were all united in creating something amazing. Was it like this in reality?
I have so many more photos that tell that story even more clearly that will come out over the next few months. We had a blast. It was the greatest month of my life. I know a few crew members later admitted that they were concerned about working with all women: would it turn into a bitch fest? I think that’s a myth. When you put a group of talented, passionate, respectful women together, the sky’s the limit. We all got really depressed when it was over. I wanted the set to run like a family. I wanted everyone to be equal. And although there were department heads and delegation, we were all in it together. I’m most proud of the new friendships that were formed. They were many. This is the first of a three-film slate that I’m doing through my production company, It’s Raining Films. My goal was to put together a crew that would work on the next two projects. I would work with them all again in a heartbeat.
How do you plan on marketing The Wedding Invitation?
This is where the real fun starts. We have so many marketing ideas that we’re really excited about. First of all, the theme is wedding. What’s more fun and more eye candy than that? Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have been great, free outlets for us. But as we get into the new year, we’re launching a massive social media campaign to really get the word out. In preproduction, we were interviewed on a podcast (along with Jennifer Dean on her upcoming documentary about female filmmakers) and written up in a few online magazines. And this was before we even had any footage. We’re eager to start releasing our on-set stills and trailer out to the world. We’re also planning cross-promotions with some big companies. Details coming soon.
Your USA and Canada road trip looks incredibly exciting. What can audiences expect if you stop in their hometown?
I’m really excited about that. Q & A’s are a great way to show this film, because they get the conversation started about empowerment. Large groups of positive women coming together is a great thing. My hope is that we can answer questions, connect with our audience, and inspire other women to go after their goals. We’re all just learning together. I was a first time director before this film. We have to start somewhere.
What made you decide to give 5% of the film’s net profits to 10 women’s charities and organisations?
That was a no-brainer. I think it’s our duty to give back. I feel very lucky that I was able to make this movie. This was my ultimate dream. I don’t have a bigger dream than this, other than to be able to do it again. So, if I could be instrumental in some small way in making someone else’s dream come true, that would just be the icing on the cake. We called up these charities and said, “We’re making a comedy about empowerment and we’re giving you part of the profits.” They must have thought we were crazy. Who were we, and how real was this? I have daydreams about cutting checks to these charities. I’ll probably cry. I’m very emotional. In my mind, they’re big ceremonies and the check is six feet giant long. I’m not sure if that’s actually how it works. Like I said, I’m a dreamer 🙂 (are you allowed to put happy faces in interviews?). You most definitely are.
You are currently in the middle of post-production. How is it going?
Yes, we are in post. It’s going great. I just a saw the rough cut and was very happy with it. I think we were all pleasantly surprised. We’re really happy with the casting of this film. Camille Guaty, Eoin Macken and Christina Ulloa were all rockstars in their roles. It was really important to me that this movie have a very high production value. I told my director of photography and my production designer, “I want it to be pretty.” We had 23 locations, 30 actors and about 150 extras. Plus the wedding is an 80’s-themed prom wedding. Does it really get better than that? Right now, along with editing, we’re also working with a composer and a music supervisor. The soundtrack is really important to me. The backdrop for the film is a cool, LA, hipster neighborhood called Silver Lake, so we’re incorporating some local artists. We still have several months ahead of us before we’re ready to show the film to the world. But making it so much fun, I can’t really call it work. And every moment from now until it is on the big screen is magical.