Your new movie Adira - in a few words, what is it about?
coming of age drama about a young Jewish girl who flees from the grasp of
the Gestapo and is forced to survive in the German wilderness.
did the project fall together in the first place?
successfully completing two previous films, one of them award winning, we
just allowed the momentum to drive us forward. We felt inspired by the
rich cultural history of Kansas City, specifically a summer kitchen at my
mother in laws, which was built in the late 1800’s. After writing the
script, it was easy to find enthusiastic and capable people to help us
bring the film to life.
what were the inspirations for writing Adira, how much of this is
based on actual fact, and how much research went into this?
I sometimes feel like I was born in the wrong era. My husband and I share
a passion for the past, especially the 1940’s. Growing up, I loved to
learn about WWII, and some of my favorite books were from the point of
view of children who (fictional or real) faced insurmountable odds through
terrible times, such as the Holocaust. Number
the Stars and Diary of Anne
Frank were a huge inspiration for the film. Even though Adira
is a fictional story, it is based on actual events endured by millions of
Jewish children. The “hidden children” of the holocaust were separated
from their parents in order to escape imprisonment and eventually death.
The parents willingly gave their children up in order to save them, and
most of them were never reunited. That really moved me. I researched the
era and the many stories of these “hidden children” extensively
because it was extremely important to me to honor them.
Adira being set in World War 2 Germany - what kind of an effort was
it to get the era right?
Getting the time period right was the most important aspect of this
journey. We needed the audience to believe 100% that they were in WWII
Germany. The greatest struggle was finding the wardrobe. It’s quite
expensive to get authentic wardrobe and accessories. We partnered with WW2
reenacting groups and various costume shops. Kansas City is so full of
history that picking out locations was just a matter of researching and
selecting the right look. With help from our associate producer, Roger
Denesha, we were able to locate and lock down The Harris Kearney House
Museum in Westport. The museum was completely set dressed, so all we had
to do is bring the actors in and we were ready to roll.
What can you tell us about your
directorial approach to your story at hand?
I saw an opportunity to tell a real story and that was my main focus.
Everything we did had to feel like it was really happening. It had to feel
like we were right there with Adira as she struggled to survive. We
weren’t afraid to let a shot play out. Having longer takes really
allowed the talent to explore and for us to build very genuine moments
between them and their surroundings.
I agree. We wanted to approach it in a way that people felt the pang of
the separation and the struggle of survival as if it could happen to any
one of them in present day. That was really important to us. We wanted
parents to feel like Adira was their child out in the woods alone and
children to feel the sadness of potentially never seeing their parents
again. The actors were great at bringing forth their own experiences and
emotions into the characters to make them more relatable.
What was the
collaboration between the two of you like during the making of Adira?
I would be lying if I said that we agreed on everything. But being very
different in the sense of personality and skill sets, we were able to
balance each other out. We had a very tight schedule and we used at times
a minimal crew and would take on multiple responsibilities. For example,
while Irene was going over wardrobe and discussing the scenes with the
talent, I was working with our DP on camera placement and blocking. Our
roles would alternate depending on the scene. We both had the same overall
vision and goal in our minds for the film, but if there was a scene that
one of us had a stronger vision they would sort of head that up.
It was thrilling, exhausting, and sometimes tense. There is nothing more
rewarding than being on the same page with someone most of the time and having an open line of communication without
fear of severe repercussions. It’s a lot like working with your best
friend or your roommate. When we didn’t see eye-to-eye it was tense, but
that was mostly because we didn’t discuss something beforehand, and that
was rare. I plan on making movies with Bradley for the rest of my life, so
I’d say it was a successful collaboration.
talk about your key cast, and why exactly these people?
For me casting was the most exciting part. I had gotten to know these
characters very well during the writing process and I got to personally
hand pick from a great selection of actors. Each one brought something
amazing to the table. Andrea Fantauzzi was a fresh face with an old soul,
Seth Macchi was an awesome undiscovered talent, Jeffrey Staab and Christie
Courville were warm and genuine, Eriik Pratt was stern and frightening,
and Davis DeRock and Jacob Scribner were honest portrayals of “good
guys”. One of my favorite characters was Nazi Private Nast played by
Roger Denesha. Roger was amazing to work with and we could tell right away
during the audition that he was special. He fully committed to the role,
even learning and practicing his German so that he could be as authentic
as possible. On top of that, he took on the associate producer role and
helped us lock down locations, wardrobe, and props. He was so passionate
about the project that it made the experience that much more enjoyable.
film was produced in Kansas City, right - so how did you find the right
locations there even, and what was it like filming there?
Filming in Kansas City was a real treat. It is a culturally and
historically rich city, teeming with amazing locations that are full of
character and charm. It wasn’t very hard to find locations that fit the
WWII era since a lot of the architecture is from the early 1900’s. As
filmmakers, it was a dream to find two interior locations that were
already outfitted completely with authentic antique furniture. It aided
the production so much to be able to just set up and shoot and take
advantage of the beautiful and authentic setting.
can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
I think it was like experiencing Christmas morning every day. It was
exhilarating, and even though some of the days were long, we had a great
crew who never complained and rallied on. We were unified through the
power of the story. I think we all wanted to do the story justice and pay
tribute to those who did and didn’t survive the Holocaust.
hot… and buggy. And I loved every second of it. We spent a lot of time in
the summer kitchen, which wasn’t insulated and didn’t have AC. Other
than that it was a good addition to our workout routine. Regardless of the
weather or conditions, our team was very focused and professional.
$64-question of course: When and where will the movie be released?
will be released this year from Sunset Undiscovered.
future projects you'd like to share?
Aside from another feature that we are currently developing, we have
several scripts ready to be filmed. We are currently in pre-production for
a drama/thriller set in present day that touches on depression, anxiety,
and loneliness; more specifically that which affects the spouses of those
serving in the military.
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How did the two of
you first meet even, and what can you tell us about your previous
We met when I was in film school via mutual friends. When we met,
a large portion of our conversations consisted of movie ideas and our
goals and dreams as storytellers and filmmakers. Irene’s parents worked
in television for many years, her father a writer and her mother a TV
personality, as well as her uncle who is a filmmaker. I think the reason
we clicked so well and so quickly early on was the passion of the
entertainment industry. The project we first collaborated on was for a
24-hour film competition in Orlando, FL. Irene wrote and was also our
talent and I ran the camera, edited and directed. Working together as a
team was a very natural step for us to take.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook,
Anything else you're dying to mention and
I have merely forgotten to ask?
would like to thank everyone who contributed to the making of this film.
It wouldn’t have been possible without them. We would like to encourage
everyone to support independent film. It is a true labor of love. Every
film made is a direct expression of the filmmaker’s hard work, time, and
dedication. Watching independent films is like looking at the original
Mona Lisa instead of a Mona Lisa print, it comes straight from the artist.
Thanks for the