Newton's third law of motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This same concept applies to the movement of an individual through life. There are consequences to every action or decision a person makes. Alexandra (Alex) Leopold and her co-writer Allison Anderson explore the aftermath of making those choices in their film Washed. They brought Washed to Kickstarter to raise $4,000 to aid in productions costs. By the close of their Kickstarter campaign, they came away with $8,087, a whopping 202% of their goal. We had a chance to interview Alex about her background in filmmaking and the inspiration for this film.
Q: What is your background in filmmaking?
Alex: I have been training as an actor in film and theater; as well as working as an ACTRA member in Toronto, Canada, since I was eleven. As a teenager, I became very interested in the functions of production. I spent my senior year of high school interning at an editing and audio post house called Super Sonics Productions Inc. and then took a year off of school. I worked on various sets; as a production assistant, as an assistant to producers and as an assistant for production designers for reality television shows, commercials, music videos and feature length films.
I moved to Chicago three years ago to study in the film department at Columbia College Chicago. Since then I have devoted my time towards gaining experience in the field, working on other people’s projects, learning about the functions of each department on set. I have focused on writing, directing, producing, cinema history and cinematography. This short film, Washed, will be the first professional project that I will have co-written and directed and I am very excited to have the opportunity to put my new knowledge into action.
Q: Where did the idea for this film come from? What inspired the project or sparked your interest in it?
Alex: What is most interesting to me about Washed is that the story focuses on a three dimensional-female character. The idea comes from personal experiences learned by us, as young women. When approaching the writing process, we discussed that we wished that there were more short films that focused on portraying strong female characters. It was then that we came to the conclusion that we should just make one.
There is a curiosity found in this story that most certainly lures me in. Washed almost ignores the judgment of who was right or wrong, it studies the relationship. The story focuses more on asking questions, rather than giving answers. This sparks my interest because I think it is very true in life, and when it comes to relationships, we only see answers that are found in the gray areas.
Q: What is the plot? What issues does "Washed" deal with and how would you relate that to the film's genre?
Alex: The main issue presented in the short film Washed is choice and the consequences that come as an afterthought to those decisions. The main character does the ‘wrong’ things but she does them for the ‘right’ reasons. The plot unfolds to show the aftermath of making a mistake. The protagonist sacrifices her morals in order to save her family, but when the audience meets her she is already stuck grieving the loss of the love of her life and the death of her child. And that’s where we start, with her trying to figure out how she can cope with this loss and if she can move on.
This story is about loss; it’s about taking responsibility for your actions and growing up. It’s about being young and growing up fast and the story explores the mind of a young woman after she makes the biggest mistake of her life.
Washed deals with real life problems and the feelings that crash over us after we realize that we have made a mistake. I have most certainly experienced moments like this in my life and those experiences have inspired me to talk about it.
Q: Who are you trying to reach out to with this film? Who is your target audience and what message are you trying to get across?
Alex: Washed reaches out to people who are between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five. The story is about young adults who are dealing with a lot of external stress for the first time. We live in a fast paced society; most people carry with them a sense of urgency and have an anxiety for ‘needing’ fast results. Due to this, it becomes more apparent that people are making decisions faster than they can process them.
Washed amplifies the consequences that can come from acting quickly. Through the film, I aim to urge the audience to reflect on the importance of taking the time to think before they do.
Washed suggests that mistakes are necessary for us to grow, but I hope that the audience will interpret messages from the story for themselves and find a part of the film to connect with personally.
Q: What other films and directors do you draw inspiration from?
Alex: It is very difficult to list every director and film that I draw inspiration from. There is an essence in every film that I watch that affects my way of thinking and teaches me something new. If I had to describe films and directors that that have impacted this project I would have to mention, Biutiful (2010), made by Alejandro González Iñárritu. This film was a huge cinematic inspiration for this project. Another director who has inspired me most recently is Derek Cianfrance. His use of dialogue and silences, pacing of scenes, his ability to find this sense honesty found, Blue Valentine (2010), was a captivating and inspirational film for me.
Q: Where does "Washed" take place? What is the importance of location to this film?
Alex: Washed takes place in modern day Chicago. The character lives in an urban concrete jungle, surrounded by the chaos of society. We do not pay much attention to technology or pop culture. The importance of the location to this film is that the main character is disconnected from an entire world filled with possibilities for her. She is stuck, in every environment and is unable to see through the barriers of every location that she finds herself in.
To learn more about Washed, you can visit its official Kickstarter page here: http://kck.st/NmqjvR