CoF: What was the inspiration behind 16 to Life?
BS: I wanted to tell a story that focused on a teenage girl in a small town who loves where she grew up - but also wants to move out into the world. I also wanted to explore romantic love and sexual attraction - and how confusing, wonderful, awkward, and unwise those emotions can be.
CoF: Rumor is that 16 to Life wasn't the original name of the film, what was it and why the change?
BS: The film was originally called "Duck Farm No. 13" - but my teenage test audiences universally hated the title. They thought the film was about a farm.
CoF: How did you go about making the decisions for who would play what character?
BS: I cast the film in Los Angeles with Mormon Boling Casting. I signed a contract with the Screen Actors Guild, and cast lead actors who had television and feature experience - and felt right for the roles. I cast smaller parts and extras in the midwest, where we shot the film.
CoF: Are there any other projects that you're working on?
BS: I'm currently developing two new screenplays - and a web series. The first screenplay "Brooke & Anabel" is about a sign language interpreter who is assigned to teach a young illegal immigrant - in a midwestern town where illegal immigrants are a majority of the laborers. My other feature "Gleezers" is about a young musician who desperately needs money, and agrees to direct an original musical starring ten elderly Jewish people who survived the camps. Think "Glee" mixed with "Grumpy Old Men" - and you've got "Gleezers"!
CoF: What do you do when you're not writing/directing ect.?
BS: If I'm not writing or developing a project, I feel very guilty. So I try to make the creative process a part of every day. I also teach directing in the UCLA film school - and run the first year graduate directing program. For exercise, I run, swim and do "home-alone" yoga with Rodney Yee DVDs. I do pen and ink drawing as a kind of meditation. Shopping is my vice. I read a lot of fiction. Should watch more movies - but when I do - it's usually old movies.
CoF: What type of reactions has this film had from viewers?
BS: We've had a lot of very good feedback on the film. We were lucky enough to win "Best of Festival" and/or "Audience Choice" at nine festivals - plus some other awards. The reviews have been great - including a nice review in "Variety". I'm a bit pained that when we finally got on Rotten Tomatoes - out of the approximately 50 good reviews we got in newspapers, magazines and on-line - Rotten Tomatoes posted the one bad review we've gotten!
CoF: What was it like working with Mandy Musgrave?
BS: Mandy is a very gifted young actress. I feel very fortunate to have been able to cast her. I think her comic timing is flawless. She really understands my humor - and finds a way to nail every line, while holding on to the humanity and the pathos. I would love to work with her again - she's just terrific. Great attitude, sincere, no ego - a complete team player, beautiful and a lovely person.
CoF: Do you have any social networking sites that fans can talk to you on?
BS: We have a web site - a facebook fan page - and try to reply to every fan who contacts us.
CoF: Will Rothaar was recently in Battle: LA - have you seen it? If so, what was your opinion of the film?
BS: I'm looking forward to seeing Will in "Battle: LA" - he is another gifted actor with great nuance and great comic timing. I will report back on the movie!!!
CoF: What advice would you give to someone who wants to get involved in the film industry, whether behind the scenes or in front of the camera?
BS: Working in film and television is a competitive business - and you have to understand that going into it. I think personal qualities that are key to success in the business include a great work ethic, patience, persistence, a passion for story-telling, resourcefulness, and hard work. Everyone who succeeds in the business had their own path to success. And it's a precarious business, so you have to be in it for the right reasons - and for the long haul if you want to get pleasure from it. I've often heard the saying "Success in Hollywood is determined by how well you deal with disappointment" - and I think that's true.
CoF: You filmed on the Mississippi River, how was that?
BS: It was a great pleasure to film in a beautiful town (McGregor, Iowa) on the Mississippi river. The landscape was so stunning, we simply turned the camera on it and got great pictures. The people locally were very generous of their time, their resources and their good will. Every day of shooting was a pleasure. I remember finishing one night shoot at 6am - and walking down the little main street to my bed and breakfast. I was tired, cold, and exhilarated. I thought to myself, 'this is what you want most - and this is what you're doing - making feature films you care passionately about." And then I went to bed.
CoF: Is there a website fans can go to, so that they may view this film?
CoF: Any words for the fans?
BS: We have been gratified by the support people have shown "16 to Life" - the original investors who believed in the project, the people of McGregor, Iowa - and the many fans who have taken the time to see the film and to post on Facebook. I'm originally from Iowa - where we shot the film - and my family still lives there. You hear the saying "You can't go home again". I know that I could only go home again to make this film. And it has given back to me so much more than I could have imagined. I am thrilled if someone watches the film and feels that they've gained something from the time spent with it.