Dragonfly, a feature-film on life’s struggles, will hit the big screen at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival, Sunday, April 10 at 7:10 p.m. at the St. Anthony Main Theater. We spoke with one of the three creators, Mim Epstein, who’s a broadcast producer with Olson Advertising and TC resident, about the trio behind Dragonfly, the local film community and being a woman in the industry.
Where did the idea for Dragonfly come from?
A lot was pulled from my sister-in-law’s (TC native and MOT Cara Greene Epstein) life experiences as an artist herself. She has also had family and worked with people with Alzheimer’s, so that’s something she took to when she was writing it. But in a lot of ways, it was just a story we started talking about, and it just evolved. It was a start of an idea and she brought it to life, and then the three of us worked on the script together giving notes and helping develop the story as best we could. It just kind of grew.
How did Dragonfly take off?
My sister-in-law, who’s an actress and a writer, came to me and said, “I’m thinking about writing a short film that I would be the lead in, and I’m wondering if you would be interested in helping produce it.” I said of course, and once we started diving into the development and writing, we realized this was a feature film and that story was really bigger than a short film. So we kept going with it and said, “Okay, I guess we’re making a feature film now!” So she and I, as well as Maribeth, who’s a local film maker, got together and just tried to figure out how to make a feature film. We took about a year and a half, so it was really fast in terms of filmmaking. We also did a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the film, so that was a whole other journey we went on during the process to get the film on the screen.
What’s it like working with your sister-in-law?
It was amazing. We’ve never really done anything professionally together, but it really brought us a lot closer. I have such an appreciation for her and what she’s able to pull off and her professionalism. It’s been a bonding experience. We’ll never forget that. It’s been really wonderful to be tied together professionally, as well as in family life.
Is there a character you relate to most?
I think I connect to Anna, the main character, in a lot of ways. Everybody probably does in a certain way, in that you’re trying to find your place and who you are. Discovering that is a journey everyone goes on, and Anna kind of struggles with that. I think I’ve gone through life trying to figure out what I want to do, and who am I, and continuously discovering who that person is. I think Anna is just on a journey to do that.
Why did you choose to film it in the Twin Cities?
It was really important to us that we filmed it here in the cities. Maribeth and I live here and Cara has a lot of connections, too, and I, as a producer locally, love the film community here. It’s really strong. So it was really important to us to bring that opportunity to young production people. There isn’t a ton of feature length film here so it was an opportunity that we could bring to the film community.
Was this your first feature film?
It was! It was really a wild experience, honestly. I’m used to working in 15 second commercial-land, so to work on a feature-length film is, at first, a little daunting. But you just keep going, one step at a time. It’s really amazing, the community that comes behind you to help you out with this and gets excited about the project with you. It was really amazing to have that experience and have it grow organically.
Did you grow close to your cast and crew?
We became a family. It’s really been one of the best things about the experience, that these people who, in a lot of cases, we gave a shot even if they didn’t have a whole resume of experiences. People just dove in and gave 120 percent of themselves to this project. At the beginning of the project, we asked people what they wanted out of the project, and I think by doing that, it really helped people say, “Oh wow, these people are giving me experiences to help me grow in the future,” and so from that there’s been a lot of people we’ve written recommendations for and Maribeth has reassembled the Dragonfly team for mini-projects.
How has a female-heavy team impacted your experience?
When we first got together, that wasn’t particularly a mission that we had. We sort of looked around at the three of us women and saw how incredible it was and realized how rare that is in the community. There is such minimal female representation in the film community, and once we realized that, we realized there’s another mission here of, “Let’s try to bring in as many females to the project as possible.” Women only account for 16 percent of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors in Hollywood. Dragonfly’s cast and crew were 50 percent women. We’re actively doing what we can to move the bar forward for women in film. It really became a mission to make a difference and have a film that represents women in film.
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