The Things We Carry is the debut feature of the Lobit Sisters. Athena Lobit produces while Alyssa Lobit wrote the script and stars in the movie directed by Ian McCrudden. The film tells the story of Emmie (Alyssa Lobit) revisiting home after the death of her drug-addict mother. She reluctantly reconnects with her estranged sister Eve (Catherine Kresge) as they search for a mysterious package from their mother. The journey renews old wounds causing clashes between them about their different approaches to life.
The film was shot with the cutting edge RED ONE camera and has screened at several film festivals prior to the Atlanta Film Festival, including the Boston and the Hollywood Film festivals among others as well as winning awards for Best Feature, Best Screenplay and Best actress at the Wild Rose Independent film festival.
I was able to ask the sisters about their film.
- 1. Is this your first feature film as a writing/producing/acting team?
Athena: This is actually our first feature film altogether and my first time producing. My background was post-production in TV animation as a Post Supervisor so this was a first for me, working on a live-action feature in any capacity.
Alyssa: We've worked together in the past on shorts, founding the filmmakers' collective Game On. That's where we learned about editing, lighting, etc., just trying different things out. I'd been acting a long time but at that point we were all pretty new to filmmaking. That said, a feature is entirely different than a short, so this was definitely a first in many ways.
- 2. How did you get this project off the ground?
Alyssa: I'd written the script and we'd decided to make the movie, which was pretty much the only thing we knew: We were going to make the movie. We had a little bit of seed money, which was really helpful to allow us to focus on the project. It was a lot of research, googling, talking with other filmmakers. We'd heard that for a passion project like this, friends and family was the best route. We exhausted every other avenue - from approaching production companies to calling dentists - but friends and family was the best route and their support is the only way the movie is here today.
Athena: The script was a Quarterfinalist in the Academy's Nicholl Fellowship Screenwriting Competition so that helped start some conversation early on, but we were already in motion to make the movie before we'd found out. We went from "Let's make a movie!" to "How do you make a movie?" to "We made the movie!" through the financial and moral support from friends and family, researching A LOT, talking about our project A LOT and eventually through the grace of our father stepping in as lead investor.
- 3. The film is based on a true story, is it also based on your own personal experiences to some extent?
Athena: Yes, the experience of having a mother struggle with drug-addiction is true. Eve's character was modeled more after me and although my sisters and I did deal differently with our mother in real life, the divide between the two sisters in the movie was exaggerated for story telling purposes.
Alyssa: Right, especially with the sisters, I pushed them to opposite ends of the spectrum. We have another sister and Emmie is a blend of her and I, then cranked up. At the same time, there are some scenes in the film that are pulled straight from life. It's been an interesting journey telling this story, having lived parts of it, making up the rest, acting it out, reassembling it... Taking what could have been tragic and, hopefully, turning it into something positive for others. Our main goal wasn't to tell our story, but to share parts of our experience in a way that might move other people, help them to connect.
- 4. How has it been doing the festival rounds with this feature?
Alyssa: It's been a wonderful experience, to be able to connect so intimately with audiences. I've said it, and I'll say it again... When I talk with someone after they've watched the movie and they say they related to this or that... that is why I wanted to make this movie. For that person, so they could come to the theater and watch it and look me in the eye and suddenly, we're connected, it's not so lonely, it's not so difficult. I had a post-it up throughout the entire process and I still look at it. It says, "We are making this movie to move people. We are making this movie to help people find connection, understanding and LOVE in their lives. In our lives." The festival circuit has given us the opportunity to know we've succeeded at that.
Athena: The experience as a whole has been amazing. On a personal level I've grown a lot because I've had to open myself up to being public about something that I was always very private about. I've also been humbled time and time again by people who've told us they appreciate us telling this story because they could relate to it, or that it touched them in some way. The festival circuit has been a very rewarding experience on many levels.
- 5. As siblings is it harder or easier collaborating on a film together?
Athena: Maybe a little of both? We're very different people in most ways and in some ways the same. We're both determined to get to the means to an end but have different approaches as to how to get there. We definitely went through some rough patches but we learned from them and now have a better idea how we can have a smoother process next time.
Alyssa: Definitely. We both always wanted what was best for the movie, which was always there, as a foundation. And I think we balanced each other out, but in the heat of certain moments it was challenging, to say the least. I learned a lot about myself for sure. And at the end of even the worst day -- or at least by the next day J -- we were sisters again, and friends.
- 6. Is there an expected release date for the film?
The DVD will be released on April 6, 2010 through our distributor Lono Entertainment. Check the website for more info: http://www.TheThingsWeCarry.com
- 7. Do either of you have any other projects on the horizon that you can talk about?
Athena: Nothing concrete at the moment but I've been approached about some other potential projects. Maybe Alyssa's next screenplay?
Alyssa: Yeah, I have a quirky romantic comedy, called It's All Love, that I'd love to see get made. I'm also working on a sci-fi action feature. I'm focusing on acting right now, though. So we'll see...
- 8. Will you be attending the Atlanta Film Festival?
Yes, we'll be at there our premiere on Friday, April 16 @ 9:30pm. There will be a Q&A so it'll be a good opportunity for people to ask any burning questions!
Martin Kelley is Editor-in-Chief of CinemATL.com. He's also a local screenwriter and filmmaker who co-founded the Atlanta Screenwriters Group, one of the largest screenwriting organizations in the Southeast. His latest film "Battle" is in post production www.battle-movie.com