Audra, pictured center, with her companions on Expecting Goodness’s Festival Night.
What sort of interactions and involvement did you have with the film adaptation of your story?
None, and it worked out well that way. Having been the director of my church’s drama department for many years, by nature I would’ve wanted to take control of the film adaptation, and, as they say, ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’. I don’t know for sure if the filmmakers (Andrew Ketchum and Jason D. Johnson) sensed this, but it was best for all parties involved that I relinquished my story to them as one handing their newborn baby into the loving arms of adoptive parents. All you can do is pray and hope for the best. And, as we all discovered, they were well able to develop the story into a beautiful, fleshed-out film version without any help from me.
How did you feel about “Good Night” overall?
Delighted! Thrilled! Enamored! I watch it every day. The acting, wow! The script, the cinematography, the direction, the soundtrack, every bit of this film is absolutely perfect in my eyes. Initially, I was worried about the possibility of them not including the lupine aspect of the father character, but that quickly melted away as soon as I saw those little legs running through the field in the opening scene. At that point I became an audience member, not a writer. I didn’t really care anymore if they had stuck to my story or not; I was engaged with their storytelling. Plus, Andrew and Jason just nailed the tone. Absolutely nailed it. I didn’t realize that would be so important but after watching the film for the first time, I understood how satisfying that was for me, as a writer–them getting the tone right. I had expressed a mood, a color, and pace that the filmmakers were able to pick up and convey. Story is easy to adapt, tone, not so much. I think that reflects on just how good those guys are. I can’t wait to see what else they do.
One scene that was preserved from story to film was the high-tension “Knife Scene” where, in the film, Mara toys with a knife and raises it above her father’s body. Was that scene as you imagined it? What made that scene in the film, in your opinion, powerful?
That scene was better than I’d imagined. Better than what I’d written. I thought it clever to have Mara discover the pocketknife next to her father. I had her grab it from the kitchen drying rack, so she knew from the start what she was going to do–kill him! But the subtlety of the film creates a greater depth and emotional weight. More drama. That’s what makes it so powerful. It’s much better having her find the knife and then toying with it (and with the idea of what she could do with it). There is a shift in Mara’s eyes (those eyes! Great actress, that Olivia Tummillo) coupled with the slight cock of her head that is just marvelous. And of course the undergirding soundtrack heightens the emotions. Wonderful scene.
One of the judges mentioned that there was a little bit of ambiguity as far as resolution goes in the film. Is this something you agree with? Disagree with? How would you describe the film’s resolution?
I agree, there was ambiguity at the end of the movie, but there is a bit of it in my story too. I think it works well in both–not coming off as a cheat for the audience nor for the reader. Andrew and Jason doled out enough bread crumbs for one to piece together an opinion about the ending as seen through the smudged lens of their own, individual lives. Ambiguous endings may not work well in a lot of films, but it works here. The hand-clasp between father and daughter says it all.
What was the most important message you took away from Expecting Goodness? What were the best experiences you gained taking part in the festival?
Making connections with other artists is important to me, and I’m glad to have done that through the festival; however, the biggest ‘take away’ for me is being revived as a writer after having reached what seemed to be a dead end in my craft. The festival came along at just the right time to give me that extra push and validation I needed to keep going, to forge ahead through writer’s block, rejections, hard work, more rejections, long hours, crappy first drafts, and even more rejections. This festival has made it all worthwhile and has encouraged me to keep writing.
Any shout outs, closing comments, or aspirations you’re looking forward to in your writing career you’d like to share?
I’d like to thank Kari Jackson, Alicia Lee Farley, Stephen Long, Joshua Foster and all those involved in the Expecting Goodness Film Festival. It was an amazing experience. Thank you!