Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Emerging Women in Film Profile Series: Patty Richardson

I'm really excited about this entry. This is my first profile in a series I will post for the remainder of 2012. I'm looking forward to highlighting, sharing, and promoting the work of emerging women screenwriters, directors, and producers. My hope is that this blog not only acknowledges the hard work of the women I profile, but will also inform readers of the challenges women in film face and despite these challenges the women in this series continue to strive to achieve their goals and pursue their dream. Today's profile features screenwriter/director Patty Richardson.

Patricia Richardson
Bio: Patty Richardson is a licensed physician's assistant (PA). She worked as a PA for fifteen years. She was also a Captain, in the United States Air Force Reserves, for eight years. After realizing an interest in law enforcement, she became a campus safety officer with Union College in Schenectady, New York. Richardson has always had an interest in writing. Four years ago, her work experience converged with an idea she had for a screenplay. She wrote the script for Detour and decided to produce and direct her first feature film. Detour screened at the 2011 Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival. Richardson is also the founder of Lavender Hill Productions and resides in Woodstock, New York.

Miller: Tell me about Detour and why you decided to make this film?
Richardson: I was living in Manhattan and working as a Physician's Assistant, in Surgery. I often took cabs. One day, while sitting in the backseat of a Gypsy Cab (an unlicensed livery vehicle), I thought....What if
he didn't take me, where I wanted to go? The driver could easily pull into a garage, anywhere.... in or out of the city! It could happen quickly, before I realized what was happening! If the car had child proof locks, I wouldn't be able to open the doors! Thus the idea for Detour was born! I then began working on Detour, as a book. I wasn't thinking about a film, at that time. I honestly had no intentions of making a film, until I met Professor Joann Yarrow, from Union College in Schenectady, NY. She inspired me to make the film!

Miller: How did you go from being a physician's assistant to writing, producing, and directing your first feature film?
Richardson:  I left New York City and relocated to upstate New York. After having worked as a physican's assistant for 15 years, I had developed an interest in lawenforcement. I decided to accept a job as a campus safety officer, at a local college. It was at that time, that I also realized how much I enjoyed writing dialogue. I then decided to write a film script. I went to the library, "on line" and to bookstores, to learn the format. I spent a year writing the script. I also read every book that I could get my hands on, about filmmaking. Once I finished the script, I enrolled in an acting class, with the intention of networking, with others interested in filmmaking. That's when I met professor Joann Yarrow. She read the script and encouraged me to make the film. Since I was the writer, I felt I knew the story better than anyone else. I couldn't imagine anyone, other than myself.....directing the film! As for producing, Ruth Martin, the lead actress, and Tony Grocki, the film's editor were both instrumental, in helping me to secure locations and additional actors for auditions. I also placed ads on Craig List and contacted local theatre groups in my area. Ironically, we had actors respond from New York City and the Utica/Mohawk county area.

Miller: What were some of your fears as a first time director?
Richardson: I had no experience, just a vision for the story! I knew where I was going, just wasn't 100% clear on how I'd get there! Given my lack of experience, I was fearful that I would not be taken seriously. Detour is my first feature film. Most people begin by making a short film first! What I lacked in experience, however, I believe I made up for it in determination and vision!

Actors:  Zeshan Bhatti and Ruth Martin
Miller: Can you share one unexpected challenge during the production of Detour? Richardson: Continuity and scheduling were an issue. We shot off and on part-time, over a period of two years. Hairstyles changed, actors gained & lost weight. I had agreed to use one of the actor's apartment, as an established "on going" location. It would be used throughout the film. We shot one scene, returned a few weeks later to shoot the next scene and the walls of the apartment had been painted over and the furniture changed! I quickly realized, that I would need to shoot the "apartment scenes", in my own apartment.....in order to maintain continuity.

Miller: Can you share two important lessons learned from the production process?
Richardson: I plan to shoot my next film, in a shorter period of time, to avoid any issues involving continuity and availability. Time is a significant factor! Organization and execution are critical, during the production phase of your film! It is also helpful to have a name attached to your film.  Investors all ask the same question...."Who's in it?" The shot is in the frame only. The extraneous surroundings, not visible in the shot, don't matter! Example: One of the scenes was to take place in an upscale bedroom, belonging to someone of great wealth. We rented a hotel room, in a high end hotel to shoot the scene. It was a close up of the actors and the bed, one of them was lying in. It could have been shot ANYWHERE!!!! The surroundings of the room were visible to the cast and crew only!

Actors:   Ruth Martin, and Lezlie Dana
 Crew :  Shawn Schaffer and Tony
Miller: What are your hopes for this film?
Richardson: I am currently "four walling" the film. It's a grassroot's approach to self distribution. I'm taking the film from theatre to theatre. Ticket sales are split with the theatre owners! With gas prices as they are, I don't expect to make the money back that I spent making, Detour. My hope is to show the film, to as many people as I can, in an effort to have my work and the talent of the actors and crew seen and appreciated! DVDs are available for purchase, on Detour's website at http://www.detourthefilm.com/.

Miller: What is up next for you?
Richardson: I have four projects that I am currently working on. I plan to start auditions this summer for a dramatic, short film. Once completed, I hope to enter film festivals, in an effort to create buzz for the film!

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