Join us this Thursday, September 10th, for our opening night screening of All in Time, co-written and co-directed by San Diego native Marina Donahue. All in Time is a comic-drama that takes place in the late 1990’s and tells the story of Charlie, played by Sean Modica, who quits his job to move home to Pennsylvania and manage his favorite rock band. The film is full of fun twists and boasts an excellent soundtrack!
The screening of All in Time will take place at the Omni La Costa’s Center Court under the stars at 8:30pm. Director, Marina, and cast members, Sean Modica, Laura Shay (will be doing a special musical performance during Sip n Savor Gala!), Lynn Cohen, and Pritesh Shah will be in attendance and present for a live Q&A after the film.
We caught up with Marina earlier this week and asked her some questions about All in Time and her collaboration with Co-writer and Co-Director, Chris Fetchko. Here is our conversation:
LCFF: How did All in Time come about? What inspired the plot for this film?
MARINA: My Co-writer and Co-Director, Chris Fetchko, came up with the story based on his personal experiences — he really is from a small town in Pennsylvania, and he really did quit a great job in New York to move home to follow his dream of managing his favorite local rock band. His experiences with the personalities in the band, going broke, and regretting that he lost his girlfriend over the band inspired the movie. But then we added a lot of fiction to the script — including some twists and surprises that take the movie well out of an ordinary story of a guy following his dream. It takes you on a wild ride to unexpected places and makes you laugh, cry, and want to stand up and cheer.
LCFF: How was your collaboration with your co-writer and co-director, Christopher Fetchko? Would you partner with him again?
MARINA: Yes I would definitely collaborate with him again and we are planning to. But there were times during our 6-year journey to make this film that I wouldn’t have! (laughing) The best part about collaborating is that it forces you to think beyond your original ideas and takes your creativity to a level you wouldn’t have reached on your own. Also, our masculine vs feminine perspectives and life experiences opened each other’s minds up to see each character and storyline from a different point of view, and led to more complex arcs for our characters. But all the back and forth slowed our process down at times. Once it stalled our film for nearly two years! We originally shot the film four years ago, edited it, tested it, and it totally failed. We each had ideas on how to best “fix it” and raise money to fix it, but they were different and two years passed and still we couldn’t agree. I have to say, though, that even during that difficult time we still were friendly. We had one outside investor offer us $400,000 to finish the film, but only if we separated and I stayed off the set and out of the editing room. This guy even offered to send one of his security guards to keep me away. He said if he was paying, then time is money and he didn’t want us to waste any time collaborating. To Chris’s credit, he was totally offended by this and we refused the offer. We then rallied and picked the best stuff from each of our re-writes, got the band back together so to speak, and shot additional scenes three years after our original shoot. Then we hired a new editor who started from scratch, changed existing scenes by adding in new dialogue, and the result was a different film that is now winning awards and opening prestigious festivals like La Costa! We can’t wait to work together again.
LCFF: I love that this film takes place in the ‘90’s. The throwback vibe, inclusive of the perfect props, really made the movie. Was it always meant to be set in the 90’s? And, where did you find the great props like the Walkman?
MARINA: Originally we were going to set the film in the current day, but we showed the script to a friend of ours in the music business and he said that this story of one guy believing in his heart that he can break a band by promoting it on the radio, selling CD’s, and holding concerts is antiquated. Nowadays promoting a band is done vastly through the internet so this needed to be a period piece. We didn’t have the budget for that, so we set it as close to modern times as we could…the 90’s! We were also lucky in that we were shooting in a small Pennsylvania town called Wilkes-Barre, which some people say is “two hours and twenty years from New York City.” They still had a record store and thrift stores filled with computers — and walkmans — from the 90’s. Even some of the cars on the road were old, so that all worked in our favor.
LCFF: Did you draw on any personal experiences when writing the film?
MARINA: Oh, yes! In our film the girlfriend is devastated when she learns that the rock band is more important to her boyfriend than she is. I really wanted her at this point to do what I did in my past when I got dumped — pick yourself up, take all the pain and invest it in bettering yourself. Because at the end of the day, we are all we have in our lives. Ourselves. Many young women don’t have the courage to strike out on their own and follow their own passions, chart their own course – and especially in the 90’s and for a blue-collar-town girl way outside of New York City. The idea of going off on your own is terrifying. Much easier to hitch your star to the wagon of your boyfriend and support his dream. But when the rug is pulled out from under you, what do you do? You buck up, invest in yourself, and get strong.
LCFF: Laura Shay has such an amazing voice. How did you find her?
MARINA: Ahhh…the true star of the film! Laura Shay is an unbelievable talent. Chris found her at an open mic in PA years ago and literally ran up to her and insisted on managing her. He loved her so much that he wrote her into the script, and he was right. She’s amazing. She actually sings more as a hobby — she has a professional career as a speech pathologist helping people recover their speech after strokes and other injuries. So she’s this natural, talented, self-taught singer who writes all her own songs (many of which are featured in our film), yet she does it because its a passion. I guess that’s why it looks so effortless. This was her first time on screen. She did a great job. She’s performing live at the Sip and Savor Gala Thursday night before the screening of ALL IN TIME! Don’t miss that! She rarely performs!
LCFF: How did you come up with the name for the band, The Damnsels and how was the process of finding an actual band (The Badlees) to do all of the music?
MARINA: Since Charlie is rescuing a band, we went for a name that was symbolic….damsels in distress…? And The Badlees are another band out of Pennsylvania that Chris managed and believed in with all his heart. They let us use their original music, and two of the members of the band are actors in the film. Getting the music right was really important to us. We took great effort to capture the feel of the live performances. We wanted the audience to feel as if they were right there in the club so we recorded the performances live in the actual locations that we filmed in. If we could have found a way for the audience feel the sticky floor from beer spills, we would have. The music is very accessible. In the screenings we’ve had so far, most of the people are downloading the music onto their phones as they are walking out of the theater!
LCFF: What’s the best advice you would give someone new to filmmaking?
MARINA: As a very wise character in our film says, “what you think at the time is the worst thing in life, often turns out to be the best.” There may be times when you are so low that you feel that you will never recover. Don’t get derailed by all of the obstacles that will inevitably come your way. Stay true to your vision and never give up. Our 6-year-long journey was riddled with what we thought were the worst things happening, but we wouldn’t have this exact film had it gone any other way! We couldn’t be prouder and happier. This is truly our dream come true.
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