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Every Day: Surviving violence and the hard journey of coping with long-term trauma

"Every Day focuses on the long-term effects sexual abuse has on survivors. Sexual abuse is too common and a huge problem for women, which was the original motivation for the film. We knew too many female survivors for this issue to be ignored. While everyone had different experiences and reactions, there was one problem they all shared. All of them were still dealing with it, with the trauma, with everything, every day, it never ended for any of them. Everyone suffered silently, went on with their lives, and put up a strong facade, letting only their closest friends know the truth.

There have been many amazing and powerful works that have addressed sexual abuse and the immediate effect it has on survivors, but we hadn't seen one that addressed this long-term effect, which is why we made this film.."

-Tara Alexandra Brown, director/actress.

Today we have the directors of this beautiful feature, Tara Alexandra Brown and Vin Chandra, and producer John Severin,

We will catch up with Tara again to talk about the film from her acting point of view with her co-stars Sofia Masson and Nicole Coulon (link at the end of this interview)

Tara Alexandra Brown- She first performed in kindergarten when she played THE COW on "Are You My Mother?" From the age of 7, he starred in a comedy/musical (or two) every year until he graduated from high school. Theater was always her first love and it was her major at the University of Nevada, but she knew she needed to move to Los Angeles to pursue a professional career. Since moving away at the age of 19, she has had opportunities to work in television, feature films, theatre, commercials and sketch comedy. There were challenges along the way, including her health, but these challenges inspired her to expand her creativity. In the past year, she has had the opportunity to become a screenwriter, director and producer as well as an actress.

After a successful career in theater, she made her film debut in the horror film, 'Evil in Her' and her true crime television debut Discovery Channel's "People Magazine Investigates" , In 2016, Brown is was diagnosed with a rare form of type 1 diabetes known as "LADA" and became insulin dependent at age 20. "And Yet So Far" about Type 1 Diabetes, a project he also co-wrote and executive produced. received critical acclaim for her many stage performances, having trained in singing, dancing and improvisation.Brown will star as Kathy in the world premiere of Jerry Mayer's (Mash, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, All in the Family) new play , this April.

Vin Chandra was born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand and Australia. He has resided in California since 1998. "I became a filmmaker in 2012 after a near-death experience on a flight home from New York put things into perspective. I decided to quit my dead-end office job and become a director, and I've never looked back. I just celebrated my 43rd birthday." He originally went to college to study physical therapy but was never able to maintain his motivation in class. It wasn't something he wanted to do. As a child he wanted to be an actor, but as an adult he learned that he had "a face for radio and a voice for silent films", so he never pursued that passion. After the plane malfunction caused by a cabin decompression, he said to himself, "If I couldn't be in front of a camera, maybe I could be behind it somehow." That's how he became a director (simply put).

Johnny Severin is originally a special needs teacher and philosophy professor from the Midwest who accidentally fell into the world of screenwriting and filmmaking twenty years ago. Since then, he has written the feature films “A.E.S.O.P.” "" "The Secret Lives of Dorks" and "Labyrinths". He takes great pride in his work with Young Storytellers, a non-profit organization that goes to schools to teach elementary school students how to write plays, and then produces those plays to be performed in their schools by professional actors.

When did you discover your career path?

T- I was 7 when I starred in my first musical, 'The Bremen Town Musicians'. I was an undiagnosed dyslexic at the time and was struggling academically which really affected my confidence. It wasn't until my school held auditions for the musical that I discovered something I was surprisingly good at. A new world opened up to me which was performance and I took it very seriously as a career path. While I loved theater, the nuance and world-building of film always fascinated me. I knew very early on that I wanted to work in film and once I did, I never deviated from that path.

V- In the deep recesses of my mind, I've always wanted to be in movies. It wasn't until the plane malfunction that I decided to throw caution to the wind and pursue my career in film.

Which directors inspire you? And why?

T- Peter Jackson, Ron Howard, Greta Gerwig, Christopher Nolan, Daniel Kwan… the list goes on. These filmmakers inspire me because they each have their own unique voice and their passion shows through in their projects. They are willing to experiment and spin new stories, often using their audience as guinea pigs and trusting that they will come along for the ride. I saw the Lord of the Rings trilogy when I was very young (credit to my mother who was a huge fan of the books) and I remember being transported to the world of Middle Earth. Peter Jackson trusted his cast and crew completely, and the camaraderie that existed on set comes through in the films. I live for sets and experiences like that!

V- I'm a fan of many big names like Spielberg and Cameron, but I'm inspired by the husband of my cousin (cousin-in-law?) Nick Sivakumaran, a director and teacher at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. Nick made cinema real for me. Before Nick, I had never met a director, or even anyone in the industry. Everyone I work with today can be traced back to Nick, so in many ways he is directly responsible for all of my success. In the early stages of my career, I took a slightly different path to actual storytelling work (weddings/corporate events, etc). Now that my career is moving towards narrative cinema, he has really taken me under his wing and taught me the ways of the power of cinema.

Vin, how did you meet Tara? What started this collaboration?

V-I met Tara while filming "Every Day The Series". We didn't get to interact too much during the shoot since schedules were so tight, but whatever interaction we had, we immediately clicked. When the film went into pre-production, I contacted Johnny about the possibility of directing it. During our initial discussions, we felt we needed a female directing voice and when Johnny brought Tara on board, I was happy to just step into the DPing, as I quickly knew she had a vision for this project. Johnny pitched the idea of ​​us co-directing and Tara and I immediately liked the idea. It was a great experience because we were unanimous from the start. We have seen the same things.

What does Every Day mean to you?

V- When I originally read the script, Tara and I really wanted to portray the idea of how every day was a struggle for Maddie. We really wanted to show the conflict of Maddie having to show a brave face out in the real world while struggling with the assault that continually haunts her and the challenges associated with doing so. It would have been a much different story than what we had in the original script, so the decision was made to stay the course. That being said, we do our best to spotlight the reality that it is oftentimes the people we trust that can do us the worst harm. Maddie's first attacker was someone she didn't really know or trust, so when it's Laurel, someone Maddie trusts implicitly, it's even more devastating. But we also consider that sometimes the people who commit assault may not even realize they are doing so. We tried to play on the idea that Laurel may not have realized what she was doing, and really read the signals from Maddie very wrong. And the end result is devastating.

When it comes to the casting process, what was your goal? How was the experience?

J- Our casting process is straightforward and simple. Find the most talented, skilled actors. That’s it. On this project, we had worked with many of the actors before, which made it even easier.

Your project won different awards with us, we truly enjoyed this work, how is it going with festivals so far?

J- We have enjoyed more success on the festival circuit than we ever imagined. So far we have been selected to 7 festivals and won 21 awards, including 4 Best Feature awards. We are still trying to process it all.

Your project deals with many different themes, such as sexual identity, friendship and coming of age, but the main theme here is what happens after an assault, everything is a trigger and everything can destroy a balance in the long run term. How did you come up with this idea and what does it mean to you?

T- Trauma doesn't end when an attack ends. The long-term effects of sexual abuse remain and worsen long after an assault. Guilt, shame, depression, and loss of self-respect are just a few of the many feelings that victims of assault experience with "every day" of their lives. Sexual violence has a history of being trivialized in this country and around the world: on college campuses, in entertainment, in business, at home. Even with the advances made by organizations like #MeToo, the long-term effects of abuse still impact victims of assault on a daily basis. The message we are sending is that we "see you" and we aim to show how a seemingly innocuous relationship can evolve into something violent. Our other message is to seek help - talk to someone - there are people who will listen.

Vin Chandra in action

We have noticed some incredible cinematography and the look of the project is flawless. Vin, we've seen your portfolio and your experience is progressing, you've worked on so many sets. What was the process behind the cinematography of Every Day?

V- I always try to physically see a location to understand how I want to light. For some reason, photos never do locations justice (or maybe it's just me). Sadly I didn't get to see our locations in person beforehand, so I had to light on the fly. I generally try to light naturalistically (not to be confused with natural light). This comes from my corporate experience where we light with the intention of beautifying the talent. Since our crew was minimal and our time-compressed, the goal was to make sure our actors were looking good. I try to be as minimal and non-invasive with light as possible. For bedroom scenes, we mounted LED tubes to window frames. The rooms were relatively small so used tubes mounted on walls to minimize our footprint and give our actors freedom to move. For camera we used the Red Scarlet-W which I own. We used Nikkor Ai-S lenses modified for cinema. I love the Ai-S lenses as they are imperfect, and small, but have character. My light kit included 4ft Quasar Tubes, 2 Aputure Nova P300s, and a Nanite Forza 500.

Qual è stata la tua più grande sfida in questo film?

T- This was a very ambitious shot. We shot the whole movie in ten days, I think, so we had to put in a lot of material every day. This can be challenging in an exciting film like this because we want to give each scene the time it deserves but also stay on schedule. In the end, it was a team effort. The entire cast and crew came together and worked to make this film possible. Everyone was under fire, in terms of time, so it was essential to make the best step forward each day.

V- I'm so used to run and gun, that sometimes I forget that I have resources and time.

Vin, was it difficult for you to direct and take care of the cinematography aspects of Every Day at the same time?

V- Not really because I had an amazing partner in Tara. I knew any directorial decision she made would fit my own vision. There were several scenes where I had to step away from the camera, to direct, but 2nd AC Steven Ching (who has been with me for all of my prior narrative projects) took over camera operation and he knows my style, so it became a nice unbroken line, stylistically.

John, we think producing this project wasn't easy, are there any aspects of it that you want to share with us??

John Severin, producer-Haha, producing is never easy. I always say that completing a feature film is a miracle, or at least it feels like it when it’s done. This one was not as impossible as most, since it is a simple script to shoot. Not that many characters or locations, so we actually we able to shoot 90% of it in one giant mansion in Whittier, CA. We were able to make it look like many different locations, or at least we tried. It only took 9 shoot days, plus two short re-shoot days.

Una curiosità sul vostro film, Every Day

T- The entire film was pretty much shot in one location which meant that Maddie’s apartment, Laurel’s apartment, Joyce’s house, the birthday party, and Morgan’s office all had to look very different. The house itself was pretty amazing so we really utilized every inch of it to help with world-building.

V- Besides the bar scene and male assault scene, we used one house to double as the Therapists office, Maddie's/Paige's home, Laurel's home, and Joyce's home. I had to rely on close-ups or "unique" framing because a slight pan to the left from the kitchen and the audience would realize they are seeing Paige's living room. There were a lot of limitations.

John- When we were shooting the unicorn birthday party scene (everyone’s favorite shoot day) the sprinklers went off in the middle of one of the shots, getting everyone and everything soaked. Luckily it was at the end of the shoot, because it ruined most of the set, especially the cake and presents.

Sofia Masson and Nicole Coulon

Il vostro lungometraggio ha vinto con noi come migliore rappresentazione LGBTQ+, oltre a numerosi altri premi, quale messaggio vorresti inviare alla community?

T- I am so proud to be able to tell a story that features a pivotal LGBTQ character and grateful to platforms like Lesflicks that have championed this story. Laurel is a complicated woman with a lot of depth and she may not have made the same mistakes had her home life been different. It was important for us to highlight her humanity and to portray her as a real person. The irony is, Maddie really needs a spark of life like Laurel in her life, but selfishness ultimately trumped love in this instance. This is a film about assault but it is also about the human experience and the impact one individual can have on another.

V- As an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, I can only hope and help work towards a world where bigotry is long forgotten. But I also have cautious optimism that the current anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments we are witnessing are in their death throes. The world is changing for the better and to quote a famous movie line, "The night is darkest before the dawn".

What's the best part of your job, what's your favorite step in the process?

T-I love scene work! I love unearthing the roots of a character and exploring what makes them tick. There is something truly magical about transforming into another human being and it has always been the coolest part of my job. On another note, I have never met as many talented, creative, diverse people as I have on set and on stage. The community that comes together to create art is truly remarkable and the friendships I’ve made along the way have made the challenges worth it.

V- I would have to say being on set is my favorite part of the process. I hate editing, and I've never really done much in the way of pre-production beyond reading scripts and location scouting, but being on set is literally stepping into a world that I helped create. It's a job that I could do well into my 90's if I'm still alive and kicking.

Sofia Masson and Vivica A. Fox

How was working with Vivica A. Fox and how did you approach her?

John Severin, producer- Vivica was wonderful to work with from day one. She was in on every cast and crew email and conversation, always enthusiastic about the project, even calling the director a few times for individual direction. We shot all of her scenes, 16 pages!!!, in one day, and she mastered them like a champ. She has stayed involved in the movie, even giving notes after watching the final cut of it.

What would you say to someone that wants to start the same artistic path as you?

T- I’d tell them to go for it. 100%. But, you have to be prepared to put in some serious work and to know that it will be hard - every day. There’s a reason this is one of the most difficult businesses to break into and there will be a lot of rejection. But, if you are passionate about creating and performing don’t let anything stop you. Write your own story and pave your own way - everyone’s journey is different.

V- I would say, don't deviate from your plan. I knew I wanted to make movies, but started off with weddings and corporate gigs as a way of making money. I made good money but I was nowhere near my goal of making movies. Even to this day I do large conferences and corporate gigs ( I stay the hell away from weddings). Had I spent a year or two just making shorts and features, I feel like I would have achieved my dreams a little faster. But I really can't complain. Being behind the camera has been lucrative no matter the setting

What do you regret and what would you have wanted to know earlier?

T-I don’t regret the path I’ve chosen, but I do wish I would remember to enjoy the ride more and live in the moment. Life’s too short to worry about the next job or about missed opportunities. I’ve had a pretty incredible career so far and I’m just getting started, but this is a full-time effort and that can be exhausting if you aren’t living life simultaneously. My advice to my younger self would be to look around and appreciate all the things that have manifested so far - relax and create.

V- I regret not pursuing my career when I was younger. When you're young making risky career moves is not as consequential as when you're older. I began my journey at 32. Try telling your newlywed spouse that you're going to quit your job and pick up a camera and hope it all works out.

What's your dream project?

T- I am a big fantasy/period piece fan so I would love to be a part of a major fantasy film or series. I trained in Shakespeare for years and epic genres like Game of Thrones or Harry Potter and bring some of that drama to life. I also love extravagant costumes so it would be a win-win. On a separate note, I am a huge Breaking Bad fan and dream of playing a dynamic character that evolves from good to bad or bad to good over the course of a series.

V- I'll let you know once I find it :)

Who would you suggest this short to, and why?

T- The great thing about this film is that it speaks to a wide range of audiences. Obviously, the target audience would be victims of assault or the friends and families of victims because it will reach them on a more visceral level. But, this is a film that aims to shed light on abuse in all forms, emotional as well as physical. My hope is that the finished product will be something viewers can relate to; a testament that they are not alone and their story matters.

V- I think the people whom this film will appeal to are progressive individuals who just want to be better humans and be around better humans. I don't mean progressive politically, but just folks who are interested in the well-being of others. The only way we can move forward as a society is by raising awareness.

What do you expect from the future? What do you hope it will bring you on a personal level?

T- That’s a big question. My hope is that I will be able to work in this creative field for a very, very long time, evolving as it evolves and learning from experience. To be able to play a variety of characters on screen and on stage would be a dream come true and to do it consistently is the ultimate goal. On a personal level, I have never felt more alive or at peace than when I am performing or working on a project. I was lucky enough to find my calling early in life and the magic of art really fulfills me. I hope I can achieve my goals of working consistently, but I am working on enjoying the ride and not worrying about what comes next.

V- I really want to make larger independent films. I am spending 2023 learning, refining, and re-defining my craft and myself..

Tara, you come from America, what do you think about the filmmaking environment in your country and what would you bring to it?

T- As an American, I am seeing a positive shift in the filmmaking environment. Fifteen years ago only 5% of directors in the U.S. were women, that percentage has risen to 12%. I am lucky enough to be part of that 12%,but this is slow progress considering film has existed for a century. That being said, women and minorities are making strides at last and diversity in film is something that should be cherished and championed. It is important for audiences to see themselves reflected on film and to be the heroes of stories. As a filmmaker with a disability, I have noticed a very slim percentage of physically and medically disabled characters on film. Roughly 40% of the population suffers from chronic health conditions and they are seldom the focal point of a story. I intend to be a voice for artists with disabilities and to bring untold stories to life. Art is a very powerful tool and I am proud to be able to wield it.

Vin, you are an Indo-Fijian filmmaker, which elements from your culture influenced you in your career path and how is the film industry in these counties? What are your thoughts?

V- The film industry in Fiji is non-existent. It's crazy that Fiji was used for such amazing films as The Blue Lagoon, Castaway and Contact, but there never has been a movie about Fiji itself. I suspect it has something to do with the Fijian Film Commission really limiting what types of films are made there (essentially they want glorified tourism commercials). Fiji tends to double for uncharted tropical islands or Latin American rainforests and essentially that is the main focus of their film industry. But beyond the beauty of that place, there are so many gripping stories out of that country that are waiting to be told, and I would love to tell them.

Are there any upcoming projects for you?

T- My short film project “And Yet So Far” is currently in post-production and will be making the festival circuit this fall. It is about the sinister nature of Type 1 Diabetes and is produced by Emmy Award Winners, Christiane Brown and Dave Ratto.

I co-produced and star in the short film, “Midland” alongside director Maria Margaret Wilson (Marry Me) and Tanyell Waivers (Queen Sugar) which will also be running the festival circuit this year.

Thank you for your time and best wishes for your career!

T- Thank you!

V- Thank you so much!

J- Thank you for having us!

Don't miss our interview with Tara, Sofia and Nicole about acting in Every Day



If you also want to do an interview with us, send us your works on Film Freeway.

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