March 22, 2014 | posted in Filmmakers
Director Becca Roth of “One: A Story of Love and Equality,” has been dreaming up stories since before she could type. Here, she shares her personal passion for storytelling and encourages people on both sides of divisive issues to stop arguing and start listening.
CIFF: How did you decide to pursue a career in film?
BR: In high school, I would make up fictionalized versions of my life to cope with the fact that I had a huge crush on this girl and had no idea why this was happening. I would think about it all the time, writing catchy dialog, picking out a soundtrack, everything. I took a filmmaking class for fun, and it was the first time I put everything I had into something, worked extremely hard on it, and was actually excited to work extremely hard on it. I took more film classes and eventually got up the courage to make the movie that I dreamed up in high school and used it as a vehicle to come out. The terrifying feeling of putting myself out there was unbelievable. I realized that this was something I need to do for the rest of my life.
CIFF: What inspired you to create One: A Story of Love and Equality?
BR: I attended Kenyon College in rural Ohio. My senior year, some Kenyon students organized a queer prom for high school kids in Mt. Vernon, a pretty conservative town nearby, who didn't feel comfortable at their own prom. I was shocked to see protestors outside the venue. I realized that I had never really been exposed to ways of thinking that were so extremely different from my own. As I watched my classmates and the protestors engage in a screaming match, I took a step back and thought about how unproductive this was.
I decided to take a new approach to this issue. I wanted to get to know the individuals who were anti-gay. Surely they had reasons for believing what they believed, even if I didn't agree with it. When I found out about Amendment One in North Carolina, a state that is full of towns and cities that range greatly on the political scale, I knew that it would be a great opportunity to find this story.
CIFF: Where does the name Tip Jar Films come from?
BR: I moved to New York and found a job as a coat check girl. I was spending all of my time there, developing calluses on my hands from carrying ten pound fur coats, working mostly for tips. Once coat check season was over, I gathered my hard-earned tips, assembled a crew, and with the modest amount of money I had earned, I produced my first independent short film, Rain in Summer. The budget was tiny, but the passion was immense.
CIFF: What important message in “One” would you like CIFF audiences to take away?
BR: I think stories are the most powerful thing someone can share with the world. That's what this film is all about. Sharing personal stories and allowing people to get to know who we are as people.
— Interview by Amy Kersey
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Get ready for nine days of film at the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival taking place September 20th 28th! Among their stellar line-up, look for #CIFF42 alum Burkinab Rising & Burkinab Bounty. Check out the full GCUFF schedule and make plans to attend: http://www.gcuff.org/
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