A Celebration of All Things Cultural, Artistic, and Entertaining in Madison
May 11, 2011
Here and There
A film appearing in this year’s Cannes Film Festival in the south of France was shot in a Colorado mountain town. Yet it has a strong Madison connection in Julie Pearson, who grew up in Madison and whose family still calls the city home.
Pearson produced The Here Between, a short drama about, specifically, the lynching of a young black woman and, more broadly, small-town intolerance in the 1930s.
Leading up to the festival, which runs today through May 22, Pearson answered a few questions about her film and career path that started right here in Madison.
How and why did you get into the film industry? Did growing up in Madison play a role?
My father was involved in local theater and was quite the showman. He passed that down to all of his four children. Growing up in Madison gave me a solid foundation to attempt many things in my life, film being one of them. I actually had a pretty idyllic childhood in Madison.
How did The Here Between come about? What attracted you to this project?
The Here Between was a project that the director, Ilian Iliev, was extremely passionate about. He is Bulgarian by birth and has been in the states for fifteen years. He has experienced firsthand the inequities that often accompany those labeled outsiders. When I was asked to produce the film, the subject matter and the challenging logistics made me think twice; but in the end I knew that this would be an important film for people to see.
What was your role in creating this film?
My duties were varied and numerous: acquired 1930s period wardrobe and props, cast and crew communication, obtained shooting permits and releases from cast and crew, organized transportation, craft services (food and drinks) for five shooting days and arranged the film premiere and reception. I worked closely with the director, insulating him from problems, to ensure that he had everything he needed to make the film a success.
Tell me about the storyline.
The storyline is about small-town intolerance, judgment, racism, desperation, hope and the ultimate power of the establishment. The film depicts this in the lynching of a black woman.
What was this story like to film?
It was an extremely well-organized shoot but extremely difficult to implement. Our safety specialist took three days to rig the bridge so we could simulate a hanging. We shot in a small town in the mountains of Colorado over one weekend. Some of the locals were not happy that we were there and attempted to sabotage our film by shooting off guns, parking vehicles in our camera shot, and with drunk and disorderly conduct. One man was actually arrested. We encountered our own present-day small-town intolerance and judgment. It was surreal.
What were other challenges in producing this film?
As a producer you hope that you’re prepared for any and all unplanned scenarios. I never expected that I would be spending hours of my time managing people bent on harming our production. Although this was a time-consuming challenge for me, I’m actually glad that I have this experience to draw on for future projects.
What are you most proud of in this film?
I am proud to have produced a film that depicts a horrific time in our history with sensitivity and grace.
When did you learn the film was accepted at Cannes? What was your reaction?
My reaction was disbelief at first which morphed into exhilaration when the film was posted on the Cannes website in the catalogue de films.
What do you hope people get from seeing this film?
My hope is that people will learn from history and stop the insidious cycle of racism.
What’s next for you?
I will be producing Ilian Iliev's next film which we are hoping to begin working on fall 2011.