Interview with Filmmaker Hailey Abernathy (FLOOD)

FLOOD was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the April 2020 LGBT Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Hailey Abernathy: This film was motivated by personal experience…not necessarily with my family but just something I generally witnessed living in southeastern United States. I felt that other people needed to see what this type of behavior does to a person and possibly even sympathize (empathize?) with an LGBTQ+ character.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

It took me a while to get the idea to paper, but once I did, it only took a few weeks to complete the script. Raghav, the DP, Sun, 1st AD, and I only had about a month left of living together once the script was finished, as we were currently all living and working together at the time. Our (semi) final day of shooting was actually our final full day of living in Boston together before we all went back home.

Filming took two weekends but the toughest part was editing, since we were no longer together. We also had to reshoot the outdoor baptism scene because our first attempt was a complete failure. All in all it took about a year to finish.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

personal, powerful

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Our biggest obstacle was definitely filming the outdoor baptism scene. Raghav, Caroline, the lead actress, and I drove to Virginia from Boston to shoot this scene around this time of year and tried to shoot it in the Atlantic Ocean…yeah that didn’t work out. So eventually the scene had to be shot in a lake in Georgia in August but I wasn’t even there for it! Caroline and Raghav happened to both be there along with some other trusted filmmakers, and they were able to get it done. Side note, I trust Raghav with my life so this wasn’t a problem for me.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I was nervous to hear what they had to say but the more I watched it, the more confident I felt. I really enjoyed getting the feedback.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

The idea really came from experiences I saw around me. I wanted people to be able to feel for a character that maybe they wouldn’t traditionally feel for. And I didn’t want to tell the age old story of coming out, parents don’t support but child eventually finds happiness because that’s not always the way life works and I wanted people to know this. I want others to understand that a family’s disapproval can destroy someone’s life inside and out.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Star Wars Episode IV…if we’re being honest.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I like FilmFreeway for the most part because it saves me the trouble of going through website after website after website. However, it can be overwhelming and sometimes hard to find the best festival for each unique project.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Wow, I am going to probably be cliche here because I just really don’t have an answer to that one 😦 Raghav and Sun would DEFINITELY have great answers to this question.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

I wrote another LGBT short and was supposed to shoot it on March 28 and 29 but sadly, that was not possible due to coronavirus. We still have our actors lined up and most of our locations, but we have no idea when we will be able to get back to normal (just like everyone else). I am very confident in the script (WAY more confident than I felt about Flood) so I am excited to see where it goes.
Raghav just wrapped shooting on a short called “Impersonal” which I think will be phenomenal. He was DP for that film, as well.

Raghav and Sun are both such incredible, creative people and I know whatever is next for them will be beyond amazing. I’m hoping we all get out of this mess soon so I can see them SHINE.

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