Interview with Filmmaker Bethany Teague (LOVE CRIME)

LOVE CRIME played to rave reviews at the September 2020 LGBT Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Bethany Teague: I am a full-time storyteller for the Click & Pledge Foundation in Blacksburg, Virginia. The Click & Pledge Foundation is the 501c3 arm of Click & Pledge, an online fundraising platform for nonprofits. The foundation’s mission is to “tell the untold stories”. In 2019, my team learned more about Click & Pledge nonprofit client, International Railroad for Queer Refugees. We were all so moved by its mission and the stories of those it had helped. In many cases, these people’s stories truly go untold because of fear, danger and oppression. I think sometimes there is a tendency not to see past our own bubbles, especially in countries where we are safer. We wanted as many people as possible to see what is going on in other parts of the world, especially because Click & Pledge was founded by Iranian Americans. We were motivated to make this film because we wanted to be an advocate for those facing unimaginable hardship.

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

From idea to finished product, Love Crime took about 11 months.

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

Uncomfortably revealing.

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

The biggest obstacle in this process arose when it came time to market the film. We had to navigate a delicate balance of getting this story out there while also protecting all involved. We wanted to do justice to the brave individuals who shared their stories and worked on this project, but we also recognized that many still have family and friends who could be in harm’s way as a result of their stories. The path forward was something we all had to discuss and carefully agree on.

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

I think all a filmmaker can ask for is that other people can gather around their work and have a shared experience. It was meaningful and rewarding to see people we have never met be exposed to our work and be moved by it. We wanted to share stories that others have not heard, and we did just that. We are so thankful this resonated.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

In 2018/2019, every nonprofit using the Click & Pledge fundraising platform could apply to the foundation for a video grant. So, instead of receiving cash, the winners received a documentary about their work. When the foundation team received the application from International Railroad for Queer Refugees, we were unanimously drawn to its mission and the amazing people that it serves. From there, our approach was shaped by the narratives of those we interviewed.

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

I have probably seen The Sound of Music most in my life. It was a family favorite growing up, so we watched it often on a family movie night or during the holidays. As an adult, it always brings me the comfort of home when I see it.

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

We have used FilmFreeway to submit three films – two shorts and one feature. We have been pleased with the ease and clarity of the platform. It provides the relevant festival information and streamlines the process, making it simple to submit to multiple festivals.

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

“You and I” by Lady Gaga is definitely a favorite. I have a lot of memories of belting it out with various friends in various cars throughout the years. I also remember “Jesus Loves Me” being sung to me at many bedtimes as a child.

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

The C&P Foundation team is working now on a series of PSAs. Nonprofits across the U.S. and Canada will be able to use them to raise awareness of various issues sparked by COVID-19 and the accompanying isolation. We, along with many production teams, are trying to limit work and travel for everyone’s safety. We look forward to when those things can move full steam ahead once again.

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