Interview with Filmmaker Sasha Marie Speer (UNBORN)

UNBORN was the winner of BEST FILM at the February 2022 EXPERIMENTAL Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Not being able to get pregnant. It has shocked me to my core and had me have to re-think my (any my partner’s) future. After getting my period, yet again, which is devastating when you’re trying to get pregnant, I was on a long ocean swim and had the vision for this film. I had this sense that this grief I was feeling was likely shared. My best friend had two miscarriages and was devastated to her core. There’s a sense of loss that’s so deep. But I was also determined to find a sense of hope. I started talking to friends about what I was experiencing and they shared what they were going through or had experienced at some point. It was really healing. Shortly after deciding I was going to make this film, the doctors found a large, 10cm cyst that required major surgery. We shot the film, then I went under. Having this to pull me through helped me feel more hope and connection to other women as I went through one of the scariest times of my life.

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

About four months. I ended up having major surgery about a month after we shot it and was only able to edit for a few minutes at a time before I would have to lie back down. My first version was about an hour long, then the next 30 minutes, and so forth until we had the final cut. Once the final visual cut was done, our incredible composer, Emer Kinsella, began working on the original score, and our super talented DP, Jenny Baumert, began coloring the visuals. The visuals and sound were put together along with the poetry for the final piece.

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

Ethereal motherhood

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

My surgery. I didn’t have the capacity to even carry a conversation for weeks afterword and was unsure of if/when I would have what it took to finish the film, especially from a creative standpoint.

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

Joy. A feeling of connection. A sense of purpose. Energy to keep going.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I’ve been drawn to being behind a camera since I first saw a National Geographic magazine when I was about 8 years old. Film happened by accident years later when I was 29. A cinematographer was out sick for a shoot for my ex. He knew of my photography background and had someone give me a 5 minute tutorial on moving images and I was instantly hooked. It was a natural fit.

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

This is a tough one. We weren’t allowed to watch much TV or movies growing up. To this day I rarely like to watch anything more than once because I like to be surprised. My favorite film is Bridges of Madison County… and maybe that’s the one I’ve seen the most… other than probably a Disney film as a child, The Rescuers Down Under perhaps?

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

I am already impressed with the video of the feedback. Especially during Covid, and so many festivals being online, we really haven’t had an idea of how the film has touched people. I think maybe a live Q&A via Zoom would be fun!

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

SO GOOD. Easy, to the point, and straightforward. I also loved that I could upload updated versions of the film as we achieved certain technical milestones (e.g. audio mastering) without having to jump through a bunch of hoops.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Pannekoeken, which are like crepes. My family is Dutch and my Omi (grandmother) and Mom would make these occasionally on weekend mornings and stuff them with fresh blackberries picked from the backyard.

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

Two things: Yes a film! I’ll be shooting a three-part film that delves into the layers of the human psyche as well as building an immersive experience here in LA that includes lullabies from around the world, recorded during quarantine.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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