Interview with Producers Arielle Yoder & Kendra Heisler (ORDINARY WORLD)

ORDINARY WORLD was the winner of BEST FILM at the Feb. 2022 LGBTQ+ Toronto Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Our mission is to create and showcase stories by and for the developmentally disabled population that go beyond the limiting narrative of their disability. Most film and television we see surrounding disability often features a disabled character furthering the arc of a nondisabled protagonist (see What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, etc.). This community is vibrant and complex and their stories are far more interesting than the singular aspect of their disability. So with that in mind we knew that we wanted to create a simple story about a budding romance between two young New Yorkers during a heatwave in Brooklyn. From there our brilliant actors brought the whole piece together. Once the cast was set we were able to find their authentic voices and watch the romance and comedy play out.

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

We had the seeds for this years ago and slowly started writing together. Once the script was finalized, we shot the entire film over the course of three days during the summer of 2019. Unfortunately, our editing process was interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic which delayed our completion. But our editor, Lana Boy, is incredible and would meet with us over Zoom for months doing painstaking edits to bring the story to life. We wrapped in 2021.

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

Poetic. Inclusive.

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

Time! We actually wanted to shoot quite a lot more footage in a certain location but simply ran out of time during our day. Which made editing that portion of the film a little tricky. We learned a lot about narrative storytelling in that moment and how to prioritize the material we shoot.

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

Just pure joy. It’s incredibly affirming to know that people who have no idea who we are, no emotional attachment to us, understand our vision and appreciate what we’re trying to do.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

Arielle: I’m an actor first so I knew I wanted to be a part of filmmaking from a really young age. Kendra has been in the darkroom since she was 12 and studied photography. She’s also always wanted to move towards film. We found amazing creative partners in each other. We’ve been crafting theatre for developmentally disabled performers for years and realized we could easily write, create, and make together! So the natural progression of that partnership led us to start making films. It just clicked.

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

Arielle: The Lord of the Rings. I know that’s a hard left turn but my family watches all of them every year. It’s tradition.
Kendra: Probably Raising Victor Vargas.

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

It’s so difficult to have had to shift to a virtual/hybrid screening space so we applaud your dedication to the festival experience! We always love the opportunity to connect with other filmmakers. So, maybe a way to reach out to other filmmakers, see their work, and start conversations after the festival run would be wonderful.

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

FilmFreeway has been very easy to use thus far! We’d most likely use it again.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Arielle: This is hard! I love big flavors so my go-to is a vegetable red curry from my favorite Thai place.
Kendra: Not a meal but I’d probably lick a pole if it had passion fruit on it.

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

We have ideas that are ready to go! We are currently developing two more shorts as well as a limited series. We simply need the funding to bring them to life. So our immediate next step will be fundraising!


By matthewtoffolo

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

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