Interview with Writer/Actor Heather Irvine (OUT AND BACK)

OUT AND BACK was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the April 2022 SPORTS & RECREATION Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I am the female runner in this film, this happened to me. I didn’t talk about it for two years and when I did, I told the wrong person. He didn’t believe I could make it into a short film. I sat on it for another year and finally shared my story with Jake Weber. He and I made this, he and I continue to work together effectively. Out and Back is very special to us both.

I felt it was important to show how humans can have transcendent moments with others, that man didn’t try to “fix” me or figure out why I was crying, he allowed it to open up his own vulnerability. I did not commit this man’s face to memory, I wish I had. I didn’t realize the gravity of the moment until later that night. So, I imagine anyone could be him. It’s changed the way I interact with everyone.

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

Almost four years. Although, once I talked to Jake about it and decided we were going to commit to making this film, from the time I started my storyboards to the end of post-production it was four months. We spent about four hours on three different occasions capturing the footage and the rest was post-production.

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

Moving and inspiring.

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

Telling the wrong person about it. l was friends with a person that was a writer/filmmaker and when I described my experience and how I wanted to tell the story visually, without dialog, he balked and said it couldn’t be done. He insisted that audiences needed to know what each of them were crying. I didn’t and Jake agreed with me.

Also, crying on set like that is really difficult. I had a tough time really letting go and crying unabashedly.

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

Not everyone is going to get this film and I feel it’s a projection of what someone brings to the film as they watch it. Some may never understand this kind of vulnerability and that’s okay. The folks in the feedback video discussed aspects of our film that meant a lot to us as we were making it, validating why we made it as well. I’m so grateful it is meaningful to those who left feedback.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video

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

I was about 13 (1982) and my dad had a video camera for work and would bring it home every so often and I would record little stories with my step-brother. It’s always been a part of what drives me to tell stories in all ways.

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

The Color Purple. Everyone just wants to be loved.

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

Maybe including film trailers, if made by the filmmakers.

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

Okay. Easy to find and submit but your festival “acts” differently and I found it a little confusing on what was going on and when. Receiving the feedback video satisfied any doubts or concerns. That was amazing.

10. What is your favorite meal?

I love trying new things but give me a great burger with swiss and mushrooms and I’m usually pretty happy. A side of onion rings or cheese curds really rounds that out.

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

Last summer we participated in the 48-Hour film competition in Detroit and had SO MUCH FUN (we made the film “Song of The Steps”). I’m assembling our entire team again to compete again this summer and I’m hoping to make a sequel in whatever genre we are giving. We’re all really looking forward to it. Meanwhile, I’m teaching public speaking and The Horror Film at Washtenaw Community College and having a BLAST.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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