Interview with Filmmaker Daniel Montgomery (THE JESSICA CABIN)

THE JESSICA CABIN at the winner of BEST FEATURE FILM at the July 2022 LGBTQ+ Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

The Jessica Cabin started as a simple text from my creative partner, Riley Rose Critchlow. She messaged me and our friend Chase Williamson and said: When are we making a movie? That sparked a couple silly thoughts for a title back and forth, some loose plot ideas – and instantly The Jessica Cabin was born (well…more like after 10 days of writing). It was the end of 2020, and we were all feeling restless and the film was really a vehicle to digest some of our collective existential ennui in a creative way. More importantly, Chase, Riley, and I are all queer artists, and I wanted to create an opportunity for us to authentically represent “ourselves” onscreen for the very first time.

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

It took about a year and a half from script to screen.

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

Gay ghosts.

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

Frankly (I’m sure every filmmaker feels this way), it’s hard to pick one, because there were so so very many. Keeping everyone safe, comfortable, and secure while filming in one of the heights of COVID proved challenging logistically and financially. And during our post process, believe it or not, getting the color right was a surprising challenge. I won’t film on bare white walls again anytime soon!

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

My cold heart was warmed, and, truly, they were the EXACT reactions I was dreaming of while making the film.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

Most of my work has been as an actor, and it wasn’t until creative collaborators (like my Mary-Kate and Ashtray Productions partner, Riley) spoke up and told me “Hey, you know what you’re doing and what you wanna say – you should do this!” that I began to consider it from the other side of the lens. That being said, my earliest and fondest memories are the smell of popcorn in a booming dark room and feeling the tingles of a big bright screen. So, maybe always.

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

Halloween. 1978, of course.

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 think connecting with other filmmakers is probably the biggest takeaway from festivals, so, continuing to foster a sense of community and support is key. Also, my dream for The Jessica Cabin is for as many people as possible to see it – so accessibility to screenings is big for me.

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

It’s been great! It’s fun to open up your page and see a digital explosion of confetti when your film gets accepted to a festival.

10. What is your favorite meal?

My character in The Jessica Cabin, Jackson, says his favorite meal is macaroni and cheese, with a little bit of pepper on it. Let’s go with that!

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

I have 2 horror films that I’ve written in pre-production now, and one queer coming-of-age script done that I’d like to direct. Riley has a pretty killer idea for our next Mary-Kate and Ashtray Productions feature that I’m eager to jump in on, too.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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