Interview with Writer/Producer Bella Zoe Martinez (GLORY & INJUSTICE)

GLORY & INJUSTICE was the winner of BEST SHORT FORM SHORT FILM at the July 2022 FANTASY/SCI-FI Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I have autism. But people think I can’t “get” autism, because I’m a girl. I don’t “look” autistic, or “act” autistic to some people. I intentionally made Glory NOT autistic – I can act like anyone. My siblings are also autistic. I wanted to show that we are different, not less. We don’t need a lower standard, just a chance.

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

We had just gotten the first cut when COVID hit. It took 3 years to finish. It took much longer and we had to be more creative to get through post production. For a while, it felt like we were not going to finish, and I thought everyone would give up, including me. But it was worth it. It was more of an accomplishment, because of all the obstacles we had to overcome.

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

Comedic superfamily.

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

COVID lockdowns were a huge problem, but not like most people think. It was the isolation. We couldn’t see anyone, I wasn’t allowed to go to in person school last year, it was awful. I was in virtual school, but they lost me for months.

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

I cried. It was happy tears. We laughed. It was awesome to see people “get’ it!” And even more awesome to see them smile. The audience got the references and what we even were making fun of at ourselves. Deadpool, Mexican wrestling, the family bond, and not giving up. And very cool to see what they saw that was totally different from what we thought we’d meant, but realized they were seeing us, too. My sister Kennedy and brother Alex are also autistic, and they worked on the film – set design for graphics, they designed the book covers, the cartoon playing on the TV was an original animation by Alex. It was really incredible to see their faces when people noticed their work.

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

I started acting for real to overcome severe bullying in the 6th grade. It was really bad. My parents fought for me. It opened a whole new world for me. I know that sounds corny, but I was amazed how it just felt right. It was me. I knew it was my “thing” the first second I did it. That’s a gift. And just as importantly, I want to be a voice for those that can’t speak. And to hopefully show other girls like me they can be anything.

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

There are several films I’ve seen too many times to count. It’s something our family does together – my siblings learned how to communicate by doing characters from movies they’d seen. Usually you had to know the movie for it to make sense, but we all had them memorized, in the old days, like Finding Nemo, Beauty and the Beast, Princess and the Frog. Deadpool, Guardians of the Galaxy. Psychological horror. Adventure. National Treasure – I learned about history and it was a good film. Roger Rabbit (my brother’s favorite), the Mask, almost any Jackie Chan movie, pretty much all Mel Brooks movies, most anime, although most people might not know them. My keyboard doesn’t have Japanese to list the titles. I love Christmas movies and Halloween movies. The Nightmare Before Christmas is a must in our house. We even go to the El Capitan every year to see it. Holidays are very important in our house. My sister wrote Tim Burton and asked him to come over and help her reanimate animals after seeing Frankenweenie – my mom included a note saying she’s autistic, she wasn’t asking to dig up the neighbor’s cat… actually, she probably was. But he wrote back, saying he was weird too. He’s one of my favorites.

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

People. I want to connect with people again. To actually talk to them in real life. I got to go to Sundance with a movie I was in, The Infiltrators, in 2019. The events to be able to talk to people were nice. People work so hard on these films, to see them smile and be happy seeing each other, celebrating their work and just being together is what makes it worthwhile. I liked learning from the speakers, hearing their stories.

I would like to see a kind of story sharing between the filmmakers – not just professionals, but what lessons we learned, usually in the form of a horrible thing that went sideways that’s totally funny now but wasn’t so funny at the time.

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


10. What is your favorite meal?

Chicken Parmesan with marinara and garlic bread.

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

The next film I’m doing as a creative as well as an actress is a short film entitled Once More, Like Rainman. We are starting prep now, and my parents have told me they want me to learn what everyone does because it’s important. It’s a funny, but somewhat painful, insight into the stereotypes of autism and how it can get better and realistic. We are a spectrum.

And it’s time WE tell our stories from our unique perspective. Not to have others do it for us. And my parents and people that want to help support me in my pursuing my career and cause..

It’s really a story ABOUT a girl with autism, BY a girl with autism, going on auditions for different roles and the contrast between doing it as a normal actress, and autistic one. It’s from my POV, and has those incredibly raw moments I as well as my siblings have faced, and other people on the spectrum.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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