A sweeping drama, FAULT LINE takes us on an odyssey of loss in the far west Texas town of Marfa.
Interview with Lauren Himmelvo
1. What motivated you to make this film?
Honestly, my daughter, who stars in the film and was 12 at the time… She pushed me to want to make FAULT LINE and get it out into the world. It was very much a family effort…my wife wrote the story and my son plays the dead brother.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
It was about 2 years from the time we had the story to the finished film with animation complete. The animation, with celebrated animator Shi Shi Yamazaki, took longer than anything else to complete.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
Weight – Forgiveness
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Finding a way to make what I saw in my head with a very limited budget.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
Complete awe. It is so inspiring and validating to hear genuine (and in this case lovely) reactions to your work. It makes you want to run out and keep doing this.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
I always knew I wanted to be a storyteller. It wasn’t until after college that I put it all together. I was the kid in the neighborhood who was filled with ideas. Like the pied piper I would walk around with kids trailing behind me, helping me bring my dreams to fruition.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
MABOROSI by Hirokazu Koreeda
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
You are doing everything right. I think it is so important for filmmakers to see their work with a live audience. I miss that more than anything at this point…
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?
Pho. My wife is Vietnamese.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
I plan to write a very personal feature script in the coming year. I also plan to continue onto the next film (FAULT LINE is one of six) in my episodic series titled MEET ME IN MARFA. The next film will tackle Mrs. Corazon’s story.
Director Biography – Lauren Himmelvo
Lauren Himmelvo is an award-winning independent filmmaker. Her short film FAULT LINE is currently screening at film festivals worldwide and has won numerous awards including: “Best Female Director” at Tokyo International Short Film Festival, “Best Director” at Germany’s Mannheim Arts and Film Festival, “Best Youth Actress” at Berlin International Art Film Festival, “Best Female Directing” at Stockholm Short Film Festival. Her previous works have screened globally, including the prestigious British Film Institute, Seattle International Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival, and in competition at the São Paulo International Film Festival. TREADING WATER, Himmelvo’s debut feature won the “Emerging Talent Award” at Outfest: Los Angeles and screened at over fifty film festivals in fourteen countries. TREADING WATER was released domestically by Wolfe Video and in Germany, France, Canada, Italy, and Israel. Himmelvo’s short thesis film, THE TRAGEDY OF SAMANTHA BIGGLE AND THE TWINS won “First Prize” at the 28th Marin County National Festival of Short Films and was a “Trophy Winner” at the 40th Annual Rochester International Film Festival. TRAGEDY screened at over thirty festivals worldwide and was released in Germany. Himmelvo holds a masters degree in film from Boston University.
It took a global pandemic to make me want to step back into filmmaking again. I was determined to tell a story about loss, having just witnessed the passing of one of my dearest childhood friends to cancer, while at the same time watching the unimaginable devastation of COVID-19 unfold around me. FAULT LINE gives us a glimpse into the grief that a mother and daughter face as they travel back to their family compound in west Texas over a spring break. While en route, a global pandemic is declared, and an extended stay forces them to confront a tragedy that happened two Christmases ago.
I was also interested in creating a story about intersecting lives, and another kind of loss, one that was happening at the Texas border. I had heard a gripping story about a young woman who had been searching for her missing brother along the border for years, and finally found his remains by identifying his blue sneakers that were posted on a website called Operation Identification as part of a project at Texas State University. The young man wearing the distinctive blue sneakers was being smuggled back to his family in the US by coyotes and he had called his father to say he was tired and couldn’t walk any longer. That was the last his family heard from him. The character of Mrs. Corazon in FAULT LINE came to me through this story.
The process of bringing the story and characters in FAULT LINE to life was a joyful one for me. When my own family got stuck in Marfa over spring break, at the start of the pandemic, my wife started writing the narrative for what would eventually become “Fault Line”, and very soon after, I began adapting her incredible words into a script form, while at the same time formulating an overall vision for what we hope will someday become an episodic series titled MARFA STORIES.
Over the next year, I began rehearsing scenes as I wrote them, staying up late into the night with my oldest child, who plays 13-year old Sam in the film. We found a mother-daughter rhythm that felt right and soon began the casting process…It was important for me to give my daughter, who was just coming into acting, an extensive rehearsal period, something that is integral to the way I work as a director—and to surround her with brilliant actors….not easy to do during a global pandemic. I rehearsed weekly with cast members over zoom for months before shooting began, and in return the cast brought with them their own incredible personal backstories, and a chemistry that was magical to witness on location in west Texas.
And finally, working with celebrated Japanese animation director, Shi Shi Yamazaki, to illuminate Sam’s traumatic brain injury from the accident that killed her Dad and brother, would help the audience gain insight into someone suffering from synesthesia. Shi Shi’s whimsical motion-filled watercolor rotoscope animation throughout the film is a glorious sight to behold.
Using natural light and a cinema vérité approach, I was able to find a real-life cinematic poetry –and to tell the story I saw in my head. FAULT LINE is also my homage to Marfa, the incredible west Texas town I sometimes get to call home, where beauty is not always at the surface.
-Lauren Himmelvo, Director