Interview with Filmmakers Ilana Gordon & Jaime Lyn Beatty (DESIGNATED RIDER)

DESIGNATED RIDER was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the Comedy Festival in August 2020.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Ilana: Jaime Lyn and I met years ago when we both were doing comedy in Chicago. I immediately fell in love and started plotting ways to trick her into working with me on something. When we both ended up in LA, the stars aligned, and we managed to find a stretch of free time to work on this.

Jaime Lyn: “Designated Rider” was inspired by my experience as a New Yorker adjusting to life in Los Angeles. In the film, Jenny sees her inability to drive as a part of her New York identity, and she clings to it at all costs. In her mind, learning how to drive would mean giving up a part of herself. However, she lacks the confidence to admit this and instead falls victim to her need to “fit in”. In the film, Ilana and I wanted to show the lengths to which people will go to protect their identity, even if it means sometimes compromising their integrity.

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

Ilana: Almost exactly one year. We came up with the concept in July of 2019 and shot the first weekend in January 2020. Because we had such a small budget and we’re entirely self-financed, it took a while to finish post production. But it was a huge relief to have something creative to propel us through the horrors of 2020.

Jaime Lyn: Approximately 9 months…and 2.5 days.

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

Ilana: Whimsically anxious

Jaime Lyn: “A Tour de Awkward!” (oops, that’s 4)

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

Ilana: Scheduling. The problem with working with excellent people is they tend to be busy. It took us months to pin down a time when we could all film, and we had to revise the script to cut out another character because we couldn’t get everyone’s schedules to match up. If we had shot as planned, the ending would have been completely different.

Jaime Lyn: Aligning people’s schedules! Our cast and crew were very talented and therefore VERY busy. Typical LA!

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

Ilana: Delighted and proud. Completing this film was such a long process, and I second guessed a lot of the choices I made. Seeing our creative vision translating to viewers feels really validating and gives me more confidence in my artistic decision making.

Jaime Lyn: “Wow they are really kind! Are these Canadians??”

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

Ilana: It was ripped from the headlines of Jaime Lyn’s real life. She is NYC born and bred, does not have a license, and her stories of trying to get around the city for auditions and rehearsals gave us a great entry point for this character.

Jaime Lyn: See above…. Ilana also did a fantastic job writing a story that incorporated all the resources we had at our disposal for free!

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

Ilana: “Mighty Ducks 2”

Jaime Lyn: Honestly, “A Christmas Story” but a *better* answer would be
“American Beauty”

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

Ilana: Big fan! We’re still baby filmmakers, so having a platform that aggregates submissions and makes everything easy to track is huge for us. We would never have known about this festival if it wasn’t for Film Freeway.

Jaime Lyn: It’s very special to see video reactions with real humans. It makes the feedback feel real and not from robots.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Ilana: “Copperline” by James Taylor

Jaime Lyn: Honestly, the song that’s in the opening credits of “A Christmas Story” but a *better* answer would be “Both Times Now” by Joni Mitchell

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

Ilana: Hopefully! The process is addicting, and I have a few things I’d love to shoot as soon as it’s safe to do so. I’m also juggling a bunch of writing projects that are in various stages of not done, so it would be dope to cross a few of those off.

Jaime Lyn: Something tells me there’s an avocado toast in my immediate future…I also recently made a film called “ÇA VA” about a puppet trying to find meaning in his life during the pandemic.