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Bethany Morse Talks About Filmmaking and Tomorrow

"Tomorrow" begins in the 1950s with my grandmother's home movies, as it moves toward the present. Featuring amusement park rides that went through generations of my family, this film presents life as a beautiful circle that keeps spinning.

What draws you to filmmaking and the cinematic language?

Filmmaking is a way to capture what the lens in the eye sees. It goes beyond communication with words. To me, cinematic language can be understood (through watching film) but never explained. That bit of mystery makes it a very powerful language indeed!

Do you believe in film schools or does making a film teach you more than film school?

I always wanted to go to film school, but my university didn't have a program for it. The opportunity to make films in a supportive environment at a film school is one I definitely support. Making a film can be a wonderful teacher, as well!

What makes cinema stand out more than the arts for you?

With cinema, everything is so immediate. It can be felt, deep in your soul. When words, images and music merge, that combination does something that can't be replicated elsewhere.

Did you choose a certain directing style for making this film based on the script?

The 1950's footage my grandmother took was the starting point for my film. Because I have the benefit of hindsight, I could see something very beautiful and sad about those home movies she made. That time didn't last. The kids grew up. The older people died. Kiddieland closed. Nothing stayed the same. And yet. You start to see that life goes in circles, beautiful circles! When I saw the merry-go-round spinning in my grandma's footage, I knew that was the heart of the film. Life spins us around in circles. Enjoy the ride.

How did you choose the cast and the crew of your film?

It was easy to choose the cast and crew! 65 years ago, my grandma already did the bulk of that work. She used her daughters and her husband, who had recently returned from WWII. My mother was a toddler in the start of the film, and I told her she just became a child actor (at the age of 67!). The newest cast member is my grandma's great grand-son (my son), whom she got to meet, just in time before she died.

How did you fund your film and what were some of the challenges of making this film?

The bulk of the cost was the conversion of old tapes into digital files I could work with for editing. The main challenge was going through a lot of raw footage from the 1950's and trying to pull out the best scenes. There were also conversations that went on with my grandma (rather one-sided since she died in 2007), since I wanted to involve her in the film. She would be thrilled to know about this film.

Do you consider yourself an indie filmmaker and what would most be the most difficult thing about being an independent artist?

I would consider myself an indie filmmaker. The most difficult part about being an independent artist is trying to do it all, but that's also one of the joys and positive challenges. It's refreshing to have full creative authority over my work.

What is the distribution plan for your film?

The distribution plan for my film is to bring it to major markets.

What is your cinematic goal in life and what would you like to achieve as a filmmaker?

My cinematic goal in life is to show the world through my eyes, using the lens of my camera. I usually use the past to inform my work. When I was about nine, my grandma on my dad's side stuck a camcorder in my hands and let me go. In 1989, that was an expensive toy! She was such a good sport and acted in all my movies. To this day, it's through those movies that we remember her. I went through a phase of taking close-ups, and she smiled through it all, through every nose pore video. But now, I see that making films is about getting as close to life as I can. I hope to get as close to life as my art allows, and in this way, understand life.

What kind of impact would your film have in the world and who is your audience?

My film would have universal impact because the shape of life is circles, across all boundaries. The spinning amusement park rides in the film reinforce this metaphor. My grandma was capturing real life, even though she tried to pose many of her shots. My audience spans generations. My grandma's 93-year-old sister-in-law is still alive. She is absolutely my audience! Watching old memories is surely a bright spot in her life during the isolation of COVID. Certainly those who remember the 1950's (and Kiddieland!) would appreciate the film. I know it's rare to have 1950's footage of one's family. I have six young children and they are also my audience because watching this film is like looking back on their past. Not many kids today can say they saw their grandma as a toddler, playing in a kiddie pool in 1950's Chicago. When I realized my grandma was the one, in 2007, watching her own great grand-son play in a kiddie pool, I knew the film went full circle! Even though she wasn't able to film anymore due to her health, she was there for her last role.

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