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Interview of Lisa France, director of "The Unseen" :
Jupak.com - 2004

Jupak: How long has The Unseen been in production for?
Lisa: I wrote "The Unseen" in July 2003 and then had to take a break to travel with my first film "Anne B. Real." My producers Luis Moro and Phillip Bloch and I were developing the script along the way and had a final draft in February 2004. Finally, we went into production in June 2004 after Duane Wandless, our executive producer raised the rest of the finances we needed. We are currently in post-production at Lab 601 in Atlanta, GA, but only a couple of weeks away from the final product.

Jupak: Being the writer/director/producer of the film, do you feel you have the most control?
Lisa: It feels very schizophrenic. You walk a tenuous line when you fight yourself for things. The writer/director wants everything she wrote to show up on the screen and the producer has to tell the writer/director she can't have all those things because they cost too much. Michael Stipe wrote a song called "World Leader Pretend" and I find the opening lyrics to be very telling of being the hyphenate: "I sit at my table and wage war on myself. It seems like it's all, all for nothing." And of course you know it's not for nothing, but sometimes you think you should join the Peace Corps when you're on the phone fighting for 20 more dollars off the cost of a prop car.

Jupak: What are some of the major obstacles you have faced, whether during writing or during the production?
Lisa: The number one issue is money. I've never had enough money to shoot the script I was directing; therefore Luis and I are always trying to come up with ways to be creative inside that problem. It's hard enough to come up with a story that's new, exciting, compelling, but then to have to figure out ways to tell that story with a small budget...That's tough. One example of it that showed up on a day when I had the entire cast on set for a very expensive shot with a crane that I had planned with my cinematographer, Jim Hunter. Less than 24 hours before the shot our crane was taken from us by a bigger production that could afford the actual price of the crane (we were getting a good deal). It was, by far, the most expensive shot in the film. I didn't get upset and noticed my temperament has shifted since becoming a filmmaker. It seems nothing is impossible, good or bad, thus you simply need to be ready for anything and be prepared to absorb the impact of any incident. Luis did not give up on the shot and found a bucket truck which had an ability to go about 60 feet into the air. We rented it for 50 bucks; not as smooth as a crane but I think audiences will be surprised by the fluidity; it's quite lovely.

Jupak: Do you have an advice for young filmmakers or screenwriters?
Lisa: Do it yourself. Don't wait for anyone. With the advent of digital cameras anyone can make a film. That is the good and the bad news... Seriously, you really don't need to wait for anyone. You can buy a camera; minimal lights, some sound equipment, and a Final Cut Pro edit system for less than 30K and have a mini-studio to make your film. If you are really clever, you can shoot your film in order and have no edits! I have done this before as an exercise and it's quite helpful for practice and an adventure in and of itself.

Jupak: Can you tell me anything about the plot or characters of The Unseen?
Lisa: The basic idea is, sometimes you think you see something and from what you see you make judgments, decisions and take actions that affect your life and the lives of others, but what if you didn't see what you thought you saw? The film is about "the unseen" things in life that run life.

Jupak: When can we expect to see The Unseen in theaters?
Lisa: We do not have distribution yet, but we have submitted our film to Sundance and Berlin and are crossing our fingers to be accepted by either or both to premier and then hopefully be picked up. This is the dream of most all independent filmmakers and it would be a blessing if it all worked out for us.

Jupak: Both Michelle Clunie and Gale Harold, from Showtime’s Queer as Folk, star in The Unseen. How is their relationship both on and off screen?
Lisa: They are amazing together! They are good pals and have wonderful acting chemistry. Both are terrific talents and truly pushed their performances to the limit. All of the actors did really... I often thought about what they must go through being on a television show and having to do the same thing day in and day out each year... This film gave them an opportunity to stretch and play something they don't normally do. In "The Unseen" they play a couple and with a lot at stake. Michelle's character really pushes Gale's character to a place he doesn't want to visit. Gale's character, "Harold," is one that I tend to be drawn to in general, like Carlos Leon, "Juan" in "Anne B. Real"; loaded with pathos and fire. Michelle's character, "Kathleen" is the love and strength in the film.

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