EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Catherane Skillen, director of AVA: A Twist In the Road

I really loved the movie AVA: A Twist in the Road and keep talking it up to people. It left me with so many questions, so I had to speak to its creator. You can watch this film on Tubi. To learn more, visit the official Facebook page.

B&S About Movies: What I really liked about your movie is that it doesn’t feel like any other movie that I’ve seen this year. It doesn’t feel like a Hollywood movie. Instead, it feels very personal and very much from the heart. How much of you is in the movie?

Catherane Skillen: It is not autobiographical. Over the years I’ve observed people who depend on a partner,  you know…whether it’s a married person depending on their spouse, an adult child,  or a significant other, and they end up at the caregiver’s beck and call .

I could never understand how someone could give up their right to live their own life and reach their own potential. What do they have to give up? I mean, I think part of it is, of course, the financial reason…not having to work…having an easy life…being able to buy whatever you want, for instance.  But on the other hand, you sacrifice yourself in some ways because one is so dependent. That was one of the questions, or dilemmas, I had while writing this.

B&S: How hard was it to do a million different jobs on this movie?

Catherane: (laughs) It is really, really, really hard. And I did it in two different periods because I didn’t have the money. So, I did the first half with the cameraman and then the second half a couple years later with a different cameraman and different cameras (the first one was the Sony A7S and the second one was the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4K).

My cameraman helped me a lot in terms of setting up the scenes because I was in those scenes when we filmed them. We had monitors but the monitor broke for the first shoot, so I wasn’t able to watch. It’s also so fast. We had to work so fast because of the time allotted for the locations with a lot of pages to shoot. I was really fortunate about some of these locations that were given to me, like the condo that the couple lived in. That wonderful, gorgeous condo with all the art. The owners just let me use it. We were there for four days and they told us that they were going on vacation and that we could use it only while they were gone. Then, their friends and family said, “Are you out of your mind letting this person come in with equipment and you aren’t there?” But they held firm, gratefully.

The art studio was actually two separate garages, a one-car garage and a two-car garage that were at the back of a property. The woman who owned the space had rented them out to two artists who allowed us to film there.  I  think the art studio is gorgeous and worked really well. Now, it’s no longer there. The house has been sold. The condo is no longer available either,  also sold. It’s all gone. We were so fortunate.

B&S: What was going on in your life to inspire this?

Catherane: I’m an actress and I wasn’t working. I’d always heard everybody say, “Make your own movie.” I had this idea for a really long time and started working on it, but I just didn’t really believe in myself and I didn’t know how I would film it. I didn’t know how to get the money to do it, and so I was kind of a dilettante about it.

I worked on it in dribs and drabs and kind of began to save a little bit of money. I had been telling myself I’d make it for years,  but didn’t. I finally got to the place where I thought, “If I don’t really jump in and do this, I could die before I do it,  and  how would I feel if I did not accomplish this?” I didn’t want to have regrets at my last moment.

So that really got me in gear and I really worked hard for two years to put this together.

B&S: You did acting before this, right?

Catherane: My first job was on Columbo. I played a waitress in the Jack Cassidy episode where he’s a magician. People are always…like…contacting me and saying, “Oh my gosh, you’re so beautiful”, which is nice to hear but they seem to be confusing me with the blonde assistant. I have to tell them, “No, I was the brunette waitress.” (laughs)

B&S: What was your intention with the ending?

Catherane: There’s that bracelet that Ava said she would never take off. It’s a symbol of their love and connection. Through her journey, she finally gets to the place where she’s ready to let it go. I see it as the beginning of a new chapter in her life, a whole new road ahead.

I think the big motivator in turning her life around was the promise she made to her mother. You know, as her mother was dying, the promise she made, and she always felt guilty about that.  So, hopefully, that came out. I was trying to reinforce that without getting too heavy-handed.

You can watch AVA: A Twist in the Road on Tubi and for free on Indie Rights Movies after October 14. Visit Catherane’s YouTube Channel to learn more.

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