The Fallout is an honest look at what it is like to be a teenager today while traversing the never linear journey to heal after a tragedy at school.
Having its World Premiere in the Narrative Feature Competition, we speak with THE FALLOUT director Megan Park.
Welcome to SxSW! Is this your first SxSW experience?
This is my first time to SXSW! I wish I was there in person, but I’ll be enjoying the ride from my bedroom in Canada. Party!
So let’s hear more about you and how you got started in the business and what you have worked on in the past!
I started in front of the camera. I’ve been acting professionally since I was fifteen-ish in Canada. My first audition in LA was for a TV series called, “Secret Life of the American Teenager,” which I booked, and then went on to star in for seven years. I honestly NEVER imagined being able to write or direct. I was soaking up TONS of knowledge about being on set, how everything works, how to work with all different types of actors etc. It wasn’t until I worked with an actress I really admired, who was an insanely gifted writer, that I started thinking – I wonder if I can do that too? I secretly started writing a pilot script, which when it went out was immediately optioned by CBS. I was like, holy s**t. There was something so empowering about writing that I never fully experienced before, something that clicked for me in a way nothing else ever had. That transitioned me into writing and directing a short which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Austin Film Festival and that led me to doing some music videos and commercials, which led me to my first feature, THE FALLOUT.
How did this project come together?
Once I had fully come up with the characters for this movie, I wrote it very fast in probably two-three weeks. This led to lots of meetings about it, but it took almost a year to find the right people and our financiers. Then it moved SUPER fast. I had a meeting with the financier on a Wednesday and by Friday we were green lit. This was all at the end of 2019. We were supposed to start shooting April 2020, but were shut down because of covid. We had cast the film, location scouted, and were only days away. We shut down until August when we felt we could safely come back with all the new regulations. Luckily, the whole team came back together and we shot the movie in four weeks. Then the entire post process was done remotely. My editor was in NYC and I was back in Canada, where I have been ever since. It has been so weird to edit, mix, color and then attend SXSW all from my childhood bedroom, but here we are!
What keeps you going while making a project? What drives you?
Good question. I don’t know. There’s a love for the process of writing and directing that doesn’t feel like work to me. Even when it is hard and exhausting or when someone makes you cry in post, it all feels worth it. It is a story and a piece of art that I feel really passionate about, and I just want to make it honest. I want it to feel real. That’s what keeps me going, that quest.
What was your biggest challenge and what was the moment that was the most rewarding to you?
COVID was obviously very challenging. I wanted to make sure everyone was safe and no one got sick, that was number one priority. We were extra intense about testing and safety precautions, and were lucky to have made it through with not one person getting sick. It was really hard mentally to direct the movie from a back room behind a monitor and two masks, but I also felt really grateful to be making it at all. The most rewarding moment has been getting to show the finished film to the people close to me who helped me every step of the way and seeing their reactions and feeling like all of my and their sacrifices to get here were worth it.
I am about to get technical, but I would love to know about the visual design of the movie and how THE FALLOUT was made technically.
I’m extremely visual, so I always have very specific ideas of how I imagine things will look and feel even if I’m not the most technically savvy person. Luckily my DP, Kristen Correll, and I have worked together before on music videos and have a strong rapport and easy shorthand. We did tons of script breakdowns, lens tests, Zoom screen sharing, shot listing etc. I spent the most time prepping with her. We mapped out how we wanted the visual transition of the movie to compliment the character arc of the story, how the film look changes pre-post shooting, how the mood changes depending on who Vada is with to reflect her emotional state. It’s all a giant puzzle. Then you have the reality of what you get dealt with on the day, certain challenges, and that’s where just being very good friends and having a strong relationship comes in handy. When we can really sidebar and trouble shoot together, that is invaluable.
What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie at SxSW Online?
Everything! It’s terrifying to put this baby out into the world that I’ve obsessed over for a year. Very strange and scary, but I’m also so excited for people outside of the team who made it to see it and hopefully like it. I hope they feel something.
Clearly this is such a different time with virtual festivals and online screenings. How do you feel about releasing movies in this current format and how do you feel audiences will see most films in the future?
It is not ideal, but it is the reality. Would I love to watch this movie in a theater and feel the energy off of it? yes. Is it also fun to watch movies in bed with your sweatpants on while eating a brick of cheese? Yes. I’m trying to find the silver lining in the situation.
Where is the movie going next? More festivals or a selective release?
We will hopefully get distribution after the festival. I am just taking it one day at a time.
We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies or work in the business. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking, especially now as things are evolving at such a fast rate?
FINISH stuff. Don’t start ten projects, finish one. One finished script, short, digital film, or anything that can show people what you can do is your resume. Keep creating, keep finishing! It’s hard, but if you can finish something you are ten steps ahead.
And final question: what is the greatest movie you have ever seen at a film festival?
I haven’t actually been to many film festivals, yet! I’m excited to see all the movies I can this year with my brick of cheese in bed!
THE FALLOUT is now streaming on SxSW Online.
This film and many others like it will be showing at the virtual South By Southwest taking place March 16-20th. For more information and to register for the festival, point your browser to www.sxsw.com!