Picture this: you and bae decide to spice things up so you get down and dirty with a sex toy—a totally magical night. But, your night was actually so magic that you wake up the next day and discover you’ve switched bodies, which is simultaneously terrifying and awesome. We’ve seen body-switching in movies before (Freaky Friday, Vice Versa and The Change Up, among others), but the new film Inside You goes deeper and explores gender, sexuality and marriage while still remaining hilarious. After three years of challenging production, badass lady director Heather Fink is ready to put her latest film out into the world. Using shows and films like Louis, Girls, Obvious Child and Bridesmaids as the script’s true-to-life comedic inspiration, she shot the film right here in Greenpoint and other parts of North Brooklyn (you can see Bushwick’s Catland in the trailer, masquerading as the sex shop). Heather (a Greenpointer) not only directed the film, but she also wrote it and stars in it. We chatted with her about her filmmaking process and her love of Greenpoint.
GP: How long did the film take to make (from writing the script through production)?
Heather: I finished the script in March 2014, ran the Kickstarter in June 2014, tried to shoot in October 2014 but had the lead actress drop out the day before the shoot. We re-tooled the project, I decided to act in it myself, and we finally shot in June 2015. We locked the picture edit by January 2016, and finished sound, color, VFX, music and titles by June 2016. I applied to festivals with this cut—and waited several months to hear back, taking me into 2017. I ran out of money so I needed to work several months to afford the final pieces—the end credits sequence, and we just finished the trailer. Every step of the way I had to work till I had enough money to pay for each thing. Now, it’s paid for.
GP: How can people watch the film? Do you have film fests lined up yet?
Heather: So far I haven’t gotten into any festivals and I’m about to work out my distribution plan. My intention in putting out the trailer is to prove interest in the film that will help our chances with both festivals and distributors. It sucks to be rejected, but I’ve been rejected every step of the way in making this film—by investors (there are none), by film labs, by several grants, by agents. But I can’t take any of those as a “no” or “stop”. It’s always a matter of finding another way. In many ways filmmaking is still a rich and powerful people’s art, and surmounting that requires a decent amount of effort and strategy.
GP: Was it a coincidence you had a largely female team, or was that intentional due to some of the themes of the film?
Heather: It’s a coincidence—with my low budget my only objective was to find the best people to work on the film possible who were willing to work at this pay scale. Maybe more women believed in my work. Maybe that’s who I know. Maybe the women were simply the best for the job. There were several men involved and it was a diverse crew overall.
GP: Looks like you got funding from a bunch of sources. Was doing the Kickstarter challenging, or easier than you thought? Would you crowd-fund another film again?
Heather : My budget was $110k and here’s where it came from:
-$20k personal credit cards
-$30k student loans as this was my thesis project for the NYU Grad Film program
-$3k from a Hollywood Foreign Press Post Production Grant
-$37k from my paychecks working as a sound person in film and television
Kickstarter is very challenging. I knew it would require work, but I generally don’t think too much about how hard something is going to be and I stay focused on just doing it.
I have some ethical issues with anyone doing Kickstarter or similar more than once in their lifetime. I believe it’s an incredible tool for people, especially those with less money and power, to create. But I feel like you get one big ask of people in your sphere. To rely on it as a source of funding feels wrong to me, and the people I know aren’t endless pools of money. I think crowdfunding has been been revolutionary in what it enables to be possible. I believe it’s wonderful to call on our community to support the arts, but I also feel an obligation support myself as much as possible. My goal is a career as a film director and writer but I don’t feel right asking the people I know to support me financially. I do feel right asking a studio or company profiting off of my work to hire me!
At the end of the day I think crowdfunding is wonderful and I’m grateful for Kickstarter’s role in getting my film made. I don’t intend to self finance another project after this, and I’ve since directed two projects that were financed by the producer/writers rather than me. One step at a time!
GP: What’s your next project, or do you know yet?
Heather: I’m co-writing a tv series with Ying Ying Li for her to star and me to direct, and it’s a lot about her experiences as an Asian American actress. She plays my best friend in Inside You and we discovered we are so much alike creatively and collaborate really well together. We met in our early 20s, of all things—modeling for the indie fashion label “Mandate of Heaven” which was in Williamsburg at the time. She was a lawyer, I was a business lady who was a comedian on the side. After the economic crash I went to film school and she went to an acting conservatory. Inside You was our first opportunity to work together, and since then I also directed a one-act play she wrote. We really get each other, and after mulling over several pilot ideas we loved the world we built around Ying’s personal story, and feel it’s one that needs to be told.
Since shooting Inside You I also directed the short film The Focus Group and the indie TV pilot Urban Teach Now and participated in Sony TV’s Diverse Directors program. I’ll be shadowing a director on a TV show I really love very soon, and currently work as a sound person to pay the bills. Directing doesn’t pay the rent—yet!
GP: Did you enjoy shooting your film on your home turf of North Brooklyn?
Heather: I loved shooting my film in North Brooklyn. It made me really happy to try and capture what visuals represent this place. I filmed here because I love it here, and it also made sense for who my characters are: early 30s couple on the fence about taking the leap to marriage. We spent two days just getting B-roll shots of the area and what defines it.
There’s always challenges to filming on location in New York. We tried shooting a scene on a lovely warm day in front of Five Leaves and a rando guy on the street kept bothering the child actor in our film. We had a small crew so it was hard to manage a walk and talk with a steadicam and a child actor and very few PAs plus all of our gear in the street. Shooting in local apartments brought nonstop dilemmas. We placed a light on a neighbor’s roof—the landing was right outside our window—and aimed the light inside where we were shooting. And the neighbor yelled at us that he was KGB and he would kill us if we put the light there again. We moved the light, but things like this happened an awful lot and we had to find a way around it with little means (this is why bigger budgets usually build interiors on sets and sound stages).
At the end of the day I’m happy to take a picture of what this place was at a certain point in time.
GP: What do you love the most about Greenpoint?
Heather: Working in film it’s an amazing location. Several sound stages are in Greenpoint so I can often walk to work, and I scored a sublet with incredibly low rent. It’s a beautiful, conveniently-located neighborhood with a waterfront and a lot of my friends live here. But what drew me here the most was what the neighborhood was like me when I moved here: 30s, single, no kids, creative. Park Slope is stroller central and Williamsburg is more 20-somethings and tourists. I moved here four years ago after living in the lower east side for six years. It was overrun with tourists and undergrads, and most of my friends ditched Manhattan as well. These things are always in flux, maybe the hotels will sour Greenpoint? For now it’s still quiet enough, the Polish community seems to be peacefully coexisting with the new kids, and the restaurants, bars, and parks are all pretty fantastic.