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Interview: Milena Govich

Kickstarter has become an invaluable platform for individuals to help promote and raise money for their projects. One particular group of people, the filmmaker, has found that crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have allowed them to realize their artistic dreams.

Milena Govich has spent years entertaining fans in television, film and theater. On television, the multi-talented actor has appeared on series such as Rescue Me, Conviction, K-Ville, Law & Order and most recently MTV’s Finding Carter. On Broadway, she’s appeared in the musical revival of Cabare, The Boys from Syracuse and Good Vibrations.

Now, Govich is taking all of that experience and throwing her hat into the directing ring. She is currently in production on her directing debut with the film Temporary. After starting a Kickstarter campaign for the film, she quickly reached her goal of $25,000. Now, she’s moved past that goal and shooting for a stretch goal. If she can get 200 total backers for the project, everyone, no matter how much they have pledged, will get signed PDF of the script.

We sit down with Milena to talk about the film Temporary and it’s personal meaning to her, what it was like using Kickstarter to fund the project and why there are so few female directors in Hollywood.

Pop Culture Principle - You’ve already accomplished a lot in your career so far. Did you always have aspirations to become a director?

Milena Govich – I think so. It was definitely in the back of my mind for sure. I’ve been really fortunate as an actor to work a lot and I never really pursued directing because I was always busy doing other things. There came this point last year where I really wanted the challenge of directing and I wanted to dive into something that I could really study and learn a new craft./p>

It’s just been a joy and I’ve been very lucky to have a number of people that have mentored me and guided me and are very encouraging about this next chapter.

Pop Culture Principle – What made you decide that it was time for you to take the leap and direct your first project?

Milena Govich – Well, June is a little slow so it’s kind of when I could gather the resources and people and have the dime to do the shoot. So, that is essentially it. When did I have a break from work and when could I gather the people and resources that I need and it turns out to be now.

Pop Culture Principle – As you prepare for your directing debut, are you nervous at all or have any jitters?

Milena Govich – Oh it’s terrifying! I mean, I’m steering the ship and I’m pretty sure I know how to drive it, but we’ll see when I get there. My strategy is to surround myself with people in their own departments who really know exactly what they are doing so I can focus on the directing once I am on set. I have quadruple duty on this project because I am producing myself, I’m fundraising myself with the Kickstarter program, so I am wearing a lot of hats right now.

The trick will be when it’s time for production to start and the cameras to roll, is to delegate all that other stuff off to other people so I can really focus on just making the best film that I can.

Pop Culture Principle – David Cornue is the screenwriter of Temporary and helped you craft this project and he’s also your husband. What did he bring to the table for the project?

Milena Govich – Well, short of him being a fabulous writer and pretty much the best writer I know, he’s been incredibly supportive during this process. We developed the story together, we came up with the ideas of the characters and the arc. David then went away and wrote the first draft and it was fantastic.

We then went around getting feedback on the script from many friends. Probably two dozen people have read the script and offered their feedback on it. So, we’ve tweaked and tweaked and changed and tried this ending and that ending and I think the draft we have now is super strong. We are getting pretty much universally positive feedback from anyone who reads this draft.

We’ve also had technical consultants on this draft as well. I know from the Kickstarter I’ve said that it’s about choices at the end of life and I have been in touch with an organization called Death with Dignity. Even though they are not sponsoring the film or sanctioning it in any way, they have been great helping me get any science or facts correct in the script. So every time something comes back, David and I sit down and we go through and we rewrite, rewrite and rewrite, so he’s been incredibly patient with me.

Pop Culture Principle – Did you find it easier to tell this story and open up knowing that David already knows who you are and about the story as opposed to a screenwriter who you didn’t really know?

Milena Govich – Definitely because especially with the experience I went through with my grandmother, he was hearing every bit of it from me and he was there with me. He knows how important this is and because we are married, we have a shorthand. We know each other’s sensibility intimately obviously, so it made the writing process so much faster and so much cleaner than if I had gone to another screenwriter.

Pop Culture Principle – Without giving much away, what can you tell us about Temporary?

Milena Govich – Temporary is a really great little quirky, funny, odd, slightly dark film and I don’t want to give away the twists because then people who watch it will say they were way ahead of the story. There are some surprise elements that I want to protect in the plot. So the Kickstarter video that we did was sort of our way of coming up with a cute way to not tell you what the story is actually about.

Pop Culture Principle – Has your career as an actor in film and television and working with many directors give you invaluable insight when it comes to working with and directing actors and do you think actors make better directors?

Milena Govich – Well, clearly actors are the best directors of course!  When I started studying directing, I am obviously coming to it from the acting and performing background, but I am also from theater and I’m a dancer and I’ve choreographed before, so I am very familiar with the visual medium and how to use people, objects and landscapes to create a picture that means something and has an emotional impact.

I think my challenges are more on the technical side of filmmaking. The cameras, the lenses, how did you rig that and more of the nuts and bolts of how you make a film. Also the editing process which is an entire craft in and of itself. That is generally more straightforward and there is definitely an art to all of it, but I can sit down and learn my lenses, but someone coming from the technical side who is a master at all of that stuff and then is coming on to a set trying to figure out how to get a performance out of an actor, I actually think it’s a slightly bigger learning curve.

Every actor works completely differently, actors can be temperamental, they could not cooperate or they could be lovely and a joy to work with. You’ve got to have a real finesse as a director with the actors. Because I have spent the bulk of my life as an actor, I have a shorthand and have an intimate understanding of what they are going through, so I think it’s a really valuable card I have to be able to play.

Pop Culture Principle – You decided to use Kickstarter to fund this project. What made you decide to go that route and how has that experience been so far?

Milena Govich – You know, I am so grateful for that platform and so grateful for the whole idea of crowdfunding because there is just no other way to get this done. When you are making a short film, there is little to no possibility of recouping your investment. It’s really a labor of love and my hope is to get this film to play in festivals and spread awareness for the issues that it covers, but I’m never going to get a multi-million-dollar deal for somebody to put this in a movie theater-that’s just not how it goes.

So, as far as your traditional film funds and investors and stuff like that, this is just not something they are interested in. Historically short films have always been made by small donations from friends and family, but the Kickstarter platform is just such an awesome way to reach everybody who is in your network and reach the people who are fans of the shows that I’ve worked on.

It gives the project a level of credibility and it also gives the backers a level of security because they know that I am not just going to pocket this and do whatever I want because there is a really clear accountability. Also, If I don’t reach my goal, then they are not charged. I’m not going to go away and make a subpar project for half the money. I’m pitching that this is the level of the film that I want to make and my backers are assured that I will be able to do that by the fact that I am going to be able to raise a set amount. I think Kickstarter is awesome.

Pop Culture Principle – Do you think it would have taken longer for your directing debut had it not been for Kickstarter?

Milena Govich – I don’t even know how I would do it frankly. I don’t come from a wealthy background and I don’t have tons of rich friends. Some people may say that I have all these actor friends who are in television and film and I do, but we all aren’t making twenty million dollars. My core group of friends are journeymen actors and we have families and responsibilities and aren’t raking in the big bucks all the time.

I have been able to move at this pace with this production because of Kickstarter. I would have had to spend months going around trying to convince people to give me thousands of dollars for this project, but for thirty bucks, you can download the film and get all this cool behind the scenes stuff, so it’s worth it.

Pop Culture Principle – Being that this story is so personal to you, do you feel more vulnerable putting it out there to the public?

Milena Govich - Honestly, no. The message is so important to me that I don’t really care about myself if that makes sense. It’s something that I am incredibly passionate about and I want people to know about. I’m willing to clearly go out on a limb to tell this story.

Many films like this can be a vanity project, but that is not at all what this is and I think that’s why I have confidence going forward with it because it really does have something to say and it’s a message that people really need to hear and a discussion that needs to happen.

Pop Culture Principle – Do you think working on this project will give you the bug to continue to look for other projects to direct?

Milena Govich – I definitely want to do more directing. I plan for this to be the first of many. I am very passionate about telling stories and like I said, I’ve been grateful to have such a long acting career, but the directing just adds another layer to what I am able to do as an artist.

Pop Culture Principle – Why do you think there are so few female directors in Hollywood today?

>Milena Govich – There are a lot of really crappy excuses why there aren’t more female directors in Hollywood today. Essentially, it just comes down to opportunity. There are immensely qualified women out there and for some reason, they are not getting the same opportunities as men and we can all speculate why that might be. Although, I am heartened that it is changing. It may be baby steps, but at least there is awareness out there that this is an issue and it’s a problem.

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I am throwing my hat in the ring to say that I am going to be another well-qualified, driven and hard working woman who wants to be behind the camera. I think there are people out there who are encouraging that. It is changing, albeit baby steps, but hopefully we are going in the right direction.

Pop Culture Principle – When the film is done and is shown to the public. What would you like viewers to take away from the film after they see it?

Milena Govich – My goal is to have people walk out of the theater after seeing this movie and have a conversation and really ask themselves what would they do in this scenario. It’s an issue that everybody has to face at one point or another and it’s something that no one wants to look at.

We as a society run around trying to figure out what green drink can I use to keep me skinny or what anti-aging cream can I use to get rid of wrinkles. We are so obsessed with youth that nobody bothers to really take this end of life issue seriously. If this film sparks a conversation, a debate or even legislation, that’s really my goal to get the conversation started.

We want to wish Milena Govich the best with her directing debut and also want to thank her for taking time from film production to talk with us. As we said earlier, she is currently in production for Temporary, but you still have four days to be a part of this project. Below you will find all the relevant links you will need to donate and follow Milena and the Temporary social media accounts.

Milena Govich Official Twitter

Milena Govich Official Facebook page

Temporary film Kickstarter page

Temporary film Facebook page

Temporary film Official Twitter

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