After watching Becks, Contributing Editor, Lindsy M. Bissonnette had a Q&A with Elizabeth Rohrbaugh, co-writer/director to talk about what it was like working on this film.
Elizabeth Rohrbaugh is writer and director based in NYC. Her documentary, The Perfect Victim, was on the PBS seriesAmerica Reframed after premiering at the Hot Springs International Film Festival. The film won a Telly Award and was nominated for a Silver Gavel Award. Her short film, Dylan, saw a successful festival run and was named Vimeo Short Of The Week and a Vimeo Staff Pick. Liz was a Writer/Director at MTV, where she won an Emmy Award and multiple CTAM Awards. Her work has been featured on The Takeaway with John Hockenberry, Glamour Magazine, Verily Magazine, Psychology Today, The Progressive, Indiewire, and the Feminist Current.
Lindsy M Bissonnette (LMB): I read that this story is partially based on the life of Alyssa Robbins –who helped make most of the songs for the film—how did this story go from Alyssa Robbins’ experiences to the big screen?
Elizabeth Rohrbaugh (ER): I saw Alyssa play a show at a small diner in St. Louis shortly after a bad breakup and I felt very inspired by the experience. She was singing this lesbian break-up music to a very male, older, blue-collar crowd. The bartender was this gruff old man who kept feeding Alyssa these large glasses of whiskey in a juice glass and he was just in awe of her. He cried at one point he was so moved. It was hilarious and touching. Dan Powell and I had been talking about making a film together and we decided to develop a story loosely based on Alyssa and that evening with her music as an anchor throughout the film.
LMB: When and why did the title change from Breakup Songs to Becks?
ER: I saw that on IMDB too but have no idea where that came from! The film was always called “Becks.”
LMB: What were some of the challenges you faced while working on the film?
ER: For an indie film experience, BECKS was about as good as it gets. I attribute that to our passionate and hard-working cast and crew and to our fantastic producer Alex Bach. I would say the biggest single challenge we had was finding locations in the NYC area to pass for St. Louis. We unfortunately did not have the budget to shoot the film on location in the way that we wanted to.
LMB: What can you tell us about the ending? Do you think Becks and Elyse ever meet again?
ER: That is a good question! We always knew that we wanted this for the ending. We wanted Becks to grow out of her co-dependent relationships and learn to stand on her own two feet. In the past she has poured her energy into other people instead of bettering herself, and we wanted her to stop her routine of self-destructive behavior. I’m not sure if they will see each other again or not. I think they probably follow each other on social media and like each other’s pictures from time to time.
LMB: What is one of your favorite moment of creating/working on this film?
ER: Probably at wrap. Right after the last shot – knowing that I had accomplished something that I had been wanting to do for so long was a great feeling.
LMB: What are the challenges of being a female filmmaker?
ER: Probably just not getting that many opportunities to make films. I likely am not privy to my personal challenges because I have no real idea if people consider my gender or not when they are looking at me for a job. Those kinds of judgements are rarely made to your face. I’m happy that there’s change in the tide and hope it becomes easier for women to be taken seriously as directors.
LMB: What is your hope for this film?
ER: I hope a lot of people see it and that they love it! We have been getting a great response so far and I just hope that people spread the word.
LMB: What is the next step for this film?
ER: BECKS is now available on iTunes and various streaming services. We are in the midst of international sales so we should be able to get it into other countries as well.
LMB: What is a piece of advice you’d like to give to other female aspiring filmmakers?
ER: Work on projects that you love and are really excited about. Don’t waste time on a film if you don’t believe it can be great. Also, work with a life/career coach to make your career manageable. I worked with my good friend Betsy Capes at Capes Coaching.
LMB: What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self, knowing what you know now as an artist?
ER: Write more. Write as much as you can.
LMB: Anything else you want to tell us!?
ER: I’m a big dorky cine-phile. I love going to the movies and watching TV. I loved so many great films from this year – CALL ME BY YOUR NAME was my favorite. I’m one of the people who really liked MOTHER! I loved GOOD TIME, ICARUS and MY FRIEND DAHMER. I LOVE DICK was one of my favorite shows along with THE NIGHT OF and SILICON VALLEY. I also love RU PAUL’s DRAG RACE… like… a lot.
For more information on BECKS, read the full review by our intern Kathy Cutler here!
Featured Photo: Becks at the bar.
Middle Photo: Elizabeth at a release.
Bottom Photo: Becks and her (now ex) girlfriend performing on stage.
Photo Credits: Blue Fox Entertainment