SingleVille, a comedy about the ups and downs of being single and the bond of sisterhood, will be screened at the Gene Siskel Film Center as a part of the Black Harvest FIlm Festival at the on August 24 and 25. Directors Mary McCallum and Meleisha Edwards will be in attendance for discussion (both on August 24; McCallum on the 25th). For more info, visit: http://www.siskelfilmcenter.org/blackharvest
SAT: Who had the idea first for the film?
MM: The film actually started as a stage play that I wrote. A comedy that I wrote for myself and two of the other ladies who starred in the movie. Meleisha, our friend and I were talking about doing a project together on film. We all liked the idea about turning “SingleVille” into a movie and it all went from there.
SAT: I’ve seen the movie and the acting was fabulous. How did you pull that out of the actors?
MM: It’s funny—and I don’t want to talk too much about the play because it is a separate animal. But having done several versions of it, we’ve worked a lot together in general. So, I think we automatically have that natural chemistry. It was a lot of fun on doing the film because we could expand a lot on what we did on the play— with the customs, makeup and wardrobe. So, I think just having that chemistry and having worked together really made easy for us to jump into and take it to that next level.
SAT: With the bond of sisterhood, it sort of reminded me of The Golden Girls. Did it also remind you of anything from film and or television?
MM: I don’t think it reminded [us] of anything in particular. I think the cool thing about it is we see the women doing it. We’ve seen a lot of comedies that we’ve grown up on where the men dressed up as the women. I really wanted to make a film that would be a little bit different. But I think the friendship and bonds, there are lots of things that you can refer back to in terms of just trying to show that sense of friendship and at the end of the day no matter what happens good or bad we all have each other.
SAT: Clearly, it was a good experience with the chemistry. But were there any difficult times during shooting that you can think of?
MM: I think the one thing about Meleisha and I is that we really work well together. We communicate well, I think that’s what helped us get over the trying times. I think the biggest thing we ran into was weather. When we were trying to shoot that one particular scene with that black erate. We’d been trying to do this scene for several days and the rain wouldn’t cooperate. And we had a location that we couldn’t use because it was flooded out from the previous rain. Little things like that. How to make things work.
SAT: I notice that there were quite a lot of female filmmakers on your team. Was that intentional?
MM: We definitely had some great guys and we couldn’t have done this without them, for sure. I don’t think that there were any intention to knock the men, but I think when me and Meleisha decided to do this together, I think we made the conscious decision to as much as possible that female bond and female perspective. I don’t want to discount the impact that the men had. The show itself is so female-orientated, but we had a strong crew of guys that helped with production.
SAT: Do you feel intimidated being in a male-dominated industry?
MM: I think there are so many filmmakers. Everybody has great stories to tell. That’s why I love going to film festivals, to see what other people have done. There are so many stories to tell and so many perspectives. I think there’s room out there for everybody to get out there. It’s just a matter of getting made and putting it out there for people to see. I don’t want to say it’s intimidating. It’s a very competitive industry. Not necessarily an industry geared toward women, particularly women of color. We should always look at the obstacles ahead. But we’re just going to keep pushing, keep driving and telling our stories and hopefully there’s someone out there who wants to see it and be a part of it.
SAT: What was your experience with working on SingleVille?
ME: …. It was a fun process. I’m more of a producer. I’ve produced a lot of work. This is my first time into the director role. I’m very much a dramatic writer. I wrote In the Spotlight. I can say that I’m a dramatic writer. So this, being a comedy, was very refreshing and very different for me. Mary is just a genius when it comes to comedy writing. We took different approaches such as the women playing the male roles. It’s very experimental, [so] everyone might not get it.
SAT: Why is this film important to you?
ME: It’s important because it’s definitely an all-female cast and directed by women with a mostly female crew. So, this is a female empowerment story. We know it’s comedy. It’s not male-bashing. Some men may take it that way. It’s just more about having fun and being able to so female empowerment throughout the whole film. I think that’s important. Especially with the disparity between male and female directors. We wanted something that came from us, and that could speak to the ladies. We want the men to watch it, too. But we want the film to speak to the ladies and be relevant in that way.
SAT: The film touch on important issues such as sexism and race. Was it intended to be as potent?
ME: We wanted to highlight that issues that we see in our society–the sexism, the race thing. In the movie when the black girl said, “Why are all you white women taking our men?” This is how some Black women really feel. We wanted to really highlight those issues and show that these are issues that people really go through.
SAT: I also remember Molly’s character describing “the angry Black woman.”
ME: A lot of times, as African Americans, we are stereotyped … we’re not angry. There could be other issues going on that make us seem that way.
SAT: When I first heard that, I wasn’t offended. But, I was certainly like, “Wow.”
ME: We intended it to be an “ah ha” moment. Especially from this white woman. Of course, Molly doesn’t really think that way. But so many white women do. And you wonder where it comes from, but a lot of it is from the portrayal in the media.
SAT: What do you want people to take away from the film?
ME: I really want people to know that everyone’s single life is a different journey. Even though we take it so seriously sometimes, sometimes you just have to laugh.
© Stephanie A. Taylor (8/22/18) FF2 Media
Photos: Mary McCallum, Tamiko Robinson Steele, and Molly Breen in SingleVille (2018)
Photo Credit: IMDb