So the one thing that's been missing forever now from our press kit and website is my Director's Statement. Which is a bad thing not to have, because reporters want to hear from the director. They want to know the director cared, and wasn't just for hire.
But I haven't been able to bring myself to do it. Partly because it felt waaaay egotastic, and partly because it would literally be easier for me to write you a 70 page thesis on THE COMMUNE.
I'm not kidding. You've noticed how verbose I am, oui? Well...I have notebooks full of what and why and how things were done on THE COMMUNE. It's all purposeful, so how am I supposed to distill that down to one PR page and tell you I'm awesome so write about my movie?
Well apparently that's what sisters are for. Brenda woke up at 6 am yesterday and tossed this genius out like a true Fies. I filled in some details, but the majority is all her expert listening of me.
ABOUT ELISABETH FIES
Already an associate producer on Indie Spirit-awarded CONVENTIONEERS, tyro writer/director Elisabeth Fies has finally arrived with her acclaimed psychological thriller THE COMMUNE. Nobody loves watching movies more than Elisabeth. But, her years of education have trained her to see things others may not. From her undergraduate days examining pornography with Supreme Court expert witness Professor Neil Malamuth at UCLA, to her Graduate work at New School University in New York where she mastered in Media Studies, Elisabeth refined her intention of making responsible media with a message.
Returning to UCLA to complete her post Graduate Screenwriting Certificate provided the last piece of the puzzle for Elisabeth Fies to really understand the key elements required to make a good movie, which she feels are: structure, tone and purpose. “When any of these are faulty, it’s easy to lose your audience. I made it my mission to control the tone in THE COMMUNE.”
To date, Elisabeth has seen over five thousand movies and is ranked as #6 movie reviewer for NetFlix. While many movies have made an impact on her, her favorite movie remains a tie from twenty years ago. Elisabeth adores TERMINATOR 2 for its expert use of blockbuster storytelling to imbue a message of peace and feminism. But after viewing the emotionally raw SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE, she was inspired as she knew filmmaking would be the vehicle she would use to share her viewpoint with others. Elisabeth claims the three movies that directly influenced the making of THE COMMUNE were THE WICKER MAN, CHINATOWN, and DON'T LOOK NOW. After watching THE WICKER MAN, Elisabeth knew it was time to return to the 1970s thriller/horror masters to make a movie that subverted audiences' subconscious knowledge of genre mores, and like DON'T LOOK NOW make them care deeply about the characters whose pain they are watching.
Going home to the familiar surroundings of Sonoma County to film her feature was a comfort, and provided amazing locations never seen before on the big screen. Elisabeth is quick to point out that while Isis Oasis Sanctuary was a place she visited on more than one occasion while growing up, it is polar opposite to the type of commune depicted in her movie. It’s more of a wildlife sanctuary and the owner, Loreon Vigne, has been there since Fies’s childhood visits. They very graciously accommodated the cast and crew for 12 of their 18-day shoot schedule.
There were times in her Bohemian childhood that Fies remembers feeling like she was “the only grown up in the room” and recalls when she was encouraged to wrap a growling Ocelot around her neck, which she thought better of and didn’t understand what part of “angry cat” the adults outside the wild animal's cage did not see. It is that uneasiness that she used as a cornerstone throughout THE COMMUNE. “I find narcissism and lack of boundaries very dangerous and frightening.”
Contrary to making a statement about organized religion, Elisabeth guides her audience to consider the inherent dangers of blindly following cult leaders by depicting how truly disposable individual members may become. In addition, Fies tackles the topic of genetic cloning and megalomaniac's desire for eternal life through offspring. These are relevant, sensational topics both nationally (the Texas cult “Yearning for Zion Ranch”) as well as internationally (the “House of Horror” in Austria). At the world premiere Q & A for THE COMMUNE, Elisabeth remarked to a cheering crowd “I'm not against organized religion, I'm against hypocrisy. If you say you're about love and crystals, be about love and crystals. Don't hoard all the money and eff little girls.”
THE COMMUNE utilizes the archetypal trinity Virgin, Mother, Crone in the three female leads. It has a heavy undertone of mythology to showcase its message, from the naming of characters to the background images in each scene. Elisabeth’s goal is to expose taboo topics that have existed for thousands of years, crossing over cultural lines, coming at the expense of women and ultimately civilized societies. She also depicts the three different reactions women have to incest, as well as giving all three generations of women a sex and dance scene to express their varying sexuality.
In prepping to lead a male crew, Elisabeth incorporated several command styles, including THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES, and brilliant military strategist Colonel Van Riper's IN COMMAND AND OUT OF CONTROL. She also received advice from boundary-breaking studio film director and master of horror Katt Shea. Many of the crew had never before worked for a “lady director”, and are anxious to be on Elisabeth's next film. "This time I got naked in front of the crew when I couldn't find an actress who would do nudity. Next time I'm buying us all platoon tattoos."
Upcoming projects include executive producing the horror anthology I HATE LA (going into production in July 2009) and raising the money for PISTOLERAS, her multiple-award-winning and beloved blockbuster screenplay about a clique of outsider teenage girls who are sold into a Mexican sex slavery ring and fight back to free all the children.