DJ: Ms. Puette, welcome to 6Qs.
DP: Thank you for inviting me
1 – In order for our readers to know you better, please tell our readers about your background and your artistic career:
DP: I’m from a very small, rural town in Pennsylvania. I grew up on the edge of a cornfield and spent my days exploring with friends. I was a very imaginative child, and performance has always been something I’ve loved. I would write and direct little plays and put them on in my backyard with friends. We’d charge the neighborhood to come see us and donate the money. We were quite philanthropically minded as children! I also grew up studying dance, but injuries prevented me from seriously considering it as a career. Moving to Chicago was an important step for me. I finally saw people actually makes their living as actors. I started there in the theater. It was a rich training ground for me, and I was very fortunate to work on several high-profile shows right off the bat. Television and film came after that as well. After a few years in Chicago, I moved to Los Angeles and have again been very lucky in terms of the projects on which I’ve and the artists with whom I’ve collaborated. I love L.A.
2 – You wrote and produced “Cash for Gold”, the short movie, where the idea came from and what it tries to portray?
DP: I thought I was writing a play! I was really just working on one scene for that. I’d had the idea that I wanted my main character to be two people who, on the outside, look like they couldn’t be more different. Who seemed like they’d be at odds with each other on many levels, but who share something profound in common. I often write characters that I see myself playing—it’s just an easy thing for me to do. So I had Grace in my mind already, and I knew she was struggling financially. I wasn’t sure why, but I knew that to be true. Ehsan (played by Navid Negahban) was an instant and utter inspiration. He just “came” to me. I don’t know how else to explain it. I’d had the idea of Grace taking what little, unimpressive jewelry she has into a cash for gold place. I knew that much. And as I pictured her coming through that door, boom, Ehsan was just there for me. And he was equally unhappy for his own reasons. But he really rises above, and over the course of six pages, I think he heals her, just a little bit. And in the course of that, he heals himself a little, too. They don’t solve everything for each other, but they do affect each other in a very surprising way. I loved the idea of that.
I sent the scene to my dear friend and manager, Robert Enriquez, and he fell instantly in love with it. He has the biggest heart! And he was excited by the message of hope in the scene. He said immediately he wanted to direct it as a short film. So I rewrote it as a screenplay, and we produced it.
3 – In your view, how dramatic arts (Stage or Screen) can assist understanding, dialogue and social responsibilities?
DP: Human beings have always used storytelling in all its iterations to work out our biggest questions. My question, in “Cash for Gold” at least, was how can we come together? How can we honor the fact that yes, we ARE all very different in big, important ways. Those differences are important. We don’t need to erase them. We should really be glad for them. They make the world a much more interesting place than if we were all, say, white Irish Catholics! (I choose that only because it’s a group I know very well J). At the spirit level, the cellular level or whatever you want to call it, we are all just one. We are more alike than different at the most meaningful level of our beings. When we tell stories that explore this, I like to hope we model for each other how we might just live together more peacefully, more happily. I suppose this might sound trite or cliché, but I think that’s because it’s grounded in so much truth.
4 – Navid Negahban, WAALM Award Winning Actor is staring in this movie along with you, how did you find working with him? How was your experience with rest of the cast and crew?
DP: We were thrilled to get Navid in our movie. He’s is such a talent. But beyond that, he’s truly one of the most generous, kind, people I’ve ever met. We had a wonderful time together and have become good friends. He helps me find the best Persian food in L.A.! We also had the honor to work with a terrific actor named Vachik Mangassarian. He plays the role of Ehsan’s father. While all of his dialogue happens off-screen, he’s very important part of the film. We were so lucky to have him with us. So it was just that trio of actors. I’ve mentioned our director, Robert. I would follow him to the ends of the earth. The crew was tiny, but powerful! Almost everyone on this film donated their time. One of my favorite moments from the shoot came at the end of our first and only day of shooting. The production assistants, all of whom had gotten up before dawn to be on set for no money, led a “Cash for Gold” cheer in the parking lot behind our location. They were just bundles of enthusiasm and love for this film. It was such a joy to share our cast and crew screening with them.
5 – What is the ultimate goal you wish this movie achieves and will we see similar productions from you in the near future?
DP: We are starting our festival experience October 18, 2013 with our premiere on opening night at the Hollywood Film Festival. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have our premiere happen in our own town. I hope this is the start to a long run of great fests. The response to the film and its big heart has been so gratifying, and I really just hope for more of that. I’d love to sell them film at some point so that we can get it released to as big an audience as possible! I hope people continue to take away its message of hope and understanding.
I’m always writing, and I still consider turning the short into a feature. I’m not sure if I’ll do that or not, but the idea continues to percolate. Right now I’m working on a pilot for television. I like to have my hands stirring lots of pots.
6 – For those who wish to follow this production and your future activities, how they can stay in touch?
DP: I’m a big user of social media, and I love to connect with people on my Facebook page and on Twitter. People who want to follow Cash for Gold can keep track of our screenings and news on the film’s website. There’s a way to contact us through that as well. We’d love to hear from people who’ve seen the film or are interested in screening it.
Site for the film: www.cashforgoldthefilm.com
Facebook for the film: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cash-For-Gold-A-Short-Film/352579951502553?ref=hl
Twitter for film: @cash4goldmovie
Site for me: www.deborahpuette.blogspot.com
Facebook for me: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Deborah-Puette/161218223910968
Twitter for me: @deborahpuette
DJ: Ms. Puette, it was a pleasure having you in our Journal and we wish you all the best for this and your future projects.
DP: Thank you so much for your time and interest! It’s been an honor to talk to you.