Agorable, a suicide comedy


Based on a personal experience, the movie “Agorable” written and directed by Bethany Orr it’s about a reclusive young woman whose world is turned upside down when her neighbor down the hall dies mysteriously.

After an accident Bethany had in 2007, that left her unable to work, she experienced depression and anxiety around the idea of leaving the house.

She felt she had to express that experience in some way, so she developed the Agorable’s script.

In a conversation with The Outsider Argentina, Bethany spoke about the process of writing “Agorable”, her relationship with the movie and her expectations for the released on July 14th.

What is “Agorable” about?

Agorable is a suicide comedy. A what??! [laughs] Well, it’s kind of its own thing. It has strong comedic elements but a good amount of drama, and it wears the clothing of a supernatural thriller. I like challenging films and that’s the kind of films I want to make. The idea is to keep the audience in a precarious state of delight and fury… or at least keep them guessing.

It’s about a reclusive young woman whose world is turned upside down when her neighbor down the hall dies mysteriously.

How did you come up with the idea of the movie?

Well, I say it was based on personal experience, which I think all scripts are in some way. My experience of screenwriting is that it is a humanist endeavor, kind of Jungian I guess. For me the Agorable story came out of a series of unfortunate events. Then again, maybe they were very fortunate! I was in an accident in 2007 that left me unable to work or do much of anything for many months because my head had gotten knocked around pretty good. I was living alone and developed some serious depression and anxiety around the thought of leaving the house – well, around the thought of life in general, really. It’s all a blur. In that state there was really nothing else to do but freak out. And write.

How was the process of writing the movie?

Long and slow! It started as extended journal entries and transformed into fiction, short story form. Then I began the process of learning how to craft it into a visual story, which was hugely challenging because the world of this character is so internal. With fiction you have the luxury of using language to bring your reader into communion with a character’s thoughts and feelings. Screenwriting is completely different. I had to find a way to create a conflict outside of her own experience for us to get to know her. And of course later the aesthetic of the film became very important. That’s something we spent a lot of time on. Production design.

Why did you choose to make a movie to express what you went through? How was it like facing that time of your life again?

I would call it a creative exorcism. Once I was finally able to get out of the house I had this thing inside me that had an inexplicable drive to express. That’s what pushed me forward to continue developing the script, then eventually put together a production company, find funding and an (amazing) cast and crew. I didn’t know what I was doing but I learned as I went. It helped that I had spent time on a lot of different sets as an actor. And I was lucky, I had a lot of help.

But yeah, it was a very difficult, painful process. And at the same time super empowering. I believe working on this project is what helped my brain form strong connections again.

How is it like being so involved with the movie, as the writer, director and leading actress?

I loved it but I found out wearing that many hats makes your neck hurt! To be fair, I didn’t originally intend to direct. We were working with Aya Tanimura, a super talented lady director, right up until a week before production. At that point she handed the reins off to me with her blessing because of a professional conflict. It was a surprise but I was crazy enough to try, and it worked out pretty well! [laughs] I really do credit Aya with a good chunk of the development of the vision on this piece, and I could not have pulled it off without the infinite patience and expertise of my cinematographer Katie Goldschmidt, who was my eyes and ears when I was in front of camera.

Which is the message of the movie?

I don’t find myself attracted to movies with messages. I find them manipulative and I don’t like being told what to think or how to feel so I avoid making any kind of moral valuations in my work. It’s not my job. My job is to channel the chaos into what I think is its optimal form.

The movie is already selected into different film fest, what do you feel about it?

Feels great to get some recognition. But I really made this movie for me, and to address an experience of life I think a lot of people don’t want to admit they can relate to. It might piss some people off, I don’t know. What’s most exciting is to be in this place where the movie really has a chance to be seen by a much larger audience. Film festival screenings are one-offs. A couple hundred people might see your film, tops. The world of online distribution is so much more promising for a short film now I think. Especially this kind of film. I have to admit, though, it’s kind of terrifying!

What do you expect for its launch?

I just want to get it out there for people to see and experience. What happens after that isn’t up to me. I used to be mistrustful of the movie, like a bad teenager… other filmmakers will know what I mean when I say that! [laughs] Now I’m more confident in the little bastard. I can help it along but ultimately it has to find its own way.

Where can people watch the movie?

If you like it, tell people. If you hate it, feel free to tell them that too. [smiles]

Samantha Schuster