Writer-director Mary Evangelista spoke with Solzy at the Movies about her short film, Fran This Summer, screening during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.
Congrats on the Sundance selection of your short film, Fran This Summer.
Mary Evangelista: Thank you so much.
What does it mean to be able to screen this film during Sundance?
Mary Evangelista: This film has gone on to play in so many great festivals already that this feels like the pinnacle of being able to screen there with so many people and a wider audience. Fran This Summer has played at Outfest, Inside Out, and all these other great festivals. I just think—it’s more of the excitement of feeling like there is a wider recognition for this film beyond the LGBTQ film festivals.
What has the reception been during the other film festival screenings?
Mary Evangelista: They’ve all been really great. We won the Grand Jury Prize at Outfest last year and we’ve gotten other awards for in smaller festivals. We won something at Rhode Island. I’ve gone to a couple of the festivals and it’s really touching to hear people saying how they resonated with Fran and Angie and almost more about the heartache of first love—having that feeling come out. That’s what I get a lot of people.
Where did you get the idea for the script?
Mary Evangelista: I’ve been writing a longer version of this character, Fran, for a long time now—for at least a year or two. This is my NYU thesis film. It’s my short film and one of things that I set out for me has been their relationship with Angie, their best friend and lover. So I thought why not this moment in time and have it be set in this summer.
I speak from experience when I say that going out in public for the first timeafter coming out as transgender is one of the toughest things to do. How were you looking to capture this moment on camera in a nine-minute film?
Mary Evangelista: I was trying to explore what would this transition time be like for someone who wants to stay inside and then happen to go out on the beach, where it’s in public and also in a way where you’re having to show your body. For some people, you don’t think about it. For others—myself included—it’s more of a tough place to be in. I wanted to capture that nuance in this film.
The one thing that I noticed in viewing the film is that Fran takes birth control in lieu of hormone replacement therapy. What led to this decision?
Mary Evangelista: When I was writing this story I was thinking back to my own adolescence in the early 2000s and my own experience of looking in the mirror and in my case wishing for a flat chest like a boy. At the time, I was naive enough to think that taking estrogen in birth control would cause bigger boobs. So when I was writing Fran This Summer, I was thinking in terms of that time period – a time where there would be a lot fewer resources especially online for a kid in the suburbs who just wanted to change. In Fran’s case (and this is backstory now), she only has her mom’s birth control at her disposal and it ultimately symbolizes taking those first steps although rather naively.
Thanks again for your time and congrats on Sundance.
Mary Evangelista: Thank you.