Amy Leigh McCorkle’s feature-length documentary, Letter’s to Daniel, will begin shooting in less than 48 hours as this goes to press. The following June 14th interview was the second I have had the pleasure of doing with the multi award-winning author and director. The excitement (as well as stress) Amy had, in anticipation to her long-awaited film project finally coming to life, was very apparent as I spoke with her.
AMY McCORKLE: Stressed out (laughs).
CHRIS: Yes, before this interview I watched your Facebook live video.
AMY: (Laughing) Yeah, I’m excited, but I’m totally stressed out because it’s a feature film and I’m always stressed out before I shoot to some degree, but this is different because we have close to 40 actors in the cast who have speaking roles and out crew….and usually I don’t have a crew. It’s just me and one other person or it’s just me and I’m doing all the things and I don’t have hi-tech equipment. Well, this time around, I have a DP who’s been in the industry since 1986. He’s directed several movies. His most recent one is called It Knows. It’s an independent horror film, but it’s #13 of the new best sellers on Amazon. He’s incredible. I’ve watched the movie. I’m not a horror fan, but it was a solid story, he had good actors and what I was watching it for was the cinematography, that’s what his background is and how he got into the business and it was just gorgeous. I knew what hid budget was, but it looked like something you would see from a (major) studio. He likes to say they shot it for what some studios would pay for their lunch budget.
CHRIS: It’s great to know that Letters to Daniel has had so much success since our first interview, which was a little more than three years ago. Besides Letters to Daniel, you’ve been busy with much more. You told me you’ve been involved with 22 film projects and have written 32 scripts.
CHRIS: So as we speak, filming on Letters to Daniel will start in less than a week. In face you even have the start time down to the numbers of hours left. So, where will be the location?
AMY: Louisville, Kentucky; Shepherdsville, Kentucky; and New Albany, Indiana.
CHRIS: How long to you think filming will take?
AMY: It’s scheduled to go for eight days because that’s all we have.
CHRIS: Now, of course, you’re the executive producer. We you also involved in the casting of the film?
AMY: Me and my writing partner are the producers/writers/directors and we made all the decisions, casting-wise. So, when people left, there was this whole period when there were setbacks. People left the project and the project fell through a couple of times and it was really a nightmare process because you’re always waiting for that magic cast, but when you’re an independent, nobody gives a crap who you are if you’re unknown. I’ve done well, but only to a point. The studio gods aren’t going to pay attention to me until I have a film that I think is (major) studio quality. I lucked out this time. I’m not going to say my budget, because it’s really minuscule (laughs), but I lucked out that my DP is coming in with a lot of his own equipment. and a person that he’s partnered with before is coming down with a second camera, so it’s going to look the way I want it to look. It’s going to have that professional-level quality. When I’m watching my films, I don’t always feel confident about them. I fell more confident as a writer, but as a director, I still tend to doubt myself.
AMY: Okay, so the role of “Amy” is really divided into two parts. There’s the narration, which is modern-day Amy on all that’s going on and then there’s the Amy in front of the camera. Maria Christian doe the narration. I’ve worked with her before in front of the camera on Broken, which is a short film of mine, and she’s been the narrator on all of my documentaries, except for the first one. She is just a superb actress when it comes to narrating. She’s got that quality to her voice that you want. In front of the camera, it’s Megan Jones (as Amy) and Virginia Beld plays “Missy.” I found these actresses through a fellow director friend who I met at the Imaginarium convention and he made me a judge for his film festival. I had seen his film Ruination with Megan Jones as the lead and she was fantastic in that and I saw Virginia Beld in a short film called Salt in the Wound and she just blew me away. Brandon Bell was my lead in Broken and he got a best lead actor nomination actor for his role in that film and the whole cast ended up getting an outstanding performance in a short film award, but Brandon was a standout. He’s playing a supporting role in Letters to Daniel and next to the two leads, he has the most scenes. He has six scenes. The two leads have 20 and 24 scenes. My mom and dad are played by Anna-Marie Angles and Robert Elswick and Missy’s parents are played Laura Massey Klein and Tom Petty and my aunt and grandmother are played by Anita Bergman and Ramona Swaback. That’s the main cast. There’s a ton of other people who come in and out of our lives, but most of them are just one-scene deals. The thing about the cast was that everybody was good.
CHRIS: I’m sure they were. I’m familiar with one of those names in the cast.
AMY: Oh, which name?
CHRIS: Anna-Marie Angles.
AMY: Oh yeah! She was in It Knows. That’s how I met her. I met her through my DP and she was fantastic in that. She played a mean mama. Wooo! Oh god, she was awful to her daughter! But, it was just a supporting role. I felt she would do well in the role of a mother seen as a more warm and giving type.
AMY: Yes! AOF, it has a private screening for distributors coming up this summer. I think it’s going to depend on what the distributors want to do when they pick it up because they have certain rules about submitting at the festivals. I want to send it to some top-tier festivals, even though I know that’s tough without and A-list stars coming down to do the independent movie. I don’t feel like those are true independent movies. If you’ve got enough money to bring in a A-list actor, even though they say they’re not working for anything, they’re still working for more than my budget has (laughs). I’d like to send it to Sundance, the Austin Film Festival, Telluride, the Los Angeles Film Festival, and I’d also like to send it to NOVA which is the Northern Virginia International Music and Film Festival. Also ICFF because we have a letter of intent to distribute through Parables TV, whenever we go that route, and since they donated to the fundraiser page, I feel I have to bring it to the International Christian Film & Music Festival, and Action on Film, which is like my favorite festival of the year, and probably Ingunity and Hollywood Dreams. The thing is, with AOF, is that they umbrella like 15 different festivals. (Amy goes on to mention several more festivals then mentions Indie Gathering.)
CHRIS: That’s the one run by our mutual friend Kristina Michelle.
AMY: Yeah, I’ve been going there since 2014. From 2014 to 2018 we have submitted 47 projects, both screenplays and films and we have won 45 awards, so Indie Gathering shows us a lot of love and I love them (laughs).
CHRIS: Yes, Kristina, she’s really an amazing lady.
AMY: I don’t see how she does it.
CHRIS: Yes, we were commenting on her during out last interview. Kristina looks like she’ about 16 years old and she handles all these responsibilities without showing any signs of being stressed. So, moving on, you mentioned this briefly, but I wanted to touch on this again. You have an interview show on G1NBC entitled Recovery Unplugged and I understand it’s currently on hiatus.
CHRIS: Now besides Letters to Daniel, are there any other films you’ve written scripts for that are close to shooting?
AMY: No, but that what festivals like AOF or Indie Gathering are for. Like, if you go up 10 or 15 times, people are going to remember your face, and they’re going to say; “Okay, I want to work with you.” That’s Indie gathering, but at AOF, which I do well there, but not to the massive degree I do at Indie Gathering (laughs), AOF has stiffer competition and there’s more of it. A lot of Indie Gathering people go on to be at AOF.
CHRIS: Do you still make a lot of appearances at book signings to promote your novels or film?
AMY: The last six months, I’ve written like one scripts because I’ve been all focused on Letters to Daniel. to because I want to launch myself to the next lever, so I know I had to put out a product that looked like the next level.
CHRIS: do you still use the pseudonym Kate Lynd for your novels?
AMY: I have not used Kate Lynd in a while, but if I write a sci-fi or fantasy, then I tend to use that name. It’s not like I’ve retired it.
CHRIS: Well, I’m really happy for your success since our last interview, Amy. You’ve come far and I can imagine what the future holds for you. I thank you again for being here and in closing, do you have any shout outs to friends and fans?
AMY: I’m so isolated when I’m working that I don’t necessarily think in terms of fans (laughs), but to give you an example of what has happened with Letters to Daniel since we last talked, I went to ICFF and the head of the studio that put out If I Could Only Imagine was there and I grabbed her and we had lunch so I had 45 minutes with her and she told me she had heard of my project and they’re based out of LA. So, I must be doing something right. So a shout-out to all the festival directors who have supported mine and Missy’s work, a shout-out to all the people who are involved with Letters to Daniel, a shout-out to all the people who donated to our fundraisers and to all the people who just gave out of their pocket because without them the film wouldn’t be getting made.
July 7, 2019 Author’s Addendum: Shooting Letters to Daniel
has wrapped and Amy gives her accounts of the experience.