By: Saga Elmotaseb
Edited By: Colleen Page
The Art Of Monteque spoke to director and Screenwriter, Marjorie Conrad during the 2016 Slamdance Film Festival. The Film “Chemical Cut” is about 23-year-old Irene an artistic misfit turned LA model busy searching for identity, inspiration and a kindred spirit while surrounded by competition, absurdity, and so many nude bras.
TAOM: How and when did this film start for you?
Marjorie Conrad (Writer/Director/Actor): Hi! Well this all started when I was 11 years old!!! But seriously, at the 2 year anniversary of my modeling career and while I was at San Francisco State University, I met the majority of the people who were my crew on CC. We all got along and then I decided to make this film. It’s a homage to the legendary transgender Vicki Marlane who was an inspiration.
TAOM: How did you tackle writing and then filming and as well as starring in your first movie?
Marjorie: This whole process was more a lyrical for me, not structural. Modeling was a type of performance and I pulled from Vicki’s cathartic and settling modes. I tried to contrast the two. The writing process took me 1 ½ years to write. My biggest challenge was to take fiction from personal experience and try to relate some insight into others. It was difficult but I wanted to make fun of modeling in a way. I also watched Devon Green. It’s amazing to watch her work. My favorite hat to wear was the privilege to act with such a talented case. They all came with different comedic talents. For my character Irene, I wanted to introduce her as someone who lives her life thinking the work models do is not normal. It’s beavering degrees of reactions. She walks thru fire so to speak, ultimately realizing what she wants in life. That was very relatable to me during the making of this film.
TAOM: How did you prepare to make this movie? What was it like to embark on something you’ve never done before?
Marjorie: I storyboarded the entire film. It helped me to visualize with my DP who was like my film husband. We had 27, 15-hour production days. It was a small crew and the film was made with lots of joy. Embarking on the balance between narrative and film was something that now I know I want to do more of.
TAOM: How was it acting and directing at the same time?
Marjorie: The acting made me more empathic to actors. I probably won’t act in my next movie though. I want to be behind the camera more.
TAOM: What was the most fun about this movie?
Marjorie: I really loved the dance scene with Irene and Arthur, played by Ian Coster. The rival between two friends with nudity! It was so much fun and energetic. Ian is so fearless! We actually danced to a sad, slow song by Morrissey.
TAOM: Did you get any support from your America’s Next Top Model clan?
Marjorie: Tyra Banks re-tweeted one of my tweets but I don’t think anyone in the fashion world has watched it yet. I totally funded this movie on my on by answering phones and staying in and saving all my money. It’s a project of love. I was able to get out and do. I want to be relatable which is a priority to me. It is getting a positive reaction from everyone else which is great.
TAOM: What’s next for you?
Marjorie: I’m co-writing another script with my mom who’s written books. It’s a dark family drama. I’m 27 and not pursing modeling. In that world, I’m considered too old. I don’t love it. I don’t hate it. It’s a business. I never felt ideal as a model. It was a step forward for me. Now I am able to commutate to the audience and I’m happy to follow thru. [TAOM]