For the Writers Guild Of America West, Tara de Bach talks to Kimberley Peirce about her new film, Stop-Loss.
How difficult was it for you to get this very action-oriented, war genre film made, given the fact that a) you're a woman, and b) this is such a departure from Boys Don't Cry?
Well, I come from the indie world. [Mark Richard and] I decided to essentially do the film on spec. All of the research and development we paid for ourselves. That way you don't have to justify anything. If you feel it's worthwhile, you do the interview and make the effort because it's coming out of your own pocket. We began writing on weekends, and when that wasn't moving quickly enough, Mark quit his job [laughs] against my advice, and he moved in with me for a short time. We literally wrote day and night.
When we were happy with the script, I then cut together a video of many of the soldiers -- truly profound and moving images of what's going on over there -- on missions, in alleys, in Humvees, just an assortment of images. At the end of the day, we had four studios that wanted to buy the script. So when students or aspiring filmmakers ask me for advice, I tell them, “Write a script that moves you, shoot it, and create your own calling card. Just do it.”
If the script or concept had been an open assignment for this film, I think [my credits or being a woman] might have been an obstacle, but after the film clip, script, and presentation, people were confident I could deliver the movie.