I had the chance to chat with Astrid Ovalles about the upcoming release of her movie, Road of Bygones. This story is a journey of laughter and melancholy that Ovalles not only stars in, but also wrote and directed. Thank you to Astrid Ovalles for answering all of my questions.
Could you tell our readers a little about yourself?
Above all else, I consider myself an artist. I like to create art and films for women and the LGBTQ community, because growing up, I never got to see myself represented on screen. I’m a businesswoman as well, once art is created I think it’s my responsibility to ensure that it reaches an audience, so my work never stops, nor do I want it to! Personally, I like to work hard and play hard. I’m married to a beautiful woman who sings opera and I have a cute pitbull named Xena.
How would you describe Road of Bygones?
As a dark comedy that will make you laugh, cry, and ask questions. It’s an exciting movie! I’d like for it to be known as a film that’s unique, one that differs from other LGBT content out there. It’s also visually and musically stunning because the women behind the lens and score are masters of their craft. It’s a lesbian film, made by actual lesbians, starring actual lesbians. I love that it’s a break from your usual romance, or “us against the world” narrative that we see over and over again. It’s a funny movie with elements of social justice.
What inspired this drama?
My own life with my wife Sarah. We are a D/s couple. I am a lifestyle Domme (with her) and she’s a submissive woman. I was hoping to depict a relationship similar to ours that wasn’t your standard Leather-Clad Dominatrix who’s always shouting at her slave. I wanted to show the communicative and caring side of a D/s couple. The everyday life of this dynamic.
The relationship between the sisters was inspired by the chemistry between me and Oriana. We had done some acting scenes in the past where our bond was fuzzy. Sometimes it was sisterly, sometimes it was more than that, or at least it read that way. I thought it would be a lot of fun to use it as part of a narrative for their past. Something interesting that makes you think, makes you wonder about the way in which people can show affection. I wanted to show that people can make mistakes and be forgiven. It’s a movie about gray areas, and I love thinking of gray areas. So, I incorporated a lot of “different” choices and behaviors from the characters in the script in order to humanize what it’s like to learn to love without having had an example, or rather, haven’t had an example that fits unique desires.
When crafting this story were there any special considerations or choices that needed to be made in connection to the often taboo topics of BDSM and kink?
I needed to make sure that we did not show BDSM or kink as a result of abuse, which is what we often find in the majority of films that depict it. I also wanted to show the dynamic of a long-term relationship that has elements of BDSM and kink. How it requires communication, openness, boundaries. I wanted to give power to submissives and show that the relationship was very much consensual. It’s a lot to do in one film, but my intent wasn’t to tell everything about D/s, only a glimpse into the relationship of this particular kinky couple. They’re two women who have decided to live a certain way, a way that makes them happy. I really wanted to avoid stereotypes and to dismantle the idea that kink is a result of abuse.
You not only wrote and directed, but are a major role in Road of Bygones, what was it like being involved in so many levels of the production?
When you’re an indie filmmaker you often have to do multiple jobs at once. I think any indie artists out there will know what I’m talking about. It is frustrating at times, to not be able to focus and dedicate all time and energy to one thing. Sometimes it feels like some part of the art will inevitably suffer, but if the art is to get done, you have to utilize your resources quickly and efficiently. To me, multitasking is part of the craft. It comes with frustrations but it can be done, of course. The most important thing going into a film, knowing you’ll have to do several jobs, is to plan ahead as meticulously as possible. Then, when you’re on set, you’ve sort rehearsed it all and in way, you’ve already taken care of a lot of the problems that may come up during production. It’s not easy but it’s also not something I can live without. So, I do it because I love it and I believe in it.
What do you hope viewers take away from seeing the feature?
I hope that LGBTQ audiences will love films that aren’t only about romance. I think it’s necessary to branch out in order to expand our genres and our stories, bring more artists forward. I hope that the judgement and hatred that my wife and I have received for being kinky is lessened. If not, I hope that other kinky couples feel seen and find the film to be an escape from constantly having to be closeted about their kinks. I certainly hope anyone who watches it laughs and cries and feels something. Generally, films are an adventure, and that’s my biggest hope for this film, that people go along for the ride and have a good time.
Recluse Films, your film company, has a passion for diversity, are there any other projects you will be taking on you’d like to discuss?
Currently, we are working on a post-apocalyptic fantasy drama! So, for the time being, we can’t discuss details of the plot. But we do want people to know that we’re getting more and more innovative with time and experience. We’re expanding the artists we work with and evolving in the ways we create our films. We want LGBTQ cinema to rise above and stand on its own, not only as a niche genre but as an art form of its own. I want people to respect us and see our potential. Maybe we will help open doors to funding and larger scale productions featuring lesbian stories.
Where can our readers keep up with you and Road of Bygones online?
I am very active on social media. I’m on Twitter @astrido and on Facebook and Instagram as @recluseastrid. I’m very much an online junkie and I love to chat with our audience and stay in touch. For info and updates on the movie, readers can always visit the film’s website http://www.roadofbygones.com. I would love to hear from everyone!