Romantic comedies teach us that relationships always have a happy ending. They don’t. Action movies teach us that good always beats out evil. It doesn’t. And horror movies teach us that the killer is always avenged. He isn’t. But in the new independent film Think of Me, a genuine truth is unveiled as the heart-wrenching story of Angela Jerome (Lauren Ambrose), a struggling single mother trying to provide for her young daughter unfolds in the fast-paced, bright-lighted city of Las Vegas.
Blythe Robertson, a Charlestown resident for 15 years, was the producer for the inspired piece, and spoke about its inception and all of the long hours it took to make the relatable tale seen, and heard. For anyone who has suffered from the economy’s downturn, which is 99 percent of us, Think of Me is a modern American drama that details the complexities of moral dilemmas that arise when you’re clamoring to break even.
Prior to Think of Me, Robertson line-produced two segments of the upcoming PBS series God in America, an American Experience/Frontline co-production. She was also the production manager for the historical documentary, the People V Leo Frank, winner of the Special Jury Award at History Makers 2010. Robertson started her career reel as a production coordinator, and has been involved in feature films and documentaries such as My Best Friend’s Girl, starring Kate Hudson and the History Channel’s Emmy-nominated Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of the Mayflower. But this project was different for the Women in Film member.
“The script is what got me,” she said of the story sent to her by Director Bryan Wizemann. “I had read a lot of scripts, but this is the one I really felt was a winner. It’s tough subject matter, small art house, and it’s a tough sell for investors.” Regardless of the odds, Robertson, along with the esteemed crew, felt it was a story that needed to be told. And they were determined to be the ones to tell it.
It started with a cocktail party in Texas to raise funding for the project. Then came casting, where the Baldwin Street resident reviewed 300 audition tapes for the child’s role of Sunny, played by Audrey Scott. “All the cast was great,” gushed Robertson. “Audrey Scott that played Sunny was nine years old. What an actor. She’s very funny and vivacious and outgoing. Her character is very sad, which just shows what a great actor she is…She’ll be a force.”
Other notable actors included Lauren Ambrose who played the lead of Angela Jerome. When the worst week of Angela’s life builds to a breaking point, Ambrose’s character is faced with the impossible choice of trying to make things work, or letting it all go for the promise of something better. But it’s not about her, it’s about doing what’s best for her daughter, no matter how much she needs to struggle along the way. “Lauren embodied the role,” Robertson said. “We’ve been really fortunate to have a great cast,” she added.
But Robertson herself never wanted to be on camera. “I think that’s a really special talent and i do better on this side of the camera. A producer wears a lot of hats. I know everything that’s going on, and that’s what I’m good at,” Robertson said, adding that, “it’s a whole crew, it’s not one person that makes a movie.”
The film was produced in Las Vegas, where the storyline takes place. But the crew was small to fit the under one-million dollar budget (no easy feat in Hollywood). “We were a very small crew,” said Robertson. “It was very much a group effort. People did not work for the money, they did it for the art. We had a lot of veteran indie people work on this.”
But you don’t have to be an independent film buff to connect with Think of Me. “This story is very current because it’s a struggling single mother in a really tough economic situation,” Robertson said of the movie. “it also shines a light on the most impossible circumstances a single mother goes through. We wanted to portray it in a light that was realistic and raw. A lot of it was rooted in reality,” she said.
The success Think of Me has seen is a melange of the story’s unique realism and the cast and crew’s stringent work ethic. They put in 14 hours a day until the final shot was filmed 20 days later. “The downside was the hours, but if you’re so jazzed about it you don’t really think about the hours as much,” said Robertson. “The upside is we got exactly what we wanted…It’s a labor of love for sure. We’ve been so grateful for all the reviews. We’ve just had really good response and reception. And Lauren was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award. It’s like the Oscars for independent films,” Robertson added. Amongst other awards, Think of Me recently won the Grand Jury prize of Boston’s 2012 Independent Film Festival, and a theatrical release of the film is set to happen in Boston soon, especially with encouragement of rave reviews from people who have viewed it.
“I’ve run into friends who have said, ‘I keep thinking about that movie,’” Robertson divulged. “These are real people trying to make it in the world. The biggest takeaway as a viewer is along the lines of never really knowing what’s going on in someone else’s life. It builds and there’s a crescendo, but it’s not as much about the decision as seeing the woman on the screen, and thinking it could be any woman out there,” she said.
Robertson, who is in the midst of moving to the Navy Yard with her partner, couldn’t picture a future where she wasn’t producing or living in Boston. “I would like to make a movie in Massachusetts,” she projected. “It’s a great place to work and the crew here is incredible. I love living in Charlestown. There’s a lot of creativity here… I’m always going, going, going. What compels me in this business is to tell a story and to get it right.”