What do you do when you are going through a health crisis, and you are a filmmaker? You turn the experience into a film. When Erica Taylor Davis was diagnosed with uterine fibroids, a medical condition that 80% of African American women and 75% of Caucasian women suffer from, she saw a much larger story unfolding. In the midst of her own pain and struggle, she courageously pushed through to objectively tell her story, and the stories of countless women with the impact fibroids and endometriosis have had on their lives in a documentary called Red Alert: The Fight Against Fibroids. If you are currently struggling with gripping self-doubt as you tell your own story, I hope you find a glimmer of hope and encouragement in Erica’s story of courage, patience, and perseverance.
About Erica Taylor Davis
Supernova filmmaker and creator of Red Alert Movie, Erica Taylor Davis, is an experienced Producer and documentarian, with top credits in national television and radio. After producing network documentaries in Los Angeles, CA, Erica channeled her energy toward projects addressing health issues effecting women.
- Red Alert: The Fight Against Fibroids
- Taylor Productions
- Erica’s Filmography on IMDb
- Header photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
- Chris Martin Studios
Erica Taylor Davis (ETD): Hi, I’m Erica Taylor Davis. I am a filmmaker and executive producer of Taylor Productions. I am also the director/producer of Red Alert: The Fight Against Fibroids documentary about women with uterine fibroids and endometriosis. I am extremely proud of that film and I’m looking forward to its release sometime next year.
But the film truly hones in on the storytelling of women who are suffering from uterine fibroids and endometriosis. They’re both issues that are not talked about. And so, I would love to use this platform to try to help other women who have a lot of questions about their illnesses and their reproductive health and shed some light on those issues.
Chris Martin (CM): That’s amazing. I’m curious, what got you interested in that subject?
ETD: It actually was sparked from my own story. I have been suffering from fibroids for 11, almost 12 years now.
ETD: When I think about all of the pain and all of the issues that I’ve gone through, the surgeries, after doing research, I realized that there wasn’t very much information out there at all about this issue, but yet there are so many women. 80% of African American women and 75% of Caucasian women will suffer from fibroid tumors.
ETD: Yet there’s not very much information out there about the cause or the solutions that are available. There’s just not a lot out there. And so, I wondered why that was, and so I started digging. Because I’m a filmmaker and a producer, I said, “You know what? Let me just combine my talents and purpose and build something that can help other women answer the same questions that I had.” Once I had my own diagnosis and started to go through all of my health issues, I just decided that I’m going to go after this.
The story gets much deeper than that. I’m sure you have more questions. But ultimately it was based upon my own journey, which is … And, Chris, let me tell you. It’s not an easy thing to do, to tell your own story, especially when you’re in your second film. Although I’m sure a lot of filmmakers will tell you it’s much easier to tell someone else’s story.
So that’s a challenge in itself, in addition to trying to find and locate information that just wasn’t readily available out there in the medical industry, online, at the doctor’s office. This is information that just hasn’t been explored much. So I was dealing with a two-edged sword in that respect, telling my own story and then also dealing with the topic that’s just not widely recognized or widely discussed.
CM: Yeah. Well, and I imagine too it was very challenging in that initial state, because when you’re making a documentary, you have two choices. You make a film about something else that maybe you’re connected to or not, but you’re focused on that other story and bringing that out, or you’re telling your personal story. At what point did you decide that it was going to be your story?
ETD: Let me tell you what actually prompted this, and this information is on social media and it will also be told in more detail in the film. In 2019, I actually suffered a miscarriage in March. Prior to that, I had already had a fibroid surgery several years prior and I was told that I only had 0.1% chance of conceiving.
ETD: At the time I was told this, my fiance and I, we weren’t married yet. We just looked at each other like, “Okay, we’ve got to try to make this work.” We tried for a couple of years and nothing happened, and so, in my spirit, I gave up a bit.
And so, fast forward to 2019 and I suffered a miscarriage that March, and it was a shock to me because I didn’t know I was pregnant. I just said to myself, “I’ve been through so much. How can I help other women who are going through the same thing that I’m going through?” because my miscarriage was as a result of fibroids. I just said to myself, “Okay.” I prayed about it, I said, “Okay. How do I help?”
I’m going through this, but for myself and my own personality, whenever I’m going through something difficult, it makes me feel better to do something for other people. I said, “What can I do, considering what I’ve gone through? What can I do to help on a larger scale?” because this is clearly a problem.
So I gave it some thought between March and, I would say, April or May, and it became definitive that I had to do this film, that I had to do something centered around what I’ve gone through so that I know my suffering wouldn’t be in vain, but also to help other women. And so, I began my fundraising efforts that June in Washington, DC.
Once I opened up and started telling women who were in that same field about the film that I was doing, I wanted to tell them why I was doing it, the interest was so huge. When I started talking about my own health issues in a roomful of women that I just met, everyone seemed to open up all at the same time and say, “This is my issue as well. This is my problem, too,” and we all bonded over this health issue, which it’s bizarre. It’s sad and it’s bizarre, but it’s true.
So, I said to myself, okay, so now that I know that there’s some pretty big interest here because so many women are going through this, I just kept going and I started fundraising more and started the pre-production process. Didn’t know how I was going to get this movie done, didn’t know where the money was going to come from. I knew this was an unpopular topic, Chris, and I just decided to just keep pushing forward.
Well, fast forward to September of that same year, it’s almost like magic, I got pregnant again. Again, we weren’t expecting that. We weren’t “trying.” After that, I knew for sure, 100%, that I have to give this my all. So I set everything else down and gave everything to Red Alert.
CM: Wow! And I imagine too, as you’re going through that initial stage of not only developing a film, I mean you’re entering a second world of emotions because not only do you have the emotions of fibroids itself and the miscarriage and all of the … I can’t even imagine what you’re going through emotionally and physically, but then, in a film, you have the emotions of making a film…
CM: …and then the emotions of the people a part of the film. So it’s like, how do you manage all of that?
ETD: I just keep it in my heart that I am doing this for a force that’s bigger than myself.
CM: I like that.
ETD: That’s what really keeps me going and pushing forward with the production process, because it is not for the faint of heart. I will definitely attest to that. This has not been an easy road because, like I said, it’s uncharted territory medically, but also this was my first film as a … This is my directorial debut. My first film on veganism in the Black community, I helped produce that film, but I was not the director.
So I leaned on my production partner for encouragement and production assistance, but also I just have this determination to just keep pushing, keep moving, keep going. I’ve had countless setbacks not knowing what I would be doing this week or next week, but I knew I had to do something.
So I knew that if I gave it my all, that eventually it’s going to pay off. Every time I might have thought that am I on the right path or just question what I was doing, there would always be something that would happen to say, “You’re on the right path,” whether it was an email from someone who came across our information on social media, saying, “This is my story, too. Thank you for doing this,” or something health-wise would happen with me. It was just the universe conspiring to just keep pushing me forward in this project.
When I sit down with an individual who is telling their story for the film, which we just had to shoot a couple of days ago, and I sat down with people telling the most horrific stories about their bodies. I connect with them over the pain that they’ve experienced and how they’ve gotten over it and gotten to the other side, or we talk about the feelings that they had while they were going through it.
As a producer, it’s not only a bonding experience for your talent in the chair, but it feels like your purpose just keeps getting bigger and bigger. So you’re telling a story, but you’re also telling somebody else’s story as well.
So it’s just all of those factors together are what keeps me going in that. My husband and I are still on our same journey to conceive. The odds, medically, statistically, are not good, but like I told you before, I had a 0.1% chance of getting pregnant in 2019, and it happened twice. Albeit it didn’t result in a full birth, but we still beat the odds there. So I would say that just hope keeps us going.
CM: Yeah. Oh my gosh. I mean as you’re describing the scenarios of sitting across from women, interviewing them about their experiences, I mean being able to communicate hope and connect through empathy seems like everything.
ETD: Yeah, it’s a privilege. I look at it as a privilege because not only are these women taking out their time to talk to sometimes an absolute stranger about their health issue, I feel very blessed to have been chosen to tell this story, even though it’s birthed out of my own pain, anxiety and anguish and infertility and just medical issues. But I just feel really blessed to be in this position where I can help other women, even though it’s my story, too.
CM: I imagine, when you’re in these moments, there’s a lot of loneliness.
ETD: There is. It’s a seesaw effect. It’s like one minute you’re pumped up and you’re excited about the film and possibilities of where this could go and who this could help, but at the same time I still have to deal with my own medical reports, my own test results, my own issues and know that no matter what I do with this film, I still don’t know the end to my own story yet. We’re still in it.
There is a lot of emotion built into that, and I have an amazing husband who helps me through that process. I have to pray for him as well because there is a man here involved in all this too, and he has emotions as well about it. So just the combination of all that can be very taxing emotionally. But I’m very grounded in prayer and meditation and spirituality, and that’s really what keeps me together during a lot of this.
CM: Yeah, wow!
ETD: But don’t get me wrong. I will tear up with my talent. We will share emotion together, but we get through it and get the material done, too.
CM: Yeah, because if you didn’t have the emotion, it’s like you haven’t fully processed what you’ve gone through then, if you’re almost numb to it.
ETD: Right, absolutely. I mean time and again you see stories out there about production and being the director and producer. One of the things that a lot of successful directors will tell you, I think I heard this from Ken Burns recently in MasterClass, is about connecting to the story. You really have to be able to make that personal connection to the story, and that’s how you’re able to bring out the best of whatever subject matter is that you’re doing.
So you don’t want to just arbitrarily take on any random project for the money. Some directors may think they may just want to do it for fame or whatever other reason they may have. But if you don’t have a real connection to that story, it’s going to come across in your final project. It’s going to come across in your communication about that project, any written correspondence about that project. People aren’t going to really truly be able to connect with it, because when you truly connect with the story, then you’re able to enter in all those subtle nuances that make a film great.
CM: I love that. I love that connection to the story, the personal connection to the story, because making an independent film is hard. It’s a struggle.
ETD: It is.
CM: And you have to be in it. There’s no second-guessing. There’s no doubt or…
ETD: No, not at all. It’s 100%. You have to do it 100%. A lot of times, I think what happens is if you’re not truly dedicated to your topic, to your subject, and to your story, then what usually happens is the film either doesn’t get done or it gets done and it’s a mediocre response to it. But you can truly tell when someone really puts their all into something, and that really makes a difference in how the audience reacts to it.
CM: Yeah. So when you were in the moment of going through the fibroid struggles initially, and the idea of making a film about this popped into your head, did you automatically go to feature-length documentary or did you think, “Well, maybe I’ll test the waters with something smaller”?
ETD: Chris, I wasn’t sure where I was going to go with it. In my heart of hearts, I wanted to do a full-length feature because the first film I worked on, The Invisible Vegan, that was a full-length feature. And so, that’s all I knew. Then at the same time, I had produced a docuseries on the TV One network that was an hour long, and I knew that would be an easier thing for me to do because I knew the format, I knew how to make that work.
But as I started to really develop the story, started to really do my research, I realized that it’s going to take more than a short. It’s going to take more than social media videos. Really, the story truly needs to be developed. Additionally, with my own story constantly developing, I’m realizing, wow, there’s a lot of material here.
I went back and forth a little bit in the very beginning, but for the most part I knew I wanted to do a full-length feature film, and most importantly because there hasn’t been one truly done on this topic effectively, not in the manner in which I’m looking to do it in. I have so much inspiration out there with the streaming services namely Netflix, Amazon Prime, of great artistic films that can still educate. And so, those films really sparked my interest in doing something that was full-length.
CM: Wow! That’s really cool. So you get the idea, you’re doing the research. At what point did it become something more than just your personal story? When was that first moment of, “Wow! This is someone else’s story, too”?
ETD: Oh, it was definitely day one of production. I reached out to women all over. Specifically, I started with my own close circle, because this is an issue that is widespread among African American women and I am an African American woman. I look to just the people around me and I was able to find some women who wanted to share their stories. But even though I did the pre-interview I didn’t go into great detail about their story because I wanted to save it for the camera.
So on day one of production, once I finally sat down with, I would say, my second or third individual, I realized this is so much bigger than me. It really is. The stories these women were telling were about these tumors that were just invading their bodies in really evasive ways. Granted I’ve had the same issues, but these tumors can vary in size and they can grow to a magnanimous size. I have a clip on our social media page of a woman who describes how her’s grew into … It was so large that it pushed up against her chest cavity.
CM: Oh, wow!
ETD: And this is a tumor in her uterus.
ETD: People don’t think that this is something that can actually happen or they think that it’s so far-fetched. It’s something that can only happen internationally or in a less developed country or something. No, this is happening right here to women that we all know. Listening to women tell these stories and how it affected their daily and their monthly lives and how it affected their relationships and their self-mirrors, their confidence. The story lines just go on and on, and the drama behind this issue is just… It’s almost ridiculous that we have to deal with this.
And so, once I sat down with them, start to sit down with women, on day one of production, I was inspired. I just said I have to try to include as many women as I can in this to tell their story so people truly get the idea and they understand how serious this really is.
CM: Yeah, wow! Wow!
ETD: Yeah. It’s scary, but it’s true. It’s what a lot of women deal with on a regular basis. I spoke with a young lady on Friday, whose surgical procedure was botched, unfortunately. I’m going to save the strict details of that to the film, but she had great suffering behind that botched surgery.
One of the other topics that we’ll be touching is medical care, because there’s a lot of physicians out there that dismiss this. You can even see it, if you do a Google search on this issue, the descriptions out there are very watered down. They’re not very detailed. And if they are detailed, then it’s something very clinical. But it’s written off a little bit, just to say, oh, this is a common problem and this is just what needs to happen. It’s really sad that the explanations are even like that.
But there’s a great number of women out there suffering, like I said in the statistics. It’s true and it’s overwhelming that 80% of African American women will suffer from these by age 50. That’s burned into my brain and I truly want that to be at the top of mind for our medical experts out there, our gynecologists out there, our obstetricians out there. I want to bring this to the forefront because it’s out there, it’s true.
CM: So as you connect with these women and tell their stories, how are they changing through the telling of their own story?
ETD: Oh, my goodness. I think that the interviews are serving almost as a therapy session. I am, by no means, a licensed therapist, but sometimes I like to say, as producers, we are licensed therapist.
ETD: We’ve done enough to deserve a license. But once we finish with our interview, typically there has been some tearing up. There have been emotional interviews. The women typically end and just say thank you. They say, “Thank you for letting me share my story, letting me get it out there.”
It’s a cleansing, I think, for them to be able to get that out, because you’re in a bubble almost where you feel like no one cares what you’re going through, because if you feel like you’re alone, you feel like you’re the only person going through this, and you’re not. There’s a huge number of women going through these issues. But when you’re in the thick of it, it’s really easy to isolate yourself and say that you’re the only one that’s dealing with this and you feel like your body won’t do something that you’re asking it to do, that it was designed to do. There’s a loneliness about that.
So once we’ve done the interview, hopefully have asked the appropriate questions, the women typically are feeling relieved. They’re feeling almost a little bit of honor even, I’ve been told, that they’ve been placed in that chair to tell their story and someone cares. It’s also inspired them to talk about it more in social media and be more active in the community of women that are suffering or have suffered from things that they’ve suffered from. Like I said, it’s a blessed place to be in.
CM: Yeah. What a powerful place to be in too because this is just but one example where when you can empower the telling of someone’s story, that they open up, and beyond just the context of a film. I mean that is an important consideration for everyone to do, not just in the context of talking about making film but just the power of someone’s story.
ETD: Absolutely. Storytelling, that term has blown up, I think, quite a bit over the past five years or so. As producers, we’ve been storytelling. I’ve been storytelling for almost 18 years. But storytelling is really how people connect to themselves and connect to one another.
I think it’s one of the most powerful forces out there, because when we share with one another, we’re letting people know that they’re not the only ones who are going through something, but we’re also connecting people to something bigger than themselves and connecting them to stories that can be across the world, letting them know that the world is bigger than their own community or bigger than their own state or bigger than their own country. We’re connecting people around the world with stories. To me, that’s a really honorable place to be in.
CM: Yeah. I’m ready to jump up and down over the description of storytelling. I was just like, “Yes!” That is amazing. That’s exactly the feeling when you watch something that really connects to that human need of connection.
ETD: Absolutely, yeah. I mean if you do it carefully and do it right, I think that you can reach a larger audience. That’s always my philosophy when I’m telling a story is always remember what it’s like to be on the other side of the camera. Always remember that.
CM: What’s interesting too is not only do you have the job of connecting to women who this is their story, but you’re also connecting to an audience as well. You mentioned a little bit about telling the story well in order to bring people in, but how else are you connecting to the larger audience for this film?
ETD: I’m also doing outreach on social media, making sure that we present some facts about the issues out there to our social media audience, to our followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and LinkedIn as well, doing these podcasts. I’ve talked to people’s audiences about the film and about my own physical struggle and how I’ve overcome that and still overcoming that. Most recently, we have some information coming soon about teaming up with a fibroid treatment center that will serve as our title sponsor.
CM: Oh, wow!
ETD: And so, we’re going to be utilizing their platforms as well to be talking about the film and talking about fibroid treatment, and hopefully helping people on a larger scale that way.
CM: That seems to be the biggest struggle right now when there are so many options out there for entertainment and even education. There’s so many options out there for our time and for our eyes and, in some instances, even for our hearts. And so, I love the approach that you’re taking of making sure that you’re telling the personal story, but also these are the facts. These are the things that people are struggling with.
ETD: Absolutely. I appreciate that, Chris. Like I said, it’s not easy. Telling my own story means that I have to come out of my own shell and sometimes be seen on camera, which is something that I wasn’t necessarily thinking I was going to do. When I decided I wanted to become a producer, it was all about telling stories or telling someone else’s story. But telling my own story, that’s a whole different ball of wax.
So I found a courage within to get myself out there and hopefully help people through that story and gotten over myself, so to speak, seeing myself on camera, and just know that it’s for a greater purpose.
CM: Yeah. Well, I imagine too there might have been some why are you making a film about yourself? Are you that conceited? Are you that … Because sometimes that happens when we make something about us. Did it help overcome that, that it was something health related, something tremendously personal instead of just ego or identity?
ETD: It’s funny. Thankfully, I’ve surrounded myself with people who never really questioned my intention when it came to telling that story. So I’m really thankful for that. I think if anyone would have asked that question of how dare you make something about yourself, it probably would have been me upfront…
CM: Oh, wow!
ETD: …asking myself that, just to do a self-check and say am I worth it? Am I worth telling this story? Does anybody really want to hear this? After I had some prayer about that and some meditation about that, over and over again, by the way, I also … Like I said, I have a production partner and she helps me push things along when I might get stifled by creativity or stifled by my own self-doubt.
And so, having someone in my corner like her, and most certainly, first and foremost, my husband too, they are my biggest cheerleaders. They’ve encouraged me to keep pushing, keep telling my story. Eventually I got over that hump, the “how dare you” hump, and just decided that this is not just about me, but it’s a great way for me to use this to help other women as well.
So it just fit and it just worked, because if I hadn’t gone through the fibroid journey, then I probably wouldn’t be doing this film and I probably would not truly understand what the women in the chairs were telling me when it came to their stories and their struggle.
So I think that it’s one of those everything happens for a reason type deals. While you’ll be seeing my transition, you won’t be just directed towards that. You’ll have all this other information and all these other stories as well that are surrounding it to help emphasize the importance of the subject.
CM: Because what’s interesting too is not only is having that personal story help in recruiting other stories, connecting with them, bringing out their stories, but I have to imagine it helps when you’re fundraising as well, when you have that personal connection to what you’re talking about.
ETD: Oh, absolutely. I can speak more on this after the ink dries. But I have connected with the fibroid center, and they were very engrossed in my story and the fact that I had gone through this and I’m doing a movie about it. So it’s a package deal. They were very interested in myself as well as the film. So that part of it definitely made it more attractive for them to want to be drawn to a sponsorship for the film.
And that was definitely not an easy get. I’ve been fundraising daily for over a year and a half now. You hope when you get these ideas and they start spewing out, and you want to go full speed ahead on your projects and there’s just no funding there. You’re like, “What in the world? Doesn’t everyone know how important this is? No, they don’t.”
So the fundraising part of it, that was hands down the most difficult part about making this film. It wasn’t even storytelling. It was the fundraising. I had to put my own funds into it as well, of course, because for anything to be great, you have to have skin in the game. The fundraising part definitely… Especially for a topic that was unpopular, most of the organizations out there that are doing anything about women with fibroids, they’re organizations themselves are foundations. They’re 501c3s. They’re looking for money. They’re not necessarily looking to put money out there especially for film projects. So, yeah, it was tough. Definitely doable, but it was tough.
CM: Yeah, because you can read all of the articles, all the books in the world about fundraising, and it’s not until you’re sitting across from someone, pitching the idea where it really comes to life.
ETD: You just never know where that blessing is going to come from. My biggest advice to anyone who is really trying to make their film happen or make their project happen is just to keep pushing, just keep going. The more people that know about your project, know what you’re trying to do, you don’t have to give them all your ins and outs, but if people know that you’re doing something for a greater cause, there’s someone out there that’s going to want to help you with your cause.
In whatever way, shape, form, or fashion that help comes in, it’s out there. I’ve had people come along and want to be a part of the team just for the experience or just because they believe in the cause.
So sometimes that fundraising and that help may come in other ways other than just monies. It may actually come in the way of someone saying, “Hey, let me serve as your AP for a while,” or, “Let me be a production assistant on your set,” or something like that, which that has happened for people who just want the experience or they just want to be around this thing because it’s so huge and it’s so wonderful and because it’s helping other people.
So I would just tell them to just keep pushing, keep giving yourself that exposure. Social media is a great platform. That’s definitely how I got my sponsors.
CM: I think also an important thing too is the mindset that it’s a blessing. You’ve said this several times, and it strikes me just how important that mindset is, the funds, the relationship with these women, the audience. It’s, in a way, all a blessing to you.
ETD: It really is. I mean there’s no other way to put it. It’s a blessing and I would say an honor as well. It’s not easy to be put in this position. This particular profession that I chose is not an easy one. Like I said before, it’s not for the faint of heart.
But once you see the payoff, once you see the footage, once you see the emotion in someone’s eyes and the relief once they’ve told their story, or you’ve seen someone watching something that you’ve done and learning something, I mean there’s no bigger feeling. There’s no bigger blessing than seeing someone’s reaction, a positive reaction, to a story that you’ve told.
It’s an honorable position to handle someone’s story carefully and present it to a large audience of people. There’s just no bigger blessing. There’s just not.
CM: Yeah. How has your journey over the past, what, 18 years you said as a producer?
ETD: Yes, nearly 18 years.
CM: That’s amazing. How has this experience making Red Alert changed your relationship to what you’ve done for the past 18 years?
ETD: Oh, my goodness. Well, my production career started in radio, national radio.
CM: Oh, wow!
ETD: And national radio is theater of the mind. You can tell a story audibly, but people don’t have the visual. So that’s where I learned to start telling stories was through radio. I was writing scripts for the host, I was writing feature bits for the host and coming up with our creative strategy basically on a daily and a weekly basis. So that prepared me and pushed me towards what I chose to do starting in 2011, which was storytelling visually.
The transition from radio to television, I won’t say it was easy. Thankfully, I was in the same space, where the first show that I worked on for television was dealing with music artists, which were some of the same artists I was working with in radio. So that was a healthy transition there.
But once I started to transition off to television and working on that docuseries, I got to spend more one-on-one time with my talent and developing the story more. So there is a lot more research that’s involved in doing the interviews and telling their stories about their lives and how they overcame their challenges.
And so, I was able to find more human connection in that, in just doing the outlines and reading about their histories and in talking to them. Then once we sat down in the chair on set, then I was able to really roll through a timeline of their lives and I began to understand what storytelling meant on that level. It wasn’t just letting someone talk for hours. You have to really be able to take them from one point to another in their lives, because even though we are masters of ourselves, we still sometimes need structure to get from one point to another so that others can understand it.
And so, transitioning from behind the mic to behind the camera, in that respect, I began to understand storytelling a lot more structurally. So then transforming that into film, and I’m bringing the same understanding of storytelling, but now I’m on an even wider scale and adding more time to that story. There’s even more components that are needed.
So I’ve grown from one spectrum to another as a producer when it comes to understanding how a story is formed and how it can be developed and how it can be told. I continue learning. I believe that you have to stay curious. I hope to stay curious until the day I leave this earth. I stay curious about processes and how to make them better and how to make them easier. Hopefully I’ll just keep getting project after project and developing stories one after the other so that I can hone that skill even more the next time.
CM: So the question in my mind this: when do you know the project’s done?
ETD: That’s a really tough question for someone who’s a perfectionist. It’ll be done when I’m able to see it from beginning to end and not have any questions about a scene or an interview, or I feel like I have developed each point enough. I feel like a wide range of people can connect to it, even if they’ve never heard the word fibroid. Then as long as I know when I see the final project that those folks can connect with the story, then I would probably consider it done.
When I feel like I’ve truly helped people understand how important this subject matter is, how important awareness is, then I’ll know my job is done. It’ll probably come after doing perhaps a screening with those folks who don’t have the issue or if I’m… I’ll put it this way: If a man can watch it from beginning to end and be okay with it, then I’ll probably know it’s probably about done.
But, yeah, I’m my own worst critic, but I know that at some point I’ll have to walk away from it and say it’s done. I have a strong sneaking suspicion, Chris, that this story is going to develop with my own story. So I think that probably when I get to that “point”, whatever that point is in my life and in my own medical history, that it’ll be done. I think God will let me know when it’s time for the cameras to stop rolling and the edit bay to close out. I think he’ll let me know.
CM: I love that the film is connected to your physical presence as well in a way that seems different than other films, since it’s so tied to your own personal journey. I love that connection so much because so much of media and stories often seem just ephemeral or outside of us. I just love that connection.
ETD: If someone would have asked me if this is where I would be five years ago, I would have thought they were lying. I never would have pictured myself doing this at this moment. But, honestly, when I did decide to do it, there was no mistaking. There was no question in my mind that this is what I needed to do.
Anytime I might have had any doubt just for a moment later on in the process, there would always be something reassuring me and saying, “You’re on the right path. Keep doing this. Keep doing what you’re doing.” I use that blessed reassurance to keep pushing forward. Even though I may not see where I’m going, I may not know where my resources were coming from, I just kept going, and I’m still going. We’re still going at it.
Storytelling, making a documentary, especially when dealing with a medical subject matter, takes an incredible amount of patience. I have developed that over the past year because I’ve been so anxious about getting this done, getting this out, that it’s not on my timing. It’s definitely on God’s timing. And I don’t have access to that clock, not just yet.
So it’s taken an incredible amount of patience for me to keep this thing going. I’ll have a shoot day in November of last year, but we didn’t have another shoot day until March of the following year.
ETD: That meant there was just more pre-production time in between. But when I was working in radio or when I was working in Los Angeles, in Hollywood, in television, everything happened all at once. You get a show, you plan your shoots to be a certain amount, a month or two or something like that, whatever it took. You have six shoot days, you get it done. This has taken over a year and a half and we’re still not done.
So I’m planning for things to be done next spring. Thankfully, now that we have a sponsor, we can definitely stick to that schedule. But it has taken an incredible amount of patience to be okay with where we are in the story right now, and that’s okay.
CM: Yeah. Oh, the whole topic of patience in filmmaking, especially the world of independent filmmaking, I mean if you aren’t patient, I imagine you just get wrecked pretty quick.
ETD: Yeah, you can. You can go stir crazy with this. Then let’s throw in a pandemic in between them. Let’s make it so that you can’t even walk outside. Yeah, there’s an opportunity for madness in that recipe. So it really is just about patience.
You can never stop learning. You can never stop researching, you can never stop thinking about different angles or seeking out people’s stories or thinking about different elements that you can add. So I just use that time to do just that, just to see how could I make this part better? How could I extend this part? How could I shorten this part? Would this be more interesting if I phrase this that way?
There’s so many moving parts and so many components, and there was a lot of this that I was doing on my own. I also had to take out time to seek out assistance and seek out other people who could connect with the story and maybe get their feedback about something, because when you try to do something all on your own, it’s virtually impossible. So I just fill that time with those elements and it built patience within me.
CM: It’s interesting. I didn’t fully think right away the whole idea of being able to distance yourself enough to be objective about what you’re doing.
ETD: Yeah, that’s not necessarily easy, but I try to work really hard at doing that. One of the things I mentioned before is always remember what it’s like to be on the other side of the camera. So that’s one of the things that tries to keep me objective.
It’s a documentary, so I want to make sure that my viewpoints are coming from all different directions. I want to make sure that I’m covering everything and not biased to one treatment or another, or biased to one story or another. So I want to make sure that I give equal time to different types of treatments and different women’s stories, because, say, for instance, I present the story of a woman who decided to have a hysterectomy and she felt like it was one of the best things she could have ever done. Well, then I might present the story of a woman who was still of childbearing age and was forced to have a hysterectomy.
So I have both of those stories in there. They’re conflicting, so I want to make sure that I’m covering all my bases, especially when it comes to treatment. There’s also some conflicts around treatment. Some people may say having embolization is the way. Another doctor may say embolization is not the way. So I want to make sure that I present all those different viewpoints as well to make sure that I stay in an objective place with it.
CM: Absolutely, because I would imagine, with something so personal to women, that if they heard just one angle, and maybe it was part of their journey and it didn’t work for them, what was once hope could become crushing despair if you weren’t objective.
ETD: Yeah, it’s such a sensitive topic that you definitely want to keep some objectivity in there. Because it’s uncharted territory, you definitely want to keep things objective. Every woman is different. Every woman’s story is different. Not all women are as concerned about fertility as other women. So you definitely want to be sensitive to what women are going through.
I know that because I have a personal interest in this story, I know the feelings that I’ve had about it. I know with my own health issues and the struggles that I’ve had with us trying to conceive for three years now with no full success, there are some sensitivities that I have as well.
So I definitely want to make sure that this is something that is going to bring up the right emotions, the emotions that spark awareness, the emotions that spark change, not something that’s going to have people targeting in on one part of the story that might bring the wrong emotion. So I want to be careful and balance that, so that’s why I try to make sure that I have all the different types of stories in there.
CM: Yeah, amazing. So as you move forward and you wrap up the film and you release it and continue the story, what do you hope that you never forget about this journey of making this film?
ETD: Well, I’m hoping that, again, I can hold on to that patience and understanding that I can’t have everything I want all at once, which is something that I desire for my films and my projects, understanding that it takes time to develop the story. I hope I can hold on to all those feelings.
But also the biggest thing, Chris, is that I want to hold on to the courage that it took for me to do this. It took courage for me to put myself out there to strangers. It’s taken courage for me to reach out to women and ask them to come and sit in a stranger’s chair and tell their most intimate stories. I want to make sure that I hold on to that courage.
I want to make sure that I remember the purpose, that I remember why I did this, that I remember why it was important for me to shed any insecurities and do this. So I want to definitely carry that forward as a filmmaker. I want to make sure that I tell the story without fear. I think that it takes a certain fearlessness to be in this space, and this is truly helping me to shed any fears that I have about what people might think about my story or what people might think about me choosing this subject. I want to hold on to all of that.
CM: Thank you so much for your courage. I know for myself I’m emboldened today by your courage to share and to create this film and share your personal story, because it’s not easy, but when you see other people doing it and you experience their genuine capacity and care for others, you can’t not be inspired to act courageously. So thank you for that.
ETD: No problem. I am really honored and I appreciate you allowing me to be on your podcast and share this story with others. I hope even if just one person is inspired to keep going and to reach out for their dream, I’m satisfied. So I’m really thankful that you’ve allowed me to be on the show to talk about the film. I could probably talk about this film every day for the rest of my life and never get tired.
CM: That’s a good sign of something that’s important to you.
ETD: Yeah, absolutely.
CM: So where can people learn more about you, your film, and help support the completion of it?
ETD: You can go to our website, which is www.redalertmovie.com. There are options on there to give to the film. I also have sponsorships still available. So they can either go through the website for that to connect with me or we can connect on social media.
Specifically, Instagram is a great way to connect. Our handle on Instagram is @redalertmovie. You can DM me there or my staff. They will get the message to me. If you’re a woman who’s suffering from fibroids, I’d love to hear from you, or endometriosis. I’d love to hear from you. With what we’ve got going on, hopefully they won’t have too much trouble finding me with our new ambassadorships that we have coming soon.
On Twitter, we are @fibroidmovie. So we can be reached out there as well, and on Facebook. There’s Red Alert Movie on Facebook as well. Or if people just want to reach out to me personally on Facebook, I am @Soulglo76. So they can reach out to me on Instagram there as well. So yeah.
CM: Amazing. Erica, thank you so much for taking time and sharing your story. It is an honor.
ETD: It’s an honor to speak with you too, Chris. Best luck to you with your podcast. You’re doing great. I love the subject matter. And I can’t wait to hear more. I’ll stay tuned.