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Director Poppy Gordon On Performative Wokeness In Hollywood

Poppy Gordon’s For Your Consideration focuses on a group of young women who come together with a mission to make an Oscar-winning film.

Determined to party at Sundance, three entitled young women meet up at an LA member’s only club to make a selection-worthy film. In an unholy fusion of wokeness and cluelessness, they build a narrative from atop the high perch of their privilege. And piece-by-piece, they almost, almost, almost give a voice to the voiceless — just without ever having any idea what they’re talking about. But they are perfectly positioned to make it happen.

Poppy stops by on Close-Up Culture to discuss the film following its on Omeleto.


I’m disappointed that I never got to see For Your Consideration in a theatre full of London critics. The reaction, and Q&A after, would have been fascinating. What has the reaction been like on the festival circuit?

Right? How much fun would a London screening have been?

Thank you so much for having me, by the way. I would also have loved to show there in an actual theater. I did really miss having the experience of showing to a live audience and witnessing reactions. I feel like I missed out on some interesting dialogue. It would have been interesting for sure. Also the Brits have a wonderful sense of humor and strong opinions, so definitely a missed opportunity there.

It will also be fascinating to see how the film is received on Omeleto, which is a platform I love. Do you think the conversations around the film will differ much on YouTube compared to post screening Q&As at film festivals?

Yes, I’m very excited to premier on Omeleto as well. I do think there is something about the shared experience of being in a theater together that brings out different reactions, as opposed to watching something on your own at home on YouTube and then commenting anonymously or semi-anonymously online… It’s a different audience and experience. I do think For Your Consideration is very polarizing. I’ve noticed…some people really get the dark satire aspect of it and some don’t. So I imagine the online reaction will reflect that.

Poppy Gordon on the set of For Your Consideration

I go to a lot of film festivals where I watch films that I, admittedly, call ‘brave’ even though everyone in the screening has no objection to the subject matter! Yet, I do think For Your Consideration is brave in a sense. Did you have any reservations or doubts about making the film?

Thank you so much. I really feel like you understood the gravitas of the risks the film was taking, and myself with it.

Yes, as a relative outsider to the short film circuit, it felt scary to have this be my first foray into this world – I wasn’t sure that I had earned the right to make this particular film, but also being a newbie meant I had little to lose, as well. I was definitely a bit afraid of being a little black-listed or severely misunderstood. I also self-financed it, so it wasn’t easy to take the leap, but I felt compelled to make it.

The film is very personal to me, even though it may not appear to be. It is of me. My fear around making it, was also part of what compelled me to bring it to life. And ultimately, I was very positively surprised by how well it was received by the festival circuit. I’m glad some festivals were also just as brave and were open to programming it. It’s very gratifying to see this film find its own audience.

I live largely outside the entertainment industry bubble but the characters in your film do feel familiar. Have you encountered many people like those in life?

I have actually. I’ve felt quite surrounded by it at times sadly.

What was the initial trigger for you and writer Aldo Arias to make this mischievous movie?

I don’t think I can put that in print, but I’ll tell you one day over drinks! I will say I was feeling very surrounded by triggers and the film was a result of me spilling over in a way. Luckily, Aldo Arias, who is my good friend and writing half, gets me as well as having his own ideas about stuff. So together we were able to articulate some shared feelings, thoughts and observations about the harmful ironies we felt inundated with. And personally affected by. 

The convenient subversion of another’s plight and disenfranchisement for capitalist gain by a largely-unaffected few is all too pervasive. That those few in such positions of privilege are also cultural gatekeepers is how we ended up with the wild popularity of “radical chic,” to borrow Tom Wolfe’s term. Ultimately, it’s just a performative tokenization of the change we hope to see. The same behaviour can be seen by corporations and traditional institutions of power.  We merely decided to shine a light on one aspect or occurrence of this — in a very irreverent but calculated way. 

There are a lot of fun performance in this short. Can you tell us about getting this cast onboard and working with them?

I worked with some great casting directors. There are so many talented actresses and actors in LA. I wanted a strong ensemble cast and was very happy with how it all turned out. Samantha Robinson (The Love Witch, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood) came aboard early. And she’s a force to be reckoned with. Samantha goes all in on a character which is what that role demanded.

And Juliette Goglia was her counter force (The Magicians, Easy A, Michael J. Fox Show). Juliette has impeccable comedic timing and amazing wit. And Ava Capri is just so sincere and wonderful to work with. And so were Tess Trotter and Jasmin Carina. And Page Ruth, Coda Marcus and Amanda Steele. And of course Jaqui Martinez and Skyler Maxon…. Everyone had a real self-awareness and sense of humour about their part, too, otherwise it wouldn’t have worked.

I absolutely loved my cast and the vibe on set was so fun. Would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

 

The title is an allusion to award ceremonies. What do you make of award ceremony culture and events like the Oscars?

Yes, we knew we were sending it to the gatekeepers as a plea directly to viewers and industry-types… I hesitate to answer this question as it will haunt me in print forever! But I will say everyone wants recognition, and certainly some attention and approval, at the very least. It’s just natural to care. Also, award ceremonies are hype events for the industry as well as affirmations of power-structures, processes and, ultimately, all the money involved. And, of course, many of the best films don’t win awards, while many of the winners are forgotten within a year or two. So awards may actually be more interesting when viewed as a socio-cultural mirror of the various times and the types of stories and portrayals celebrated and esteemed by the voting class.

Fittingly enough, we named the For Your Consideration in our best short films of 2020. I found it so refreshing, clever and it’ll be a short that stays in my mind for a very long time. But one might watch this short and think you you uninterested in accolades. What constitutes success for you?

Thank you so much for the kind words and for having taken the time to really engage with the film. That means so much to me, in and of itself. Having found an audience for this film and being able to share it like this is a great success. And if through this, I get to keep going and expressing myself and working with my friends and folks I love, then I’m happy. 

What are your hopes for For Your Consideration and what’s next for you? 

Aldo and I have a few things we are working on. A feature that still needs a lot of work, a short concept or two. We also had an idea for an online series. We shall see how the lightning strikes!


Watch For Your Consideration on Omeleto

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