The Clyde Brothers (If I Could Tell You) have always been interested in television and films, so when they grew up, they have decided to establish their own independent creative production company Squint Pictures. “As writer/directors, the Clyde Brothers love to develop unique characters thrown into sometimes outrageous, but always relatable situations. Their work capitalizes on individual strengths mixed with a shared creative DNA, both competing for the best story as if a holy endeavor.” If I Could Tell You speaks of real pain of a woman (Abby) whose heartbreaking journey to achieve her dream of becoming a mother is depicted in a convincing and emotional way. It is an honest and thought-provoking short film (over 30 minutes long), which tackles the issue of infertility, a problem that is very rarely openly discussed by those affected by it. The role of Abby was characterized by Avery Clyde who was born in 1973 and has been acting for almost two decades. She is well known for her roles in Life with Fiona, If I Could Tell You and a few TV shows, such as Criminal Minds, The Forgotten and Gray’s Anatomy.
In Conversation with the Clyde Brothers
If I Could Tell You is an exceptionally good short film. How did the idea for the film come about?
Rob Clyde: Thanks. My wife and I dealt with infertility. Although we already had our son, Cayson, we really felt like we were supposed to have another. In the midst of our IVF stuff, our good friends, Kevin and Kristen Richardson were going through the exact same thing, having trouble getting pregnant the 2nd time around. So we were going through that stressful time together. It was great to have each other for support. Somewhere in there someone said “we should make a movie about this stuff that isn’t a sappy melo-drama chick flick.” No offense to chicks of course, but we wanted something edgy, compelling and original. It was Kevin who mentioned the story about Black Market Fertility on 20/20, and boom, we had our idea!
What was your vision for If I Could Tell You, and what message or story were you trying to get across to the audience?
We wanted this film to be a calling card to the kind of content we can bring to the table. We also set out to make something that would help audiences understand the nature of infertility. It’s a major event in a couple’s life that they can’t openly share with family and friends…because it’s so personal. But we are out to show that anyone can suffer from the disease of infertility and there are so many variations of that. But all of us that have been through it immediately have a connection, a bond. Our hope is to grow that bond and start the conversations that lead to healthy relationships and happy lives with or without our expected outcomes of what a family is or how it’s created.
Why did you decide on tackling such a sensitive subject as infertility?
It’s personal. It’s interesting. It’s not popular for sure. There are a lot of people that question why they want to watch a short film about a couple going through fertility? I promise, it’s good .
I am a big believer in the importance of crowdfunding; your film was partly financed by IndieGoGo. Why did you decide to seek help on that crowdfunding page?
To get the locations we wanted and the days we needed to shoot the script, we guessed that we would need 50 grand to make this film. In the end it was about 60k. So there was no question that we needed help raising those dollars. But we had never really asked our friends and family for funding support before, so figured we had one good campaign in us. We pulled out all the stops on that campaign and eventually raised about 35 thousand dollars that way. Then we raised about another 15k from community partners within the fertility community that want to see the film succeed. The rest came from Ben and I personally. We are so grateful to all of those people, close to us, and perfect strangers who believed in us every step of the way!
If I Could Tell You is over 30 minutes long, have you thought of turning the film into a feature version?
We are actually developing a TV series now based on the film and the curiosity we have around this whole online sperm donor thing. We just won the Best TV category at Hollyshorts, so that’s a good sign.
What sort of challenges did you face production-wise while making the film?
Budget and shoot days primarily. We shot everything in 4 days and that included a day with over 100 extras for the seminar, shooting inside and outside of Burbank Airport, and a pretty nice hotel for the rest of the stuff. So we simplified where we could and used my house for one location. It’s called independent filmmaking!
Some film directors make films strictly for critics, while some target the audience; do you think that it is a filmmaker’s responsibility to find and develop one’s audience rather than aim one’s films at critics?
I think we think you can do both? We’re not making a film for critics, but we care what they say I’m sure, but that’s because we hope they like the film and say good things because we want to keep doing this! If I Could Tell You is getting some pretty great reviews from the general audience. But the fertility community is really taking it on as a statement, something to show people, “see, this is what I mean,” when referring to infertility. Our actors help. The film is so well acted. Our best work was casting. So yes, that was precisely our goal, let’s make something good that is deep, that is personal, something that we would want to watch on HBO. Something compelling, something that grabs and holds on to your attention immediately.
What was the most important lesson you had to learn while filming that had a positive effect on your film?
We’ve learned that you have complete trust in our cast and crew. After the first scene we shot, we had a moment of questioning if what we were doing was going to work. We looked each other in the eye and said, “We have the best actors. We’ve hired the best crew available. Trust them to make us look good, and trust that what we wrote is good and it will come through.
Any other projects in the pipeline?
We have the one TV series about sperm donors in the works as well as 3 other TV shows we are developing…
In Conversation with Avery Clyde
What attracted you to the role of Abby?
Because I had my own fertility story I could see all the sides. As an actor that’s a rare opportunity. It was an opportunity vs. just another acting job. Abby is trying to do right and failing all over the place. That’s humanity. I was excited to create and show all those sides without judgment.
If I Could Tell You is a thought-provoking short film, which tackles the issues of infertility; do you think that this film will encourage people especially those affected-to be more open about the issue?
It already has. I’d say that’s the most touching occurrence since it’s release. The film has given men and women this magical permission slip to talk about their most private pain. They’re sharing not inside the fertility culture; they’re sharing on all the socials, in reviews on all the platforms and in person at screenings and festivals. This is a bedroom disease and it’s being discussed in public with the general non-fertility population. That population has shared with us too; “I had no idea that this is what my sister or friend etc was going through or went through…I’m going to go apologize for being insensitive.”
The film speaks of real pain of a woman and her heartbreaking journey to achieve her dream of becoming a mother; how did you prepare for the role of Abby?
Well as I’ve said I have my own fertility story, so that was definitely part of the process. I had to let myself go there again. When you’ve gone through heartbreak it’s not at the top of anyone’s list to revisit it. Thankfully I had Abby as a buffer. She is a never give up kind of gal. I also did extensive research connecting to organizations and actual donors online. That part of the film I knew nothing about before we started so I put myself in that conversation so I could get it and pay as much respect to the truth of it as I could muster. It took awhile before I could get anyone to talk to me; but then one did and others followed.
Sadly, people who struggle with the infertility are too often being judged or patronized. What do you think should be done to make it easier for them to deal with the issue?
Of course folks should be able to use anonymous sperm donor-ship if that’s what they want. Unfortunately for some it’s the only option; as fertility treatments (even just one cycle) is very expensive. Fertility treatments are not widely covered by insurance. I suppose the thought is it’s a luxury? It’s not life or death. Of course that’s exactly how it feels to couples that can’t conceive. It would be a breakthrough if that could change. Fertility assistance shouldn’t just be for the rich. I guess the other thing at the top of my list is if Western and Eastern medicine could work together more often. There’s this conversation out there that you have to pick a camp. I truly believe working as a team, would increase the success rate for all.
What was it like, filming with Kevin Richardson-one of the Backstreet Boys?
Great. Easy. When I met Kristin and Kevin he had stepped away from the band and was working at becoming a better actor. So that’s how I saw him; a hard working artist whose family had their own fertility story. The Richardson’s are as down to earth as you get and I think that authenticity comes through on screen. There’s no ego or attitude and with the delicate material we were racing through each day it made for a much needed safe place to “get the job done”. I don’t think it would have worked otherwise.
Any new projects in the pipeline?
Yes life of the working actor. I got to work with our co-producer Russell Farmarco doing some ADR on Suicide Squad. That was unbelievably fun. Did a day on Colony for USA Network, haven’t seen it but it was an exciting storyline moment. Mother before Wife a novel by Melissa Brown just released which I narrated. There’s other exciting stuff coming up but nothing I can talk about yet.
Written and interviewed by Maggie Gogler
All photos © Squint Pictures