Imagine I’m Beautiful, a psychological drama directed by Meredith Edwards, explores the complexities of Lana and Kate, the two main characters. The female driven story, subtlety unravels the issue of mental illness, and the healing process. The film captures an emotional and psychological dynamic two different people, seeking the same, core needs: love, help and wellness.
Red River Noise spoke to director Meredith Edwards about her first feature film that heavily explores a mental issue, while also highlighting females in an empowering light. The film was part of the RxSM film expo.
What inspired you to share this story?
Meredith Edwards: I’ve always been and very drawn and attracted to psychological dramas. I love a story that really dives deep into the complexities of us as human beings. I’m also very interested in the grey areas. I don’t really believe in black and white, good or bad, right or wrong, crazy or sane. I think it’s definitely a spectrum.
The film highlights mental illness, which was done in a unique, and subtle way. Tell us more about why you wanted to highlight it.
Edwards: I love diving deep to really explore those areas and those complexities, and really make the audience question themselves and their beliefs. I also wanted to shed light on mental illness and in today’s day, I feel like it’s highly stigmatized. I wanted to bring light to it. So we could talk about it. Let’s have a conversation about it. It’s kind of an uncomfortable and understood issue that I think we should be talking more about.
Going off of that, the film does a great job of unfolding this psychological issues between the characters. What drew you to leave some of the problems unsolved?
Edwards: That in itself is just very interesting to me, that there is no solution sometimes. Sometimes you can’t put a nice bow on it… I really wanted to encourage and invite the audience to really think about it. You know, I think some people will sympathize with Lana [character] and some people won’t. I really wanted to leave it open ended and have the audience question what they would do in that situation.
What were some things you learned about yourself, as a filmmaker, creating such a dramatic feature?
Edwards: Oh my goodness… so many things [laughs]. I mean, it’s very easy to get swept up in it. I would have dreams about these characters. I was just really in it, and I think that happens with psychological dramas. It really causes you to really go deep with these characters. You know, to really get under the skin. I learned, just as far as directing a film, that it can be really hard to not become overly obsessive controlling on every part of the process. You know to get your vision exactly as you want it. I learned that you can’t really do that. I learned that your team is so important.
You know, I really hope that I’m not creating this gender gap when I ask this, but I love that this movie is really female driven and the characters weren’t stereotypical women. I’m curious to know if that was your intention, to shy away from the stereotypes, and create a story?
Edwards: Yeah, and what’s interesting too, is that the team was predominantly female. We had a lot of women on set, and that was really awesome. What I really loved is that the characters, Lana, is our anti. She’s neither a hero or a villain. And Kate, in many ways is also [neither a hero or villain]. I think we, as women, we are complex creatures, and we have important stories to tell. We still aren’t at a point where we are making many stories about women. I think Cate Blanchett mentioned that in her Oscar speech. These characters are interesting, and they hold a femininity that doesn’t necessarily mean male or female.
Some of the characters were also very empowering.
Edwards: I hope that people find it empowering. I hope that people will see that we, as females, are so many more things. Often in society, we’re objectified. It’s still very much an issue. I think it’s very important that women filmmakers rise up and make stories, make films of strong, powerful, complex women.
What is it about the film that connects with you?
Edwards: I think there are many things, but I think maybe the biggest is that we are very complex human beings. Male or female, we are all very complex. We all experience life through a different lens, and I think it’s very easy to stereotype and judge someone based on their actions before getting to see why it is that they do what they do. It’s kind of funny, it’s like a paradox, we are also very much the same. In that our core needs are the same.
This is your first feature film, how do you feel about that?
Edwards: I’m over the moon. I’m sad I’m not going to be there. I’m so pleased and so proud, although I don’t like to say that word too much, I am proud. It’s been such a learning experience, and blessing. Just to see the evolution of this film, I’m just like a proud mama [laughs].
What do you hope audiences take away from this film?
Edwards: My main thing is, is I hope that people have a more compassionate and understanding view of mental illness. I hope that it opens a dialogue. I want people to talk about it. I want to open the conversation. We screened it for our cast and crew, and the stories I heard, very deep, personal stories of crew members, that I heard because of the film made it all worthwhile.
Watch the official trailer for Imagine I’m Beautiful below.