Cassondra Moriarty is a filmmaker and fertility charting instructor in training based out of Brooklyn, New York, where she lives with her husband. She is currently screening Miscontraceptions around the city and working to promote Fertility Awareness. She has trained with the Couple to Couple League in the Sympto-thermal method and has received FEMM certification.
TERRA: What inspired you to make Miscontraceptions?
CM: As displayed in the film, I became very passionate about spreading the word and knowledge of Fertility Awareness Methods. I was a senior in college and I thought what a great thesis film this would make! My goal wasn't necessarily for people to walk away and throw out their pill packs, but at least now they have this *knowledge*. For the future, for their sisters, girlfriends, and daughters.
TERRA: Give us a behind-the-scenes snapshot of what life was like while shooting.
CM: My crew was fantastic. We spent a lot of time - I think somewhere around 25 days - shooting, which is a lot for a 10 minute short film. I did have an all male crew, so they certainly learned a lot making this film. But compared to other fiction sets, we were generally low stress and enjoyed the combined teamwork involved in making Miscontraceptions. Truly this film was the outcome of a serious group effort. I often wonder what it would have been like if I was left to my own devices with my ideas that *seemed* good at 2 in the morning.
TERRA: What role do you think humor plays in talking about taboo subjects?
CM: Humor is so important because, I mean, you have to be able to laugh about it. Prior to Miscontraceptions, there were so few resources out there on FAM. Many of them felt stuffy or like a sex ed presentation given from an overhead projector in the 60's. I wanted to make a quick, witty, palatable film that made the subject entertaining to learn about. In fact I want people to enjoy the film so much that it's not until minutes, even hours later that they realize how much information was given. Also, FAM has gotten so much bad press for being "the rhythm method". It's important to diffuse that bomb as quick as possible, address it, laugh about it, and then be like "No seriously, it's not the rhythm method".
TERRA: What was the most surprising thing you learned while making the film?
CM: The most surprising thing I think for me was when I hit that burnout phase, which every director does, and I didn't want to have a single conversation that included the word "fertility". Or "birth control". Or "family planning". I didn't think I could get tired of those topics! Don't worry, a few months later, I came around, I'm back in the saddle!
TERRA: What types of film equipment did you use? Do you have a favorite piece?
CM: Most of the film was shot with a Canon 5d. We did use an Panasonic AF100 for a couple of interviews. There's actually a dolly move in the beginning of the film at the supermarket where my cinematographer, Tay, sat in a shopping cart while a PA dragged him. I think that was my favorite guerilla movie making moment. In fact to get that whole reenactment scene, my sound guy, Jacob, had this giant Do-the-Right-Thing-esque boombox with the audio on loop. And we would act on loop, over and over until our lines matched up. And this was in public. I'm sure to outsiders, we were quite a scene. I also remember filming in the laundromat late on a Friday night because we hoped no one would be in there. Some drunk freshman popped in and called us losers for doing laundry on a Friday night. Ah. College.
TERRA: Did you have any particularly rewarding or awkward moments while making the film?
CM: Awkward moments? We made a film about female reproductive anatomy! We had plenty of those. Pretty much anytime cervical fluid was brought up. My most rewarding moment was in Portland last fall. We screened at the Northwest Filmmaker's Festival and at the after party I had a group of girls come up to me desperate for more info. One girl was like, "I absolutely hate my IUD, I want this object out of my body and now I feel like I have options. I didn't even realize how much I didn't know." It's always rewarding to me when a woman realizes how hungry she is for body literacy.
TERRA: What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
CM: It's so cliche, but ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be in filmmaking. As I grew and became passionate in women's reproductive/maternal issues, it seemed like a good combo to express my views and share ideas.
TERRA: What would be your dream project?
CM: Miscontraceptions was kind of my dream project! I mean I don’t work on a lot of side film/media projects, all of them involving fertility/birth/repro health but it was such a treat to make Miscontraceptions. Great crew, great local support and network. It was my baby!