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INDIE SPOTLIGHT: Interview with 'Rushed' Screenwriter, Producer, and Actress Siobhan Fallon Hogan

Script's Editor Sadie Dean interviews 'Rushed' screenwriter, producer, and actress Siobhan Fallon Hogan about how she emotionally tapped into this story and created the unstoppable character Barbara, how she rallied her town, family, and friends to support her filmmaking journey, and how the stars aligned in putting together a collaborative team behind the scenes.

Rushed is the story of Barbara O’Brien, an Upstate NY, Irish Catholic mother who says her rosary daily, then swears profusely as she drives her kids to school. Barbara’s life is ruined when her son Jimmy, a college freshman, is involved in a fraternity hazing incident. Barbara resorts to extreme measures when she encounters empty promises in Washington, D.C.

Ever watch a movie that guilts you into calling your mother? This is exactly the kind of movie that will have you picking up your phone to do a quick unscheduled check-in. There's nothing more frightening than a mother who is on a mission after she's gone through a major loss in her life, especially a loss that could have been easily derailed. This film puts a direct lens on college hazing, a tight family bond, and the power of money, and blends these elements into an emotionally driven story. I had that extreme pleasure speaking with Rushed screenwriter, producer, and actress Siobhan Fallon Hogan who provides a raw and emotionally heightened performance, we talk about how she tapped into this story and created the unstoppable character Barbara, how she rallied her town, family, and friends to support her filmmaking journey, and how the stars aligned in putting together a collaborative team behind the scenes.

This interview has been edited for content and clarity.

Sadie Dean: You hit it out of the park, especially with this being your first produced written feature. Kudos to you and your director Vibeke Muasya – the film keeps you on the edge of your seat. Honestly, there's nothing more terrifying than a mom on a mission.

Siobhan Fallon Hogan: Seriously, right? you have no idea what you have in you until you think about what could happen to your kid.

Sadie: I can't imagine. I do have to say that I immediately texted my mother after watching the movie, just to check-in. This film brought back many memories of her texting me what felt like all of the time when I was in college and just being so annoyed by it. But those motherly instincts always get ya.

Siobhan: It's funny, because my mom just passed at 96 - but of course I'm a lot older than you, we didn't have texting - but you think about all the times you tortured your parents. Like, I remember one time, my sisters and I went out, we were skiing, there's a bad snowstorm, and we were supposed to come home and we went to a happy hour instead. And because it was such a bad blizzard from upstate New York, we couldn't get a ride, and there are no cell phones, we got home and my mother said, “Oh my god, you girls are worse than your father used to be!” Because my father drank ‘til I was 15, and he quit. And I was like, I couldn't imagine her worry, you know what I mean? And we could have cared less – no, we're having a good time! We never even thought of her.

Sadie: I feel guilty now for all that. So, I'm sure my mother will thank you for this movie and other mothers will too. So, on the writing side, what were you emotionally tapping into as a writer to get this story on the page, especially that powerful ending where we actually see Barbara cry for the first time?

[Writing Generational Perspectives with 'Hacks' Creator and Showrunner Jen Statsky]

Siobhan: Yes, Barbara. First of all, I have two daughters, one is 26, she's actually a reporter for the New York Post, I have a son who's 23 and a daughter who is 19. And of course, they’re wild Irish rovers and they drove me out of my mind. And so you just lay in bed at night, worried sick, and of course you'd read all these stories and when they especially they go off to college, and how you'd just imagine the worst. Laying there at night, can't sleep, and you know exactly what happens in the movie, she drives her husband crazy, he's like, “Would you please relax and leave them alone.” You feel like a fool that you're such a helicopter mother. And, you know, with these dumb phones. And so, it just came from literally my imagination just reading other stories, which is really what inspired me, and then you asked like, at the end when she cries, it's a very funny family - here comes the funny family, here comes a funny kid, and the funny mother, and then I think it's extremely poignant when you see horrible things happen to funny people.

Siobhan Fallon Hogan as Barbara O'Brien in Rushed, Vertical Entertainment

Siobhan Fallon Hogan as Barbara O'Brien in Rushed, Vertical Entertainment

I was very lucky in my career to do Saturday Night Live, and I was very good friends of Chris Farley, and of course, Chris was the greatest guy. He's responsible for me meeting my husband because we'd go to parties. [laughs] And I would go, “I’m in love with this guy, but I don't think he likes me, he has a girlfriend,” and Chris would be like, “Screw him!” and we’d go to his apartment and hit the buzzers, “Wake up you fat bastard!” [laughs] Chris was the funniest. When I went to his memorial, you would expect, who's going to be talking, somebody from the industry? But no, it was a shelter that he visited and would bring meals to. When you see that suffering of someone who is funny, it's even sadder, because they’re not used to being in that position and they don't want to be thought of as not funny. They don't expect you to cry.

Sadie: You wrote these emotionally driven characters like Barbara's, and talking about that comedy world, how much of that skill set were you carrying over into that performance, and writing this piece?

Siobhan: So much of the piece is like, “Oh my gosh that was you?” I remember many times that I've cried, which is not very much either, you know because growing up Irish like ‘are you crying?’ you don't cry and you don't say I love you. It was so interesting to me, you love each other but you're just never gonna say it. With my kids, if anything's happened and I do cry, “Wait, are you kidding? Are you kidding? You're crying?” Because they're not used to it, you know what I mean.

The husband and the mother, they fight. And it's kind of funny when they fight with the kids. She's like “Put your skirts down, you look like hookers!” [laughs] They love each other, but they're rough and tough. So, in the movie with the family being so funny and then when something horrible happens to this family, it's like, she can be nice for so long, then she puts her dukes up and she's like, ‘if you mess with my kid, you have no idea what I’m made out of.’ My sisters used to say about me, “Be careful, she's a redhead, the top of her head is on fire, and she's Irish, which is a lethal combination,” [laughs]

[INDIE SPOTLIGHT: Interview with 'Summer Days, Summer Nights' Filmmaker Edward Burns]

Sadie: I read that you had all your family and friends basically come in all hands on deck to make this movie.

Siobhan: Oh totally! I put on Facebook, which I barely know how to use but now I do. And I was like, “Hi, I have crew coming in, does anybody want to rent rooms?” Literally, they're like, I have three rooms. They were so generous. You could not have believed it. And then the town was so into it. And they'd be like, “Would you mind if I brought a lasagna on by?” It got to the point where [laughs] we would have to have a list because we have so much food coming and it was like after a funeral, there's so much food going to waste. And Robert and Jake Weary coming to work for peanuts for me was unbelievable. And Peri Gilpin my good friend from Frasier, she's like, “I'm all in.”

It's happening again now in three weeks as a matter of fact, as I’ve been talking to you I'm going through the prop box [laughs] for the next movie because on September 27 we start shooting my next movie Shelter and Solitude, and Robert Patrick, who's right now on his Harley going cross country is coming to play my brother in it, and he'll be making a really hefty paycheck once again. So, you know he's coming again to play my brother because I just treated people the way I want to be treated on the set. When I did the movie with Lars von Trier, I modeled it after them, because this is the deal, they do not believe in the Hollywood way. They don't say that right out, it's just the way they behave. It's like doing a play and I came from theater. The crew is equally as important as the stars. You're all equal, and you all have the same common goal. That's why I treated people like that, because, number one, who cares if you're a stupid actress. And number two, because that's the way you should treat people. I have like 90% of my crew coming back, and Robert. Yeah, it's just awesome.

Siobhan Fallon Hogan as Barbara O'Brien and Robert Patrick as Jim O'Brien in Rushed, Vertical Entertainment

Siobhan Fallon Hogan as Barbara O'Brien and Robert Patrick as Jim O'Brien in Rushed, Vertical Entertainment

Sadie: That's so cool. It just speaks to your character just as a human being. It's very rare that you get to go on a set where everyone is treated as equals. Those in charge set the tone of the set, so if they're happy, everyone's happy.

Siobhan: Exactly.

Sadie: What was that collaboration process like with your team, especially your director?

Siobhan: Well, when I sent the script over to Lars von Trier and his producers at Zentropa, they were like, “we're all in” and Lars von Trier’s producer who I had worked with on three films, she said there's a fabulous director named Vibeke Muasya and you should work with her. So, I had met Vibeke and I asked her to direct. So that was that was that. Then Matthias Schubert, who's this unbelievable cinematographer and I was like, “Hey, would you be the cinematographer?” and he's like, “I'm all in.” Then at the end of the movie on the second to last day of filming, I never even thought about post-production. And Vibeke says to me, in her Danish accent, she's like, “Siobhan Hogan, we have an A-list movie, and we don't have an A-list editor,” and I was like, “When do we have to do that?” She's like, “Tomorrow.” [laughs] I did this movie called The Professor a couple of years ago, and Sabine Emiliani, who is award-winning and edited March of the Penguins and many other movies, she edited that. So, I call her in France and I was like, “Sabine! It's Siobhan. I wrote this movie!” and she says, “Send me the script, but I will tell you that I am filming a documentary.” The next morning, the crew is all over upstate New York and I get a call, and at this point, I'm half-dead, I'm so frickin tired, and she said, “Siobhan, it's Sabine, I will edit your movie.” “Oh my God, you will?” She's like, “I will put off the documentary because you know who did the documentary? My husband.” [laughs]

When you see the movie, and you see that beginning scene that was never there. That was supposed to be, in other words, the movie was linear. And she's like, “too boring.” She did such a good job editing those flashbacks and everything with the son. And she did an amazing job, all of them. Vibeke, Matthias, Sabine, all of them are just unbelievable.

Rushed, Vertical Entertainment

Rushed, Vertical Entertainment

Sadie: Powerhouse team. The editing on this film is so good. She's letting those beats play out and the silence is really unnerving because you never know what Barbara's going to do next.

Siobhan: It's interesting you say that because she said to me, and I've learned so much now and if you read the script of my next movie, constantly is written, silence. She would tell me, “Because silence is so much more interesting than dialogue.” And I was like, “It is?” She really taught me so much.


Sadie: What's your writing process like, especially for this script and your next one?

Siobhan: OK, honestly, I'm not sophisticated in any way. I have no idea. [laughs] I have no idea what I'm doing. For example, people would be like, “I just love when the B story goes to the C story, and then it transitioned to the C story,” and I was like ‘huh?’ I had no idea that was even happening, I was like, “You don't say, the oldest trick in the book! What the hell is a B story?” [laughs]

My friend PJ Clifton, who's a writer and he's also a producer on the movie, he and I went to Catholic University together he was, he was a freshman when I was a graduate student, to show you how mature I was - we were good friends, we ended up being roommates in LA. Anyway, he said to me just write, and don't judge it. And he said to me don’t think, just write. So, literally, I'll sit down to write. And it's so insane to me, like this new movie, I was lying in bed and the idea came to me and was like, ‘Holy crap, I better write this down for I forget it,’ it's like having a dream. I just write a treatment first, I'll write like two pages of what looks like a synopsis, and then I look at that synopsis and I just start writing. And Final Draft, whatever that thing is - I'm so technically challenged - it's amazing, because you can go “Character” “Action” and I'm like, ‘Oh my god I'm like, I'm like George Jetson. I'm so modern!’ [laughs]


Sadie: We'll have to thank Final Draft for giving you those tools. [laughs]

Siobhan: I know, because believe me, it will be handwritten. I'm like a prehistoric man. [laughs]

Sadie: Thank you so much for your time and for speaking with me. Congrats on the new movie and best of luck with your next one!

Siobhan: Thanks a million, Sadie. 

Rushed is now available on iTunes/Apple and Amazon. 

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