Features

Desiree Staples Talks “My Divorce Party,” the Film, Brand-Name Shopping, and The Entertainment Industry.

Today I got the chance to speak to Desiree Staples, Executive Producer of My Divorce Party. After giving the trailer a look, I can say that My Divorce Party is a well-produced up-and-coming film with a hilarious take on the reality of divorce. The film was first referred to me by another producer, and I liked the concept so I figured I’d chat with Desiree herself. Here’s how our conversation went:

Invest in My Divorce Party – The Movie: Comedy feature about lifelong female friends helping their BFF through divorce! | Wefunder

Me: Hi Desiree thanks for taking the time to speak with me. Congrats on your success with My Divorce Party! How are you?

Desiree: Thanks so much! I’m great! We’re very excited for our WeFunder campaign for our comedy female-driven feature film as we’ve recently hit the 100K milestone for “My Divorce Party.” We’re thrilled to continue getting the word out for our film & getting more supporters and investors on board! We’re also now gearing up for pre-production for principal photography! It’s a very exciting time for independent film, especially financing through equity crowdfunding on a community-building platform like Wefunder. What’s also fantastic about equity crowdfunding is that we’re already building an audience, fan-base, and following for this female-driven and groundbreaking comedy film! For those that are just learning and new to “My Divorce Party,” we have an entirely female creative and above the line team, bringing our dark female-driven comedy to your movie screens! The synopsis is:  Future divorcee, Xan gathers her closest friends in Joshua Tree to celebrate (or more appropriately sulk in) her impending split. Chaos ensues when she reveals she brought her divorce settlement money to the party with the intention of blowing or burning it all by the weekend’s end.

Me: My Divorce Party is an entertaining film that I believe a lot of people will find relatable. With the divorce rate being 50% in America, what is your take on divorce and why did you feel it was so important to cover it in this film?

Desiree: Thanks so much! We wholeheartedly agree, and one of the reasons we want to make the film is due to the immense relatability of divorce, and that we haven’t seen a comedy film tackle this topic with a comedic, heartfelt, and humorous lens. My take on divorce is that I’ve seen it firsthand, both in my own family and with friends who’ve gone through it, how divorce can affect families and their entire lives. It’s extremely messy, it’s heartbreaking, and it often is seen as a failure and something people don’t talk about and sweep under the rug. I think it’s extremely important right now to bring light to topics like these that aren’t often talked about or are uncomfortable – hence, revealing that this premise is something that needs to be further explored! And I think the duality of this personal and untapped subject matter paired with a female-driven ensemble laugh-out-loud comedy is a genius combination! In our film, our lead character “Xan”, is going through this same shameful struggle with her own recent divorce. But instead of hiding it away, her friends help her enter this next chapter in her life, appreciate where this unforeseen obstacle has gotten her to now, and celebrate that her divorce is a necessary chapter in her journey. “My Divorce Party” is inspired by a real divorce party that our Director/Writer Heidi Weizter attended with her best girl friends in Sonoma and is a love letter to female friendships. There’s a massive audience for a story like this – including the demographic of 18-49 year olds, women, and divorcees. This film’s goal is to combine comedy, female friendship, and women empowerment. We’re thrilled to turn a topic like “divorce,” on its head, and something in which one can grow and persevere through, especially when the divorce rate continues to increase in these extremely unprecedented times, and this is something so many people can relate to. We want to share our film with as many people as humanly possible and are so excited to do so!

Me: Desiree your resume is well-documented! You’ve been credited on about 40 projects in both TV and film. What would you say is the biggest misconception that people have about your profession?

Desiree: Thank you! I think one of the biggest misconceptions about entertainment is the glitz and glamour of it, and something that feels so mysterious & unobtainable to those not in the Industry. And don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely some glitz and glamour involved, especially with movie-premieres and the awards show of the industry. But that’s way down the line after the film is shot, completed and edited (and often after years of work)! And what’s amazing, and is one of my favorite things about making movies, is that it’s mind-boggling to wrap one’s head around what it takes to make all of our favorite tv shows and movies. We don’t think about or notice it of course (unless you’re analyzing every moment on-screen it like a Producer/Director), but every single shot, every single item, prop, or production design: from the large ballrooms to every single table setting- from the costume design to every single line spoken on screen – was specifically designed, had to be discussed, and thought through. Every single moment of every single cinematic art form was choreographed to feel natural and in the moment. It’s such an amazing feat! And that requires such a level of attention to detail and lack-of-glamour. That requires 12 hour days, endless cups of coffee, unbelievable teamwork and collaboration, quick in the moment problem solving, no sleep, and eating solely protein bars and PB&J sandwiches to get through the day.  It’s some of the most hands-on intensive and laborious work there is. I have such a love for filmmaking/our industry as every episode and feature film that’s produced is making the impossible possible – and getting that many people (sometimes hundreds!) all on set at the same time, creating one artistic vision!

Me: That’s fascinating! I would’ve never imagined that decor was such an important factor in shooting a TV show or Film. What was your favorite part about producing a film like My Divorce Party? Then tell me what your least favorite part was.

Desiree: So we’re currently in the pre-production stage, which means that we have a bit of time to go before we begin Principal Photography and post-production! I think so far my favorite part about Producing has been our creative production meetings and scouting of locations in Joshua Tree, so that we get to see the words on the page of “My Divorce Party,” come to life. Joshua tree is such a niche and quirkily beautiful location and setting for our heroines, and we are excited to feature the beautiful and exquisite landscape of Joshua Tree itself as a character in the film. My least favorite part so far… hmm… I’m just such an ideas and creative person, that paperwork and contracts can seem a bit monotonous for me? But, I’m not sure I’ve known anyone who loves paperwork? Other than the accountants, lawyers, and production managers that work on our projects- and let’s take a moment to appreciate and thank GOODNESS for them, because they are gosh-darn heroes. 

Me: Cheers to that! 🥂 Let’s speak a little bit about your upbringing. Take me back to when you were a kid, what is the first interaction you can remember having with money?

Desiree: I’m not sure if it’s the first interaction, but what comes to mind is being totally immersed in consumerism and fashion brands very young (I want to say 8 or 9 years old?). I’d go to the mall and all I wanted was something that was labeled a certain “in” brand (and at the time I think the most “trending” was Limited Too & Claire’s, ha!). And this necessity of having to look a certain way, and purchase certain brands in order to be accepted by my peers, was so ingrained in our heads as young girls. This another reason why I am so committed to telling female-driven stories. It’s really quite mind-blowing how women have been repeatedly bombarded with this kind of marketing & beauty-obsessed culture over and over again throughout our lives, and that’s still a problem, where there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done. I wish there were more films when I was 8-10 years old, about being comfortable in your own skin. About natural beauty and authenticity (which is I think, a common challenge women of all ages struggle with!). But instead, I remember a lot of content about being stereotypically beautiful. And that, in order to fit in and be accepted -you had to improve yourself by purchasing clothing, makeup, and accessories. And that’s something that the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media is committed to changing in our mainstream media culture. I highly recommend taking a look at their organization and being a part/getting involved at seejane.org. It’s a cause I’m passionate about and I got to work with the institute this year on a female filmmakers forum I co-created providing more visibility and opportunities for female filmmakers, and hope to continue working and collaborating with them for years to come. Founded in 2004 by Academy Award-Winning actor Geena Davis, the Institute is the only research-based organization working collaboratively within the entertainment industry to create gender balance, foster inclusion, and reduce negative stereotyping in family entertainment media.  Their data-driven research, education, and advocacy empowers and inspires advertisers and content creators to reimagine the media landscape to reflect our ever-changing society. Their research provides data-driven information and metrics to inform, guide, and serve as interventions for the creative process in media and entertainment.

Me: So far in your Film and TV career, what would you say is your proudest moment so far? Regardless of how big or small.

Desiree: I have to say, we’re really excited about this WeFunder campaign and film! Having gone from producing micro-short films and 48 hour-film challenges only 4-5 years ago, to now producing and acting in a major motion picture, that’s an incredible accomplishment. And to be producing this film with an entirely female team and story/script that’s exalting female comedic voices, changing the game of parody of representation in this industry, and committed to diverse & underrepresented artists in front and behind the camera – that’s really the dream and my proudest moment to date. And such an exciting time for me in my career to be working both on the Producing side and Acting side of this film as “Xan,” our protagonist- who must come to terms with her faults and impending divorce, with the goal of becoming through this hardship a better version of herself. She’s able to do this with her friends by her side and lots of laughs & debauchery! Sometimes laughter is the best medicine..I know that’s true for my own personal life.

Me: If you weren’t working in your current profession, what would you have done for a living instead?

Desiree: This is such a tough one! I think no matter what I’d be “Producing” in some capacity that connects people to one another, so perhaps for advertising or another creative occupation – as advertising is storytelling as well, right? Just instead of a narrative story, advertising is telling a story instead about a brand and how that connects to the customer. Maybe that’s why I love watching Superbowl commercials so much….

Me: Currently, you have a campaign on WeFunder to raise funding for My Divorce Party. What do investors get if they invest?

Desiree: Thanks for asking this! Our terms for the campaign are 110% of the Principal Investment and a 50% split of the Net Profits for the investors. This means 100% of proceeds are paid to investors pro-rata until 110% of principal investment is returned. Thereafter investors earn 50% of Net Profits.  We also have some fantastic and exclusive perks you can only get on our offering on Wefunder for “My Divorce Party,” – including an exclusive sneak peek screening of the film, a Zoom networking happy hour, and joining us behind the scenes on set as well as also being an extra! We also have Associate & Executive Producer credits available for those who want to get involved more significantly and more hands on in the entertainment industry. You can find out more here.

Me: Lastly what advice can you give to those who want to break into the entertainment industry for a living but don’t know where to start?

Desiree: My biggest advice would be: jump in! The entertainment industry is always looking for more creators, more voices, and more storytellers. There are so many more important stories from so many more unheard perspectives that need to be told, and I think we’re just scraping the surface of having underrepresented voices’ heard and in mainstream media. I also think everyone should Produce their own content (a short film, commercial, pilot, radio-play etc!), if you’re just beginning in the industry! That way you learn every department – which I think is extremely valuable. It really is such a collaborative field innately, and a movie is only able to be made with each and every person on that set – from the director, to the costume department, to the G&E and equipment team, to the assistant….. to the assistant! Every single person on set is so immensely valuable and important. So explore all those different departments and see what excites you the most!

How do you feel about the topic of divorce?

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