This Is Not A Love Letter feat. Ariel Zucker, Daryl Paris Bright, and Isabel Pask
As we all know, we just ended 2021 on a very turbulent and uncertain note in terms of reproductive rights and specifically abortion access because of two very big Supreme Court cases involving Mississippi and Texas abortion laws. Now, while we wait for a ruling from this ultra-conservative court in June and as we look ahead to the midterms in November, there has never been a better time to double down on conversations around the need for reproductive justice and more specifically, using art and filmmaking as a tool for creating change and moving the needle. So now that you know, our vision for 2022, let's get into today's episode. While not all the films we covered this year will be about abortion per se. We thought it was a very fitting note to focus January's episode on this very topic with our first short film. This is not a love letter, especially given this month's 49th anniversary of Roe versus Wade, which sadly may very well be its last. There is talk that the landmark Supreme Court case from 1973, which legalized abortion in America, may not survive to see its 50th year in existence. So talking about the right to abortion access right now is important. Today, I'll (Asha Dahya) be speaking with director Ariel Zucker, producer Daryl Paris Bright, and poet Isabel Pask.
Click here for the full transcript + show notes.
Learn more about rePRO PERIODICAL (VOL. 01) by visiting reprofilm.org. View "THIS IS NOT A LOVE LETTER" on YouTube.
If you haven’t already, subscribe to our monthly newsletter where you will get each episode of the pod straight to your inbox. Learn more at reprofilm.org or at @reprofilm The rePROFilm Podcast is executive produced by mamafilm. Looking forward to bringing you our next conversation!
Asha Dahya 00;00;01;00
Welcome, welcome, welcome to the very first episode of the brand new Repro periodical podcast series, I'm your host, Asha Dahya and I am thrilled to be bringing you a new series of interviews and conversations with filmmakers, creatives and artists who are working on short films that center around various reproductive justice and health care themes.
For a bit of background on myself. I am a producer originally from Australia and based in Los Angeles. I'm a TEDx speaker, the author of a book called Today's Wonder Women Everyday Superheroes Who are Changing the World, and I'm also working on two abortion focused documentary projects. I'm the founder of GirlTalkHQ.com, a blog site that interviews women and femmes from around the world who are doing inspiring and badass things in their communities and industries. So getting to combine my own professional experience with my passion for conversation around all things repro and filmmaking is a huge honor for me.
I'm thrilled to have joined the rePRO team in 2022, where we are doing something a little different this year with our work, but with the same mission overall. You may already be familiar with the rePRO Film Fest, which was launched in 2020 and was the first and only film festival focusing exclusively on films and documentaries that center reproductive justice, health care and rights. This year we have launched a brand new venture called the rePRO Periodical, which is free to everyone. All you have to do is sign up. Head to reprofilm.org. Every month we deliver a whole host of repro goodies straight to your inbox in a newsletter format, which includes a link to a short film to watch advocacy and action items, important articles and news items. And, of course, this series, the rePRO Periodical Podcast, where I get to interview some incredibly talented and passionate filmmakers.
As we all know, we just ended 2021 on a very turbulent and uncertain note in terms of reproductive rights and specifically abortion access because of two very big Supreme Court cases involving Mississippi and Texas abortion laws. Now, while we wait for a ruling from this ultra conservative court in June and as we look ahead to the midterms in November, there has never been a better time to double down on conversations around the need for reproductive justice and more specifically, using art and filmmaking as a tool for creating change and moving the needle. So now that you know, our vision for 2022, let's get into today's episode. While not all the films we covered this year will be about abortion per se. We thought it was a very fitting note to focus January's episode on this very topic with our first short film. This is not a love letter, especially given this month's 49th anniversary of Roe versus Wade, which sadly may very well be its last.
There is talk that the landmark Supreme Court case from 1973, which legalized abortion in America, may not survive to see its 50th year in existence. So talking about the right to abortion access right now is important. Today, I'll be speaking with director Ariel Zucker, producer Daryl Paris Bright and poet Isabel Pask.
Ariel Zucker is the founder and co-CEO of CNT Productions and intersectional feminist production company that creates socially charged content with a bite. She firmly believes that the most important stories are the ones we're most afraid to tell, which is altogether fitting with this film.
Daryl Paris Bright is the co-CEO of CNT Productions as well. She's also a producer, writer, actress and director. Her contributions have gained worldwide recognition, including HBO's Inspiration Room, the American Black Film Festival and AT&T Film Awards for new forms of storytelling.
Isabel Pask is a Brooklyn based, Texan born actor, writer and creator with Puerto Rican roots. Isabelle is a contributing artist for CMT Productions and a member of the New York based theatrical ensemble The Bellwether Project. This is not a love letter is a video poem that celebrates resilience and community as one woman tells the story of her abortion for the first time. The film travels in real time through the raw and heartfelt reactions from her circle of friends. The film is Chapter three of CNT's award winning Open A Spoken Word series. It's hard not to get swept up in the emotion, the strength, the sisterhood and relatable moments of the words of Isabel Pask, who stars in this film and is actually sharing her personal story. What do you see are real reactions of what it is like to be part of a community that surrounds the one in four women in America who will get an abortion before the age of 45, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
I hope you will enjoy this conversation and be sure to watch the film, which I will link to in the show notes, and it will also be linked to in this month's periodical. Welcome everyone to the show, thank you so much for joining me today.
Before we get into a discussion about the short film, I'd love to take a temperature check on how each of you are feeling and thinking about what is happening to abortion access in the US right now, if that's a very loaded question.
Isabel Pask 00;05;50;24
I'll start. So I'm currently in Brooklyn right now, but I actually grew up in Texas, so everything that's going on with, you know, abortion access and abortion rights feels unfortunately really close to home and a lot of ways thinking about being in Texas, thinking about people.
I know obviously it's not just Texas, but, you know, I feel like a lot of the fight for abortion access is is happening in Texas. A lot of serious restrictions. And it's yeah, it's really scary. It's really disheartening to see these kind of you look at these maps of these kind of potential dead zones that are going to be kind of like abortion deserts. And, you know, this is something that. That is really hard because abortion access is so much about power, it's so much about, you know, people trying to control other people and the fact that there can be there could be a huge area where people don't have access to abortions.
Yeah, it's really frightening. And honestly, you know, wealthy people, privileged people, predominantly white women will still have access to abortions in one way or another. And it's always been the case.
Ariel Zucker 00;07;14;06
Yeah. I would add just personally, I'm coming up on this month the four year anniversary of getting my IUD or my five year anniversary. Sorry, I'm getting my IUD, which means that I have to get it changed out. And it just is because it was a very painful process and a decision that was made because Trump had just been elected and we were all afraid of losing access to birth control.
And as I'm reflecting on that anniversary, it just makes me think how little has changed. I'm still terrified of not being able to access the birth control that I need, and I live in California now, so I know that I have. I'm better equipped to handle it, but I'm also like Isabel from the South, I'm from Georgia. And so that sort of fear still lives in my body and that almost that shame and embarrassment of that kind of rush to figure out what you're going to do and how you're going to handle it.
So, you know, and I'm in a place of privilege where I'm living in California, I'm a white woman and I'm able to access these things. So, you know, and that's how I'm feeling. So I can't even imagine how brutal this is for people who don't have those kinds of privileges. It's just really. A shameful thing, given the given the things that this country could be doing for people and actively choose not to.
Daryl Paris Bright 00;08;53;29
Yeah, and I can definitely harp on what Ariel said about, you know, coming from a place that's more liberal and living in a place like California and having, you know, better access to abortion processes that even then, it's still not an easy process. If you don't know where to start and you're like, young is just they just make things like three times harder. Either way, you know, and like needing to depend on government systems, I'm sure many people can connect with, like trying to get unemployment last year with the pandemic.
It's still like the same issue when it comes to like trying to get through to your insurance and having to be on the phone for hours and hours. And like, if you don't have the best insurance needing to is really expensive.
It can be really expensive. It's really expensive. If you don't have insurance, it can be like $700 out of pocket. And if you do have insurance and not the best insurance you're dependent on, like clinics and doctors who are backed up overworked some under attack, exactly under attack. Some of the insurance workers are like reading this script that isn't personalized to people's specific needs. You can't get through to Planned Parenthood. You can't even like you can't make an appointment online for abortions, so you have to keep calling and calling in hope that maybe you'll get through to someone because they're also overworked and understaffed.
Even being somewhere like California, where it's easier, it's still extremely, extremely difficult, you know, to to be able to. To even get an appointment.
Asha Dahya 00;10;33;27
I mean, California is a big state as well. I mean, if you're in Los Angeles or, you know, San Diego or San Francisco is great, but if you're anywhere else, it's, yeah, it could be really hard.
Isabel Pask 00;10;45;05
I found out I was pregnant in Pittsburgh and I had it an idea and I was trying to schedule an abortion and I could not get an abortion in Pennsylvania, in Pittsburgh for like three months like it was at the get in, you know, north northeast interstate because I wanted to get one.
You know, it was early and I could still have options to take a pill or whatever. Otherwise, it would have pushed it back and back. And that's even in, yeah, Pennsylvania. So. And those IUDs are $1,000 like, that's what people forget.
Ariel Zucker 00;11;22;22
It's actually $1,000. And if you have insurance, then maybe it's $250. Maybe it's free. I mean, it just depends. But it's I mean, you know, people want to act like, why don't you just like, get the IUD? Why don't you get birth control?
I mean, this is an expense that a lot of people, particularly women, who are already experiencing a lack of equal pay, can't necessarily afford like why is it between birth control and food? Like, that's really, you know,
Isabel Pask 00;11;53;05
I mean, it's everything like tampons are expensive, like they don't even give free tampons. It's like it's it's none. It's all across the board from like the small to the big too.
Asha Dahya 00;12;05;13
Yeah, it's a complex problem. And it's been like this for a while. And now we're just seeing it really explode in a more mainstream way. But I hope, you know, I want to stay hopeful, you know, and I think films and art and conversations like this can make a huge difference. And so I want to talk about "This Is Not A Love Letter."
And Isabel, can you tell me the significance of the title of this is based on a poem that you wrote? Tell us about the significance of the title and what you were thinking about when you wrote this?
Isabel Pask 00;12;41;07
At the time I wrote this poem, I had not only had an abortion fairly recently, in the last year or so, I had also been going through a painful breakup. And I think at the time I was writing a lot of poetry. I was writing a lot of poems about love and they felt, you know, cathartic. And, you know, they were probably bad.
Nobody was really seeing them whatever. But when Ariel and Daryl started talking to me about doing a poem for the series and I was thinking about what I wanted to write and what I wanted to say, I thought, You know, how can I write a love poem essentially for myself or for the support system that I'm so lucky to have or the pain that I have and that I know a lot of other people have. And I'm feeling right now like, I, how do I, how do I love myself in this moment? And for me, a lot of that does come through writing, and I would say the title states that it's not a love letter, but I mean, of course it is. It's just not a love letter in the way in the sense that I had thought about love letters up to that point. So a different kind of love letter.
Asha Dahya 00;13;59;16
Yeah, I love that. And I'd love to know how you all teamed up, Ariel and Daryl. How did you get together with Isabel and come up with the idea of making a short film about this poem?
Daryl Paris Bright 00;14;12;29
Well, I have always been a fan of Isabel's poetry. Me and her have been like, I guess I don't know. I feel like we've been like poetry writing buddies for a while. We've accompanied each other to many different like spoken word events where we've been able to share our pieces or we some sometimes, you know, she's heard some pieces that I've written that I've never shared with anybody else. So I think we went to the New Year Rican cafe a few years ago, and she did this piece and. I. Well, first I cried. Then I knew, like immediately that this was the piece that CNT needed to do.
Like we knew that we wanted to do a piece with Isabel for a while, but I knew that this was a piece that needed to be done and it needed it and needed to be heard by so many more people, but by a much wider audience of people who needed to hear this too. And so I went to Ariel... Ariel, you can take it away.
Ariel Zucker 00;15;24;24
Yeah. Well, we were looking for a piece to kind of follow the footsteps of two poetry pieces that we had already put into motion right before our Love Letter. We had finished Black Girl Poem, which was a beautiful piece by Daryl which coupled movement and animation and, you know, really and music. And it really kind of captured what we were working towards with love letter. And then we did poppy runs right before that, which was literally our friend, LH Gonzalez and myself just being in the desert, running around with a DSLR camera and trying to make something out of it. So, you know, it definitely was. I think with each film, we took a step up in terms of precision and artistic communication.
And I, you know, so when we did this piece, I think we had a even better sense of what we were trying to do. So we kind of knew our our roles in it a little bit better. So I was in it as a director and editor. And Daryl and Isa were producing the crap out of it and bringing everybody together and making sure that we could actually execute the vision that we had for it. I'm really just putting our minds together to see what the right blend was for experimental sort of filmmaking, along with not getting too far away from what this story actually is and the reality of what we're trying to do.
So it really just couldn't have happened without these specific minds involved. And I'm just really grateful that, you know, and I would really say that Daryl was the one to really encourage me and Isabel to collaborate on this, and I'm just really grateful that she did.
Asha Dahya 00;17;30;27
Yeah, it's I mean, it's a visual masterpiece, and it's it won best experimental film at the Women's Voices Now Film Festival in 2021. Full disclosure I was a jury member and I did vote for it because it was just brilliant.
Ariel Zucker 00;17;45;29
Thank you so much.
Asha Dahya 00;17;47;12
You're welcome. Well-deserved award. Now, as the narration goes, you know, as far as the narration goes, it follows one woman, Isabel, sharing your abortion story for the first time. And I mean, there's so much power behind this kind of storytelling, specifically abortion storytelling and seeing you surrounded by so many supportive women, you know, with so many quotes. I mean, every line is quotable, but some that stood out to me were, "please understand me when I say the act of choosing is indispensable that for me to imagine a lack thereof is incomprehensible." I mean, that just gives me goose bumps. And it's so in the moment right now with what's going on in our country. I'd love for you as well to tell us more about, you know, the first person aspect of the storytelling in this poem.
Isabel Pask 00;18;38;27
You know, the film... Poem is in first person, because ultimately, it's my story. And, you know, at the end of the day, it was kind of this weird. Obviously, we're making a film or making a movie, but it is real life. It is almost like half documentary, half experimental film, half, you know, because the people in the video are my best friends, are my best friend's mom. Are, you know, it's. It's real and, you know, a few of those people had known, but I would say the majority of those people didn't really know that specific story. And so to have this and I mean, Ariel was so great in, you know, creating a really wonderful environment for all that to happen in. But the reactions that are happening on screen, the reactions that are happening there, like that's that's real. Those are people that love me. Those are people that love each other. And that was really powerful. Yeah, I mean, everybody has their own opinions about abortion, and everybody who has had an abortion has their own really specific experience to it. So it was really important for me also to not be like, I'm speaking for everybody who has had an abortion and this is the experience. But it was like, No, this is how I felt, and this is what I was going through. It's in first person because I can speak to you is my own experience. And then I hope that through that, other people can feel seen by that and I can tell their own stories through that.
Ariel Zucker 00;20;17;16
And I just want to add that, you know, there is no way that myself or any single director could have manufactured the love that was in that room. Like that was purely from the, you know, from the people that Isobel chose to gather around her. And the reason that the film is ultimately so moving is because it's real. I mean, we had a documentary filmmaker capturing the visuals for this. It was authentic reactions. It wasn't me saying, OK, cry some more and and do it again. And we just, you know, kept moving people in and out of the room to hear the story for the first time and then, you know, collectively having everybody hear the story together.
And there were a lot of un captured moments as well that contributed to the emotional strength of that piece. one moment that stands out, particularly to me, is us all being in the same room. And and you know, my mom, who's the blond lady with the broken arm in that movie she had never shared with so many people her experience of getting an abortion. She had only ever told me, and she hadn't even told my brother at the time. And the fact that she was able to share in that healing with Isobel, it was suddenly, you know, yes, this is Isabel's personal story.
This is her story. But somehow all of these other women and people's stories are a part of the fabric of what we're trying to do. And I think that that was really special. The fact that this was a very specific thing and it wasn't like trying to make everybody agree with her or be of the same mind , but it was a enough of a personal approach to it that people were able to see themselves in it and share their own experiences as well.
Asha Dahya 00;22;21;23
I think that's just so beautiful, and, you know, Isabel, use the word love. And I think that really, I mean, that's kind of what I want to personally see in the abortion discussion, you know, going forward, you know, see that love, see that community and you really see that captured in this film that there's a whole community of people across this country who support support abortion access, but may have different opinions and feelings or whatever. But they all know people who have had abortions or have had abortions themselves, who know people who provide abortions who help others get abortions. And I think that's one of the really beautiful aspects of this film and and abortion storytelling in particular.
I also feel like the anti-choice movement has done too good of a job of making abortion patients feel silenced, stigmatized and alone. Whereas this is doing the complete opposite with, you know, with this is not a love letter, you really feel that Ariel and Daryl can you talk about that? You know, portraying that sense of community and and how it can really be a force for, you know, pushing back against that anti-choice movement.
Ariel Zucker 00;23;31;05
Yeah. I mean, I think the running joke for all of us was that we kept calling it, this is not a love letter, but spoiler alert it is a love letter. And so we designed it that way. We kept pushing for those moments of levity and laughter. And, you know, we talked about it a lot, like with Isabelle just wanting to make sure that it was a loving telling because I think there was a version of this that you could do that, you know, is is very, very sad. But we are all we I mean, what we talked about is that we were all so sick of seeing that portrayal. And it can be sad. It can be extremely sad and triggering and traumatizing. And there's no denying that. And you know, we don't want to say that there isn't, but there's also a great sense of community and relief and sisterhood and family in this that does not get explored a lot.
Asha Dahya 00;24;32;08
Ariel Zucker 00;24;34;06
Daryl Paris Bright 00;24;35;17
Yeah, totally, and I think a huge part of our mission in CNT is turning these tropes like on their heads and like showcasing the complexities of, you know, of situations like this, especially when they're historically portrayed in a negative light. And I think it is important to emphasize the more positive aspects like the community and like the hope and the joy and like feel it being able to feel supported in these situations because there is that community in that hope and that enjoy. And in having agency to be able to choose what happens to your body in your life and your future.
Asha Dahya 00;25;20;19
Yeah, I think that you really hit the nail on the head with the tone of this piece and really making people feel loved and surrounded and hopeful. You know, it's not this while it's OK to have those other stories that are really tragic, you know, sometimes I think we need more of these really hopeful, beautiful, supportive visuals and portrayal. So I really love that. Isabelle, I love how you into so many everyday and common themes of what abortion patients go through, as well as the facts, including one to four women before the age of 45 getting an abortion. Can you talk about the need to normalize abortion experience as people, getting abortions and reducing stigma in this way by interweaving it into an artistic way?
Isabel Pask 00;26;06;05
I had always kind of been like, Oh, you know, I'm pro-choice, I support this, I don't know if I would ever do it, but the truth of the matter is you don't know what decision you're going to make until you're right in that moment. But I'm all alone is what I felt like at the time. And then afterwards to be like, Oh my gosh, no, this has happened to so many people like, I'm not alone in this. I can have community in us and talk to people about this.
And that one in four statistic is huge. I mean, there's four of us here right now. And, you know, like, it's just it's huge. And I think that at the end of the day, I wanted to make this movie for people who had had that experience. So they were not alone that the goal was never like, Oh, I want to change somebody's mind about abortion because, you know, a lot of people, their minds made up, but it was more like, No, I want to. I want to see themselves in this. And yeah, so so the more we talk about it, I think, than the the more free people are to make their own choices without having to carry around this stigma or the shame.
Ariel Zucker 00;27;11;02
And I think that line is a really good example of what's so great about Isabel's poetry. The other half of it. one in four women by the age of four to 45 live their everyday lives like that line has always really stuck with me because I mean, this is people's everyday lives. And regardless of how successful the anti-choice propaganda has been in basically saying, like these people are, you know, not everyday people. It's I think that this poem does a really beautiful job of showing that, you know, these people, these are your friends, this is your family. This is your community. You know, these people, even if you don't know what they've been through, they have been through it and you know them and they know, Oh, you, when they see you, they see you not supporting them and they see you for silencing them.
And I think that you know this poem to such a beautiful job of, you know, not trying to pry open some very personal things of people, but rather holding out a hand and extending the offer to share your own story. I mean, that was the reason that we did it in Isabel's apartment, in her bedroom. It was an invitation. You know, we start the whole scene where the whole film in the stairs, you know, women looking up about to step into the into the room. And that's intentional because it is an invitation into her heart and into this personal story and perhaps into the possibility of sharing this sort of experience yourself.
Asha Dahya 00;29;00;21
I love those creative choices that you made, it's really. It is, yeah, it's really inviting the viewer to kind of learn more and hear more from Isabel. So I think that's really great. And I and I just really I can't help but think that it's not about playing defense anymore. It's really about going on the offense in ways that are new and radical and different and what you were just saying. Ariel reminded me of Renee Bracey Sherman's saying, and we testify on abortion storytelling advocacy organization. They often say everybody loves somebody who's had abortions, and that's really what it is, reframing it with love and showing a whole new side of this debate. And I think not even a debate, a conversation, a normalization, everyday life. I think that's really, really, really wonderful.
For people who haven't yet seen this. And you should do this immediately after listening to this interview. You can watch it on YouTube. And of course, we will share the link (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEWZyo-h99k) But I want to point out how, despite YouTube often being such a negative space for comments, a cesspool, I like to call it, especially with a topic like abortion. The comments under this film are just filled with positivity, support. How do you all feel seeing such positive energy being shared among the comments under the film?
Daryl Paris Bright 00;30;20;07
I thought it was personally I thought it was super self-insure, assuring I thought it was very satisfying because we put a lot of work and a lot of time into it, and I think it was also just a reminder of why we needed this film and the fact that the comments are public. I think further showcases to the naysayers and to other people that there are more people than you think who are connected to this story.
Isabel Pask 00;30;53;04
Yeah, yeah, I I got so many DMs from people in my life that I knew and then I didn't know afterwards being like, Hey, I shared my story for the first time with my mom or with somebody, and I didn't think I could do and I did it, and I feel better. And that's kind of the whole goal. And those comments have kind of. Mirrored the experience of the film in a way that doesn't always happen, and it was just really cool.
Ariel Zucker 00;31;23;15
Even beyond that, people reaching out to CNT directly offering to translate this film into other languages. That's...
Asha Dahya 00;31;31;09
Ariel Zucker 00;31;32;06
That really, I never expected that to happen because I think. And you know, Daryl, Isabel, and I are all used to kind of hustling to make our films like, you know, running around and kind of begging and borrowing and, you know, basically just doing whatever needs to get done to make something happen.
So the idea that people who we don't even know would reach out and offer to translate this film into multiple languages, I mean, what what did it got translated into Italian, Portuguese, Spanish,
Daryl Paris Bright 00;32;05;02
Ariel Zucker 00;32;06;14
Daryl Paris Bright 00;32;07;11
Polish, I think, as well.
Ariel Zucker 00;32;09;18
Yeah, people just literally offered, Hey, I want to translate this film so that more people that I know can see this. I don't think that we ever expected that kind of thing to happen because, you know, and I don't want to speak for you guys, but at least in my mind, I always think about this and this is a mistake. But I always think about this as an American problem, like the way that we particularly treat abortion in this country. It feels very American. But then, you know, these people from Poland and especially Brazil, like, you know, people from these countries who are dealing with very similar issues of oppression are seeing themselves in this story. It just reminded me just how truly universal this is and and how even, you know, we can get even in making this film narrow minded thinking that this is just us like, I didn't even realize how many people this would touch. And we made it so that it would touch a lot of people. So it was pretty amazing. Well, I think that's just a testament to how powerful the work is. And and yeah, that's really amazing to hear. I love that, and I hope it does keep getting translated into more languages and sharing more widely.
Asha Dahya 00;33;32;08
Ariel and Daryl, there's such a wide diversity of people represented in the film different ages, ethnicities, body shape. And you really make a point of noting that although the film features many cisgender women, trans and non-binary people need and deserve access to reproductive health care. You wrote a note under the YouTube description. Can you both actually all of you? Can you talk more about the significance of portraying an inter-generational community? Isabel, I know you mentioned some of these people are people, you know, in real life. Your community, friends, family. Yeah. Can you all talk about the importance of intergenerational community around abortion storytelling, especially now that we are going backwards in our laws and potentially to a time pre 1973 Roe versus Wade?
Ariel Zucker 00;34;20;23
I'm glad that you brought up the note under the film because that was actually Isabel's idea. As soon as that, as soon as the film came or we were seeing the final cut, it was a reminder that, you know, as diverse as the people in that room were, it was majority cisgendered. And this is a this is an issue that touches non-binary and trans individuals as well. So I was very grateful to you as well for pointing that out and making sure that we at least addressed it in that note. And it is something that I I wish we had or I had even thought of earlier when we were bringing people in. But I also think that the diversity of body types and people you see is truly just a testament to the people that we surround ourselves with. You know, this is what our friends look like. It's not homogenous. It's not all one race or one age or one type of person. And because of that, I don't think it was particularly hard to gather a diverse group.
Daryl Paris Bright 00;35;29;13
Yeah. Agreed. I think all of the women in the film were people who we consider loved ones. So that was the easy part. But I think beyond that, there is just so much importance in like seeing yourself portrayed in films like this, like you said before. Not only does it bring sort of like a sense of community and belonging, but it shows that you are not alone in this. I think it brings that also empathy for people who might be like, Oh, it'll never be me seeing someone who looks like you going through it. And then, like, if it does ever become you per say, feeling less shame around it being you because you've seen someone like you already share the same story.
Isabel Pask 00;36;26;18
Yeah, absolutely, I. I. I think something that that you kind of touched on that I just want to touch on really quickly too, is this intergenerational thing was really, really powerful and something that. Was unexpectedly one of the most moving things for me, at least, was having Ariel's mom and another close friend of mine, her mom, be there in the room and listen to my story, and that was almost more scary in some way than telling my friends. But to have this kind of maternal presence in the room, I think that our elders, you know, people in our community in general, like across age ranges like we have so many of the same experiences.
And to be able to cross those gaps as well is really moving, especially in the fight for, you know, abortion access and how those laws have changed over time. Yeah. And then just to touch a little bit on the commenting on not only cisgender people having abortions, you know, I think we're always learning, at least I hope that I'm always learning. When I wrote this poem, I was looking at it with the lens of using, you know, women a lot, because that's how I identify. And again, I was kind of writing this from my own personal experience.
But the more that I've heard about other people's experience who don't identify as women or as cisgender, like the more that I've learned and the more that, you know, the conversation should always keep reaching further and being more inclusive and more inclusive and more inclusive. And you know, I've, you know, hopefully learned something, and I hope that everyone can continue just extending that further.
Ariel Zucker 00;38;25;16
And that's the thing is that inclusivity was such a strong theme in this, and it made it such a beautiful piece, and I think we learned through our work and S.A. and the work that we all do individually as artists and together is that, you know, not like there is nothing that will help your film more than inclusivity. Yes. Like there is nothing that will help your story more than including more people who, you know, represent experiences that you will never in your life touch. And I learned that from you guys regularly all the time. So thanks for teaching me that.
Asha Dahya 00;39;05;17
Well, speaking of CNT Productions, I want to just touch on the work you all are doing and the name specifically, I know it's, you know, you call it CNT Productions, but there's actually more to the title. Can you share more about that?
Ariel Zucker 00;39;19;02
Daryl and I are just smiling at each other. Yeah. CNT it's just CUNT without the "U" – It's started as a comedy news show and slowly became something else entirely. I think the beauty of CNT is that it morphs into what the contributors need it to be. So it was a radio show at one time, it was a live show. It was a comedy show. It then it becomes a, you know, a producer of poetry, films and then short films and, you know, all kinds of things.
So, you know, ultimately we just seek to create opportunities for underestimated artists. And you know, I think Daryl and I, we felt very underestimated, particularly when we first got out of school and we felt that nobody was giving us opportunities that we deserved and could have done so much with. And so we made them ourselves. And I think we've learned a lot along the way. I don't recommend launching a production company the second you get out of school, like it's really, really hard. But I wouldn't have it any other way. We grew so much from it and it continues to grow with us, which I'm very, very grateful for.
Asha Dahya 00;40;43;18
Yeah, I mean, look at the content you're creating today. I mean, it's powerful. It's reaching people across the world. People want to translate it and different languages and so well done to all of you for creating such amazing and impactful content. So as we wind up here, I want to offer space for anything you'd like to share or add to this discussion, whether it be about abortion, storytelling through film, poetry, written word, et cetera, creating films. Yeah, I just want to open it up to all of you to share. Any final words? Any final words or thoughts?
Daryl Paris Bright 00;41;18;07
I think it's super important to continue telling these stories in ways that people can best digest them. A huge part of why me and Ariel started CNT was to be able to create content that makes difficult conversations digestible. And I think that the power of art and the heightened ways of communicating with people is that it is so powerful and they can be so underestimated and it can change people's perspectives and lead to better understanding simply because someone likes the way a certain line rhymes. So I think that, you know, we should continue. Making creating stories like this so that I don't know it touches people on a much deeper level than normal communication can.
Ariel Zucker 00;42;20;0
Yeah. I have never changed anybody's mind about abortion or any subject that we touch on with CNT with my fighting words or with anger or armed with all the information that is at my fingertips. But we have changed minds with this poem that Isabel, you know, wrote with such heart and care and and risk by putting this out there in a really brave and, you know, unprecedented way. And you know, I I think I truly believe that sometimes the most important stories are the ones that we're most afraid to tell. And I think that that's what Isabel did here. And I think that that's what we pursue to do with CNT. And I just hope that for the people who are listening to this, if you've got a story and you're really scared to tell it, that just might mean that it's one that you should tell.
Isabel Pask 00;43;26;08
I think that, you know, I wholeheartedly agree with Daryl and Ariel and that I think more and more as I grow as an artist, as a creator and as a person, the more that I find so much strength in my own the and in vulnerability of other people in that we can really harness that to grow community and to grow together. And that, you know, softness and strength go hand in hand.
Asha Dahya 00;44;04;26
Well before I say goodbye, I want you all to let us know where we can connect with you. We're going to be linking to the film in the show notes, and obviously you can find it on YouTube, but please tell us how we can connect with you. How we can see more of your work?
Ariel Zucker 00;44;18;19 - 00;44;51;20
Yeah. Just head to YouTube.com/CNTProductions – Give us a subscribe, and a little like if you feel so inclined. Drop your comments. We read them and we respond. And we are @ImARealCNT on Instagram and you can check out our website www.CNTProductions.com and you'll be able to find each of us individually as well. I'm at @ArielZucker and I'll hand it over to Daryl.
Daryl Paris Bright 00;44;52;24
I am @youmaybeoffended - By the way, exactly the way that it's spelled.
Isabel Pask 00;45;00;04
I am currently off Instagram, which has been great so you will not find me there at least currently, but you can go to my website: IsabelPask.com and get in contact with me there. And yeah, or shoot me an email.
Ariel Zucker 00;45;23;13
Yeah, write emails, send us some emails, guys.
Isabel Pask 00;45;25;29
I love emails and, you know, there are modern form of of letter writing, and I've gotten some great emails. I love an email, my emails on my website.
Asha Dahya 00;45;36;26
Well, the film is called "This Is Not A Love Letter" - Please check it out. Thank you so much, Ariel, Daryl and Isabel for joining me on this episode of the newly revamped rePRO Podcast series.
Isabel Pask 00;45;49;04
Thank you so much for having us.
Ariel Zucker 00;45;50;15
Yeah, thank you. It's an honor. [Thank you.]
Asha Dahya 00;45;53;14
Thank you all for tuning in to our very first rePRO Periodical film series, podcast episode for 2022. Share this episode and spread some real love on social media. If you haven't already, be sure to subscribe to the rePRO Periodical by heading to reprofilm.org and get every episode of this podcast straight to your inbox every month. To watch "This Is Not A Love Letter" head to the link in our show notes. Find the link in your January rePRO Periodical email or search for it on YouTube. The comments are amazing. I'm Asha Dahya, and I look forward to bringing you more rePRO film conversations in our next episode.
Asha Dahya, rePRO Podcast Host
Ariel Zucker, Director
Daryl Paris Bright, Producer
Isabel Pask, Poet