5Q's w/John Gomez "When I Stutter" Director

SUNDAY | BLOCK J | 9:30 |
When I Stutter (67 min) dir: John Gomez

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#1: Can you describe your movie and why somebody should see it in less than 280 characters? 

WHEN I STUTTER is a film that reveals the humanity that exists within an often mysterious malady. Over the course of 4 years, 19 people (from all walks of life) shared stories about how stuttering has impacted their lives. From the depths of hopelessness to the heights of redemption, these stories will change how you view stuttering. 

#2: What do you want the Borrego Springs Film Festival audience to know about your film that isn’t obvious from its title?

WHEN I STUTTER has been met with positive feedback from a wide range of audiences.  I keep hearing from people that don't stutter how it really changed their perspective on stuttering.  I really feel like the objective of the film is being met when I hear things like “I had no idea what stutterers go through” or “I didn’t know what to do until I saw that section in the film”.  Sometimes, an audience member who stutters will stand up after the film and thank me for telling “their” story.  Even though that person was not in the film they related to what was being conveyed on a personal level.  To me, that is absolute gold…

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#3: What is your movie making background?  Tell us about yourself.

I’d say I had an unusual path into filmmaking… My only real background or training was through making wedding videos.  Which is actually really good training for documentary filmmaking because you only get one shot to capture key moments and you better get it right or else! You don’t want to deal with an angry bride, trust me… I’m mostly joking but weddings are pressure cooker situations and many skills can be acquired from capturing them.  Once I became more comfortable using a camera and editing I began to make short visual narratives, promos, etc.  One day while sitting in class I was watching an older documentary on the subject of stuttering.  I liked the content but I thought that the production value was dated.  I figured that I could make a documentary on the subject of stuttering that was modern and that would engage today’s audiences.  Little did I know how steep the learning curve would be…  There were many difficult steps along the journey that happened due to lack of experience I’m sure.   Basically, I learned a lot about filmmaking by making WHEN I STUTTER.  From talking to more experienced filmmakers, I have been told that “doing” is the only real way to learn so, in that respect, I feel good about my path.  I recently shot my second documentary and it was certainly smoother from many standpoints because I now have some experience under my belt.

#4: What was the biggest lesson learned in getting your film made?

I think that the biggest lesson learned was how fortunate I was to have the "type" of people that I had working with and supporting me when making this film.  I do not want this to come off in a Pollyanna-type way, but it is PARAMOUNT that you surround yourself with positive and encouraging people.  Making a film requires an unreal amount of time, energy and resources.  You don’t have time for negativity and consistent oppositional behavior.  I think even the best ideas can be destroyed by bad production environments… When you have surrounded yourself with the right type of people you are much more free to create your vision and you will have the motivation to get your film out to all ends of the earth!  Like I said, my friends, family and the National Stuttering Association have been strong supporters of my film and that has made a big difference when I’ve gotten into film festivals in terms of word-of-mouth promotion… Now that the film is experiencing some success I’m glad that it’s built on a solid foundation of people who believe in me and my film.

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#5: What does the future hold for your film and you?

Currently, I am really enjoying the film festival circuit!  It's been really great to travel and meet people from around the country and just talk.  It's also been rewarding to converse with other filmmakers and get their advice or exchange production stories.  Obviously, the goal of WHEN I STUTTER is to raise awareness for stuttering.  From that standpoint, I'd like to get as wide of an audience as possible.  I've had some organizations affiliated with communication disorders show interest in helping to distribute the film which is a big blessing...  I have also been fortunate in that a couple of distribution companies have offered me domestic and worldwide distribution for the film.   Thus far I have not made any decisions as to the best way to go about it all.  Us creative types aren't always fantastic with the business end of production (perhaps I should just speak for myself).  For now, I am enjoying the ride and my hope is that the best path for WHEN I STUTTER will become clear.  I think that I owe it to the stuttering community to make sure that these stories get heard far and wide!  What does the future hold for me?  I just hope that I get to keep making movies!

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Matthew Nothelfer1 Comment