Give Me an A is a dark comedy horror short film anthology created by several directors in response to the June 2022 overturning of Roe Vs. Wade. The anthology is made up of 16 shorts by different directors – and a wraparound film that connects each one. Filming was completed in three months, which is unusually quick for a feature-length film, and it was meant to be a quick reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling. Starring actors such as Alyssa Milano, Virginia Madsen, and Sean Gunn, the film won the Gold Audience Choice Award from the 2022 Brooklyn Horror Film Festival shortly after the film was completed.
While the short films in the anthology range from on-the-nose to nuanced and metaphorical, what is impressive overall about Give Me an A is its purpose as a collective. The film functions more as a reactionary piece of art, a form of protest and expression, than a timeless piece of cinema, and there is value in that. The creator and producer of the film, Natasha Halevi, was able to take the anger, disillusionment, and grief felt following the overturning of Roe V. Wade and channel it into art. The vast range among the short films works because it emulates the variety and complexity in emotion felt in the limitation on reproductive rights. There are realistic, horror, sci-fi, and historical shorts in the anthology, and while this could feel disjointed, it works in context because the film is pure expression. Created immediately following the overturning of Roe V. Wade and completed within mere months, the film is raw and shocking.
I had the privilege of speaking with Natasha Halevi to discuss her experience with the creation of Give Me an A.
DB: Why did you choose to tell this story?
Halevi’s segment, entitled “Abigail,” uses exclusively real content from Abigail Adams’ infamous letter, “Remember the Ladies,” to her husband, John Adams.
NH: [I wanted to tell this story because] it was a time where women weren’t allows to vote, weren’t allowed to own property, all the things we know from history that women didn’t get until we fought for it. So, for me, it was so impactful to see those letters, because it was indicative of the fact that women have always been fighting for their rights, and always kind of losing. We get this idea that this is a new fight, because we’ve only been alive as long as we’ve been alive, but it’s kind of not a new fight, and it’s sort of ridiculous that we’re still fighting for something like bodily autonomy – a basic human right. So I think that’s part of what’s so impactful to me about the decision, is that it’s taking away rights from a group of people because of what and who they are, and that’s really scary to me, because once you start doing that, you take away rights from other groups, because you set a precedent that that’s an okay thing to do. And, we’ve worked so hard to undo that kind of thinking, and just last Friday, the supreme court made a decision that affected LGBTQIA [people], saying that businesses could refuse business to someone because they’re gay.
DB: Give Me an A was honest, shocking, and gory at times and it didn’t seem to shy away from anything. In spite of that, did you have to sacrifice any creative decisions for audience palatability?
NH: Because we moved so fast, we didn’t have a lot of time to refine everything. Once we decided to start making it, we wrote scripts within a week. It’s really raw – there wasn’t time to let it sink in. People were just saying what they were saying through art as fast as they could. I think everyone really wanted to communicate their idea to an audience, so they took a lot of care in that. Nothing in this film is hitting anyone over the head with, “this is how it is,” it’s more, “this is how I feel — take that in, and do what you want with it.” I think people really gave so much of themselves.
DB: Can you share an element or moment from the film that you consider to be your most quintessentially you directorial decision?
NH: [In] this process, the thing that was the most quintessentially me was getting people together, keeping everyone calm. It’s hard to work fast, within the time and resources we had, with no funding, no access, trying to not just do our best, but even better. I – ha-ha – was a cheerleader, and my most important job in that was, if shit was hitting the fan, to make sure people could do their creative stuff. That’s kind of a thing I do in life. If there’s an emergency, I’m better than if things are chill.
DB: What audience did you hope to reach with this film and what are you aiming to tell them?
NH: This is another place where we didn’t have time to analyze our audience and all that… but, we focused on making something anybody could listen to regardless of their opinion. We weren’t gonna tell you what to think, but we were gonna show you how we feel. We didn’t want it to be just women who watch it, because the stories aren’t geared towards just women – they’re geared towards being funny, and weird, and kind of Black Mirror-esque… they’re geared towards being stories you can experience and get a feeling out of. If it can go beyond that and create some empathy, that’s great too.
DB: In the world of constant and accessible content creation, how do you navigate getting your work out there and your voice heard as an indie filmmaker?
NH: Indie filmmaking is definitely hard. And it’s so awesome that there are so many spaces to communicate. But all the people I know – their best skills are filmmaking, so [I thought], how do you maximize your best skill and use that to share with the world? [Filmmaking is] their best skill. I think it’s all just awesome that we have so many different spaces to communicate, listen, and talk.
DB: What was the biggest challenge you encountered in producing this film?
NH: Having so many people is really an exciting challenge, because everybody does something a little different, and I wanted to make sure everyone could do everything the way they do it, and still be able to put it together in the end. That was definitely a bit of a challenge, but everyone rose to the occasion. And it’s scary speaking out about anything, so everyone had to commit to the fact that we were saying something politically. That’s challenging, and it’s scary, because people might come after you and say nasty things, and you have to learn how to navigate that. And, on top of that, we were all very emotional and going deep into these stories. Everyone was very brave to agree and say, I’m gonna take a stance and speak up with my talents.
DB: Lastly, where can Give Me an A be watched?
NH: Yes! You can watch it anywhere that VOD (video on demand) exists, so Amazon, Apple TV, Vudu, Google Play. It’s out there in the world, and every time that somebody watches it, it helps make it visible so that somebody else can watch it. It really helps to communicate the ideas. All we knew we had to do with this film was make something that spoke, and we wanted it to be something that people can talk about and have opinions about. We just want people to talk about it, and think about it, and think about women’s rights, and reproductive rights for all genders and communities.