you haven’t read this
in a book, or seen it
in a movie to tell you
it’s right, doesn’t mean
it’s wrong. Only you know
what’s right for you.”
Director Laura Madalinski’s feature-film debut, Two in the Bush: A Love Story, is a romantic comedy that will premiere on July 19th at the Outfest Los Angeles film festival.
Madalinski laughs, “It’s not nearly as audacious, I think, as maybe the title or anything would suggest. It’s actually a very sweet, realistic, heartfelt love story. It’s just about three people instead of two.”
With scenes taking place at Reed’s Local and the Logan Theater, Two in the Bush was shot entirely in Chicago. Madalinski credits the fusion between her irrepressible artistic drive and her friends in the industry for pulling off the $50,000 film in just 10 days of production.
Madalinski is the official Post Production Superstar of her company, Strange Charm, a former Mentorship Chair of Women in Film Chicago, a former editor at Red Car and Outsider Inc., and a Columbia College graduate.
According to Madalinski, the connections she has in the Chicago film and advertising industry made Two in the Bush possible.
She and her partner Kelly Haas co-wrote the script. Robert Stockwell of Cinema Libertad worked as the Director of Photography, and Brittany Wagner produced the film as a well.
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Like the film’s title suggests, the production team set out to make a romantic comedy that is a bit different than the boy meets girl rom-com.
Despite following much of the traditional structure of the genre, Madalinski explains that it is “less about a choice between two people and more about who you are and what you want.”
The film’s lead character of Emily (played by Chicago’s Sarah Mitchell) faces a difficult choice that explores a key theme of queer relationships and life choices in general:
“How much of who we are, and what we want, is dictated by outside factors versus who we are deep down.”
The film is personal for Madalinski, who was in a polyamorous relationship for a time. However, she kept it secret due to a fear of repercussions in both her social and career lives.
“I started doing research to get insight into what other people have done that have gone through the same thing,” recalls Madalinski. When it came to the vast world of cinema, she found a frustrating void.
“For the life of me, I couldn’t find any movies that depicted the kind of polyamory that I was living or experiencing,” she says. “I just wanted a movie that would tell me it was okay: you’re not going to go to hell, you’re not a terrible person, it’s okay. You can be in love and have fun… everything’s going to be alright.”
This absence served as a driving force for Madalinski and Haas to write a script that would fill that void.
As expected for a self-funded feature, it was a difficult road that needed encouragement and support from numerous directions.
Madalinski recalls a moment when she showed her friend Amelia Dellos a version of her script.
In 2013, Madalinski edited Dellos’ documentary Love Under Fire: The story of Bertha and Potter Palmer.
According to Madalinski, Dellos responded with a hard question, “Do you love this? Can you live the rest of your days without it being made?”
Madalinski eventually realized that “it will bother me the rest of my life if I don’t make it. So, I am willing to put all of my money into it and go into debt because I do think it is that good.’”
Fast-forward more than a year later, and Madalinski has both the finished film and the accompanying debt.
Madalinski recalls debating whether or not to submit Two in the Bush to one of her favorite film festivals, the LA Outfest.
It “was the very last day that you could possibly submit, like their late late late extended deadline – the very last day.”
“And it was like a hundred bucks to submit, and I was like ah it’s not worth it. They are just going to reject me anyways!”
Thankfully, Kelly Haas was there with her and convinced Madalinski to go for it. “Worst case scenario, you’re out of a hundred dollars.”
Madalinski paid the fee and the file finished uploading at 11 pm.
It was accepted into the festival, and will have its world premiere on July 19th at the DGA Theater Complex on Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles, California.
To make it all even sweeter, the festival’s trailer includes one of Madalinski’s favorite quotes from Two in the Bush:
“Just because you haven’t read this in a book, or seen it in a movie to tell you it’s right, doesn’t mean it’s wrong.”
Outfest Los Angeles is an LGBTQ Film Festival that has taken place annually since 1982. The 2018 Outfest begins at 10 pm on Thursday, July 12 and ends on Sunday, July 22.
For more information on Two in the Bush: A Love Story, click here.
Contact Joey Filer at Joey@reelchicago.com. or follow him on Twitter @FilerJoey