Filmmaker Jan Miller Corran takes us behind the scenes of her latest film, Along Came Wanda, now streaming worldwide.
“Along Came Wanda was conceived as we all looked for joy and hope in the middle of a pandemic,” reveals multi-hyphenate filmmaker Jan Miller Corran. The story focuses on Mary Beth Higgins who receives a teapot from a long-ago lover. She takes a huge risk and decides to go on a journey of discovery with her new friend Wanda in Wanda’s RV/soup truck. Who they meet along the way pushes Mary Beth into one of the biggest decisions of her life… It’s a lesbian movie inspired by films such as Eat, Pray, Love and Imagine Me & You.
Jan Miller Corran spent the last decade supporting LGBTQ filmmakers and in 2021 decided it was her turn to write, produce and direct her own film. This fall, Along Came Wanda, Corran’s directorial debut, came along. The success of Corran’s multi-award winning film Snapshots (2018) spurred her on to write Wanda — a feel-good romantic comedy starring Cathy DeBuono (And Then Came Lola), Constance Brenneman (Anatomy of a Love Seen), Max Adler (Glee, The Trial of the Chicago 7), Adam Huss (Power), Isabella Hofmann (Burlesque), Rich Ceraulo Ko (Tenet), Monica Young (Modern Family) and Roberta Hanlen (Gloria Bell).
Starting with your script for Wanda — what was the exact inspiration?
Jan: The inspiration was partially personal experience of starting a new life after a twenty year marriage and then what I hoped for all was taking the time the pandemic gave us to reassess our lives.
How did you make this movie during the pandemic? How did you navigate Covid protocols?
Jan: Well, navigating Covid meant testing every 48 hours, eating meals six feet apart, wearing masks all the time unless you are in a scene, then the added budget expense of all those masks, cleaners, etc. The script was actually tweaked to keep people logically with feet between them, but that was impossible for intimate scenes. Luckily, no one tested positive during the shoot or we would have had to shut down. Everyone swore that they wouldn’t be out partying on weekends.
Shoutouts to cast and crew! Feel free to share any praise, anecdotes.
Jan: I fell in love with Constance Brenneman in a film I executive produced (Anatomy of a Love Seen). I always wanted to write a film and showcase her. Couple that with the incredibly talented Cathy DeBuono and I knew Along Came Wanda would be their film. I love casting a film because I actually see the actors as I write. Prior to the world shutting down, I was preparing to open my new play “The Last Chapter” in Los Angeles. Cathy, Constance, Monica Young and Adam Huss were the cast members.
Their instantaneous ensemble chemistry made it easy to see Monica as the beguiling Laura and Adam as the sexy ranch hand Karl. From there second city veteran and state of one of my plays Isabella Hofmann and consummate actress Roberta Hanlen were made for their parts. Due to an actress becoming unavailable, Roberta joined the cast only a week before filming started.
You are a lifelong film enthusiast when so many queer women struggle with getting their stories to the screen. Why film as your chosen medium? And what keeps you going in the toughest industry?
Jan: Film reaches a broad international audience. It always presents creative challenges which are fuel to me. It is a very tough industry. All of us struggle to find the funds to bring our stories to the big screen. If lucky, you get the funds, make the film, then struggle to get it out in the world. If I didn’t love it so much, I’d retire.
Does it get easier or harder as you get older?
Jan: It is neither easier or harder as I get older. I do think that because I’ve been around a long time, I have a seasoned frame of reference to draw from. With age comes a vast array of experiences that drive my story telling. One critic told me that my film “has spot on humor but also the maturity of a woman who has experienced so much in life.”