First-Time Feature Filmmaker Natalie Rodriguez Mines Mental Health in “The Extraordinary Ordinary” (2020)

Anxiety and depression have both touched my life.  They are far less prominent now.  For a variety of reasons.  Primary among these is the love and support of my family and friends.

This is the essence of the new independent drama “The Extraordinary Ordinary”.  We all, to paraphrase the enduring poetry of The Beatles, get by with a little help from our friends.  Find our reason for being.  Our purpose with which to flourish.

I spoke with filmmaker Natalie Rodriguez about “The Extraordinary Ordinary”, her first feature motion picture.

“The Extraordinary Ordinary” is truly your baby, having written, directed and exec produced here.  Clearly, this is a story you are driven to tell.  What inspired you?

Natalie Rodriguez

Growing up, I used to ask a lot of questions, especially when it came to mental health and wellness. The story was first ‘born’ when I was a junior in high school. For weeks, I kept thinking about the main character, ERICA (played by Maddison Bullock in the movie), and her journey of finding solace and healing from her own past. It almost felt like an obsession and I wanted to know her story. What pushed me, and I am sure most of the cast and crew could express the same, to get through the production/filming of this project was the rejection process.

Whether that was, rejection by an agent, manager, studio, and even a now-former boss telling me that I would ‘fail’ at making this movie, it only motivated me to get the project done. There is also a big stigma I continue to hear by some people in the industry how talking about recovery and mental health is a ‘bad thing’. That always baffles me because mental health is part of health, therefore, if we go to the doctors for our annual physical, then why can’t we do the same for our mind?

Anxiety and depression were once prominent in my life.  They are not now.  I never went to a place where I wanted to hurt myself.  However, this is a subject explored in your film.  If you would, please share your personal thoughts on mental health, and about those who struggle with emotional and psychological issues in their lives?

Of course! Until this day, it still bothers me how there is shame around mental health, wellness, and particularly, anxiety and depression. As someone who has been in counseling on and off for the past eight years, it truly does HELP to get help. Especially during this pandemic, I believe it is opening up more eyes on mental health and how people are seeking treatment and/or recognizing they need help themselves. But it is also a process, too. I think people, especially during a pandemic, need to be patient with themselves. Even I am still learning to do so. It is why I strongly recommend people to give counseling a try at least ONCE and see if it is for them. Plus, there could be a lot of good that comes with speaking to someone who is not part of your inner circle but a stranger.

I lost my precious mother earlier this year.  One of the characters in “The Extraordinary Ordinary” has, as well.  The scene in which this heartbroken son describes his mom as never seeing herself as special, and always only wishing that those she cares about are happy, touched me deeply.  This is my mother. Parents play a crucial role in your film, whether it be noxious or nurturing.  As the fiercely proud dad of three remarkable sons, would you talk with us about your feelings regarding the critical role, and lasting impact, we all have as parents of our children? 

My sincere condolences! Our leading man, ALEX (played by Alex Montalban), actually used this scene as his audition. I watched his audition like 3-4 times and cried each time. There was just so much sincerity and empathy Alex Montalban delivered in the lines during the scene. It is one of my favorite scenes because, to me, even children often have to remind their parental guardian(s) how amazing they truly are.

Maddison Bullock, affecting as “Erica”

“The Extraordinary Ordinary” tackles different standpoints of how we see parents portrayed. To me, I always felt that to be realistic, where parents are supportive while others are not. As we see with our main character, ERICA, she leans heavily on her father, ROB (played by John Posey), as she and her mother, CATHY (played by Della Lisi Kerr), disagree on multiple life matters. But in reality, someone such as CATHY is actually in a lot of pain herself and is unaware of it. For me, growing up I saw how much my parents were impacted by the decisions of their parents, and it sort of becomes a cycle, until it is broken. I think in my family, in this case, it is getting help by going to counseling and doing the work to not repeat the sins of our parents.

Aside from success, what do you genuinely want to accomplish with your films moving forward, Natalie?

Natalie Rodriguez, Maddison Bullock and Alex Montalban on the set of “The Extraordinary Ordinary”

For me, the ultimate dream is to make an audience feel something after they watch a film. The most impactful thing a creator can do is to get their audience thinking, whether they agree or disagree with something that was said or done in the film. That is something I hope my work can continue (to do) in the years to come. To me, success is all about being content – not the glitz and glam aspect – but hoping your audience sees the passion in the work and feels that way, too.

“The Extraordinary Ordinary” is currently available for purchase or rental on YouTube Movies.

I invite you to enjoy all of my film reviews as “The Quick Flick Critic”, continually updated at https://thequickflickcritic.blogspot.com/

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First-Time Feature Filmmaker Natalie Rodriguez Mines Mental Health in "The Extraordinary Ordinary" (2020)
  • 6.8/10
    Acting - 6.75/10
  • 6/10
    Cinematography - 6/10
  • 6.8/10
    Plot/Screenplay - 6.75/10
  • 7/10
    Setting/Theme - 7/10
6.6/10

First-Time Feature Filmmaker Natalie Rodriguez Mines Mental Health in "The Extraordinary Ordinary" (2020)

To paraphrase the enduring poetry of The Beatles, we get by with a little help from our friends.  Find our reason for being.  Our purpose with which to flourish.

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About John Smistad

I am a voracious writer of Movie Reviews. Check 'em out at my Blog, "The Quick Flick Critic", @: The Quick Flick Critic Thanks guys! John

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