What would it look like if a teenager in modern time had visions of God?
After having screened at Sidewalk Film Festival and Indie Memphis Film Festival, GiF is proud to premiere a debut short film by NYC-based film journalist and producer Meredith Alloway, Interior Teresa. Inspired by true story St. Teresa of Avila and her religious upbringing in Texas, the issue of religion and individuality was an intriguing topic for Meredith to explore as the first array into directing.
'I grew up in Texas,
conservative and Christian, so that guilt residue we all know and love was
happily finding its way into beds and backseats of cars', said Meredith. A few years ago, I
realized I needed to figure out how I felt about spirituality and sexuality. I
read a lot of books. They sucked. And then I discovered Saint Teresa of Avila
and her first vision from God. It was erotic, mystical. I was intrigued. To me,
she redefined everything for herself, including the innate sensuality
and power of spiritual connection. I wrote a feature script re-imagining her
modern day: what would it look like if a teenager had visions from god (or
God)? How could I explore these personal questions via her story? I decided to
shoot a short and structure it like a prologue to the feature in order to start
exploring. We meet Teresa when she first starts to experience these visions.
What do they mean? I pulled from Teresa’s book on spiritual cultivation, Interior
Castles and the imagery of birds, light, the prism of consciousness
and then symbols of masculinity and the bridegroom. I wanted to make such an
amorphous story palatable.
'Putting Teresa’s story
on screen has always been the driving force. Spending time with her over the
years helped me understand my own feelings around how we define spirituality
within the box that is religion, when really, it’s transcendent. This is also a
woman, at least in this story, who’s looking for male validation - when
really, it’s only standing in the way of her higher calling - a genderless,
figureless, indescribable source that also transcends the boundaries of our
society’s often restrictive psyche.'
Shooting on location in an intricate church in Manhattan wasn’t easy, but thanks to the welcoming community of Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church in Chelsea and Meredith’s crew, especially DP Elle Schneider and Josh Fordham, Meredith achieved beautifully lit scenes that referred to the arresting end scene in Baz Luhrman's Romeo + Juliet.
'My intention to shoot
in such a traditional, at times haunting, setting was to really confront the
state of the church and religion itself. I wanted the characters to move within
it as their playground, to redefine the ways we view the space and to bring new
life into it. I got lucky with this one. If you ever shoot in a church, knowing
where and when the sun rays comes through the windows is your best friend. And
have good insurance'.
With first film under her belt, Meredith is set on another challenge - an intersectional horror love story in series format and docuseries about female bike messenger.