The film is executive produced by Frank Oz and follows Amanda (Actress Fiona Graham) as she takes care of her bedridden husband, Craig (Marc Menchaca) as he inches closer to death.
Graham found that producing her own work allowed her to tackle stronger female driven narrative and more complex characters as well as create jobs for women in film on both sides of the camera.
Daily Voice sat down with her to talk about the world premiere, her journey as a female in film, and what she hopes audiences will take away from the movie.
Daily Voice: Why is working with women - both in front and in back of the camera -- so important to you?
Fiona Graham: I love collaboration; I value it highly, and I relish working with both genders. However, statistically women have fewer jobs in the film industry, yet women are half the population buying tickets at the movie theaters. So I think it's important to represent women both on and behind the screen.
I want to tell stories that explore the human experience, regardless of gender, but I can't help notice that Hollywood desperately needs a lot more female driven narrative, something Europe is already very comfortable with. So "Muscle" is part of my contribution to that.
I also believe that it’s vital for woman in the industry to forge their own brand, and especially for actresses to create their own roles with stories they want to tell. "Muscle" was a story I wanted to tell, so I took matters into my own hands.
DV: And why do you think women are so under-represented in the industry?
FG: It's a boys club. Simple. But that's changing. There's a zeitgeist; thank goodness for Meryl Streep, Lena Dunham and so many influential women backing the movement. It gives weight, importance and value.
Last year, only 19 percent of films made were produced by women. Only four female directors have ever been nominated for an Oscar, and out of 89 Academy Awards for directors, only one female has ever won. So there are very few seats at the table for women, which makes it highly competitive. But, brilliantly, with stronger communities forming globally, the movement is rich in support, and has a strong network.
The climate is shifting as are the stories and films as a result. It's very exciting!
DV: What do you want people to take away from your film?
FG: Firstly, I want "Muscle" to entertain. However, I also want audiences to experience and understand the inner dilemma of the characters, and think about it in terms of their own lives. 'When faced with an agonizing choice that leaves no winners, what choice would they make?
"Muscle" is about a woman who cares for her sick husband. One day she decides to drive upstate to a country bar to seek out some unanswered questions. Heidi Marshal, the film's talented director, and I spent a year examining and developing the script closely to get to the core, the bare bones of the story, in order to tell it in its simplest form.
"Muscle" created such a stir in the focus groups, those who sided with Amanda and those who sided with Craig. I don't want to give to much away but it was fascinating to me to see how divisive people's opinions were. I believe art should shake us up. Its good to get out of our comfort zone. That's absolutely what Heidi and I set out to do.
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