We recently published a post about a Cal State Fullerton alumnus, Natalie Rodriguez ’14, who has a film coming out called The Extraordinary Ordinary. The post was primarily about the movie and to promote the trailer, which is down below, but for this post we wanted to do an interview with Natalie. We hope that you enjoy the interview!
Tell us a little about The Extraordinary Ordinary. Why is this an important film for people with mental illness and for people who do not suffer from mental illnesses?
“The Extraordinary Ordinary” was always that one screenplay I came back to, regardless of the number of “no’s” and closed doors I reached. Throughout my last two years of college, I experienced panic attacks on a daily basis. Most of the anxiety was heightened due to the number of classes I was taking, as well as the pressure I felt to ‘do it all.’ During my Christmas break from my junior year in college, I never left the house and slipped into deep depression. I knew it was not defined as ‘normal’ for sleeping all hours of the day and waking up drenched in sweat from anxiety. So, I ended up reaching out to a psychologist.
So far, I have been going to therapy, coping with panic attacks, anxiety, and depression through cognitive behavioral, which is a form of challenging those thoughts and fears into staying in the ‘now.’
Definitely, it was my own experience with a mental health disorder (disorders) that had an impact on my life, including the way I think and process those thoughts. I have been in therapy for a bit over five-years and can admit how I felt alone. But I grew up and also work in an industry where discussing (or acknowledging) mental health is considered controversial. The irony, however, is that one in five people will develop a mental health disorder or experience something such as a panic attack per year. That is why it never makes sense to myself, as well as for others I am certain, when a majority of society tells us to turn the cheek to mental health.
“The Extraordinary Ordinary” is a story that follows three college students, who come from different backgrounds, yet connect when they realize how similar their lives truly are due to their history with grief, mental health, and recovery. The film was never made in the sense for it just being available to people who have a mental health disorder, or experienced something such as anxiety. To be honest, the film always felt it was to show people, in general, that someone who has a mental health disorder can still ‘function’ in what is considered in a ‘normal situation.’ Not everyone ‘looks’ or ‘acts’ the same way if experiencing a panic attack or going through depression. There are varies symptoms and the world should always understand that just because someone, or themselves, are going through something such as anxiety or depression, that does NOT mean they are ‘messed up,’ ‘damaged,’ or destined to be doomed.
Everyone has felt nervous, scared, overwhelmed, and so much more–so, why should mental health be considered something different if the symptoms are the same as feeling nervous, scared, and overwhelmed?
How did your education at Cal State Fullerton prepare you to become a film entrepreneur?
My education at Cal State Fullerton certainly influenced where I am today. Professor Edward Fink was the first professor at the university to read my work, including multiple short films, and eventually the treatment for “The Extraordinary Ordinary.” He was one of the first people to know of the feature film headed into pre-production. Never once did he question the project or anyone involved in the EO team. Fink was, and still is, one of my biggest supporters. Thankfully, that was one of the best outcomes of attending CSUF: finding a mentor.
The irony was carrying the story for “The Extraordinary Ordinary” throughout college and rewriting and rewriting it as time went on. Especially learning how to cope with my own mental health. A lot of those fears, or flat out being told by a doctor once how I would fail and never make it as a filmmaker due to my anxiety and depression (as well as my ‘young age’), it just motivated and kept me on my toes, never using it as an excuse to stop following my dreams.
What advice would you give to people who are considering becoming film entrepreneurs?
Being in the arts/entertainment, in general, will automatically make you a entrepreneur because your first ‘investor’ will be yourself. That is something I wish I learned sooner–invest in yourself and never stop believing in yourself.
Details about when the movie is going to premiere and where people can see the movie.
There will be a Los Angeles and Orange County, CA premiere sometime mid-early spring 2019. Details will be announced in an advanced
What’s next for you?
A lot, but a few exciting events and other projects. Right now, our post-production team is finalizing our director’s cut for “The Extraordinary Ordinary,” something we are to complete by the holiday season, in time to get the feature film to its color correction and sound mix/design stage. I am pitching a few scripts of mine, including a TV sitcom, “The D,” which is based on a short film that some buddies and I filmed two-years ago.
Also–I am currently recovering from attending Hispanicize over the weekend. It was one of the best panels I have ever been invited to. Ana Marte, one of our leading ladies in the film, and I spoke at the event, one of EO’s first in-person press release.
Anything else you would like to share?
We highly encourage everyone to check out our social platforms to stay up-to-date with the status of our project, as well as some behind-the-scenes set photos and press conferences. Plus, you will get to see what the cast and crew has been up to since we wrapped filming in May.
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/TheExtraOrdFilm/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/theextraordfilm/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/theextraordfilm/