Cicada Song, the feature film and directorial debut of Michael Starr, was recently acquired by Indie Rights Movies for platform streaming on Amazon, Apple TV, and Google Play. A home theater release is also planned for the near future.
The contemporary mystery thriller won the Best of Fest-U.S. Feature award at the 2019 Catalina Film Festival, the Feature Film honor at the Highland Park Independent Film Festival, as well as Best in Fest, Best Actress, and Best Cinematography at the Glendale International Film Festival.
In the past, Starr co-wrote Don Quixote, The Ingenious Gentleman of La Mancha for James Franco’s Rabbit Bandini production company, won a first place Silver Telly Award for an anti-domestic violence PSA (Public Service Announcement) that he both wrote and directed, and won Best Director for a web series, A Brief History of Dick Moves, at the 2018 Glendale International Film Festival. Not only is Starr an award-winning writer and director, but he has also worked as a registered nurse in Los Angeles and across the U.S.
VideoAge International spoke with Starr about Cicada Song, releasing the film, and its festival circuit.
VideoAge International: When and how did you arrive at the story of Cicada Song?
Michael Starr: I had been planning a film with Lyndsey Lantz [who plays the lead role of Karen in Cicada Song] for a couple of years and asked her what type of film she wanted to do if she had her druthers. “A survival picture,” she said. “The grittier the better.” So I started planning an environmental piece about the water shortage in California where the tables were being drained by a big corporation and our character would find herself in the middle of something sinister, left for dead in the wilderness of Northern California… and then the drought ended. We needed to look for something a little more current. It was when we were watching the 2016 primaries and there was talk of a wall, then the immigration crackdown, and then in 2017 learning about families being separated and the terrible treatment of our own citizens… We’re de-evolving as a society and we were beside ourselves. Kim Reed [who plays Judith] suggested a human trafficking subplot and we looked no further.
VAI: Why is now the right time to release the film?
MS: We were hoping to finish the film sooner, but under our budget restrictions and with a small crew, it took a bit longer than expected. That said, it seems like time has stood still since we shot the film. Nothing has changed and it absolutely has to. Cicada Song has many social issues humanity is dealing with in America today.
VAI: What was the most challenging thing you endured in the process of making the film?
MS: Social Media! Marketing the film is something you learn to do, especially in today’s independent market. It’s a full-time job, and we must give thanks to Indie Rights for providing us with some guidance. There is so much content out there, so just being seen in the crowd is a win.