Durango Telegraph Interview of Writer/Director Larry Sarezky February 2014 (excerpt)
DT: You have 3 films to your credit, correct? and you are also a music composer?
LS: I’ve co-produced four independent films, two of which I wrote and directed. One of those two is “Talk to Strangers.”
The other is a short called “Ed Meets His Maker,” about an isolated nine-year- old whose turtle’s death gives him a chance for closure on the death of his father. The age range of my “Ed” cast was 7 to 12, so I learned quite a bit about directing kids making that film, which I find a real joy. “Ed” had a nice festival run with some awards and a couple of “best short” nominations.
I got interested in film scoring when I wrote a 50’s tune for “Ed.” “Talk to Strangers” has an entirely original score that I co-wrote with a guy named Brian Keane who uses his Grammies and Emmys as doorstops. I also wrote theme music for a wonderful documentary by Mara LeGrand, called “Wild Horses in Winds of Change.”
DT: Do you still practice law?
LS: I do, but I’ve limited my practice to divorce mediation. I started adding mediation to my matrimonial practice about 20 years ago, as an alternative to the waste of time, money and emotional energy I saw too often in traditional “court-based” divorces.
Our courts still function under the “adversary system” which literally has its roots in The Middle Ages in Merry Olde England where the two not so merry dispute resolution vehicles were “trial by battle” and “trial by ordeal.” Unfortunately, the adversary system in our courts today retains a little of both.
One of the messages of “Talk to Strangers” is that parents must take responsibility for controlling and resolving conflict in their families. Handing over that control to a system that is based on - and thus actually encourages – conflict, is a terrible model for family dispute resolution, except in extreme cases of abuse, untreated mental illness, etc. The Talk to Strangers Pocket Guide for Parents shows parents how to avoid that escalation of conflict, and how and where to get help with divorce conflict.
DT: How did using the Sherwood family come about? What is their acting background, if any?
LS: The Sherwoods are a purely fictional family that we assembled through the usual casting process. Claire Hilton (no relation to you-know-who Hilton) who played Emily had appeared in several indie films but “Strangers” was Sean Ellis’ (“Nicky”) first film.
DT: The film trailer does not show courtroom scenes; are there any?
LS: There aren’t. The story is told through the children’s eyes, and children – thankfully – rarely see the inside of a courtroom in divorce cases. Ironically, even that can cause problems for some kids. We see that in a scene in “Strangers” where 12-year- old Emily, whose parents have refused to talk to her about “The Case,” is dismayed to
learn that “I can’t talk to the judge or my parents - the only ones who count?”
In the film, the Sherwoods, try to “insulate” their children totally from the divorce. That’s a mistake for a couple of reasons. First, it’s impossible to do. Kids overhear phone conversations, come across lawyers’ letters, and learn things from friends who’ve overheard THEIR parents. It’s like putting the detergent up on the top shelf confident that your toddler won't be able to reach it – until she does.
Second, stonewalling is unfair to children whose lives have been turned upside down by a contested divorce and have so much riding on its result. Parents need to find the middle road of shielding children from their conflict while talking to them, in an age appropriate way, about the essentials, like where they will be living, that both of their parents will remain involved in their lives and so on.
DT: Is the guide you co- wrote for sale as a standalone or only in conjunction with the film? Is it meant for “professional” use only?
LS: The Guide is very much for parents, though some divorce professionals could learn a few things from it too. It does stand alone and can be purchased separately on the film website: www.childcustodyfilm.com/ It’s a pocket sized 17 page recipe for co-parenting by separating couples – and other struggling parents – intended to keep them, and more importantly their children, away from the court system.
Film One Sheet
The internet TV show "The Divorce View" on which Larry Sarezky was the guest in August, recently celebrated its 1st 26 weeks of shows. The program chose an excerpt from Larry's appearance for its press release announcing the anniversary.
Divorcing Parents: 10 Questions to Ask Before Fighting Over the Kids.
Larry provides ten questions divorcing parents should ask themselves before fighting over the kids in court. Read here