Laura Barbato's The Unorthodox Series is as unorthodox as its creator!
The year is circa 1991. Music, cigarettes, drugs and depression--the rock-star life is certainly not for the weak! In the episode that Laura submitted to us, she enters the mind of a beautifully tormented man, after a night of drug-induced shenanigans. The treatment caught our eyes and we delved little deeper.
Laura Barbato is an ex police person who served the New York Police Department with pride. Her gift lies in finding art in everything, even in telling gruesome stories. Her life is as inspiring as her work.
The chat we had with her is refreshingly honest and insightful.
After Hour : Your work - The Unorthodox Series has a unique format of storytelling, the first-person point of view style. What inspired you to try out this rather unusual format?
Laura : With “The Unorthodox Series”, I wanted something different this time around. Something more artistically visual and interactive. Something outside the box. Something a little more on the “bizarre” side.I’m fascinated by the human mind and I love to people-watch. I sometimes wonder what makes a person tick? What causes him/her to go off the deep end? What goes on inside his/her mind when he/she can finally rest? I knew the series had to be unique and like no other, based off of the overall risky theme. And with that, I wanted to not only make it visually bizarre, yet uncomfortable,too. So, I decided to put the audience right up front with the feeling of being trapped, so to speak. First-person point of view, right inside the idle minds of some really tormented souls is about as visually-uncomfortable as I could get it!
After Hour : Art and crime - how do you find the balance or synergy as an artist between these two?
Laura : I think by looking at the overall picture, both art and crime are just mindsets. What is it that we want to achieve? Why do we do the things we do? What drives us? What type of fulfillment do we get out of doing these things? There’s usually some sort of motivating factor behind each of these mindsets, and although these two topics could be completely different, there’s usually at least one reasoning in common behind both.
After Hour : How do you think your experiences with the NYPD helps shape the creative process when you are writing a thriller?
Laura : People don’t call 9-1-1 to say hello. They call because they need help. Emotions have risen. Something’s gone wrong. When we show up on a scene, as an officer, we experience people at the height of their emotions. We aren’t sure what to expect, and there’s so many unknown factors. And that’s really what a thriller is. It gives heightened emotions, anxiety, and real-life fear of what may happen next. We want to help. We want to be a part of it, and most importantly, we want everything to end well. With that, writing realistic scenes for my thrillers have come more natural to me because I’ve been in many heightened situations that not everyone will have the chance to experience.
After Hour : Of the many hats you wear - writer, producer, director, which one do you love the most?
Laura : Screenwriting. I feel that I can be as creative as I need to be without worrying about blowing through a budget, running out of time, and having to make do with what we have. I enjoy doing all three jobs, and all three are uniquely challenging, but screenwriting is an area that I’ve studied and absolutely love.
After Hour : You say you love pushing boundaries not just to the limit but slightly over the line - we would love to know what inspires you, what keeps you going.
Laura : What keeps me going is the response I get from my audience. And what’s even more exciting to me is when the audience is all so different, and not necessarily the audience that I envisioned to appreciate my work. It’s amazing to see so many different people, nationalities, and backgrounds enjoying one piece of art together. I love to hear different interpretations, opinions, and what people liked and didn’t like about my work because most of it is, in fact, up to interpretation.
After Hour : Are there any interesting incidents from your sets or life that you would like to share with us?
Laura : I think the most interesting, to say the least, events came from the “The Man Who Sold The World”. We had a few hiccups during filming that we can laugh and talk about now, but at the time, created some problems. We were set to shoot day 2, which would have been our club scenes, so we had the venue ready. Our actors, extras, and crew members were all ready. Me and my director, George, were excited and ready to work but unfortunately the universe had other plans for me. While I was on-duty as a police sergeant, I want to say maybe 2 days before the scheduled shoot, I was in a bad accident where I was pinned to a cement wall by a car, shattering my hips and breaking my collar bone. I was in the hospital and rehab for months, so we had to put the filming on hold for a while until I could walk again, at the very least. When we did pick up filming, we scheduled to shoot day 2 during the month of March. The day before the shoot, New York City had a bad ice storm which made everything a sheet of ice. Needless to say, the majority of our extras that we were going to use for the club scene couldn’t make it on set. We had to compromise with really tight shots and work with what we had, which turned out well in the end!
After Hour : How often do you read and whose work do you like to read?
Laura : I read a lot of scripts, more recently, which occupies a lot of time. Both new and older scripts, but when it comes to literature, I’m a fan of Ernest Hemingway and I also enjoy Edgar Allan Poe for his mystery and bravery in his writings. Both Hemingway and Poe write their stories using an “under the surface” style of writing, which makes it all about interpretations and the power of suggestion.
After Hour : When it comes to the movies, whose work do you enjoy the most?
Laura : I love M. Night Shyamalan, although he may not always get the popular vote. I loved “The Sixth Sense”, “Signs”, and “The Village”. I love the “Master of Suspense”, Alfred Hitchcock. David Lynch for his boldness. Jordan Peele for his twists and subliminal messaging. Christopher Nolan for his mind tricks and intensity. And of course, who doesn’t appreciate Martin Scorsese!