Q & A with Steve and Terri

Why was it important to make My Name Is Belle?

Terri: This film tells the story of the loneliness and the struggles of an immigrant. I taught high school for 14 years, and I watched many young teens exclude others that were different. Some of this is fear of anything that’s different. Sometimes exclusion is a tool that teens use to make themselves feel important. They use the small amount of power they have and do not think of the consequences of their actions and the pain they might cause. Who gets to decide who is the outsider… what is the standard that makes someone different? Exclusion is something that young kids don’t truly feel or understand until it happens to them. We are excluding other people for the wrong reasons.”

Steve: “I hope this film helps put a human face on an abstract political debate. Immigration is a hot topic today and often it’s the people who are forgotten. As President Carter once said, “This nation is strong because of its differences and its diversity.”

Why are documentaries important to you?

Terri: “Although we also make commercials and dramatic films, we like documentaries because they have the power to change the way people think about important issues. But in order to do that, the films need to be entertaining so that they influence a wide audience.”

Steve: “We try to look for the positive in adversity. My UCLA graduate advisor once told me that there’s no point in convincing people who already agree with you. We don’t believe it’s enough to only point out what’s wrong. In order to ‘convince people’, we want solutions as well.

“But probably the best thing about making documentaries is the people you meet and get to know. There’s not another occupation that would allow you to spend time with, and get inside the minds of, people as diverse as commercial fishermen, research biologists, agricultural workers, fine artists, politicians, public school teachers and war heroes.”