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NEW YORK -- Patricia Richardson's directorial debut, "Detour" is truly a labor of love. Written and completely funded by Richardson, the dramatic feature film depicts lesbian couples in every day life.
A lesbian herself, Richardson said, "I wanted to show lesbian couples as any other couple, with work and relationship commitments. I wanted their sexual orientation to be incidental to the story line.
"There are not enough feature films with lesbian leading roles! And as writer and director, I was free of the pressures from major studios and investors. I was completely free to take the film in any direction that I wanted to."
"Detour" is the story of 27-year-old Kendal Lawrence. A surgical resident, Kendal lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. One day on her way to meet her significant other (Lauren Stevens) and their mutual friend (Police Officer Maria Rosetti) for dinner, Kendal gets into the backseat of a gypsy cab and is abducted.
Agent Ann Kuharik, a Senior FBI Agent, works closely with NYPD Detective Bill Emerson in an effort to find Kendal and determine the reason for her abduction. Sensing a lack of interest in the investigation by the NYPD detective because of Kendal's sexual orientation and Middle Eastern ancestory, Lauren decides to launch her own investigation.
Throughout the film, reasons for Kendal's abduction are intertwined with issues of terrorism and diversity; and in the end, leaving you to think twice about getting into the backseat of a gypsy cab.
The Making of "Detour"
Richardson shares Janis Joplin's birthplace - Port Arthur, Texas - a fact she proudly boasts whenever asked about her birthplace. However, since the age of nine, she was raised in New Jersey. After attending Cornell University Medical College Physician's Assistant Program, Richardson lived and worked in New York City for 15 years. During her time as a Physician Assistant in Manhattan, Richardson was also a Captain with the U.S. Air Force Reserves.
A woman of many talents, Richardson left the city for Schoharie County, where she opened and now operates a Bed & Breakfast for women only. Around the same time, she also realized she had an interest in law enforcement and became a Campus Safety Officer with Union College in Schenectady, where she has been for over 10 years.
While working at Union full time, Richardson decided to combine her interests in medicine, law enforcement, and film.
Although she never attended film school or obtained any film-related credentials, four years ago Richardson wrote "Detour" as a book and decided it would be better suited for the big screen.
"I went online, to the library, and to bookstores and taught myself the proper format for script-writing," she said. "[Then] I re-wrote the book into a script.
"When I wrote it, I attempted to combine my medical and law enforcement background. I wanted to address the issue of prejudice and diversity, as it applies to same-sex relationships and individuals of Middle Eastern heritage. There are a lot of preconceived prejudices directed toward others in our society."
Inspired and encouraged by Professor Yarrow at Union College, Richardson decided to turn her script into a film. She was involved in every aspect of the film, from beginning to end.
"I placed ads in local papers, Craig's List and contacted local theater production groups," she recalled. " I also recruited students and staff from the college, where I also held auditions. Several people read for a few different parts, but as the writer of the story, I knew the characters better than anyone else, so I went with my gut feelings."
The entire process, including the writing, was a labor of love that took four years to complete.
The underlying theme of abduction and sex-trafficking, although very real, is not something Richardson knows of first hand. However, she told San Diego Gay & Lesbian News that she was inspired by her own experiences riding in cabs throughout New York, and as a physician's surgical assistant at a New York Hospital.
"I have also ridden in gypsy cabs," she said. "And one day I thought, 'what if?'... What if the driver decides to drive off-route and I never make it to my final destination? It could happen!"
Although not a resident of New York during the tragic events of September 11, Richardson knows many friends directly affected by those terrorist acts, yet feels that the Muslim community is unfairly targeted.
"Some of the characters in 'Detour' are Muslim," Richardson said. "And the issue of terrorism is raised throughout the story, because I was trying to show that some people are good and some are bad, regardless of their religious beliefs or heritage. Not all muslims are terrorists."
The Muslim characters Richardson speaks of are the abductors, a.k.a. the bad guys, but their involvement in the abduction is not fueled by their religious beliefs, part of an unexpected twist that she reveals later in the film.
Richardson's "Detour" has already screened in three movie theaters throughout the New York region, and it will soon screen in Los Angeles (details below). She continues to promote her film, but already fueled by the creative bug, is beginning work on new film projects.
She is also the mother of two sons (both make appearances in the film), and she has cut her hours at Union College to actively pursue a career as a full-time filmmaker. Richardson's personal story proves that with the right set of motivation, anyone can set out to change misconceived notions and create leading roles for those not often given the opportunity.
Watch the PREVIEW:
Watch "Detour" in the theater, it will make its West Coast debut at the "The Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival" on Saturday March, 26 at 9:30 pm at the The Laemmle Sunset 5 Theatre in West Hollywood.
The Women's International Film Festival showcases narratives, documentaries, animation and student short films created by women filmmakers featuring diverse roles for women. The festival runs March 25 - March 31.
A DVD copy of "Detour" may also be purchased online for $14.99 + shipping and handling.