“If you’re against aging, you’re against living” - Tara Gadomski

LAKE REGION - Wrinkles and age spots are an aspect of life that Tara Gadomski believes should be embraced.

Gadomski returned home last month to make her directorial debut with Signs of Aging, a short film she wrote in hopes of encouraging women to ignore the critics and accept who they are and who they are becoming because aging is a natural part of life she said.

As an actor herself, Gadomski sees the subject magnified, but instead of ignoring the anti-aging promotions, her career and experiences offer an opportunity to share her thoughts on the subject.

Anti-aging, is a “part of human nature” that she finds “fascinating” since its about when a person was born, Gadomski said. Instead of stressing about aging, she thinks, “all ages should be valued.” The concept of anti-aging is “silly” and she questioned why it’s an issue because focusing on the notion is a waste of time.

In the 10-minute film, when a “pushy” skin cream saleswoman is using shady marketing tactics to shame a group of women into buying her anti-aging products, a “mysterious young woman” stepped in, Gadomski explained. That was the extent of the plot Gadomski shared, because she didn’t want to reveal the “twist.” The film has a “funny” context however, because the storyline is about the “ridiculousness” of peoples’ thoughts on aging.

To Gadomski, the term “anti-aging” is senseless because there’s no way around aging since “If you’re against aging, you’re against living,” she said. For a better term, Gadomski suggested, “healthy skin” but she doesn’t feel that’s as catchy. Gadomski acknowledged that she wears makeup, but she believes its important women consider why they wear it and it’s not needed to feel better or fix something. She wants people to know there’s nothing wrong with them and nothing needs to be fixed.

Oppression of women

Rather than ignoring the advertisements, Gadomski said she has thought more about the concept as she came into her 40s and she feels the “anti-aging” notion is a “continued oppression of women” since wrinkles and age spots advertised as being “horrific” for women, but hardly recognized with men.

A local actor, Debbie Waldron was “Betsy” in Signs of Aging. Having performed at the Ritz Theater in Hawley and a few independent films, Waldron said her character was that of a school nurse whose friend was throwing a makeup party to help the friend. Waldron found her character to be “very accessible.” Doing film, rather than stage, Waldon said was different because of the time gaps and once she was on, it was instantaneous. Acting is something she enjoys, because it is a chance to be someone else.

Anti-aging can be an issue for some people Waldron said, because confidence varies for all. As Betsy, Waldron found it a challenge becoming someone who was very concerned with how others perceived her, since she’s not like that since, “I’m pretty much where I’m going to be in life and I’m okay with where I am.”

Signs of Aging was the first film set Nicole O’Dwyer ever designed. A local interior designer and owner of NS Interior Designs, O’Dwyer said the difference from her day to day work and a film is that she generally does residential work, so the film changed the job because she was borrowing items from local businesses such as Flipped Furniture in Hawley.

O’Dwyer designed the set based on Gadomski’s suggestions. Typically setting for a home is different, O’Dwyer said, because there she focuses on how people function daily, whereas the film was about what the “camera needs to capture” and adjusting objects throughout the takes. She called the experience “interesting.” O’Dwyer also enjoyed working with so many “talented people” who had different careers and came together for the project. With her first film behind her, O’Dwyer said she’d welcome the opportunity to do another.
    
Few female photo directors

Signs of Aging was not the first film for Liza Gipsova, who was the director of photography. Having been in the industry for 10 years, Gipsova said it’s an experience because just two percent of directors of photography are women. In her position, Gipsova said she was responsible for how images looked and must consider composition to focus and how a story is told through various tools. She enjoys her job, because its “super collaborative” and she likes seeing the process from start to finish.

Being the director of photography for Signs of Aging, Gipsova said was “amazing” because she felt there was an “important message” to share since “agism” is an issue in the film industry and in society, which is problematic because everyone has to be treated with “dignity and respect.”

When she was younger, Gadomski said she was overly conscious of aging because the industry led her to feel badly about herself and how she looked, since she was taller, as well as there being “constant pressure” from advertisements.

All of Gadomski’s work thus far has been stories about women and from a women’s point of view who are in their 40s or older, because it’s about writing what you know she said. It’s the visual choices Gadomski has made in the film, that she believes makes Signs of Aging her film, as well as working with a team who implemented her ideas and understood their roles so well.
    
“We’re lucky if we age”

The message she hopes comes from Signs of Aging is that, “We’re lucky if we age,” since it just means you’re living she’s aid. Having written other films before, Gadomski chose to pursue Signs of Aging because it is a story she wants to tell because its relatable.

As an actor and director, both roles Gadomski enjoys since each has its own components that set them apart. As an actor, she said its “fun” to just focus on one thing. Whereas when directing, she was able to implement her “vision” while also collaborating with others to make her ideas happen, which was a “cool experience.” Being the director, that Gadomski didn’t anticipate being “intense all day” because people were looking to her for answers often. She was pleased though, how the actors knew their lines, even after repeating them numerous times.

Having known women and even herself who thought too deeply about other peoples’ perceptions of them, that Gadomski said was “sad” as they questioned themselves for not meeting a particular beauty standard set by someone else and she hopes, Signs of Aging will change that and make people “embrace themselves.”

With a cast and crew of mostly women, Gadomski said there was a lot of “compassion” on set that she hasn’t found on male dominated film sets. Plus, there were a few involved who were new to the industry, which was great since they were learning as they worked. Because of the camaraderie, there was plenty of support for one another.

Gadomski expressed appreciation to everyone for their backing and making her dream “become a reality.” As well, the Newfoundland Hotel for serving “amazing food” and O’Dwyer’s skill for interior design.

Now, Signs of Aging is in post-production because of the cost, said Gadomski. She plans on showing the film at film festivals as well as private screenings and by mid-2019, it’ll be online for all to see.

For more information about Signs of Aging visit https://www.fracturedatlas.org/site/FiscalSponsorship/profile?id=17286  or visit @SignsofAging on Facebook.