It just happened.
“I was friends with Rochelle (Poulson) and she was diagnosed with cancer,” she says. “It was a new thing for me. I didn’t know anyone my age who had cancer and I wanted to tell a story.”
Owens’ “cancerpants” tells the story of Austin resident Poulson as she battles to stay strong after being diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer.
The film uses a diary style to chart Poulson and her partner Julie’s emotional odyssey as they engage their circle of friends, family and local community to aid Poulson’s quest to find meaning, life enrichment and personal growth.
“I worked filming the movie for more than a year,” Owens says. “At the end of the film, it was difficult to remove myself from the film because I had gotten closer to her and she became a part of my life.”
Owens says Poulson refused to be “just a body” and she demonstrates how to sustain a constructively fighting spirit within the experience of serious illness.
“Ro embodies a mindful warrior throughout her breast cancer experience, lending strength to all those who share her journey, inspiring confidence and trust,” she says. “Through her experience she helps dispel fears and helps women face the reality of breast cancer and its impact.”
The film marks Owens second effort at directing and says she’s glad to have an opportunity to make this film.
“It’s a story that a lot of people know,” she says. “There are so many people affected by cancer and they have similar stories.”
Aside from being a director, Owens makes her living as an film editor. She says while most directors shouldn’t edit their own film, with budgetary restrictions it was in her favor.
“We had nearly 300 hours of footage and I had to bring it down to an 80-minute film,” she says. “When it came down to editing, I didn’t have to watch all of the footage because I already knew what I had. It made the editing process a lot easier.”
Owens says the response to the film has been great and she has screened at a handful of film festivals.
“The screening in Austin was great because it was the first time that I really got to enjoy the film,” she says. “The feedback is always good and it helps me gauge the work that I’ve done.”
Owens hopes that “cancerpants” becomes a film that honestly represents what cancer patients go through.
“While it seems incredible that a movie about breast cancer has not been made before, nothing like ‘cancerpants’ seems to exist,” she says. “And though breat cancer is so common, the average layperson knows surprisingly little about it.”
If you go
WHEN: 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22
WHERE: Warehouse 21, 1614 Paseo De Peralta in Santa Fe
HOW MUCH: $10, tickets available at the venue. For more information on the festival, visit www.santafeindependentfilmfestival.com