July 12, 2023
                      Carrie Radigan, in pink, addresses attendees at the Tribeca Film Festival. (photo by Mettie Ostrowski

It’s not every day a UMass alum shows up on the Tribeca Film Festival red carpet, but this summer, that’s where we saw Carrie Radigan ’16. Radigan is one of the producers of Chasing Chasing Amy, director Sav Rodgers’ film about his complicated relationship to the late-1990s Kevin Smith movie, Chasing Amy. The 1997 film, about a man who falls in love with a lesbian and the ripple effect in their lives and circle of friends, was a lifeline to Rodgers as a closeted teen who had no access to queer media. His own film explores the ways in which the film both has and hasn’t stood the test of time.

The Tribeca Film Festival is one of the highlights of the international film festival circuit, with thousands of films vying for about 200 screening spots, so getting in is a Big Deal.

“I think that when we first found out that we were accepted to Tribeca, we all were on zoom respectively… and we all just started, like, tearing up with joy,” Radigan said. “It's huge to be able to say that it's been at Tribeca. It's huge to say that it's gotten really great reviews online, which we're extremely grateful for. The Hollywood reporter, Huffington Post, Entertainment Weekly: they've all been extremely supportive of the film.”

The film’s creative team has more stops on the festival circuit planned, including the LGBTQ-focused OutFest, happening now through July 23 in Los Angeles, where Chasing Chasing Amy is screening in the coveted Closing Night slot. One of Radigan’s big to-do items right now as a producer is capitalizing on the film’s festival momentum to sell it for distribution — and get it out to the people who need to see it.

“Yes, the sales part of it is important and is great, but I think the bigger part of it to me is, what is the community that comes out of people who are watching the film?” Radigan explained. “Sav made this film because the original film Chasing Amy saved his life as a queer kid growing up in Kansas. And I can only hope that one day there is someone who feels compelled, after watching Chasing Chasing Amy, to understand that there are people like you out there.” Radigan also noted that part of the documentary is about elements of the original film that haven’t held up, and the team acknowledges that this “actually leads to really fulfilling discussions.”

Radigan didn’t study film at UMass Amherst, graduating in 2016 with a double major in theater and psychology. She moved immediately to New York City to couch surf and work in theater. 

“I was trying to think outside the box as far as what could pay the bills while I was trying to also my fulfill my hopes of being somewhere in entertainment,” she said, and found that there were film production internships available for college grads. She found a marketing internship at Light Iron, a company that provides post-production facilities such as editing bays for TV series, and was later hired as their client services coordinator.

It was a valuable entry into the field. “You're assisting the producers with any tasks they need. You're learning under them, which was extremely insightful and helpful. And then you're also meeting other people who are doing the same thing,” Radigan said.

She then moved on to Sim Post, which is now Picture Shop, as the operations manager. 

Meanwhile, she was collaborating with other young artists to make short films and playing them at smaller festivals, and it was at one of those festivals that she met Sav Rodgers. 

“Fast forward and a year later, he was in New York for a TED Residency to make a TED talk about Chasing Amy,” she said. He told her about his film idea and asked if she was interested in producing. He told her he wanted to visit the original film’s New Jersey locations and asked if she’d heard of a town called Red Bank.

“It felt very kismet because I was actually born and raised there!” Radigan said.

They began filming in 2018, and expected to be done in 2020, but the COVID lockdown delayed the timeline by several years. The extra time was ultimately to the betterment of the film in Radigan’s opinion.

Talking about her path to where she is now, Radigan said she’s far from alone as a theater major who’s made the switch to film. Furthermore, this background is a feature, not a bug, in terms of her qualifications for the work she does.

The scale of UMass, where she was constantly meeting new people, prepared her for the living in New York City and making new connections in her field, even as she built a core group of friends to rely on.

She also recalled her time on the production team of Next to Normal, a student-run production for which theater majors managed everything from securing funding to creating sets.

When it comes to the theater major, she said, “You are what you make of it, and it's not just your courses. Looking back, I would recommend any theater student to make stuff outside of classes. That is applying the skills that Harley (Erdman, dramaturgy faculty) and Julie (Fife, production manager) and Willow (Cohen, general manager) teach you. That really is just producing. It's just having a head on your shoulders to say ‘I don't know all the answers, I will figure it out.’” She added that she also learned that when assembling a team, it was important to find folks with complementary skill sets.

“To be honest with you, a lot of these skills that I learned through the theater degree were extremely helpful for movie production. Theater, to me, is about the psychology of people, and emotions, and stories, and I think that that can be easily transferred to a lot of other aspects and entertainment,” Radigan explained. “Theater is the study of empathy, and that can be applied to your whole life, let alone various jobs.”