Claire Chubbuck, the daughter of an internationally celebrated acting coach, Ivana Chubbuck, and award-winning director/producer, the late Lyndon Chubbuck (https://variety.com/2021/film/news/lyndon-chubbuck-dead-67-director-war-bride-1234957454/) has started her own career in film. She’s a firm believer that the past, present, and future run together.
Claire is the future of film – and she comes from a legacy of artists that have moved forward the
industry. Claire Chubbuck is an emerging female director taking the best of both of her parents,
and fusing it together to create a genre of film – “Cathartic Realism”. Cathartic Realism is a film
genre where artists tell the story of their personal traumas to find healing. The story told is
personal to the survivor — written, filmed and acted with the motivating factors of finding healing,
understanding, growth, and ultimately catharsis.
Claire Chubbuck creates content that helps people deal with their traumas with “Cathartic
Realism” where artists tell their own stories to help themselves heal. A take on the “true story”
genre, this allows artists to depict their truths—how they felt—and ultimately come out
victorious. She works with actors to use the traumatic events in their lives to make art – as a
director, and a teacher at Ivana Chubbuck Studio, where Claire is also the Vice President.
“Cathartic Realism is taking on storytelling through the artistic lens of empowerment dried by the Chubbuck Technique. It is taking the best of what both of my parents did/do,” said Claire Chubbuck.
Hollywood Digest editor sat down with Claire Chubbuck and asked her a series of questions:
HD: What genre of films do you think will benefit mostly from cathartic realism?
CC: Cathartic Realism is a film genre where artists tell the story of their traumas to find healing. The story told is personal to the survivor -- written, filmed, and acted with the motivating factor of catharsis - so it can be told through the lens of other genre conventions. Do you find your life ridiculous? Make a Cathartic Realist Comedy! Do you find your experience feels like you are saving or were saved? A Cathartic Realist Superhero film will do. Was your experience scary as hell? Cathartic Realist Horror is for you! While Cathartic Realism lends itself easily to drama, there is an expansive nature of what is possible in terms of genre.
HD: Do you think some of the elements of the screenwriter’s story intent might be misconstrued because of cathartic realism or do you think it will enhance the storyline?
CC: I do. That’s part of why we need to call this out as a genre. I had a single negative experience in showing Cathartic Realist work. My uncle, who works at a psychiatric hospital, thought it would be therapeutic for his patients - young women who experienced trauma - to create using the pain. We were going to do something like what I did in “(Corona) Viral Monologues”. To explain what Cathartic Realism was like, and who I am, he sent my first piece of Cathartic Realism, titled “How I Lost My Virginity”, to the hospital director. She was so triggered by the piece that he was called in for disciplinary action.
People are ripe for misunderstanding. However, if they walk into the film knowing that 1. the person who lived it is guiding the artistic choices, 2. the intention is to process and heal trauma, and 3. it shows others how they felt living through that experience - then you can’t approach with judgment. You must approach with understanding. Everyone has their own version of events, and how those events affected their lives.
If you watch through the credits, it’s obvious that the story behind “How I Lost My Virginity” happened to the star of the film, and is a Cathartic Realist piece. After showing “How I Lost My Virginity” in theatrical and festival settings, we are typically bombarded by women having the same experience who felt seen and heard. People opened to us in ways that I want to bring to the world.
HD: What inspired you to become a director and what then inspired you to believe and practice cathartic realism in your direction?
CC: I grew up watching my father direct, so it was always in my purview as a job option. At the time, there were very few female directors so I was afraid that I didn’t have what it takes to break out in the business. So, I chose to be on the studio side of creating content. I worked for AMC Networks when they were making Mad Men, and then at Participant Media when they were launching Pivot.
In 2015, I found my fiancé dead of tragic circumstances and, in one second, everything changed. I wasn’t able to work in an office anymore. My emotions were too much. So I quit.
That’s when I decided I wanted to make my life about helping people find an explanation for their traumas. I started teaching the Chubbuck Technique, an acting technique all about using your pain to win, and that’s where I found my personal love of directing. Directing is about taking care of your community. Both as a director and a teacher, I have found great pleasure in being part of inspiring others to speak about their shame.
HD: How do you view the future of films?
CC: I think we are on the brink of a new renaissance. Our studio system today is very similar to the Golden Age of Hollywood. They used to pump out Westerns, now we pump out Superhero films. “Easy Rider”, along with the other independent films of the time, broke the studio system by providing a real look at the contemporary human experience. We are about to be there, and Cathartic Realism can help light that match.
HD: Normally an actor prepares the part of whatever character he is going to play, how do you think this cathartic realism will affect the way he prepares?
CC: This is how we always prepare when using the Chubbuck Technique. Anyone who knows the Technique knows the healing properties of using your pain for purpose - to win. So no change there.
One important difference this will make in the lives of actors is the effect on typecasting. How are you going to tell someone that they are the wrong type when it’s their life or they are picking someone to portray their own life?
HD: Why do you think this futuristic direction will work better than the way films are directed now?
CC: As Artificial Intelligence (AI) becomes more prevalent, we will be able to use computer technology to write perfect scripts. What will be missing from those stories is the human factor. Using Cathartic Realism, we can show how it feels to be human in our culture. Therefore, we will be able to collectively understand each other - as humans.
HD: Do you have any films or projects that you are currently working on?
CC: I am working on several Cathartic Realist pieces. One is the story is about someone who loses the love of their life after they do cocaine laced with fentanyl - this is the story of my experience with my fiancé’s death. It goes through the process of finding someone that you love dead. I changed the ending so that my character dies too. So in this storytelling world, I can be with him. Writing the script has helped me to forgive while saying goodbye.
I am also in the post-production process of “Resilient”, an art film about the lasting effects of trauma with Sarina Film Productions. The story starts when a woman is triggered into a trauma response that takes her deep into the recesses of her mind and her history of abuse. The loving intervention of her husband encourages her to find her inner strength. Through the power of their connection, she is able to transmute the energy of trauma by choosing love over pain. This Cathartic Realist piece is about the resilience of the human spirit. We choose to add dance to the narrative as another layer of liberation.
HD: Do you have any well-known actors in mind to engage in cathartic realism?
CC: My answer: Halle Berry. Halle, who I have known my entire life, is one of the hardest working women in show business. She has worked with Ivana, and she knows the power of using the Chubbuck Technique. She even thanked Ivana when she won her Oscar! Cathartic realism is an expansion of the Chubbuck technique to encompass writing, directing, and editing. Halle has the bravery to take her pain and trauma into her work as an actor, director, and creator of original content. She defines the very nature of cathartic realism.
HD: If you could have me ask you any question on the planet what would it be and how would you answer it?
CC: What makes something a Cathartic Realist piece?
The tenets of Cathartic Realism are 1.) the story was lived by the writer, 2.) the piece is being written for the purposes of catharsis - and 3.) therefore the ending can be different. Lastly, 4.) film must be completed (edited, composed, etc) with the survivors healing in mind.
HD: Any final comments?
CC: Through the acting work done in the Chubbuck Technique along with the previous pieces of Cathartic Realism we have created, we have found that winning is an important part of taking back your pain. By attempting to overcome through reclaiming trauma through storytelling, we can find the beauty in our brokenness and the purpose in our pain.
HD: Where can our readers stay connected to you?