How did you come to this story?
I was not expecting to make a film about Laurel Hester. I read an article in a local paper about Laurel Hester's fight to leave her pension to her domestic partner, Stacie Andree, and I decided to go to a town meeting in New Jersey where she was protesting her elected officials, the Freeholders. Laurel was going to ask the Freeholders to allow her to leave her pension to her life partner.
I walked into a room that was so still and tense. There were probably a hundred and thirty people there, silently holding red signs that said, "Don't let Lieutenant Laurel Hester die like this". And the five elected officials, the Freeholders, entered the room. What unfolded in front of my eyes was so staggering to me that I knew instantly that the direction of my life was going to change, and that I was going to do whatever I could to tell her story.
I drove back to Brooklyn, New York, where I live and work, and went into my apartment. My husband had been taking care of our four month old daughter and our five year old daughter. He had just started a new job, and he knows that when I start a new film it typically means I go live with the subjects and I leave the family temporarily. With an infant at home, it was not necessarily the right time to be leaving the family. But within three days I was with Laurel and Stacie in the hospital, and for the last ten weeks of Laurel's life I lived with them on and off in their home. It was very important for me to tell the story from the inside, to tell it as a love story first, as a political battle second.
What was it about that first hearing that convinced you?