The Powerful Education Movement in Miss Virginia with R.J. Daniel Hanna Image

What about creating the true event and turning it into a film. What was that like? It was a true event around 2003-2004. How did you recreate that for the film?
This was the first time I’d done something that was going to be really hitting on people of this scope. It was really just about trying to talk to Virginia a lot, trying to get a sense of how things were for her. It’s definitely a lot of pressure because I don’t want to tell someone’s story wrong or badly, then that is out there representing them. I wanted to focus on Virginia herself. If Virginia likes the movie, then I’ll have succeeded, and everything else is secondary. 

If Virginia likes the movie, then I’ll have succeeded…”

What about other challenges in dealing with “Congress?” The locations actually looked like Congress as well as the protest schools too?
Obviously, the movie’s got a big scope. It’s got school meetings, city council meetings. We did shoot outside of Congress in D.C. for that protest. We really had to think about everything in advance. It has to be absolutely perfect like the final congressional vote that’s happening because we’re very limited on how much we can show there because we’re shooting that in L.A. and it’s a totally different location. It was definitely a challenge, and I think at the end of the day, we came down to go for the emotional truth rather than what exactly does this one hall of Congress look like. We went for what feels right, what feels big, and true for Virginia’s experience.

How many locations did you have?
We tended not to have a lot of location moves, so we’d try and get in somewhere and make it work for a lot of different spots. We shot the L.A. City Hall, two different schools. We shot all over. The original script had like 200 scenes. A lot of that is because there’s a phone call, so that’s two locations, or there’s Virginia watching the councilman or the congressman on the TV, so we have to shoot both sides of that to cut back and forth. It gives an idea of the scope of the film. 

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