When ever I tell people I want to write a Lifetime movie, we all kind of laugh about it, and then I shed a single tear out of view, because I'm really only half kidding. I can't specifically tell you what it is, but something about the genre has always intrigued me. Maybe it's the solid archetypal characters, the way the plot takes such dramatic turns for the protagonist, or the way the storylines make me yearn for the antagonist to get hit by a fucking bus.
So 3 years ago when I met my friend Tia Ayers at Second City in Chicago, who had not only written a Lifetime movie, but had also gotten it produced, I was crazy jealous. And as this Lifetime movie rules idea came up, I thought it would be the perfect time to pick her brain on the subject...
What was the title of your Lifetime movie, and what was it about?
Ayers: The original title was “Just Breathe.” The Lifetime title was “Mom, Dad and Her” which I think we can all agree is much more compelling.
It was about a 16-year-old trouble maker from Chicago (read: Vancouver) who gets sent to live in a rural Iowa town (read: Vancouver) with her dad and pregnant step-mother for the summer and learns the true meaning of family.
Do you remember what brought about the idea for the story?
Ayers: My mom and I wrote it together. (Yes, a mother-daughter writing team! There should be a Lifetime movie about that.)
Did you watch Lifetime movies to get a feel for the format and the deception and the cold-blooded murder?
Ayers: No, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but this was written as a feature and then changed to fit into the Lifetime mold (by running it through your list of rules.)
Were you ever in a situation where you thought or even shouted "NOBODY BELIEVES ME!"
Ayers: Almost daily. In high school, I used to sometimes tell my dad, “I don’t care if you don’t believe me,” which, as you can imagine, he really appreciated. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve changed. Now I do care when people don’t believe me. I think that’s a sign of maturity.
Do you think someone at this very moment is secretly plotting to take your identity and become you?
Ayers: I hope not. I can’t imagine how boring that person’s life must be.
Okay, you meet an attractive guy who's new in town. He asks you on a date and you accept. While on the date, he has an explosive, angry outburst, which seems to come out of nowhere. Keeping in mind that you won't see the creepy moments that we the audience will see—following you in his car, spying on you in the park from behind the bushes—would you go on second date with him?
Ayers: He’s attractive, so I’d probably go out with him again. And I’d most likely know about the creepy moments too because I’m sure there’d be at least a few moments of me spying on him.
How about this? You have a daughter who is being bullied in high school. You encounter the bully in question and the bully begins to bully you. Do you report them, trusting in the local law enforcement/school administrators, or do you take the law into your own hands with a dose of viglante justice and risk prosecution?
Ayers: I don’t really like confrontation so I think I would tell my daughter, “Honey, if those people are saying those things, there’s probably some truth to it.”
Don’t worry though, my creepy attractive boyfriend from the previous question will kill me before I’m able to permanently damage my daughter. She’ll go on to become the first female D.A. of our town and put my killer behind bars.
How did the opportunity for penning a Lifetime movie come about?
Ayers: It was a feature script that my mom and I wrote years ago. One of my first jobs was working for a company that produced made-for-TV movies. They pitched it to Lifetime and the rest is history (or should I say her-story?... I shouldn’t?...Yeah, I agree, that would be a really stupid pun... Insert SFX of me falling down the stairs... I SWEAR no one hit me. I really fell down the stairs.)
Have you gotten much response or feedback from it? Aside from me stalking you about it, while I apply lipstick in a room with only blue lightbulbs, repeating to myself "Mr. & Mrs. Tia Ayers..." over and over again...?
Ayers: Let’s see, I found a user review on imdb that says, “The movie was pretty corny...The acting was ok...I probably won’t watch it again.”
I once made my friend watch it and then demanded that she admit it’s the worst movie ever made. When she said that she’s seen worse, I was disappointed. I’m still holding onto the hope that someone thinks it’s as horrible as I do. According to the Lifetime website, it’ll re-air on May 29th at 2pm. Good luck making it past the first 10 minutes.
Anything you want to say in closing?
Ayers: Yes, I feel I should clarify that although my mom and I wrote the original script of the film, another writer put the Lifetime touch on it. Because of Writers Guild rules, we were given the credit “Story by” instead of “Written by.” It’s kind of confusing, but I guess this other writer wrote a script based on our script?
The entire ordeal could be a Lifetime movie of its own and I’m working on a piece called “The Making of a Lifetime Movie”, which tells the whole gut-wrenching story. I’ll share it with you when it’s finished (although you’ve probably hacked into my computer and read it already.)
TIA AYERS is a writer and comedian who has written for E! Entertainment, The Style Network, The CW, Hello Giggles, RE: COMEDY Magazine and more. She's produced and directed short films that have been featured on the Yahoo! home page, Verizon's V-Cast, Nerdist.com and in film festivals across the country. She was voted Most Likely to Be President of the United States by her high school class and she's devoted a lot of time and money to make sure that never happens. Go follow her on Twitter now ---> @tiaayers