CHALLAH FOR CAROLINE: Baking and Filmmaking Unite A Mother And Daughter Under Quarantine
Like her peers in the cinematic field, actor/filmmaker Diana Foronda experienced as many emotional setbacks as she did professional difficulties during the initial stages of the coronavirus pandemic. While homebound with her mother Deborah, though, Diana eventually discovered that the greatest opportunities for creativity can occasionally emerge from the toughest of circumstances — as it was for their first-ever collaboration on Diana’s heartwarming new short film Challah For Caroline.
Shot on Diana’s iPhone camera and produced within the limits of the home she shares with Deborah, Challah For Caroline co-stars Diana in the title role of a young woman quarantined alongside her mom (played by Deborah). Struggling to pass the time, Caroline and her mom find that the art of cooking the classic Jewish bread challah is more than a stimulating activity. In working together to bake challah, the mother and daughter grow even closer while being forced to stay together.
Though Challah For Caroline is (as of this writing) in the running to appear at several film festivals, Foronda feels that the project is proof of how impactful filmmaking can be accomplished despite physical constraints and lack of resources. Having experienced her mom’s impressive acting debut in Challah For Caroline, Foronda also believes that some of the best collaborators can come from the unlikeliest of places.
Chris Hadley: You filmed Challah For Caroline during the coronavirus lockdown, and you co-starred in it with your mom Deborah (who plays the mother of the title character you play in the film). How did the limitations of life during quarantine, as well as the real life bond you share with your mom, inspire you to create this film?
Diana Foronda (co-star, “Caroline”, writer/director, Challah For Caroline): We were bored and feeling depressed most of the time since we were advised not to go out anywhere and the best and safest advice was to just stay home. In the middle of March, there was a scarcity on food supplies such as yeast and flour, and some bloggers wrote their stories on how baking bread brought some creativity along with pleasure and happiness to their lives during the pandemic. We decided to come up with a story by watching a Netflix movie, Almacenados, that only has two characters working in one setting. We also both love challah bread and decided to try to make it.
CH: In what ways did your familial relationship with your mom, and the shared interest you have for baking the traditional Jewish bread challah, influence the storyline of Challah For Caroline?
DF: My mom bakes, but I never did with her and she never tried to bake a challah before because it was so readily available in the stores and she thought the braiding was difficult. My favorite bread is challah. It’s very good when you use it in French toast. I challenged myself to bake a three-braided challah to a six-braided challah. We are Catholic and you don’t have to be Jewish to love challah. Living in New York, I was raised with all the wonderful Jewish foods easily available.
CH: Discuss how working with your mom on Challah For Caroline has brought both of you closer together.
DF: It brought us closer together because I see that she can be a good actress, and I never thought I would see the day where she would be in one of my films following my directions.
CH: Describe how you and your mom were able to film Challah For Caroline while adhering to the social distancing guidelines, and while making use of the available resources (iPhone, sound recorder, selfie stick, etc.) you had on hand around the house.
DF: Since we live together, we do not wear masks in the house. When we go out together, we wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines. I was inspired by watching (director Sean Baker’s 2015 iPhone-shot) film Tangerine and their filmmaking equipment (using an iPhone, and a FiLMiC Pro App) to film Challah for Caroline.
While I do not own any expensive equipment, I used some available resources that I have to make it realistic and make the iPhone stable on a few shots. I thought it would be a creative way to use alternative tools like Scotch-taping the window blinds or using selfie mode (on the iPhone camera) and (finding) places inside my fridge to balance it. One (piece) of my equipment (had its) shipping delayed so for some of the scenes, I used a selfie stick to create the Steadicam look for the film.
CH: Based on your experience making Challah For Caroline, what tips do you have for filmmakers who are about to work while social distancing, and for filmmakers will probably find themselves having to work under a second lockdown since (as of this writing) the coronavirus is on the uptick?
DF: Creativity doesn’t stop. It keeps on going. Whether it’s pre-quarantine or during it, filmmakers should visually keep telling their stories. I believe filmmakers should continue being creative by writing scripts, setting up auditions via Zoom, editing films, or even filming a short or feature. COVID-19 won’t stop us from creating because we can utilize whatever resources we currently have in our homes as alternative film equipment.
CH: What are your plans for the film in terms of taking it to audiences on the virtual film festival circuit, and where (and when) can people expect to see it?
DF: Right now, I have submitted Challah For Caroline to a few film festivals and (I’m) hoping (for it) to be selected and (for my mom and I to) attend the festivals in person or virtually during the 2020–2021 circuit.
CH: What projects are you working on now, how far along are they in the creative process, and when will they be ready?
DF: I’m currently writing a few scripts and they won’t be ready until the near future.
CH: Overall, what do you want viewers to take away from watching Challah For Caroline?
DF: That when you are in a quarantine situation, you can find a way to be creative and being creative with someone close can open up to a closer bonding with that person.
For more information on Diana Foronda’s film projects (including Challah For Caroline), visit her web site: