All Exchanges Final
About The Project
All Exchanges Final is a drama/comedy about Dom, a new mother whose life is upended when her older sister has an out-of-the-blue aneurysm. With only hours left before her sister will be removed from life support, Dom cannot figure out how to say goodbye. And even if she did- would her sister hear her? While trying to come up with the words, Dom is interrupted by doctors, nurses, and finally a bored bureaucrat from the S.E.R.A. (Soul Exchange and Restoration Administration) who hands Dom an application and asks if she is interested in trading any souls for that of the deceased. Not entirely registering the question, Dom doesn’t look at the application until after she has left the ICU with her goodbyes to her sister still unsaid. Curious, she travels down to the sub-basement level offices of the S.E.R.A. with her five-month-old baby Pearl. There she meets other people wanting to trade souls for dying loved ones. In the supernaturally boring DMV-like waiting room of the S.E.R.A., Dom makes a decision. To trade her baby for her sister. But to do so, she’ll have to get through an awkward clerk, a decision maker who happens to be the proudest dad on the planet, and eventually, her own sister, who wakes up furious at Dom for what she has done.
The idea for my film, All Exchanges Final, came to me while I was breastfeeding in an ICU waiting room. My sister was in the ICU in a situation I hadn’t previously known existed—legally dead but technically alive. Her out-of-nowhere massive stroke had killed her brain. The rest of her body, however, was still in good shape and the perfect candidate for organ donation. So what followed my sister’s legal death was a weird thirty-six hour twilight period where we all just kind of hung out with her dead-but-still-breathing body until the surgery. The situation felt absurd, like it was Weekend at Bernie’s if those two guys had just spent the weekend staring at Bernie and being really, really sad. No matter how hard I tried to accept the reality of the situation, I couldn’t turn off my comedy writer’s brain—it told me that every absurd situation has a happy solution.
Luckily I had come up with one. I just had to trade my baby for my sister.
My daughter was five months old when my sister died. And in my five months as a new mother I’d experienced neither the heart-bursting joy old ladies on the street gushed about nor the resentment postpartum mommy blogs warned of. She was fine. She was a good baby. But the idea that I was supposed be in capital L love with this little life form was quietly hilarious to me- as if someone had asked me to fall in love with a perfectly nice potato. While people like my sister had found motherhood to be a transformative experience, I had so far found it to be more of a plus-one situation.
It was so simple. Just trade this bald little creature (not a person) for my sister (a person) and everything would be fine. The math made sense; I just had to overcome the petty obstacle of reality to go through with it. So I wrote a script. Now I want to make a film that acknowledges what I think is true– that often the connections that are supposed to be the most natural are the most difficult to make. That life is equally absurd, heartbreaking, funny, and brief. And that two people connecting in a moment is nothing short of what makes it worth living.