Bee Pedersen can still remember when she saw the thriller Seven in a theater. “We were going to have dinner after, but when we came out, I said, ‘You know, I think I’ve got to go home.’ I walked out of that theater saying, ‘Whoa. For one reason or another, that will stay with me forever.’”
“With a really good movie,” agrees Felicity Mudgett in a sort of sideways fashion, “you walk out talking to your buddies about it. It not only whips your heart around, it puts your heart in a different position. Take Get Out. [Writer-director] Jordan Peele said something that needed to be said in an interesting way.”
That shared admiration for what movies can do is part of why Pederson and Mudgett have partnered to form the local film production company Flying Dolphin. Every day, the two meet at Mudgett’s comfortably modern Del Mar home to discuss the realization of her script for a psychological thriller titled The Sweet Taste of Souls. (Both have written multiple scripts, but Souls was comparatively easy to realize.)
Pedersen likens the effort to a military operation, and with reason. The opaque surfaces of the kitchen cabinetry are covered with diagrammatic approaches to the story in erasable black marker. Add to that attendance at filmmaking programs, market meetups, and union gatherings, plus manuals read, YouTube tutorials watched (“We need to be able to talk to a sound engineer,” she says), and industry vets consulted. “These are all puzzles; a thousand pieces every day: ‘We didn’t know about that. Now we know about that.’”
Both women have corporate careers behind them; Mudgett talks about “making a study of what people want and need, making that thing, and presenting it to them,” a la Jordan Peele. In terms of both age and mindset, they are past the point of getting away with being beginners who don’t know what they can’t do. “But we’re at the age where you know you can do stuff,” stresses Mudgett. Like become a competitive golfer, which she’s done. Or make a movie, which she’s doing.
Also, after you’ve lived a little, “Different things that you know and understand start relating to each other. That’s when you have something to say as a writer. It occurred to me — and this is a life experience — that people who have had more emotional trauma are more susceptible to evil as a force. But you have to invite it in. That’s the theme of The Sweet Taste of Souls: a study of the human psyche with fantastical elements.” She comes by both the interest and the career change honestly: “My father was a psychiatrist, and he didn’t decide to become a doctor until he was 49.”
Adds Pedersen, “I always thought, ‘The older I get, the easier my life will be, because I’ll know more. That’s not the case; the older I get, the more complicated life gets. But I’m better able to deal with it. And I know the only way we can make sure [this movie] will happen is if we do it ourselves.”