Director Marina Donahue talks about ‘All in Time’ movie and living in San Diego

'All in Time' Director Marina Donahue

‘All in Time’ Director Marina Donahue

“All in Time” director, writer and producer Marina Donahue talks about the journey that led to this film, and about going to college at UCSD and living in La Jolla.

All in Time rocks.
– LA Times
Sweet and clever…convincing, unpredictable.
– The Hollywood Reporter

Donahue will screen her indie film in San Diego December 8th at the Landmark theaters in Hillcrest, and she and her film co-writer and director, Chris Fetchko, will be present for a Q&A. Tickets are available for this private event.

The only way I can describe the mother-turned-film-director, Marina Donahue, is a Lady Boss! Gracious and tenacious, Donahue had to let go of her project so the film could be finished. This meant she was not allowed on set!

A private investor stepped in with enough money to complete the project and one condition, “He made his investment contingent upon me not being anywhere near the production.  He even offered to send his private security guard to keep me away! Read on to find out how this turned out.

Lynn Cohen (Hunger Games: Catching Fire) 83, and director Marina Donahue at the La Costa Film Festival.

Lynn Cohen (Hunger Games: Catching Fire) 83, and director Marina Donahue at the La Costa Film Festival.

I met Donahue at the La Costa Film Festival in 2015 when her film, “All in Time,” was the opening movie. She stood in line next to me waiting to get her photo taken on the red carpet, and I had no idea who she was. I loved her rich red elegant dress, and we chatted while we waited for the step-and-repeat to clear for her close up. It was only after I saw the rest of the cast and the photogs swarm them that I learned she was the main event.

Cast of "All in Time" at the La Costa Film Festival.

Cast of “All in Time” at the La Costa Film Festival.

A year later, Donahue is still on the film festival circuit with an ambitious tour that includes a stop in San Diego — her old stomping grounds.

Movie Synospsis:

Charlie quits his job in New York to move home to Pennsylvania to follow his dream of managing his favorite hometown rock band. His supportive girlfriend shares his love for the band, but the band’s guitarist, who has experienced the harsh reality of the music business, doesn’t share Charlie’s wide-eyed optimism. His attitude derails Charlie’s best efforts to bring the band success and sends Charlie spiraling into an emotional, financial, and romantic tailspin. Charlie hits rock bottom when he loses both the band and his girlfriend, but gets some unexpected help from his elderly neighbor who sets him back on his path. With terrific music from two outstanding Pennsylvania-based musical talents (The Badlees and Laura Shay), All in Time delivers a nice mix of drama, musical performances, and comedy, with a few twists along the way. Watch the trailer here.

Marina Donahue and Suzette Valle at the La Costa Film Festival in 2015.

Marina Donahue and Suzette Valle at the La Costa Film Festival in 2015.

I caught up with the warm and candid Donahue while she was on the road to Seattle and San Francisco. She graciously answered a few questions in between screenings and driving.

1. You were a mother when you jumped into filmmaking. Was there a defining moment or event that made you take the leap?
Being a Mom was always my number one priority.  I remember someone asking Jackie Kennedy towards the end of her life what was the most important job she ever held: First Lady, Editor, Publisher….she said being a Mother— that it’s the most important job in the world.  So I waited until my kids were older to dive into a time-consuming project.  I also wanted to wait until they were old enough to understand that Mom was pursuing a dream and working really hard at it, and never giving up no matter what. I hoped that example would influence their own lives.  Of course I want them to remember me for being a loving mother, but also I want them to remember my tenacity!
2. Why this story? Did something resonate with you about it?
Yes!  This is a story about leaving a steady and predictable life to chase after a dream at all costs.  At an early age, my Mom instilled that in me.  She always told me to set your dream and then write down your goals to achieve it.  We each had our goals up on the refrigerator door — I remember starting that tradition in 6th grade when she divorced and was able to start following her own dreams. Of course there is a lot of fear involved with pursuing a dream.  You have to take risks, possibly fail or get hurt, lose things or money or people…and what I love about this movie is seeing how these characters do exactly that.  it’s very inspiring.
3. I understand you started to make All in Time in 2009 in it took seven years to finish it. The collapse of Lehman Brothers was in 2008. Is it a coincidence that there’s a tie in the movie to this bank in particular even though the movie is set in 1996? I worked for Shearson Lehman investment bank in London back in the 1980s, so I noticed this.
Haha!  Yes.  We wanted to have a little fun since this was a period piece set in the 90’s. We thought of things that happened right after the 90’s and wrote them into the script.  The line you’re referring to is spoken by Charlie’s Mom, who is upset he left a good job at Lehman Brothers to manage a rock band.  She says, “For the life of me, I can’t understand why you would throw all that job security out the window.”  Some audiences get it, but most people don’t.  We also have a college professor lecturing on the Electoral College and how sometimes the popular vote doesn’t match the Electoral College vote.  When we wrote that we were referring to Bush vs Gore in 2000, but now that line seems to portend to the more current instance of this!
4. I found out at the recent San Diego Film Festival that Annette Bening grew up in San Diego, and that she comes to visit her family often. I had no idea she grew up here! I understand you lived in San Diego and went to UCSD. Do you maintain ties in San Diego? What are your favorite places to go to here: a restaurant (food), movie theater, or landmark?
I left San Diego after UCSD to pursue a Masters at NYU, and ended up staying on the East Coast, but I came home frequently.  When I had kids I would bring them here A LOT — to the point that when they were old enough to have Facebook pages they both wrote that San Diego was their home town.  That made me so happy!  We now have a little condo in Del Mar that is my escape, and I try to come out here as much as I can.  My favorite restaurant is Jakes — but The Brigantine is my nostalgic choice because I worked there from age 14 to 22!  And their Ahi Poke is to die for. I also LOVE the Little Italy Farmer’s Market, especially the OH! Juice stand. They have the best fresh juices, and the girl who started the business did it all on her own…..starting with a dream.
5. Did you know that UCSD has a respected film program? Would you go back to speak to students if you were invited to do this? My daughter applied and was accepted to the UCSD Film Studies program, but decided to go to NYU Tisch Film and TV program instead.
I did know that!  And a respected acting program as well.  Triton Pride!  Yes, I have already been invited to talk to the students and hold a private screening at UCSD next Quarter. I can’t wait!
6. Film festivals have become more important than ever for indie films. San Diego alone has a handful of popular film festivals. With 12 awards, All in Time has been called “the indie festival darling,” so it’s probably safe to say you have made a name for yourself in the film arena. What was your hope in entering All in Time in the festival circuit, and did this help with future projects?
When we were writing this film, I truly didn’t know what to expect as it was my very first one.  I also didn’t know if people would like it!  I had been a film festival junkie for years, and always admired the filmmakers going up after a screening to do their Q&A’s.  I dreamt of that being me some day.  So when we were polishing up the final rough cut, I remember praying that we would get into just one festival so I could go to a festival as a “filmmaker.”  When we got into more than one, and then started winning awards, it was astonishing and beyond my wildest dreams.  The film’s success has definitely helped me with future projects as it has proven that I can make a marketable film, but festival acceptances are totally unpredictable. Sometimes you just scratch your head over why one fest took your film but another one didn’t. The awards do go a long way in legitimizing a film, however, so we are very lucky to have 12!
7. What’s next for “All in Time” after this tour?
Although I am utterly exhausted from this 20 city promotional tour, I don’t want it to end!  My film partner, Chris Fetchko, and I are talking about continuing it into next year, doing some overseas private screenings, possibly taking it on a college tour, and bringing it to cities we missed this time around.  We’re a little crazy.  Our goal is to create a word-of-mouth buzz to drive traffic to our iTunes, Amazon, and other pay-per-view platforms so we can pay back our investors and make another movie!
8. I learned about your struggle to make this film from Cindy from The PulseSD’s show, including the fact that you were banned form the set. What went through your mind when this happened, and what can we take away from your experience?
Oh no no no, I was never banned from the set.  Three years into the project we had some editorial and financial challenges and needed to raise $350k to shoot some new scenes.  An outside venture capitalist/producer offered us $400k to finish the film, but “time was money” — or “time was HIS money”—  and he believed that two people collaborating took much more time on set than one person running the show, so he made his investment contingent upon me not being anywhere near the production.  He even offered to send his private security guard to keep me away!  It was a slap in the face and I was so offended, until my husband explained that this is just business, and pointed out that Chris and I DO spend a lot of time going back and forth.  So I agreed and accepted the arrangement, because finishing the film was more important to me than anything.  But Chris wouldn’t accept it and we lost the money.  Luckily we were able to find another investor who saw the benefit of our collaboration and we went on to finish the film.
9. How did working with Lynn Cohen (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) inspire you? At 83, it’s amazing to watch her on screen! I also met her at the LCFF, and can only hope to have her energy at that age.
Lynn Cohen is a force of nature.  She’s got a huge heart, a bright mind, a lot of sass and a colorful vocabulary. She’s got to be the hardest working actress in the world, too, doing TV, movies, plays and readings all across the country non stop —and always with a positive attitude and a “Woman Power” message.  Also, although she’s the star, she makes everyone around her feel important, recognized, and loved.  She invited me to spend several days with her on the Hunger Games 2 set in Hawaii, and every moment with her was a learning lesson in how to treat people with love and respect — from the drivers to the production assistants to the cooks in the food trucks, whom she knew by name.  She made each person know how important they were to the production, never complained, and was always gracious and prepared.  I have seen her with several big stars over the years, and she consistently brings out the best in everybody.  It’s one of my favorite things to do, actually – just watch as these huge stars develop big smiles and melt she casts her net of wit and charm over them.  I try to take mental notes every moment I’m with her.  She’s a very special woman whom I adore and treasure with all my heart.
9. Do you have any nuggets of wisdom to share with first-time filmmakers, especially women, who might be interested in pursuing filmmaking?
Fight for your ideas, your creative vision, and your credit when it’s due.  It’s very much a man’s world out there and their egos are truly a thing to behold.  Fight for writing strong female characters and cast strong women!  Never back down and stick to your guns!
10.What’s next for Marina Donahue?
I want to do another project with my daughter.  I directed her in a web series we did last summer, called “Drama” ( and she proved she can carry a project AND take direction from Mom without any attitude!  She’s immensely talented, so I’m writing a script for her right now.  I would definitely be interested in other scripts that feature a 22 year-old girl in the lead, so if you know any writers please send them my way.  We’ve got to keep making movies featuring strong women!
Whimsical and easygoing.
– The Village Voice
“The most incredible twist since ‘The Sixth Sense’.
– NBC Sports Radio

“Certified Fresh.”

– 85% at Rotten Tomatoes
Screening of “All in Time”

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Landmark Hillcrest

Address: 3965 Fifth Ave # 200, San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 298-2904

Screening followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers

Screening starts at 7:00 PM

Tickets are still available for $10. For information and to purchase click here:


  1. I love her answer to Q1. It’s always inspiring to see how other moms pursue their dreams. We all do it in our own time. I’m slowly accepting that. Thanks for sharing.

    • Suzette Valle says:

      I agree, Angela. As mothers, it is difficult to see beyond the diapers and tantrums. But holding on to a dream and working towards it is something I took away from her interview. Glad this article touched you!

  2. I love this:) Great questions and she is a LADYBOSS for sure!!

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