Eliza Schroeder on her debut feature film ‘Love Sarah’

Photo credit: Laura Radford

Eliza Schroeder is making her feature film debut with Love Sarah, out now in the United States on VOD! Eliza is no stranger to filmmaking as she has directed and produced several short films along with numerous commercials. Eliza joined forces with producer Rajita Shah to develop Love Sarah.

“It’s really exciting. I’m especially quite excited about the US release because I do think that it’s a film that the US audience might like. I’m very excited and I’m curious to see how people will hopefully connect to the material… I’m just really hoping to bring a bit of joy and pleasure to the audiences during such challenging times.”

Love Sarah actually made its debut over the summer and instantly became a number 1 box office hit grossing $1.137M over two weeks despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“That was fantastic, as long as it lasted but unfortunately, COVID came around… however we had an amazing release in Australia and New Zealand, where we were number one at the box office for a couple of weeks and then a nice release here in the UK. But I have to admit, despite the fact that I’ve made it for the big screen, and every director will tell you that you shoot images because you want people to indulge in them and to see them on the big screen, despite that, I am quite happy that we are online and that people can watch it from that from the comfort of their own home in a time where we are all sort of stuck at home.”

Love Sarah follows a young woman (Shannon Tarbet) who wishes to fulfill her mother’s dream of opening her own bakery. To do this, she enlists the help of an old friend (Shelley Conn) and her grandma (Celia Imrie).

“It’s basically a story about three women of different generations who join forces to open up a bakery in London’s Notting Hill. So the baker, who was supposed to open the bakery with her best friend, unfortunately dies on the way to the opening of the bakery. So, mother, her best friend and her daughter, open it on her behalf and sort of find their way back together through this journey… I think the three female leads are really quite influenced by women I admire and this is a mix of women I’ve met over the years, whether it’s my aunt or my grandmother or a close friend or a friend of a friend. I think we’ve been trying to sprinkle in characteristics from people that have somehow left something behind with us.”

Photo credit: Laura Radford

“I always wanted to tell a story about strong women, head strong women, and also women who maybe have sort of lost their connection a little bit and understand what it means to actually find their way back together after they lose someone who was very close to them. So I was interested in exploring female energy and female strengths that look at the theme of loss. And also baking because I have to admit, I just really love everything that’s sweet and I also love baking. So, I was trying to throw these elements into the mix.”

Love Sarah touches on a lot of themes that we, in this time of COVID, can relate to. The film deals with themes of community and loss and with loss comes grief. 

“I hope that people can connect to these themes. I lost my own mother a few years ago and that whole experience of loss sort of shaped me and my personality and I definitely wanted to get that across. I guess the message that I’m hoping the film will have is that although the grieving process is such a hard time for you and or your family, and when you’re in it, you think it’s never going to end and yet at some point there is always light at the end of the tunnel… So, I hope that I can inspire people to give life another chance no matter how hard their challenges are at the moment and I know they are huge challenges at the moment.”

Love Sarah definitely makes sure to balance comedy in with the drama. 

“It was really interesting to [balance comedy and drama] because I was always wanting to go down the darker path and then I had my wonderful producer and my wonderful writer  who kept on telling me ‘no we need to keep the comedy out there.’ And they were so right. It was an incredible collaboration where I was sort of pulling it down and saying that people need to earn the joy and they need to earn laughter and I want them to feel the pain… but I hope we managed to have a bit of both and by combining these goals, you have a tear and the next moment you have a smile and that’s what I’m hoping that people will have on their faces when they watch it.”

In a film that is set in a bakery, Eliza got to work alongside some really tasty treats. The film teamed up with Ottolenghi because their products are international. She says her favorite is a brownie and that she and her children frequent the Ottolenghi bakery that is close to her house. 

“We initially toured London for international bakes to make sure to make it as authentic as possible. And I will never forget that on the last day of filming all the pastry stuff, the team was hungry with the leads hanging around trying to understand when we can finally taste the bakes. They were obviously stale after all these days and we had to  put a spray on them and stuff, but they lasted quite long and but then we all had a little feast once we finished shooting all the pastries.” 

While preparing to film, Eliza got to learn about all kinds of international treats and says her favorite new dessert is the Matcha Mille Crepe Cake.

“It is a Japanese bake which is very delicate. I generally thought that when we, when we went into doing, We had a food stylist who was advising us, but we also did a lot of research ourselves and it was just really interesting to see how bakes from different countries really reflect their way of being and their habits. So in my mind, the Japanese are delicate and quite elegant and eloquent and that’s exactly how this cake is. It’s super complicated and it looks amazingly beautiful and very finessed. And so I guess the biggest learning lesson for me was really to see how bakes reflect different nationalities and countries.”

Photo credit: Laura Radford

With the success of Love Sarah, now streaming on VOD, Eliza is showing no signs of stopping. She is currently working on a thriller, a children’s movie, and a documentary on ballet dancers who put their careers on hold to become mothers.