“I wish that one day I will be able to have my own little epic adventure in creating art.”
The nicest note I’ve ever gotten came from a 15-year-old girl in Minnesota. So I got in touch and suggested we interview each other over Skype.
Many, many thanks to Josey for being up for this joint interview. I had so much fun.
And don’t forget we have a screening coming up at the Woods Hole Film Festival in Cape Cod! Movement and Location will screen Tuesday, July 29th at 9pm in Woods Hole, MA. If you have family or friends in that area, please let them know!
Alexis and I were interviewed by Seed&Spark about making MAL, and I talk about some of the crazy shit that happened during filming. Alexis also goes a bit into our general strategy for moving forward.
Yes, I got punched by a stranger and we contended with fires and floods but also—especially now with a little distance and reflection on the scope of the luck that carried us through—making this film remains the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. Even if nothing else comes of it, I can say that honestly and with pride and also with joy.
I am EPICALLY EXCITED to share this film.
I was going through pictures on my phone this morning and found some fun ones from production.
This shot, for instance, brings back a lot of feelings. It was our second day of filming, and two weeks after we shot there, the building burned down. Thankfully, no one was hurt.
Notice that my script is a sheaf of loose leaf papers. I think by the time we wrapped I had 45 or so of the original 112 pages, and they were absolutely not in order.
I feel honored that we got to film this incredible space, even if our miracle-working production designer Sara Walsh gave it a very different feel.
The above was taken by Maeghan Donohue, who was gracious enough to come to set a few times and get some great behind the scenes stills.
David Andrew Macdonald is extraordinary. There aren’t enough nice things in this world to say about him. He was so easy to act with, so open, so generous. He gave such a nuanced and brilliant performance. Ah. The actors in this thing! They’re so good!
Speaking of which.
Brendan Griffin, man. I don’t even know what to say about him. We get into this industry to make movies with our friends, and when we get to, it’s the most fun thing in the world. It makes everything else seem worth it. Getting to act with Brendan is one of the aspects of this whole project that I most value.
When we went to the costume fitting for the uniforms, I was all IT WILL BE COLD. But Brendan and Casey wouldn’t let me get them these hats.
Their loss I think? The hats are cute! And it was really cold.
But my heart was stolen by Cat Missal. Best attitude award hands down goes to this girl. She nailed a really difficult role. She just nailed it. The film is so much better for her involvement, and the set was so much more fun because of her attitude. She was a joy to have around, and so epically talented. I also got to know (and adore) her mom, Karen.
Oh MAN was it cold. I’m getting a chill just looking at that picture. That day was long, but that scene turned out beautifully. Here are a few more from Maeghan of that day:
Haile! I miss you, Haile. Come back from San Francisco!
Any time Anna Margaret was on set, I was instantly 30% calmer.
She is hilarious and a treasure and a marvel.
Los Angeles took her from me a few years ago, but I’ll keep writing movies if it means getting this girl back on the east coast for a while.
And then OH MY GOD these three:
My key PA, AD and producer. Missy, Dan and Serena. This picture was taken on the last day of filming, and we’re all loopy and exhausted and so fucking happy. It was the first time where I let myself be like, okay. We’ve done it. This will be a movie. I still kind of feel like I’ve pulled off some sort of caper.
This was our wrap party. It sums up my mood well.
There was a karaoke party after the drinking-at-a-bar part of things, and Alexis got this great shot of my parents:
I love these two so much. They have been nothing but supportive for my entire life. What a gift.
I wrote a post for Seed&Spark about how to make a movie with a loved one. Basically I compare the experience to getting a tattoo and presume to give advice to others. But there are some things in there I wish I’d heard in December, so I hope it helps someone.
Thank you to the always lovely Emily Best over at Seed&Spark!
(photo by the incredibly talented and wonderful Maeghan Donohue)
Everyone said that when we wrapped filming, I’d get really depressed. I’ve just been working on it for too long. But production tentacles are still wrapped around my throat, so it’s a touch surreal for me. I’m editing the film, and there are a lot of details that just aren’t done with me yet. Location issues, payroll. It was an enormous and terrifying thing to just up and make the film ourselves. The analogy I kept coming back to in pre-pro was that it felt like driving a car that hits a patch of ice. You’re going so fast and the brakes won’t do anything but you can still sort of control the steering. So you guide the car into the skid and hope for the best. That was me, all January. On set, my AD pointed out that production felt to him like a very fast train, and we were all running in front of it to lay down track. The overlap in our analogies is interesting, I like that we both went to these nightmare vehicular catastrophes. So you go through that for a month or so and then it’s over! It just stops. I no longer have to think about scheduling, or hiring extras, or worrying about whether it’s going to rain when we need to shoot in the park. I don’t have to panic that I’ve brought the wrong costumes or lunch is late.
The absence of that daily drama is to fall backwards in a warm bath. I am so relieved we got through it. For two weeks I’ve been feeling ALL OF THE EMOTIONS but mostly it’s relief. We shot it! It’s been filmed. That part is done. Editing, oof. I’ll have a cut within two months, probably, not one as previously desired. I already feel like I’ve been editing forever, and I’ve only cut 10 or so scenes. Out of 124!
But god. It’s complicated, you guys, because also? I got to spend a month listening to the best actors in the fucking world say lines I wrote. I got to watch my husband put together shots that are so elegant, so perfectly composed and gorgeous, that they break my heart. I got to hang out with my mom for a few weeks, since she was on set helping out. I got to watch Serena blossom into a role she was born to do and I cannot wait to work with her again. I got to operate at a level of sustained focus and intensity that was a beast to maintain but also wonderful. I’ve never worked harder in my life, and it gave my life a color that was new and sustaining.
So yes, I suppose I’m a little depressed. Well, not depressed. I feel crazy. I don’t know what to talk about when I hang with people who weren’t on set with me. I don’t know how to talk about this project, because how do you? Like, all of the above post – can you imagine if I said that to you at a party? Dude, I did that Saturday. Crazy is the word. I feel super crazy.
I’m working on a teaser trailer, something with a bit of the story and my favorite pretty shots. I recently edited one that’s too disjointed to work for promotion, but I like how it came out. It’s cut to a song we use in the film called Catch 22 by Imani Coppola. It’s off of her outstanding album The Glass Wall. If you want to see it, go here. The password is teaser.
Thank you for caring about this project. I am so enormously excited to share the finished film.
This has been an insane experience. Today is our last day off – we film tomorrow and Thursday and then we’re wrapped. We’re almost wrapped! That’s an absurd thing right there to get to say and think about. There have been four hundred or so distinct moments when I thought this would continue happening forever. Production is insane. I’ve never had to think about so many things at once (god, costume continuity alone has given me a succession of minor panic attacks), think about feeding so many people for so many days, think about paying so many people for so many days. We’ve weathered bizarre plumbing emergencies. There was an accident to the cube truck that three different insurance companies have found a way to avoid paying for. The blizzard hit when we were meant to shoot a ton of exteriors. The location we shot in for Paul’s apartment was lost in a fire a few days ago. I was punched in the shoulder by a homeless veteran who hassled us on the street on the lower east side. I’ve definitely been yelled at on the phone at least seven times.
I mean it when I say that making this film is the hardest and best thing I’ve ever done. I look around at Serena and Dan and Alexis (not just them but especially, especially them) and think with gratitude that I am getting the chance to make this film, and that is a gift. When I look back on this, I know I won’t be thinking about the long hours or how cold I’ve been or how tired. I’ll think about the lunch break dance parties and crew code names. I’ll think about how many smart, talented people have come together over a script that fell out of my head. I will work with these people forever if I can.
This was taken yesterday by my very good friend Keith Goldberg. We had just filmed the last shot of the movie and Alexis and I are watching it back on the monitor to be sure we have it. Serena is on the right in her amazing hat that I covet. I look like a tenant farmer out of Grapes of Wrath. It seems to sum up everything.
So many people have demonstrated that they believe in the project. By giving to our funding campaign, by reading a draft (or six) of the script, by having drinks with me and saying that making a feature on our own is not a terrible idea. We wrap Thursday, I’ll sleep in on Friday for approximately 25 hours, and I expect to have a rough cut in a month. I can’t wait to edit a teaser.
I’m exhausted but buoyed by gratitude and excitement. Thank you for following this process.
I admit I’d hoped to be better at posting to this blog while we film. But it’s so overwhelming! We’ve had six shoot days, and hit our schedule each day and come home with footage that I think is amazing. I want to devote
the rest of my life many blog posts to the talent of the rest of the cast. And the attitude and ability of the crew. I’m floored and grateful and having the time of my life.
I’ve already started cutting it because I literally cannot resist. Here are some stills I’ve pulled.
Tomorrow is the first day of filming.
Yesterday my mom arrived to cook for the crew for the duration of production. I met with the costume designer, Lindsay Kleinman, and the two actors playing police officers for their costume fitting. Last night I rehearsed with three of the other actors and was reminded that they are not only so gifted (so, so gifted) but they’re all also perfectly cast. Today, Lindsay and I get to distress a batch of clothing and make two sweatshirts look bloody. Alexis and Serena are meeting with the Parks Department right now to secure our shooting locations next week.
This morning was the first time I woke up feeling excited and joyful and not just worried about all the things not yet done. The people around me are killing it. They’re extraordinary and kind and capable, so capable, and I’m feeling beyond grateful most especially for Lindsay and Sara Walsh (our miracle-producing production designer) and Dan Keezer (our intrepid AD, my sanity-maintainer) and Serena (who is getting shit done like nobody’s business) and Brendan Swift (our AC, who is also doing two hundred other necessary things with a smile and charm) and of course my husband, dear Alexis, who is going to shoot and direct the hell out of this movie.
It’s almost the day of the show y’all.
One of the main characters in the film is a police officer named Rob Sullivan. He’s one of the two love interests for Kim, and he represents the potential for what she can have in this time if she’s able to let down her guard.
Because I wrote this thing, Rob and his lines are super deeply etched in my brain. I feel like I understand him so innately—what he wants, why he pursues Kim, what that relationship brings him—that it would be a matter of finding someone to say the words in a way that matches how I hear it in my head. But that’s totally not it at all. What happens when you’re lucky, unbelievably lucky, is that during an audition someone walks in and nails it so perfectly that it rewrites your expectations and you get washed over with the feeling of, OH! This is who the character is supposed to be.
I present to you Brendan Griffin, our Rob:
Brendan is beyond talented, and he makes it look effortless. We’ve had one rehearsal so far and I left feeling elated. This guy! There’s no way this film won’t be awesome with him involved.
He’s done a ton of film and TV, but what really took my breath away was seeing him in Clybourne Park on Broadway. It was probably the most nuanced, moving and hilarious theater production I’ve ever seen, and that had a lot to do with him being part of its dynamic and amazing ensemble cast.
I could not be happier that he’s part of this project.