behind the four-year-old scenes

Recently Movement and Location turned up on a list by Business Insider called “The 100 best science fiction films of all time, according to critics.” The film is #100, which means it’s the first film in the list you see. Number 99 is Serenity, which I’ve watched three times. Number 98 is Inception.

We shot MAL in February of 2013, but I started writing it more than a year earlier, and it didn’t premiere until May of 2014. Festivals went for a year and a half. All told, the film overwhelmed about five years of my life.

The farther away from production I get, the less possible it seems that it ever happened. So I dug up some behind the scenes videos we shot for extra features that never got much play, and put them up on Vimeo.

HOLY SHIT.

I’m going to go ahead and start with Dan Keezer’s, because it’s the one that best recaptures the vibe of panic that kept our three person production team in survival mode all month. A week before we started filming, I met with Dan in a Fort Greene coffee shop and hired him to 2nd AD. A few hours later, my 1st AD quit the project, so I called Dan and offered him a harder job with less support and no additional money. To my extraordinary luck, he said yes.

In this video, shot more than a year after we wrapped production, the trauma seems fresh as he outlines some of the ordeals, like shooting in the dead of winter (chosen because our outstanding crew was available—no one shoots in February for a reason), and that time one of our primary locations burned down (the entire building, one week after we filmed there).

This movie wouldn’t have been completed (or survived by me) without Dan.

He also mentions what a joy it was to work with Cat Missal, and that’s for sure. She had just turned 14 when we filmed, and she and her mom Karen were astonishingly cool about how insane it is to make a movie on credit cards in a freezing February with a teenager as the second lead.

But Cat is the heart of this film, and an absolute pro, and she made me a better actor. Some days we had to get through 10 pages and a few locations, and we couldn’t have pulled it off if every take wasn’t usable. But every take was. Cat brought it every single time.

Speaking of amazing actors, Haile Owusu and I met doing a play in NYC called Rag Fur Blood Bone by Michael Yates Crowley. Even though Haile, by training, is a physicist. After the play, he moved to San Francisco! I called him back for this project, and I’m so grateful he said yes. I loved working with him, and his calm energy on set helped me calm down.

Except for something he mentions below, which is when an entire scene had to be reshot. That day was hard.

A year after the movie wrapped, I ran onto a crowded 4 train, doors slamming shut behind me, and landed directly in front of Haile, who was seated with his laptop open. It was surreal and wonderful. Turns out he’d moved to New York because of an opportunity that came up because of his being here to film MAL. You’re welcome, New York.

Dan Tepfer is a gifted jazz musician who became a dear friend over the course of scoring this film. He was the first person to watch a rough cut, and he got it, which was so gratifying, because the edit was a slog, harder even than writing the screenplay. It wasn’t until Dan’s reaction that I thought, oh thank god, this debt and insanity was worth doing after all.

He won Best Original Score at the Brooklyn Film Festival. And he has a new album out with Lee Konitz.

This photo was taken after the announcement that I’d won Best Screenplay at the Brooklyn Film Festival:

best screenplay.jpg

The award ceremony happened to immediately follow our second screening, so many of my friends were around me, as were my parents. And of course Alexis, my partner in this whole exciting and difficult adventure.

Someone handed me a mic but I was crying a lot, so my entire speech was: “What an honor. What a fucking honor.”

just feels good

I edited a music video for Imani Coppola from her new album Hypocrites. The whole album is amazing, and you can get it here: http://fanlink.to/Hypocrites

I always laugh at that lost hat at 2:12. 

Imani is a true artist with a generous heart, and one of my favorite collaborators. I edited this video for her song AVE MARIA a few years ago. 

And she recently had a role in the trailer I directed for Brian Platzer's novel BED-STUY IS BURNING.

She also composed, performed, and produced an important piece of MOVEMENT AND LOCATION, the ass-kicking banger Don't Skip A Beat. Lyrics were incorporated into the script, Cat Missal as Rachel sang a few lines, and then the song itself played over the credits. It was my anthem for that project and will be one of my top five songs for the rest of my life. 

seattle reading

On Wednesday, Oct 26, I'll be in Seattle for a reading of my new feature script BEHAVE. I am so excited and so flattered to be included in this series, which is part of the Seattle International Film Festival.

Details and tickets here. 

behave

I always make a playlist for writing projects, which I listen to over and over while writing, usually to the point of growing to hate all the songs. But it keeps me honest, tonally, and also makes going back months later to rewrite much easier, as I can step back into how I think the world feels just by pressing play. 

This playlist is for a new feature called BEHAVE. It's about a recently divorced pharmaceutical rep who finds herself stuck in a better parallel version of her own life. 

UP parade of partners

Urban Pathways is working to end homelessness in New York City, and this year I was asked to speak at their gala. But I was given only one minute to explain why the organization matters so much to me. 

I go on at 4:45.

interview with josey

Last week I got an incredible series of DMs on the film's twitter page from a 15-year-old girl in Minnesota named Josey. 

She wrote: "I find it so inspiring and fantastic that you put in the effort to create what looks like such a beautiful piece of artwork. I wish that one day I will be able to have my own little epic adventure in creating art." 

This is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. So I asked if we could do a joint interview via skype. 

M+L

MOVEMENT AND LOCATION is one of those things where, now that I'm months out from production, I just can't believe it happened. It's surreal. It was an epic, non-stop anxiety nightmare, and also the hardest I've ever worked, and also now the thing in my life of which I am most proud.

We're submitting to film festivals. All my fingers are crossed.