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Afternoon Delight | Director Jill Soloway

[PREMIERE SCREENING: Monday, Jan. 21, 9:45pm — Eccles Theatre, Park City]

I sacrificed the idea of the director’s chair. And all of the other imagery that goes with being in charge. The baseball cap, the megaphone. We shot our film in August of 2012 and I’d say that from mid-May on, I began to feel that I was riding a wave and had almost no control. It’s funny, I interviewed Diablo Cody about Juno for a magazine and when I asked if she was surprised about the success of that film, she said not really—that it immediately had this thing about it that it was obvious it was all going to happen. Something kicked in with this movie and it was crystal clear that it simply wanted to be. So when the actor I thought was in the lead dropped out or when our d.p. changed at almost the last minute, when we didn’t have the right locations and when at times it seemed I hadn’t even written the ending yet, none of it mattered. This film was a rocket ship and it had its own plans and we were all going along for the ride.

It was weird to often feel like I was sitting in the farthest back seat of that rocket. Sometimes I’d be on set and looking around at the crew doing stuff. I felt in awe of the size of the machine. The trailers! The honey wagons! These are all really here for this little film? The thought would cross my mind—who or where is the director? (I think that comes from all those years as a TV writer—I’d complete a script then hand it off to someone else and watch it get made.) I’d suddenly realize—oh, it’s me! Then I’d get up and head to the monitor or bug the a.d. and ask how long we had till everyone was ready.

Once we got rolling, I was reading some stuff every morning that John Cassavetes wrote about process, sort of like my little inspiration book. And there were a couple days about halfway through where my style kicked in, and my voice. We just hit our stride. In honor of Cassavetes, who wrote that to him, if he didn’t have a 12-minute take that worked, then he didn’t have a take—we tried some 22-minute takes. I let the actors live the moments. I was in another room sitting in my director’s chair, but I felt like I was watching an amazing movie in somebody’s den somewhere. It was making me cry and making me laugh. At some point I realized I should call cut — or even better — I could not call cut and instead just sit there and keep watching the movie. It was like being in a La-Z-boy in a rocket — in a dream that I wrote — and nothing at all like being in a director’s chair.

Sundance Responses 2013

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