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This is an interview with director Carrie Preston and THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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I was able to briefly chat with director, producer and actor Carrie Preston about 15 minutes before  the screening of her latest film as both Producer and Director with Daisy 3 Pictures, THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID.

While we didn’t get much time, I did get to ask some things on my mind, and taped the Q & A afterwards, so some of this is from that as well.

She was gracious to all questions (even those who just had to ask her about her True Blood character, Arlene, while on the red carpet for her own film) and as she is from Macon, had a friendly house with lots of friends and family making the trip up to see it again at the Atlanta Film Festival. 

H. Blain:   Are you finding it probably easier to raise money thanks to your TV exposure (on True Blood) to put together a feature-length film?
Carrie Preston:  It helps that someone knows that you’re serious in the industry.   Though it’s still very hard to get funding together for independent film.

Blain:  Was this something you ever considered shopping around to a big studio, or did you want to be able to keep control of it?
Preston:  No. When you see it, you’ll see why. I don’t think Hollywood would have let this film be what it is. The screenwriter is a friend of mine; she was there the whole time. And a lot of times they just buy the script from the writer and they’re gone. Out of the picture and never seen again. She’s a very dear friend of mine, and this is our passion project.

H:   How did you meet Kellie Overbey? (screenwriter, actress, and playwright)   

Preston:  Kellie and I were acting together in a play. We were playing Mia Farrow’s daughter in a show in Connecticut. She said I’ve started to write, and I said, I’ve started to direct. In the same production was Marcia DeBonis…and I told Kellie we have to get Marcia in this (GIRL TALK — the name of the play the film is based on), and it went really well as a play.

So then  I said we’ve got to get her performance on film. To show everything she stands for ‘cause Hollywood’s not going to do it. So we went about trying to raise funds. And it took us about seven years to do it (the film cost $500,000).

 

The way we got Anne (Heche)  is that Kellie had worked with her on a play along with Alec Baldwin. And while she had lost touch with Anne, she was still friends with Alec.So they sent her agents the script, but never heard back.

Kellie finally just called Alec, and asked if he’d call Heche to tell her to read the script. (raspy Baldwin voice) –“Hey, this is Alec, Kellie wrote this, you have to do it.” And that was that.

Anne read it knowing nothing about me, or that I was an actor on another HBO show, and loved it. She’s the one who introduced us to Alia (Shawkat) since they’d done CEDAR RAPIDS together.

Blain: How long was your shoot in New York?
Preston:  Well, let’s say we prepared for seven years, and shot it in 20 days. It takes that kind of preparation to do that kind of shoot.

Blain:  Would you be happy if this was compared to BRIDESMAIDS —  but as an independent comedy?

Preston:  Well, we started this eight years ago, and women have been having sex a long time…(smirk)

There’s bound to be several takes on that. I am just happy that audiences are ready to receive women being knocked down off a pedestal a little bit. This film knocks them down even further!

It defiantly messes up the Hollywood image of what women should be.

I don’t think you need to go really far to be in the middle.

 

Blain: Did you ever want to cast yourself in this?

Preston: Oh no! I had no interest in being in it. I think it’s enough to produce and direct is for me. For this one, I was really interested in being behind camera, and letting these women do their thing.

I felt it was important for the actors to rehearse, since it’s so dialog-driven…and to sit and work with the text.

This sounds like nothing, but in film it’s a lot…we got to rehearse for three days. We actually did this in the places we were shooting, including the taxicab, driving around NYC for 3-4 hours rehearsing. So when we got to shooting it, we were ready to go.

Blain:  How did you shoot this, film or digital?
Preston:  We shot on Super-16, thanks to Kodak giving us a camera package. And my DP, William Klayer, was used to shooting Law and Order in New York, and shooting on film. And film is just pretty, I think. And for me, it looks like New York City, like Woody Allen grainy and edgy. It looks like New York in my head.

I was so married to this project, and since I am an actor too, there was a shorthand we had to communicate and get everything done quickly. I also story-boarded the entire film ahead of time. My editor was amazing, and showed me things that I hadn’t even pictured. So it’s truly a collaborative experience.

It’s a film about how women relate to each other, and their partners are all in the background. All the men (unseen and unheard) are named Tom, Dick, and Harry since it’s the relationship with the women that is the focus.

Blain: Will this be available to see after the festival circuit is done?
Preston: Yes, we got distribution that will happen in the fall, with Phase 4

                                                           H. Blain: Thank you for your time, Carrie.                                                                                               Carrie Preston: You’re welcome, enjoy the movie!

 

~ H. Blain is a freelance writer living in Atlanta who likes reading far too late in the night, most types of comic books, all things cinema (including being excited by certain names in the credits that you usually ignore) and saw  The Empire Strikes Back three times opening day when she was ten years old.

You can reach her on the tweety at @MediaTsarina ~

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