Your new movie Pickup -
in a few words, what is it about?
Megan (played by Mandy Evans [Mandy
Evans interview - click here]) is a stay-at-home wife and mother living in a
nice suburb, her life seems perfect, but she's in trouble. Her sex
addiction is causing an increasingly frightening downward spiral in her life,
and threatens to rip apart the safe haven she has built around herself.
The tone is a little scary, like an episode of Black Mirror exploring 21st
How did the project fall together in the first place?
Mandy Evans developed the script with screenwriter Jessica
Blank, who is best known to theater audiences for her play The
Exonerated about people wrongfully on death row. Evans and Blank created a
story that goes to very dark places, but is told with empathy and guarded
compassion. Mandy had enjoyed working with me in the past, and saw
that I was fearless about the content, and off we ran to make this film
with very little money and great ambition.
To what extent could you actually identify with Pickup's
central topic, and of course its lead character Megan?
She's driven to find an elevated experience, something more extreme than the
banality of ordinary life. Sometimes I feel more frightened by the
day-to-day grind of getting through a so-called normal day than I am doing the
intense rigors of film production. She's looking for something more,
something to feel, even if it hurts. Those extremities fascinated me,
and seemed incredibly sad, and worth looking into.
Do talk about your producer/lead Mandy Evans [Mandy
Evans interview - click here], and what was
your collaboration like, before, during and after the shoot?
was one of the richest, most meaningful collaborations I've been lucky
enough to have. I trust Mandy completely as an actress. She is
committed, daring, honest and unafraid. She understood this
character and wanted to present her, in all her complexity. I
thought it was incredibly brave of her on every level. As a
producer, she granted me enormous freedom, trust and support. That
went both ways. I really want to make more films with her.
meant a lot to me, both personally and professionally. I
really love the story, and am so grateful to Mandy for everything she has
can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at
The script seemed like a coiled spring, full of
tension and ready to implode at any moment. Our shooting style was
dictated by the characters and their uncomfortable situations, so we
framed and lit it accordingly. The acting was understated, and the
music was quiet and melancholy and rich in its inner life. That
style guide informed all of my directorial choices.
Do talk your cast for a bit, and why exactly these
Jim True-Frost is a great actor. We had seen
him as Prez on HBO's The Wire and his work with Steppenwolf Theater
Company (like Sam Shepard's Buried Child and Tracy Letts's August:
Osage Country). He showed up with no rehearsal, but ready to play Megan's husband
Ben. He had a scene where he had to eat dinner, and usually you see
experienced actors just pushing food around on their plate because they
know they'll be eating a ton of food with all the coverage. And it
shows, because they aren't eating and the scene lacks that small piece of
life. Jim committed to munching on the samosas and rice, and thus
the scene feels so lived-in and honest. He's that kind of actor, and
had great chemistry with Mandy. He was supportive of all of us, and
inclined to trust us from the get-go. Griffin Robert Faulkner, who
plays 5-year old Liam, was another find, and it was obvious from his
audition that he was this magical old soul with tremendous depth and a
terrific knack for playing make believe. His parents are both
terrific working actors, so he has it in his blood. He's gone on to
film the acclaimed horror feature It Comes Back at Night. The rest of the
cast were excellent day players such as Elena McGhee, Peter Duncanson,
Erick Betancourt, terrific professionals who signed on because they
believed in the script -- they work all the time, so it was generous of
them to take part in our small adventure.
A few words about the shoot as such, and the
The shoot was fast and terse. We
had much to do, with no money and no time. We had so many company
moves loading in and out from one location to the next that I felt like
calling the film "Pickup and Dropoffs". Like most independent films,
it was quite intense. The actors and crew were excellent, a team of
solid professionals, who were supportive and there for the project.
I particularly remember our producer DT Sheridan doing an early morning
pep talk to our team, expressing how much we had to accomplish before we
got booted out of one of our locations and how he believed in us and our
hustle. I thought it was a total waste of our limited shooting time until
I saw how it affected our company, and how they hustled to produce
incredibly sensitive results. We had two critical scenes to shoot,
and you look at the finished film and don't see how fast we had to sprint
to get them -- two quiet, sensitive and contemplative scenes. All
credit to our producer and crew.
The $64-question of course, where can
your Pickup be seen?
have screened at film festivals in Spain, France, England and Las Vegas.
Our New York City premiere is at the Soho International Film Festival on
June 21. Tickets are available here:
After that, we'll show
at the Indie Street Film Festival in Red Bank this July. I hear its
a remarkably filmmaker-friendly festival from my peers who have gone
there, so I'm very excited.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Pickup
Critics seem to appreciate the thoughtfulness of the
movie, and audiences have been surprisingly empathetic to our hero.
Sometimes audiences feel uncomfortable about the subject matter, and the
idea of a woman struggling with sex addiction, but Mandy and I wanted to
start a dialogue and this film seemed like a good way to begin.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
have a horror movie in post production called Slapface which is a monster
movie set near a rural farmhouse. That's a project I wrote, and it
wound up being more personal than I anticipated. Maybe Pickup
unlocked that in me a little. We just wrapped a dramatic short
called How to Type a Broken Heart with some brilliant New York actors
written by playwright Sooz Nolan, so that's going into post too.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
you're dying to tell us and I have merely forgotten to ask?
for the great questions.
for the interview!