The MovieMaker Sundance Survey 2017: The Scoop on 19 Films Playing Park City at the 33rd Festival

Bitch (Midnight)

Who: Marianna Palka, director and writer

Logline: A woman snaps under crushing life pressures and assumes the psyche of a vicious dog. (Bring a chew toy.)

Our crew size was: small, around 30 people per day.

Our camera, lenses and lighting package were: Arri Alexa and Panavision 19-90 Primo zoom; a combo of ultra speed lenses and Kowa spherical lenses.

My favorite scene (or shot) in the film: today, it happens to be the one with our youngest of four kids, Cindy, waking up with light on her hand. It’s such a tender, loving and hopeful shot! Our DP and I talked a lot about how positive the film is emotionally, how it’s about bringing darkness into the light.

Marianna Palka

An audience watching my film probably won’t know that: Uncle Brian in the film is actually my boyfriend, Zac Clark, who is a musician and plays with Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, and works as a solo artist and music producer.

An influence or reference on this film was: a Paula Rego painting that I used to look at while writing this script over the weekend that it came out of me. I had gone away to write it. I followed Maya Angelou’s instructions of using a hotel room to write in and I busted out the first draft in indeed two days, but it’s only because that painting is so good.

The most expensive thing in our budget was: the food. We ate well on this film because, I think, SpectreVision believes what I believe, which is that food and eating together is vital in terms of productivity and building a sense of family among the crew.

The greatest flash of inspiration or brilliance we had making this film was: Quincy Jones, at an Oscar party, sitting with me for hours giving me artistic advice. He said, “Know when you are playing your work for the audience who already loves you, and know when you are playing for those who innately wouldn’t like your work. Know the difference and change the world.” His words inspired my tenacity on this film. This movie is for everyone. It encourages happy marriages, being a great parent, being an excellent family member.

The biggest lesson I learned making this movie was: I can direct while wearing only brownie batter and pasties.

A darling I had to kill along the way: Daniel Noah and I, in the development phase, worked to kill our darlings mercilessly and yet with grand kindness, because we’ve both made so many movies. It was fun to delicately release the ideas we didn’t need.

I need to give a special shout-out to: Daniel Noah, of course! I’m so grateful for Josh Waller and for Elijah Wood who similarly create an ecosystem for the artistic voice that is empowering and truly freeing. They understand artistic transcendence and it’s so lovely that they make so many dreams come true. Jason Ritter and Jaime King who are so fantastic in the film. Our amazing casting directors. Mike Moran at Mar Vista who believed in us from the beginning.

When I heard we got into Sundance I: joyfully screamed down the phone. I love Sundance, it’s my paradise. I love seeing other people’s films and I love having other people watch our films. It’s the best place on earth. I love what they do with Native American voices in cinema. I love that we all get together once a year to figure out how to make better movies to heal the world.

My favorite film festival moment in my life so far is: when I was being interviewed at the festival round up by John Cooper and Trevor Groth, and I won a Sundance Volunteer’s jacket, which I adore cause the volunteers are so cool and nice.

My favorite moviemaker of all time is: Kieslowski.

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1 Comment

  1. Martin M

    January 19, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    After reading a couple articles in this new issue, I am becoming convinced I should allocate some of my budget for VFX! I am writing and directing a film about a cyber relationship between a man and a woman across two different galaxies, though one is unsure which lives on Earth, and I’m struggling with transitional scenes across the Milky Way.

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