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

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


To the Bone (U.S. Dramatic Competition)

Who: Marti Noxon, director and writer

Logline: Eli struggles to overcome anorexia with the help of an unconventional doctor and his patients.

The length of the shoot was: 23 days

Our crew size was: 120

Our camera, lenses and lighting package were: Arri Alexa, Panavision Primos

The first spark of an idea for this movie came when: addiction visited me again, in the form of booze. In fighting to sobriety I started to look closely at the last time I’d lost control of my choices in such a profound way. That was when I was anorexic as a young woman. Those memories and new insight prompted me to start writing a fictional version of my journey.

Marti Noxon. Photograph by Rich Wong

My favorite scene (or shot) in the film is: when we finally got to use a technocrane in the desert! Rich Wong (the DP) and I very deliberately kept the film static and camera movement to a minimum until the story shifts in the third act. So when we did a long pull out from a yurt into the desert it was like, “Ahhhhhh.” Limiting choices that way gives enormous impact when you pull out the big guns. It’s one of the most effecting moments in the film.

An audience watching my film probably won’t know that: some of the most outrageous moments in the movie really happened. Different settings and characters, but many of the events actually went down.

Influences or references on this film were: Altman’s 3 Women for naturalism, the color palette and bleached desert look of some sequences, and the book Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse.

The weirdest or most difficult location we shot at was: the desert sequence in the third act. We had one day, light limitations, huge changes and make-up shifts. My Fitbit logged 12 to 13 miles of steps that day.

The greatest flash of inspiration or brilliance we had making this film was: casting Lily Collins and Alex Sharp.

The biggest lesson I learned making this movie was: that the self-imposed and culturally imposed ideas that I couldn’t be a “serious” filmmaker were just that: ideas. Women have all the tools in the toolbox that we need, as long as we’re supported, like I was, by great producers.

A darling I had to kill along the way was: a beautiful sequence in a horse barn I held onto until the bitter end because I loved how Rich shot it. Ultimately, I had to kill a horse, my darling horse.

I need to give a special shout-out to: Julie Lynn and Bonnie Curtis, who I took the script to right after I finished it. They believed in it every step of the way. Julie just looked me in the face whenever I got discouraged or distracted and said, “We are going to make this movie.”

When I heard we got into Sundance I: was working on a re-write at a cafe. I didn’t know what to do. I had a deadline. But I couldn’t ignore the party in my head. I split the difference. I made a few calls, beamed at nobody in particular, and went back to work.

My favorite film festival moment in my life so far is: talking to the Sundance press team while pushing a cart around Target, buying X-Mas gifts for a bunch of kids. I ended up buying some things I didn’t know were in my cart.

I would love to meet Kumail Nanjiani in Park City.

My favorite moviemaker of all time is: Billy Wilder, for mastery of both comedy and drama. A huge inspiration.

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    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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