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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


L.A. Times (NEXT)

Who: Michelle Morgan, director and writer

Logline: A love/hate letter to Los Angeles and its inhabitants.

The length of the shoot was: 19 days

Our crew size was: 35

Our camera, lenses and lighting package were: Arri Alexa with Panavision Primo anamorphics and MAP55 anamorphic. Lighting package was a combo of Arri M-series HMIs, Litegear LED Litemats, Litegear LED Litestix, Source 4s, tungsten Fresnels and tons of practicals.

The first spark of an idea for this movie came when: I made my short film and wanted to do a feature. Writing a story about my friends and my neighborhood seemed like good fodder while also being fairly contained and manageable for a smaller budget.

Michelle Morgan

My favorite scene (or shot) in the film is: when Ingrid makes Elliot go back to her ex’s apartment with her to fetch her old TV. There’s a gun involved.

An audience watching my film probably won’t know that: some of the songs came from an HBO ’80s TV movie that I was obsessed with as a child.

Influences or references on this film were: Manhattan. Husbands and Wives. Last Days of Disco.

The weirdest or most difficult location we shot at was: a house we rented for the last night of the shoot. The owner freaked out on us in the middle of the scene (which involved screaming and rolling around on the front lawn) and told us we couldn’t scream or roll around on the front lawn, even though we had cleared it with him several weeks before. Then he lectured us on being horrible, sickening “movie people” with no morals. I saw him at a party thrown by “movie people” several weekends later and he was completely wasted and making an idiot of himself, morals be damned!

The most expensive thing in our budget was: the bar location we used in three different scenes, No Vacancy in Hollywood. It was worth it.

The greatest flash of inspiration or brilliance we had making this film was: hiring such an amazing group of people. I think we all really brought out the best in each other. My DP, Nico Wiesnet, just killed it every day. My costume designer, Heather Allison, killed it. My production designer, Hillary Gurtler, killed it.

The biggest lesson I learned making this movie was: trust your gut. Trust your gut. And if your gut is sending mixed messages, ask Jorma.

A darling I had to kill along the way was: a flashback sequence where we see one of our main characters explaining to his therapist why he turned out the way he is. My producer was right. We didn’t need it.

I need to give a special shout-out to: Alix Madigan, who believes in me, and who gave me the confidence to make this movie.

When I heard we got into Sundance I: cried.

My favorite film festival moment in my life so far is: the Sundance directors’ brunch in 2013, when I was there with my short film.

I would love to meet other female filmmakers in Park City.

My favorite moviemaker of all time is: Wes Anderson.

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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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