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A Song Still Inside
2013, 83m, drama
A Song Still Inside follows Mike, a young, under-employed father struggling with fatherhood and with his wife's success. As Maggie's career flourishes, Mike finds himself spending more and more time at home caring for their 9-month old son. With his professional options dwindling, Mike takes matters into his own hands, endangering both his marriage and his son in the process. As jealousies and resentments build, Mike is forced to confront fundamental questions about the life he thought he would lead. An intimate exploration of evolving gender roles in today's nuclear family.
Produced by: Patricia Beaury, Rodrigo Lopresti, Alicia Van Couvering, Jay Webb
Cast: Rodrigo Lopresti, Susan Highsmith, Jayce Bartok, Jacqueline Knapp
10 questions with A Song Still Inside producer and actor, Rodrigo Lopresti at the half-way mark.
Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016
1Hi Rodrigo! You're the producer and actor of this film. How did you meet Gregory Collins (the director) and why did you decide to work together? Gregory and I are both IFP alumni. We met during that whole process. I remember meeting him and thinking there was something oddly interesting about him. We became sort of friends and a year later he was coming to NY from Penn Sate where he lived with his wife and daughters for a pitch conference and needed a place to stay. He crashed in my apartment as I was actually going through the beginning stages of a break up . We went out to bar in my neighborhood the night before he left and started talking about life, acting, relationships, fatherhood, and the following morning he was gone. When I woke up I found an email in my inbox from him with a one page synopsis of this idea. By the time I got to the bottom of the page I was crying hysterically. It just got to me. I emailed him back saying we had to make this film at all costs. A month later he had a feature script and an investor, and that was it.
2The acting in this film is incredible. How did you and Susan Highsmith prepare for this? Did you do a lot of rehearsing? Was everything scripted? How were you able to get such raw performances? I've actually known Susan for years. When we started looking for our Maggie it was actually my manager who suggested her. We met to talk about the script and a week or so later she met Gregory. Because I've know her for as long as I have there was already all this history built in. Susan and I both studied with Maggie Flanigan so our approach to the work was very similar. We spent a lot of time together just hanging out and in a way that was our rehearsal. Everything in the film was scripted. The way we were trained is to always respect the writer so whatever was written is what's on film. It also helps when you have such a talented writer like Gregory. I always fall in love with everything he writes.
3Do you have kids? What was it that attracted you to this film? Why did you want to not only act, but also produce this film? I don't have kids but I know what it's like to loose something for the love of your art. My relationships have often been affected in one way or the other because of it. I imagine when you have a kid priorities shift but the need to channel your frustration through art probably never goes away. I guess what I brought to the project was my understanding and side of that perspective. Gregory actually has kids and is married so that helped immensely during the process. I loved the script and related to it in such a deep way I wanted to get it made at all costs, so producing it only felt natural. When Gregory got the money It just kind of happened. You call a friend and she calls another and the next thing you know you're surrounded by comrades and friends and this thing is about to be birthed.
4When making a film about a couple, I think it takes some very careful consideration when it comes to nudity. Why did you choose to show nudity in this film and was that difficult for you? It was important to Gregory and he felt like it was crucial to the film. Not only in terms of story but also in terms of the reality of the situation. Life is messy and that's part of it. As far as difficulty, it helps to have a closed set with only a few people and a director and cinematographer you trust.
5What was the most challenging scene to shoot and how did you solve it? It's challenging working with a baby. You know how they say baby's and animals are impossible to work with? Well it's true. Susan and I had this ongoing joke about how Hazel (who was playing our son Seth in the film) was a major diva because she'd never look you in the eyes when she was acting with you. Plus everything revolved around her schedule. She'd laugh when you wanted her to cry and cried when you wanted her to sleep. We for sure thought she'd win the Oscar because she just did whatever she wanted whenever she wanted. We had to shoot her coverage first and hopefully we'd get a two shot or a wide to go with it if we where lucky. ...or IF she wanted.
6The way this film builds is very intense. Did you help out in the editing at all? What was it like for you to see the final product? Was it how you imagined it would turn out? I was actually the editor of the film. It's something I like to do with projects I'm involved in. Sometimes as an actor you stumble upon these fantastic god sent moments when filming and when you look at the cut most of the time you're disappointed. It can be heart breaking if you're not prepared for it. You think what the hell happened? Why didn't they use that? The great part about working with people you trust is that hopefully they feel the same way about you. So it's more of a collaboration in that sense. I assembled the first few cuts and then gave it to Gregory. Gregory really found the focus of the story and kept it together and I came back for a last and final polish.
7 I know you direct as well. Which do you find the most rewarding, producing, acting or directing? Acting. Hands down. I'm primarily first an actor. I love to do it. Every part of it. Everything else I do stems from that need.
8What's the most important thing you look for in a director? Well, ironically this is embedded in the film with Maggie's story line. Trust. As an actor you have to be able to take chances and trust that your director will edit that out if it's terrible or put it in if it's good. But you have to be able to go there freely and openly. Ultimately you want to work with someone who has good taste, communication skills and a solid vision. Film making is difficult. There's a lot of layers to deal with. Photography, sound design, music, story telling, and acting. If one of those is off, the structure can collapse. Trust is huge. Good taste and trust. Well, that's two things...
9You act in another great film on our site called BRONZE by Steven Strauss. How did you two meet and what was that experience like? I love Steven. He's a brilliant creative ball of energy. Hands down one of the best painters I know. He just vomits these golden pieces of art on the spot. His basement is filled with them. My apartment is now filled with them. I met Steven through musician childhood friends of mine at a screening for one of his films. It was half shot with super 8 and half on vhs or mini DV. It was captivating! Afterwards I pulled him aside and I said "I'm a fan. You've got to keep going with this." A year or so later we were shooting something together. Working with Steven is always beautiful chaos. He just kind of puts you in the situation and is like go! You have no idea what or who is getting filmed. You just have to keep up with it. Simon, one of the actors in Bronze was just so funny during the shooting. I had a difficult time keeping a straight face. I think that was the hardest thing.
10What's next? Just finished production on The Ningyo which I'm really excited about. Should be out sometime this year. Here's a link to the trailer. https://vimeo.com/fairytales/theningyo And currently working on a few other things.
About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
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