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You Make Me Feel So Young
2013, 75m, drama
Justine lives and works in a nameless city. The film begins when her boyfriend, Zach, leaves to interview for a position at a recently renovated art house movie theater in a small town. He lands the job and together they relocate to an air mattress in his new boss' garage. Dropped suddenly into an unfamiliar place and stripped of all routine and distraction, Justine is left to sit quietly by and observe the early signs of her own deteriorating relationship.
10 questions with You Make Me Feel So Young director, Zach Weintraub at the half-way mark.
Tuesday, May 24th, 2016
1Hey Zach! Thanks again for being a part of our festival. First, what was the initial seed that made you want to make You Make Me Feel So Young? At the time I was going to festivals for my previous movie, and I could tell that Justine was feeling a little bummed that there was this whole part of my life (moviemaking) that I think she imagined to be much more exciting and adventurous than it was. I thought, we should make a movie together, then she'll see that it's a pain in the ass and won't feel bad anymore. It took off from there.
2You and your cinematographer, Nandan Rao, create such a wonderful look to each of your films. Can you tell me a little bit how you decided upon the look you eventually settled on? How did you decide to shoot in black & white, long lenses, and fixed frame lines? Where there films you referenced for this film? This was the fifth movie that we made together. There wasn't much of a deliberation process. We had already made one in black and white, and everything we do has the long-take thing going on. The shots were tighter in this one because I wanted to focus mostly on Justine's face reacting to everything going on outside the frame. As far as references, I seem to remember that Jeanne Dielman was a big one. Chantal is a hero.
3I thought I also heard Justine is your girlfriend. Is that true? If so what's it like directing your girlfriend and do you have any advice for actor/director couples on how to work together? Yeah that's true. We're getting married soon. But at the time we had only been together for a year. I was a little bit afraid going into production. I was more self conscious working with her, because I felt like she could probably see through me a little better than anyone else could. I had to be less full of shit than I might have been otherwise. It's mostly scary because you're opening up this channel between your creative endeavor and your personal relationship. Conflict that occurs in either one can flow freely into the other. But it was mostly easy. I don't remember many low points. My only advice is to go for it and see for yourself what happens.
4This film is your 4th indie you wrote and directed. Does it get any easier the more you make? How did you get funding for this film? Sorta. If you are lucky, others may take you more seriously and it becomes easier to find people who are down to participate in the project. A lot of things stay the same, like dread, doubt, anxiety, etc. All the classics. And then it also gets harder in some ways too. When you are a "real filmmaker" you start to put a lot of (mostly imaginary) pressure on yourself to please your (also imaginary) audience, which puts you at risk of making some Boring Shit. Regarding the money, this was a cheap one. I paid for it myself with the exception of $500 that was given to me by a friend who served as a mentor throughout this process.
5Can you share a war story from the shoot? It wasn't so bad, really. The shot on the carnival ride was funny. We had to do it while the fair was in town, so we shot it a week or two before we did anything else. And it was pretty easy. But then a few days later Kym called me and told me that she had forgotten about the movie and dyed her hair completely blonde, whereas it had been dark brown in the shot. We had to shoot it again like two months later, at a different fair about 40 minutes away. I was super bummed at first, because I hate shooting in crowded public places. We were gonna have to deal with all of the people jumping out in front of the camera and hollering. But yeah, it wasn't bad in the end. Looking back it was a good thing because (a) the re-shoot was better and (b) Kym looks cool with blonde hair.
6This film also looks like your dad (maybe uncle) acts in it as well. What's your technique for getting good performances out of people who have never acted before? That's my dad. He's down for whatever. In high school I was making him smoke cigarettes and spit fake blood everywhere, so he probably found this pretty undemanding. As for first timers - some are great and there's no technique necessary - but in general you have to meet them halfway. Figure out their limitations and don't exceed them. Some people wanna get all "director bro" about it and try to insist on something more difficult because their script is perfect and it can't be compromised. That's all good if you don't mind shitty performances. But really, just allow enough breathing room to make changes on the spot, and stay honest with yourself (like, really honest) about what's not working and you'll typically figure out a way to work around it.
7You write your films too. What's your writing process like and how long did it take to complete this script? I write my movies as very detailed outlines. I just don't write dialogue. I describe the conversations, but I don't try to come up with the actual lines because I know I'm bad at that. I spent about six months writing and revising this one.
8Justine Eister does such an incredible job as the lead. How did you two meet and what was it about her that made you want to cast her? Yeah she did a great job. At that time I knew her well enough to know that she could probably do it. The movie was written for and about her. The funny part is she was pretty self-conscious and wouldn't do rehearsals. I mean, we tried, but she couldn't take it seriously and it felt like a waste of time. That made me nervous. But when we shot our first dialogue scene, which is the first shot of the movie, she just somehow turned it on right from the first take. I was like, damn. This will work. Yeah she nailed it.
9I'm a really big fan of your films. I loved the scene where you and Justine dance together. It's such a nice moment and I love how you let that moment hang. What's your favorite scene in this film and why? I guess that one is my favorite too. I knew it would be good just based on the various elements - smoke, cool music, minimal lighting. I thought it was gonna be a freebie. But I'm also not a fan of feigned intoxication, so we were smoking real weed in that scene, which was kinda gnarly. I had intentionally gotten some leafy trimmings thinking they wouldn't be potent, and then on take one we smoked an entire joint without thinking and as soon as we stopped rolling, we realized that we were already super high. We ended up smoking six to get that scene. It sucked, because after every take I would feel like, "was that any good? Or was it terrible? Is this whole movie terrible?"
10What's next? I want to make a horror movie if somehow there's ever money for that. Otherwise, I don't know. Smaller stuff. I want to work on making stuff for myself instead of full blown "Movies" that are part of a "Career" as a "Filmmaker" because that road has been pretty depressing.
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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