This was the first narrative short I wrote and directed, a full-on collaboration with Lili Taylor, with whom Michael Imperioli and I founded our theatre company Machine Full (more on that elsewhere). Onstage it was about 40 minutes—-not an easy monologue for any actor, and Lili just owned it. It was part of my 13 part cycle of one-acts, Halcion Days.
I felt I needed to commit Lili’s performance to film. With the help of Joana Vincente and Jason Kliot at Open City Films we set up a two day shoot right on the heels of the theatrical run so Lili could just jump in. I loved Jean de Segonzac’s work as a DP (he’s an acclaimed director now) and he taught me how to break the script down into beats for the camera using index cards. It was my first lesson in directing.
In the edit room Kate Williams and Stacey Granger taught me how to edit story for film rather than stage, and the piece came down to 16 minutes. My mom had literally just inherited a very small amount of cash and loaned me most of it (10K) for the shoot. The film premiered at Sundance and won several awards around the country, with one reviewer in the The Houston Chronicle calling Lili’s performance ‘a master class in film acting.’
It was during Touch Base and Machine Full’s Halcion Days and American Lesion that I developed a relationship with Lili that is one of the most deeply organic, intuitive and collaborative working relationships I’ve ever had. It’s the very essence of a theater company, bordering on ESP. Lili and I love meeting up for coffee and talking away, but when we work very little needs to be said, and people on my sets have mentioned it to me several times. We still have plans in the works (she’s a great writer and director as well).