Daily updates from the first annual AFI DALLAS International Film Festival presented by Target, founding sponsor Victory Park, March 22 to April 1, 2007

Friday, March 23, 2007

All Indie Family

Molly Parker of WHO LOVES THE SUN

Discussing the film, WHO LOVES THE SUN (screening Saturday March 24, 7:15pm, and Sunday March 25, 2:15pm) with someone can quickly answer the question, "Who loves independent film?"

The Canadian production with a modest budget, written and directed by Matt Bissonnette, stars his wife (and indie darling) Molly Parker along with Adam Scott and Lukas Haas (who also stars in SWEDISH AUTO screening at AFI DALLAS). Beyond that, the film throws a combustible triangle together – two young men who were childhood friends and the woman who came between them causing the man she married to disappear for five years – then confounds the audiences expectations at every turn.

We decided to explore the makings of a "family film" and filming with family - independent style - with Bissonnette, Parker and Scott.

Matt, you have stated that you were inspired to write WHO LOVES THE SUN by Tom Waits' song, Come On Up to the House, which was concerned with acceptance and surrender in the face of desire’s demands and life’s lousy odds. Was there a personal reason or outlook on life that allowed that song to speak to you and inspire you in such a grand way?

No, not really, I just liked that song a lot. Though I suppose my lack of success pursuing a professional hockey career may have colored my thinking.

Adam, what were your initial thoughts about Matt's script for WHO LOVES THE SUN?

I thought it was lovely. it made me feel nostalgic for my 20s, the time in your life when you know you're going to have to start giving a shit really soon, but you have some time left to just have some beers, listen to records and lie around. That is what the characters are dealing with, the consequences of getting too caught up in that great little grace period we all take in life at some point.

Molly, your part in the film was written with you in mind. How much feedback did you give Matt throughout the scriptwriting process?

Lots and lots and lots. All positive. I leave the "crit" for people he doesn’t live with.

Do you feel he is any more collaborative or open to suggestion from you than anyone else during filming?

Matt directed me telepathically. It can't be helped when you know someone so well. He could just look at me after a take and I would know if he bought what I had done or not. Once we had to leave set to "talk" about some direction I got. I think the crew thought we were making out. Mostly, it was a very different experience to work with someone I'm so close to. You don't have the luxury of mystery, which the other actors do have. But you can trust that when the director believes you in a moment, it is working.

Matt, how does your relationship with Molly give you insight into working with the other actors?

It teaches me not to be afraid of them.

Did you and Molly meet while making the film, LOOKING FOR LEONARD?

No, we actually met at a film festival party.

How did the relationship grow from that meeting?

Understandably, the relationship has grown a whole lot better since then.

Adam, what was your experience working with Matt and being directed by him?

Working with Matt was a lot of fun. We got along great from the beginning. It never really felt like work because he is such a laid back person, and not precious with his work. Very collaborative.

Did the fact that Matt and Molly are married add to the familial feeling that is routinely developed on the film set?

It was like working at a family barbecue all summer. During our lunch break we would go swimming in the lake, smoke cigarettes, lay in the sun, listen to music. It really was a great way to spend the summer.

Matt, there are more than a few instances where the characters' reactions to a revelation or crisis in their relationships flies in the face of what film and television audiences have learned to expect today. How much of this was in your original script and how much grew out of the work of the cast?

Most of that was in the original script. Luckily, I was working with pretty smart people, and they quickly understood the tone we were trying to achieve.

For you, what are the benefits or drawbacks of making a film in Canada versus Hollywood or the United States?

I've only made films in Canada, so I can’t really contrast it with the American model. My experience in Canada has been very good, Telefilm, who pays for the movies, and Christal, my distributor, have been very supportive and allowed me to make the films I want, so I have no complaints; in fact, it’s really pretty awesome.

Molly, you have been regarded as one of independent film’s female standard bearers for quite awhile thanks to films like THE CENTER OF THE WORLD, WAKING THE DEAD and PURE. Have you noticed a change in your profile industry-wise or fan-wise with the critical and popular success of the television series DEADWOOD?

I did two episodes of SIX FEET UNDER, after having made probably 30 indie films, and people are still coming up to me in supermarkets saying, "aren’t you the rabbi from SIX FEET UNDER?" Television, even HBO, is incredibly powerful in that so many people see it. So, yes, more people know who I am now. But I still love making movies, especially small indie movies, more than anything. I am looking forward to getting back to that again now that DEADWOOD is over.

You've been going back and forth between film and television projects recently. For you personally, what are the pros and cons of each?

I love how personal making a film is. Especially on this level. To work on something that everyone, including the guy who is driving the van (or the barge, in this case), has actually read and cares about feels really great. Then it becomes a true collaboration because you are counting on everyone involved. TV is fascinating in that it keeps unraveling in front of you and you have to keep living into the moment, which is always new and a surprise and if you have a good writer, like we did on DEADWOOD, it is a real pleasure. But it is not collaboration.

You and Matt just recently had a baby. Do you foresee him writing parts for the baby too? If so, would you get competitive about that?

Matt has a script in which there is a part for our dog Sean, and I definitely felt jealous about that. But if Will wants to act, he's going to have to wait until he's grown up. I don’t think babies should work. And acting, no matter what they tell you, is work.

Seriously, Matt - do you still have to go through Molly's agents to get her to read your scripts?

Yes, and her manager as well. They are all very mean.

Bissonnette will appear at WHO LOVES THE SUN's premiere screening on Saturday, March 24th.