EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one of several interviews, conducted via email, with directors whose films are screening at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.
(World Narrative Feature Competition)
Director/Screenwriter: Bradley Rust Gray
Cast: Primary Cast: Zoe Kazan, Mark Rendall, Maryann Urbano
Synopsis: Cherubic college student Ivy (tenderly played by Zoe Kazan) is back home in Brooklyn for summer break with her longtime platonic guy pal Al (Mark Rendall) in tow. Ivy is a wholesome and balanced college kid who has epilepsy but keeps her condition at bay as long as she manages her emotions. As the hot New York summer melts on, Ivy plays phone tag with her boyfriend Greg, but when they do awkwardly connect, each long pause reveals their growing distance. Meanwhile, she spends more time with Al. As the lines of friendship begin to blur, we wonder how long Ivy (her name itself implying that something is growing) will be able to keep all that is boiling up inside from spilling over. [Synopsis courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival]
Please introduce yourself.
I’m Brad Gray.
What were the circumstances that lead you to become a filmmaker?
I dropped out of architecture school to study art and then decided that making films would be slightly more lucrative than making sculptures for a living. I was also very influenced by MTV as a teenager growing up in Florida and in particular by some spots the Brothers Quay did for the station.
What prompted the idea for your film?
I had a bad day and then decided to make a film in order to get myself into a better mood. That’s a strange answer, but I think there’s some truth to it. Making this film was a healing process for me. Unexpectedly, I had a year off from another project, so I decided I would make a film with no money and with Zoe Kazan, who I had met before. So that’s kind of what we did. It was exciting because we made it out of nothing, like making cookies with ingredients you find in your cupboard.
Please elaborate a bit on your approach to making your film.
We wanted to create a documentary feel within a calmly controlled frame.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in developing the project?
Our actors schedules didn’t fit, so we had to film the first seven days with Zoe by herself. However this helped us set the tone and feel for the character’s private moments which basically guide the story.
How do you define success as a filmmaker, and what are your personal goals as a filmmaker?
Being able to feed my family is success. And my goal is to be able to continue making films.
What are your future projects?
I’m working on a film called “Jack & Diane” which stars Olivia Thirlby.