Actor Todd Louiso ("High Fidelity," "Jerry Maguire") made a splash at the 2002 edition of the festival where his first feature, "Love Liza," starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Kathy Bates, nabbed the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award.
His follow up, "The Marc Pease Experence" starring Jason Schwartzman and Ben Stiller, was "a very difficult filmmaking experience. I hate to say it, but it really crushed my confidence and passion." But with his third feature, "Hello I Must Be Going" (U.S. Dramatic Competition), Louiso looks to be back on track.
What's it about: The movie is about Amy Minsky, a recently divorced woman who starts a transformative affair with the son of her parents' business associates.
Says director Louiso: "While the film has a very strong and traditional narrative thrust, it's also (I hope) working on a spiritual and visceral level. Amy has kind of been dropped into a void, emotionally and literally, in that her parents' house is enormous and spare. The film is very much about encountering the void — the experience of complete loss of self, of identity, of everything we think we are. But Amy's experience of sexual intimacy pours lifeforce into that void, which, if one is able to be present in it, can transform into an experience of complete being.
"In making the film, the screenwriter Sarah Koskoff and I talked a lot about the open gesture we wanted for the film. We tried to be aware of becoming too guarded or distant or cerebral with the writing and with the directing, and by extension the performances and the look of the film, etc. The film is so much about a certain kind of raw vulnerability and intimacy and we both felt that if we didn't stay vulnerable ourselves, that the audiences would feel shut out. So we worked hard to stay open and I hope that the openness has a ripple effect and allows for a deep film experience.
"I found out through this process that there is a big difference between momentum and intentional action connected to passion and inspiration. I didn't know that before. I thought you just had to kind of ride the wave of energy and excitement in a project and muscle it through to the end. But both Sarah and I really wanted to make something true and to do that we felt we had to maintain a high level of emotional presence — to stay very conscious throughout. We found that we needed to continually return to the core of the piece and reassess what we were doing, every time decisions had to be made, or things would became chaotic or emotional (as they do on a film shoot). By returning and reassessing, we were able to make very connected decisions throughout the process. It was extremely challenging and extremely fulfilling — and continues to be both as we move forward."
Adds Louiso, "I hope people laugh. That would be great."
Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they're doing next. We'll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2012 festival.
Keep checking here every day up to the launch for the latest profiles.