Jessie McCormack primarily comes from a theater writing and acting background, but after her short film “The Antagonist,” put her on the map, she is now debuting her first feature, “Gus.” Following the turbulent relationships of two friends after one gets pregnant and promises the other the child, McCormack brings a distinctly human touch to the drama of the film’s script, instilling it with poignancy and humor.
What it’s about: Lizzie can’t conceive. Her best friend Andie gets knocked up from a one
night stand and offers to give Lizzie the baby. Complications ensue.
Tell Us About Yourself: I’m a native New Yorker and my background is originally in theater. I
started off as an actor and my dear friend Aliza Waksal, who was also
acting at the time, suggested I write something for us both to perform
in. It was strange to me that she had made the suggestion since I had
never written a play before, but the fact that she was so relaxed about
the whole thing gave me the courage to do it. So I owe Aliza a lot
because she is really the reason I started writing. And then I found I
actually preferred writing to acting though I soon discovered how
difficult it was (for me at least) to go from writing plays to writing
films, which is a very different beast. Developing my skills as a
screenwriter is something I’ve worked at for a long time. And I knew
years ago that I wanted to direct but it took a while to muster up the
confidence to do it. Like many people in this business, it’s been a long
road for me with a lot of ups and downs. That’s why it’s all the more
gratifying to have my first film premiere at SXSW and I’m truly grateful
to Janet Pierson and everyone else at the festival for this
opportunity. That might sound like a canned response but it’s absolutely
What else do you want audiences to know about your film?
I want people to know that this movie is not just for chicks! Men should
go see it as well. As a lady writer/director I do feel a certain
responsibility to create roles for other ladies since there’s such a
lack of quality female parts out there (although I think in the last few
years it’s definitely gotten better). But I also really love writing
male characters and men are an essential part of this film’s story.
What was your biggest challenge in developing this project? The process of developing the project was actually fairly smooth but
there were certainly logistical challenges like finding the right
locations and getting everyone’s schedules to align. I imagine that’s
the case on every movie.
What would you like SXSW audiences to come away with after seeing your film? I hope the audience enjoys the experience of watching the film, and that
they’re reminded we’re all human and flawed, and most of us at one time
or another have tried to force on our lives a situation that was
possibly not meant to be. When you want something bad enough –- be it a
child or a mate or the fulfillment of a life’s dream –- it can be easy
to ignore all the signs that suggest it isn’t going to work out. I also
hope people walk away recognizing a bit of themselves or someone they
know in these characters. That would make me happy.
Did any specific films inspire you? A film that I always go back to is “You Can Count on Me” which Kenny
Lonergan wrote and directed. It’s another character-driven independent
film and it’s just expertly done on every level. I’m a huge Lonergan
fan — his plays as well as his movies.
What camera did you shoot on? Arri Alexa.
What did you edit on? Final Cut Pro.
What do you have in the works? I’ve written a couple of other movies that I’m very excited about —
both of which I want to direct. One is another dramedy about a woman
floundering after her divorce who strikes up an unlikely friendship with
her older, eccentric Iranian landlord and in the process learns to
stand on her own. The other script is a comedy about a woman who finally
finishes her long-gestating novel but the computer she wrote it on is
stolen when her apartment gets burgled by a charming English man who’s
ill suited to a life of crime. She manages to track her robber down and
forces him to help her get her computer back and in the process they
wind up falling for each other. Meanwhile she must keep it a secret from
her father, a jaded Irish cop who nurses an irrational hatred for the
English. So a lot of the humor comes from the culture-clashes that occur
between the American, English and Irish characters we meet throughout
the story. It was a total blast to write. And then I also have a few
other scripts that are in the outline stages.
Indiewire invited SXSW 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 2013
Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch of the festival on March 8 for the latest profiles.