Although it was never an intentional goal, one of the best aspects
of making Little Accidents was making a film with so many strong women up and
down the ladder of production and finance.
I became aware of Sara Colangelo’s script for Little Accidents from a
number of people who called me to buzz about it out of the Sundance Labs. I
read it quickly and was very impressed. It was a big, muscular script set in the
world of coal country, but at the same time it was a very intimate portrait of
Much of my family is from Appalachia, and Little Accident‘s depiction of that world
rang remarkably true to me. Then I watched Sara’s shorts, and I was sold. Prior
to studying film, Sara had been a history major, and her script was bound by a
determination to capture issues of class and corporate greed versus the
I was excited about the idea of putting a strong team together to help
her realize the ambition of the script. And I shared the project with Summer
Shelton, a very smart producer with whom I was interested in working. She has
much more first-hand physical-production experience at the low-budget level
than I do, and as a collaborator of Ramin Bahrani’s, she is well versed in regional
filmmaking. She’s also a Southerner and super charming, and I knew she would be
an asset down in Appalachia with getting the local community to open up to us.
Appalachia is a very tough place to shoot a movie. Beckley, West
Virginia, is a poor community, but the people are very proud and very private. A
number of films prior to ours had come through the area and depicted the
community in a manner that they felt was less than complimentary. We had to
work hard to win trust of the locals. It is also an incredibly male-dominated
world, and to gain access to the coal mines, and even the coal-mine owners,
required some tactical conversations with men who were not used to dealing with
women on a professional and financial level.
At one point down in one of the “hollers,” as the locals call the
little coal communities, somebody threatened to practice some “country justice”
on us – which is apparently served up with shotguns. I had to stand up to some
fairly rough people and say I was in charge. I don’t think they expected it to
be me. But we calmed things down and finished our shooting for the day. I think
that day, the fact that we had so many women was actually to our advantage.
With Rachel Morrison on board as our DP, we had a fearless shooter
who tackled the physical aspects of shooting in tough terrain and cramped
locations. She is a super-strong, creative thinker. And Meghan Kasperlik as our
costume designer completely engaged with the local community, going to local
swap meets and yard sales to collect the wardrobe for the characters. And in post, we were fortunate enough to have the remarkable Suzy Elminger as our
We also had strong women in our financing and business ranks as
well. My business partner Amy Nauiokas comes out of the venture capital world
and possesses a great financial know-how and an instinctive creative eye.
Eleanor Columbus and Ruth Mutch rounded out the female EP ranks, and both were
passionate about supporting Sara. Even in our selling of the film at Sundance,
we had Deb McIntosh from WME advising us along the way.
And, of course, we had the very strong presence of Elizabeth Banks
and Chloe Sevigny in front of the camera to help bring Sara’s rich characters
Little Accidents opened on January 16.
Anne Carey is president of production for the New
York-based finance and production company Archer Gray Productions, which
specializes in independent film, television and theater.