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Tribeca 2015 Women Directors: Meet Leslye Headland – ‘Sleeping with Other People’

Tribeca 2015 Women Directors: Meet Leslye Headland - 'Sleeping with Other People'

Leslye Headland started her writing career in theater, with such plays as “Bachelorette” (Second Stage), “Assistance” (Playwrights Horizons), and the rest of the “Seven Deadly Plays” series (IAMA Theatre Company). Several of these plays would later serve as the basis for her film and television projects. In 2012, Headland made her feature directorial and screenwriting debut with “Bachelorette,” starring Kirsten Dunst, Rebel Wilson, Isla Fisher and Lizzy Caplan. The film had its world premiere at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and went on to become one of the most successful VOD releases to date. Headland’s next script, “About Last Night,” was released in February 2014 and grossed over $50 million domestically. (Press materials) 

Sleeping with Other People” will premiere at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival on April 21. 

W&H: Please give us your description of the film playing.

LH: “Sleeping with Other People” is about two romantic failures, Jake (Jason Sudeikis) and Lainey (Alison Brie), who become friends in an effort to change their self-destructive dating patterns. They teach each other to love themselves so they can love other people.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

LH: I wanted to reimagine the romantic comedy because people love to trash-talk about it. We forget that it’s really one of the oldest cinematic genres. The end goal of all these films in this vein is sex. A consummation of the ninety-minute verbal foreplay. In the modern dating world of Tinder, sex is a pretty easy goal to achieve. Intimacy is not. So I rearranged the classic rom-com tropes to tell a love story with the elusive endgame of intimacy between two people who are convinced they are incapable of having it.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

LH: It was an extremely vulnerable experience directing this film because I put my entire soul and heartache and deep wish for love into every moment. It was also challenging to shoot the film in less than a month.

W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theatre?

LH: What I’ve been so glad to hear from people who have seen the film is that they relate to it and the characters 100%. I want people to understand and recognize that when it comes to dating, you’re not as crazy as you think you are. Everyone needs love. We need it like air or water. We just don’t know how to get it.

W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?

LH: Take yourself seriously.

W&H: What’s the biggest misconception about you and your work?

LH: A lot of people think that I’m trying to be shocking with my dialogue or subject matter. That’s not my goal when I go into a project. I focus on darker things or bad behavior or explicit dialogue because creatively I am more interested in my mistakes and why I made them than my good deeds and my achievements.

W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.

LH: Jessica Elbaum at Gloria Sanchez secured financing for the script from Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, who provided funding for the film. I worked with Jessica on “Bachelorette” as well. She’s a passionate advocate for female writers and directors.

W&H: Name your favorite women directed film and why.

LH: I’ll name four. “The Heartbreak Kid” (dir. Elaine May), “Point Break” (dir. Kathryn Bigelow), “Real Genius” (dir. Martha Coolidge) and “American Psycho” (dir. Mary Harron). All four films are so clever in extraordinarily different ways.

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