A graduate of the film program at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, Semans was inspired to begin making films because of his desire to work in a field he admired. It would seem that he has succeeded, as his film will be making its world premiere at Tribeca and he's eager to see how New York audiences respond to the film.
What's it about?: ""Nancy, Please" is black comedy about obsession, self-righteousness, and the perverse allure of victimhood in New Haven, CT."
On shaking up a familiar character type: "The idea behind "Nancy, Please" was to take the familiar figure of the arrested adolescent – the man-child torn between adulthood and emotional stagnation – and rough him up a bit. Admittedly, the young man fleeing in terror from the responsibilities of adulthood is a very common figure in movies these days. But I always had trouble fully identifying with these sorts of on-screen characters – they tend to be thoroughly romanticized and portrayed as fun and soulful. Usually, the arrested adolescent is redeemed in some implausible way that magically resolves his inner conflicts, most often via some infinitely wise and patient woman. This does not really jibe with my experience. So, we opted instead for an alternative approach that suggests a refusal to grow up has real repercussions and can lead to disappointment, misery, or worse. The protagonist’s arc in "Nancy, Please" is absurd, but his choices lead to a conclusion that feels more realistic to me: abject failure."
Your background?: "I'm was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN, and I moved to Brooklyn when I was 18. After some milling around, I eventually graduated from film school at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. I chose to make movies because I enjoy watching them immensely and I have this nagging desire to become actively involved whenever I see someone doing something I admire. Usually I know better and steer clear, but I wasn’t able to do so with movies."
What would you like Tribeca audiences to take away from the film?: "I hope they find it a funny and/or engaging satire of the lengths people will go to evade responsibility, and the lengths they will go to evade responsibility for that evasion."
What films inspired you when making this movie?: "The films we talked about most when developing the movie were "La Moustache" (Emmanuel Carrère) and "The Paper Chase" (James Bridges). "La Moustache" was an inspiration because it's concentrates so fixedly on one man, one delusion – it's so intently focused and never deviates from its central conflict, even though it is strange and rather absurd. "The Paper Chase" was a touchstone because it is about an Ivy League graduate student forming a single-minded obsession that threatens to unmoor him completely (and because it's shot by Gordon Willis, who is a supergenius). "The Paper Chase" has always been a sentimental favorite, and the narrative parallels are pretty clear."
What do you hope to get out of the Tribeca experience?: "I'm eager to share the movie with a NY audience and showcase the efforts of the terrific cast and crew who worked on the project. In addition, I want to hang out and drink with other filmmakers and check out a bunch of movies."
Future projects?: "I’m working on a new feature project about a highly moral young woman who is troubled by an insatiable desire to commit murder. This causes her all sorts of trouble and leads her to make unusual new friends and have occasional hallucinations. I’m also writing an action movie about bourbon smuggling. Good times."
Indiewire invited Tribeca 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.
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