By Indiewire | Indiewire April 2, 2013 at 12:9PM
Director of the Golden Globe-nominated "Sherrybaby," Laurie Collyer brings us another drama about a minimum-wage couple struggling to survive. "Sunlight Jr.", starring Naomi Watts as Melissa, a Quickie-mart employee and Matt Dillon as her husband Richie, follows a couple who get pregnant and homeless at the same time.
About the filmmaker: Years ago, one of my Sundance advisors told me that I am a very bright and complicated person. I think I am less bright or complicated than I may seem at first, but anyone who tries to make a career of making independent films has to have a certain amount of recklessness. One thing I have learned from directing actors is that living in the moment is key to having a good life. Making movies has been an intensely personal journey, as any art-making should be. I don't like art as therapy, per se, but I do believe that a person must learn something about him or herself with every new project. Which I can say that I have. Next time I hope to learn that having money is awesome. Working on it!
What else do you want audiences to know about your film? "Sunlight Jr." is a character driven story about survival in a minimum wage landscape. It is also a love story which makes it as intimate as it is social, possibly even more so. I have directed extremely talented, well known actors in roles they've never played before. As with all my films, there is always hope, and a bit of sunshine, but I do also like to take the light and shine it on things we push under the carpet. The three movies I have made so far: Nuyorican Dream, Sherrybaby and Sunlight Jr all share the same DNA. They tackle tough subjects with empathy.
What was your biggest challenge in developing this project? The biggest challenge with all of my movies has always been the same -- raising the money. It is hard to develop films like this anywhere, but in the US with it's culture of "cinema as entertainment," I think it is even harder. Cinereach made it easier on me than it's ever been before. They gave me a development grant so I was able to write the script without worrying about paying for childcare. That was a blessing. Thank you to Cinereach and to all my financiers!
Did any specific films inspire you? As I told one of my actors, I am much more inspired by life than by movies. That said, my DP and I watched "Dog Days," "A Prophet," "Hunger," "Fish Tank," "La Cienaga," and "Dogtooth" when coming up with a look for the film. There were many others as well, but those jump to mind first. I adore the work of Anna Magnani, she is like the Madonna of acting for me.
What do you have in the works? I am developing three projects on three subjects: legal prostitution, mid-life crises and the environment. Let's see which one hits first! Someday I'd like to make a children's movie so I can invite my kids to the premiere.
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 2013 festival.
Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch of the festival on April 17 for the latest profiles.