Jeff Baena

L.A.-based Jeff Baena grew up in Florida and studied film production at NYU. In 2004 he cowrote David O. Russell's "I Heart Huckabees," released by Fox Searchlight. This is his first feature film as a director. Also, he told Indiewire, "I'm really good at games." 

What it's about: "A guy's girlfriend comes back from the dead, and they try and pick up their relationship where it left off."

What it's really about: "The contingent nature of the universe, the fleeting nature of love and joy, and the consequences of hanging onto something too tightly instead of letting it go."

Biggest challenges: "Our biggest challenge was primarily time. There were days that we were shooting 10 or 11 pages of the script with stunts, special effects, extensive make up, and visual effects. I ended up employing an approach that relegated all the actiony stuff to the periphery while emphasizing the interpersonal dynamics between the characters. It was a stylistic choice that simultaneously minimized expense."

Any films inspire you? "'California Split,' 'Stroszek,' 'The Bad News Bears,' 'Blue Velvet,' 'Crimes and Misdemeanors,' 'The King of Comedy,' 'That Obscure Object of Desire,' and 'The Jerk.'

Cameras Used: "The Arri Alexa."

Did you crowdfund? "No. We were lucky enough to have interest from several equity financiers. After some careful vetting, we settled on the ones that we felt were the best fit and that were open to us shooting in Los Angeles." 

Hopes for Sundance audience take-away: "I hope audiences have fun while going to emotional places they've never gone before."

What's next? "I'm adapting Krystle Cole's autobiography 'Lysergic.'"

Indiewire invited Sundance 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 2014 festival. For profiles go HERE.