Back to IndieWire

Meet the 2012 Sundance Filmmakers #11: Matt Ross, ‘Twenty-Eight Hotel Rooms’

Meet the 2012 Sundance Filmmakers #11: Matt Ross, 'Twenty-Eight Hotel Rooms'

“Twenty-Eight Hotel Rooms” (in the NEXT competition) is a film with two characters, played by Chris Messina (of HBO’s “Six Feet Under”) and Broadway actress Marin Ireland, who, though both in relationships, forge a passionate relationship after a one-night stand. It marks the feature directorial debut of actor Matt Ross (“Good Night, and Good Luck.”).

What’s it about?  The movie is about how romantic love is one of the few things that makes life worth living, but also about how it’s seemingly impossible.

Says director Matt Ross:  “The genesis of the film came out of a desire to experiment with a specific way of making a movie. It came out of conversations I had with Chris Messina, the male actor in the movie and one of the executive producers. I had originally brought him a different script that I had written. It sparked many discussions about our experiences as actors in film and the accepted norm of how films are usually made. The whole endeavor is usually structured so that rather than being about discovery, an actor is required and expected to deliver a ‘performance’ between action and cut.

“My background is in largely in theatre and acting. I grew up in a town with a well-respected Shakespeare Festival and I fell in with some kids whose parents worked there. We staged all-kid versions of Hamlet, Cymbeline, a few others. All the while, I was making short films; monster movies, slapstick comedies, claymation. They were universally terrible. I used the first substantial amount of money I made as an actor to make the short film, “The Language of Love,” which played at Sundance and many other festivals here and abroad. I think I’ve made six short films in total.

“A movie with only two actors completely set in hotel rooms presents unique challenges, but developing it and getting it on its feet wasn’t the most challenging aspect. This is partly because I was blessed with the amazing talents of producers Lynette Howell, Sam Housman, Louise Runge and Crystal Powell. They are all creatively insightful, extraordinarily capable producers. They kick ass.

“My biggest challenge during production was keeping track of all the narrative threads. In every scene, Chris and Marin would continuously add – or omit – lines and behavior. Every take was different in terms of information. I had to monitor what might need to be carried into other scenes, make sure we continued all narrative variations. This hurt my brain.”

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 2012 festival.

Keep checking here every day up to the launch for the latest profiles.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Festivals and tagged ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox