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
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
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!
What would you like Tribeca audiences to come away with after seeing your film? I always hope that audiences identify with the characters, that they
understand the circumstances behind their actions and choices, that they
care. I hope audiences leave the theater with new questions or new
ideas. I always want to make people think and feel. I think every
filmmaker has that goal.
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
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.
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
Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch of the festival on April 17 for the latest profiles.
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