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‘Upstream Color’ Star Amy Seimetz Talks Multitasking and Directing ‘Sun Don’t Shine’ (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

'Upstream Color' Star Amy Seimetz Talks Multitasking and Directing 'Sun Don't Shine' (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

Back in 2010, indie producer-writer-actress Amy Seimetz was living in Tampa, Florida and dealing with losses in her family, “a lot of anxiety,” she says, when she realized that “I need to get out of acting in these movies… I need to direct my own thing.”

Her first feature “Sun Don’t Shine” is a well-shot micro-budget portrait of a couple on the
run for murder in the mold of James M. Cain’s “The Postman Always Rings
Twice” or Terrence Malick’s “Badlands.” Seimetz recruited fellow
experimental filmmaker Kentucker Audley and actress Kate Lyn Sheil to
star as the couple, one rational, the other an “emotional fireball”
trying to escape from a bad situation. Seimetz shot up close in intense
July Florida heat with grainy Kodak Super 16 for her first stab at
not-so-conventional narrative. She decided to avoid her
intellectual/referential side in favor of a more emotional nightmare,
she told a 2011 SXSW audience. “I wanted to make a movie based on pure anxiety
and emotion.” (See our video interview below.)

Seimetz, 31, is a vital member of today’s wide-flung, amorphous, fluid, independent filmmaker community. She had been following various indie films that she had produced or acted in, for filmmakers such as Joe Swanberg (“Alexander the Last”), Barry Jenkins (“Medicine for Melancholy”) and Lena Dunham (“Tiny Furniture”), around film festivals, where she met many of the people she wound up working with on “Sun Don’t Shine.” 

Director-actor Audley “has this mysterious charming magnetism I can’t
put finger on,” she says,
“but I can’t help but listen to every word he says, you want to watch
him. He says he’s not professional actor. I used to say the same thing,
but I’ve embraced the idea that I do like performing. I do like the
attention. I’m getting over this
vanity issue.”

She likes “to find the right people who
understand what I’m doing,” she says. “I like the smaller scale
and intimacy you get from shooting with eight people on set,
people who you know, it’s like friends working together. Who else can
you be honest
with, have shorthand knowledge with, six seconds and everyone knows what

page you’re on and you shoot your scene? I didn’t have a casting call, I
people I really loved liked working with, great performers. You can
these conversations and get deeper, with Kentucker and Joe Swanberg
and Kate Shein, she’s a writer as well. I don’t think any of us see
ourselves as actors specifically, we want to tell stories, whether
writing or performing.”

The steamy film noir won Indiewire’s best undistributed movie critics poll, and finally opens this Friday via Factory 25. Like her “Upstream Color
writer-director-co-star Shane Carruth, Seimetz was willing to wait until the right distribution set-up
came along. “If you have a good story,
you don’t have to get bought by a huge company to get it out there,” she points out. “Other projects are skipping the traditional route. There’s so much content on the internet that in order to take
control, you can be your own artist or tastemaker and not depend on tastemakers
outside yourself.”

The brooding “Sun Don’t Shine,” inspired by her recurring dream about having done something bad and trying to cover it up, was shot on 16 mm, which “gives you a classic feeling, that the film could have been shot in the 70s or 80s or 90s any time
color stock existed,” she says. “You’re invited into the world, the film grain moves and invites you in.”

Finding money is always a challenge for Seimetz, who does not come from a wealthy background. Some financing and one of the house locations for the $70,000 film came from a private investor she met through a friend on Facebook, as well as winning a bet with another investor in Munich. The first week of shooting was funded via crowdsourcing. “The first
week was a huge help,” she says, “if you can get everyone on location you can get things going, and get
people there. Once you’re rolling you can find
a way to make it all work.”

Seimetz is now an actress-in-demand with an WME agent: she not only rated a NYT feature for Sundance features “Upstream Color” and “Pit Stop” but after she moved to Los Angeles, she landed a gig in the third season of AMC’s “The Killing,” as a mother with a missing child, now filming in Vancouver, British Columbia. She’s also a regular on Christopher Guest’s upcoming HBO comedy series, “Family Tree,” starring Chris O’Dowd as a man who is obsessed with his genetic history.

Seimetz reminds that in today’s improvisational world, working hard can be the best revenge.

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