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Meet the 2015 SXSW Filmmakers #20: Michael Showalter Lets Sally Field Shine in ‘Hello, My Name is Doris’

Meet the 2015 SXSW Filmmakers #20: Michael Showalter Lets Sally Field Shine in 'Hello, My Name is Doris'

READ MORE: Sally Field on Going Raunchy for ‘Hello, My Name is Doris’ and Why She’s Never Felt Like a Great Success

Directed by “Wet Hot American Summer” alumni Michael Showalter, “Hello, My Name Is Doris” puts Sally Field right where she belongs: Front, center and in the spotlight. Showalter’s second feature film (his first was “The Baxter”) follows Doris (Field) through a misguided attempt for the heart of her much-younger colleague. Her real-retro know-how gets her in with his hipster crowd, but as with the coming-of-age stories that inspired the film, Doris must discover what’s truly right for herself — regardless of what the popular kids think.

What’s your film about in 140 characters or less?

After the death of her elderly mother, a reclusive and eccentric woman named Doris becomes romantically infatuated with a younger co-worker. Antics ensue.

Now what’s it REALLY about?

It’s about many things really. It’s about finding your true family. It’s about rebirth and the search for authenticity. There is a character named Willy Williams (Peter Gallagher) in the film. He’s a self-help guru, of sorts. One of his mantras is that “There are seven days in a week and ‘someday’ isn’t one of them.” It’s about that too.

Tell us briefly about yourself.

I’m from Princeton, New Jersey. I was a teenager in the 80’s. My parents are college professors which makes me a faculty kid. I recently moved from New York City to Los Angeles with my wife Kalin and our four cats, Sally, Tim, Louise and Billie. My lovely twin daughters Emmy and Rosie were born this past April. I like playing tennis and running errands.

Biggest challenge in completing this film?

Sally Field and I spoke early on about the tone of the film. The film has some broad comic elements. At times it veers into screwball. But then there is another aspect of the film that is quite sad and wrenching. Doris is a character who is dealing with some very difficult emotional obstacles. So, the biggest challenge was melding those contradictory vibes together into one cohesive tone.

What do you want SXSW audience to take away from your film?

Sally Field is such a wonderful actress. Her performance blows me away every time I watch the movie. She is able to convey so many different sides of her character — humor, sorrow, joy, anger, innocence, beauty, wisdom. So many things.

Any films inspire you?

My co-writer Laura Terruso and I watched and talked about so many different films as we wrote the script. “Being There,” “Grey Gardens,” “Pretty In Pink” are three that really stand out. All for different reasons. We definitely realized that even though Doris is in her 60s, like a John Hughes movie, our film was very much an adolescent coming-of-age story.

What’s next?

I co-wrote and produced a TV show that will be premiering this summer (July) on Netflix. It is a prequel to the movie “Wet Hot American Summer” that I made with my frequent collaborator David Wain back in 2000. The original film took place on the last day of camp in the summer of 1981. The TV show takes place on the first day of camp that same summer.

What cameras did you shoot on?

Principal photography in LA was shot on Arri Alexas. The NYC scenes were shot on an Arri Amira. Our DP, Brian Burgoyne, wanted to use Amira for run of show, but it wasn’t available yet. The film is all handheld and the Amira is a light camera well-suited to handheld.

Indiewire invited SXSW Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. For profiles go HERE.

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