When stand-up comedian Ana Fabrega first read the script for “Let Me Die a Nun,” the comedy was so dark she didn’t think it was a comedy at all. “She thought it was a drama just from reading the script, because it was such a dry comedy,” said writer and director Sarah Salovaara. “She was very confused as to why I was interested in her, but we worked it out.”
Salovaara wanted a comedian in the lead role, even though she’s the straight woman. “Everyone around her is very heightened, and she has to be the one that grounds the experience in her emotional turmoil,” said Salovaara. “I wanted someone who could play drama, but in a comedic context, which comedians can do really well.” Fabrega stars alongside trans model and “it” girl Hari Nef, whom viewers may recognize from the flashback scenes in season two of “Transparent.” A fan of “Transparent,” Salovaara was thrilled when Nef agreed to do the micro-budget series.
Salovaara, who transitioned from film journalism to filmmaking a few years ago (she even has clips on IndieWire), drew from personal experience for the zany premise. “I started writing this story when I was coming out, and then I finished writing when I was with my first girlfriend,” she said. “We’re all very familiar with coming out narratives in LGBTQ cinema, and they’re not necessarily the most stirring of genres. So I wanted to look at it in a heightened context like the church, where the realization that you are gay alters the entire course of your life.”
Growing up in a very religious family not only provided dramatic inspiration, but helped when it came to finding shooting locations. “This was actually shot at my second cousin’s church in midtown Manhattan,” she said.
Salovaara’s film savvy comes through when discussing with the male suitor/stalker character, played by Carl Kranz. “That was a satire of a lot of male leads in romantic comedies, especially from the 80s,” she said. “John Cusack types who relentlessly pursue the female characters until they succumb to their wishes, and it’s actually just kind of creepy more so than romantic.”
In this exclusive clip, tension is ripe when Fabrega and Nef’s characters meet for the first time. Check it out:
“Let Me Die a Nun” premieres in Brooklyn at Secret Project Robot on August 3, after which it will be available on Vimeo.