After an intimate online courtship, Danny and Cleo decide to meet in person for the first time. Moments after Cleo’s arrival, and unbeknownst to her, Danny accidentally discovers something utterly shocking in her luggage.
Hi Emily thanks for talking to TNC, you all set for the festival?
Happy to talk! I'm still tying up a couple of loose ends, but pretty much all set and eagerly awaiting the festival.
With a festival like Sundance do you ever get nervous ahead of your films screening?
Yes, absolutely. But I'm trying to let my excitement outweigh the nerves. I know day of the premiere I'll have knots in my stomach, and maybe get a little goofy. But that's okay!
Danny’s Girl will have its World Premiere in the Midnight Shorts Program, does this add any additional pressure on you?
It will be my first time watching the film with an audience, so there's definitely some weight there. But at the same time, movies are meant to be viewed in a room full of people so I can't wait to hear where the laughs come, feel the awkward moments, the tension, the disgust, etc.
What does it mean to you to be at Sundance with Danny’s Girl?
As a kid I used to make "backyard movies" with a VHS camera and use neighbours as actors, so it's absolutely a childhood dream come true to be at Sundance. I was actually at the festival several years back for a colleague's film, but got a bout of poisoning that knocked me out for several days. And I always told myself "I'll be back!" So here we are.
Can you tell me a little bit about Danny’s Girl, what was the inspiration behind your film?
I wrote the film for the lead actor and my friend, Danny Dikel, whose physical comedy chops are an inspiration. He was in a long distance relationship when I began writing the screenplay, so that became the initial spark for the idea. I then took it in a direction that aligns with my sensibilities, sort of absurd humour with hints of perversion. I'm inspired by the vulnerability in intimate relationships, and how people react when things go terribly, terribly wrong.
"I'm inspired by the vulnerability in intimate relationships, and how people react when things go terribly, terribly wrong."
What was the experience working with Danny Dikel and Rémy Bennett?
They're so incredibly talented, and fearless performers. From the start they both were adamant about rehearsing as much as we could before the shoot, and we did. Our rehearsals would start off with reading lines, and then transition into talking about the psychology of the characters and then just life in general.
You wrote, directed and edited Danny’s Girl is it hard to ‘let go’ of a film once it’s wrapped or do you hold on to it thinking ‘I should/could have done that differently?
I was actually quite eager to finish it and show people. From the start, I promised myself that I'd try and listen to my gut with this one. That if something feels off, it probably is. So once I was pleased with it, I was ready to let it go. There are always moments in the edit room where you realize an angle or take could have been better, but I was generally happy to get it out there.
When working on a short film like Danny’s Girl how important is the collaborative process?
It's one of the most important things. You need to surround yourself with people who impress you, who inspire you, and who are masters of their craft. Once you're surrounded by a talented team, more than half the battle is won.
What was the most challenging scene for you to shoot?
The parking lot scene was quite challenging. It's a crucial moment in the film, and so we really had to nail it. That, and it was an exterior shoot when the forecast predicted thunder storms, and we were losing light.
"I was actually at the festival several years back for a colleague's film, but got a bout of poisoning that knocked me out for several days."
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
Totally. As a kid I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker, and was endlessly fascinated by how they got made. And watching films has always made me feel less alone.
How much has your approach to your work changed since you started out?
I've become more confident as time goes by in general. And I'm trying to communicate more effectively each time, which can be a challenge. I've also learned to come back to the notion of "respecting the craft." If you're settling or cutting corners, you're not respecting the art of filmmaking.
Has there been any advice you’ve been given that has really helped you?
Do you have any advice or tips for a fellow writer/director?
People notice when you put in the extra effort, heart, and preparation. Intention reads onscreen. And make the movie you want to see.
What are you currently working on?
I have a feature screenplay that I want to make; an outrageous dark comedy.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Danny’s Girl?
That is looks beautiful, and the performances are rich. And that life can be bizarre and terrifying, but also hilarious and hopeful.