SFR: How did you get involved with acting in and writing Quiet City?
EF: I didnï¿½t actually write it. There was a full script before we started, but there was so much improv that [writer/director Aaron Katz] ended up giving Cris Lankenau and I writing credit because he thought that was fair. I didnï¿½t actually sit down and write. As for the acting part, Iï¿½d gone to school with Aaron at the North Carolina School of the Arts, and he called me about this film he was doing and said, ï¿½I really think youï¿½d be good for the main part.ï¿½ I donï¿½t really act, but I trusted him; he has extremely good instincts.
Youï¿½re studying film, right? So if not acting or writing, what is your focus?
Iï¿½m actually studying editing. I have a passion for it and I think itï¿½s just more stable. Iï¿½m interested in directing, but I donï¿½t want to try to earn a living directing things Iï¿½m not passionate about.
Did this make you want to do more work in front of the camera?
I would act again, it would just depend on who for. Because Iï¿½m not an ï¿½actorï¿½ who is going to do some cold reads or go to auditions, I may or may not. Thereï¿½s a lot to be said for directing non-actors. When Iï¿½ve done it Iï¿½ve gotten some really honest performances from them.
What is Quiet City about?
Itï¿½s not really plot oriented. Itï¿½s about a girl (me) who comes to New York City to visit her friend, however her friend doesnï¿½t show up. So sheï¿½s lost in New York and runs into this trustworthy-looking guy who helps her out. It basically just follows them over an awkward and charming 36 or 48 hours.
The film has been dubbed ï¿½mumblecore.ï¿½ Do you think that genre fits?
Well, mumblecore kind of defines this do-it-yourself movement thatï¿½s going on where these kidsï¿½filmmakers usually in their 20sï¿½will make films about characters that donï¿½t talk much outside of whatï¿½s going on in their immediate presence. Thereï¿½s usually a lot of improv, non-actors and a documentary feel. Thereï¿½s a little bit of a mixing between fact and fiction that the improv brings to the characters. So yeah, it fits.
But you cringe when you say that. Does the word ï¿½mumblecoreï¿½ have a negative connotation to you?
No one in the genre really likes that title. It came about kind of as a mistake. Some writer joked about everyone mumbling and called it that and everyone has just kind of kept it. I donï¿½t know if I like it that much.
How did this movie end up getting all this attention?
I didnï¿½t even know that it had been submitted for the Spirit Awards until it had been nominated. But basically, we made the film and Aaron had already gotten his first film, Dance Party USA, into the South by Southwest film festival, so he got in again. That was the biggest deal for me. I was happy. But then it went to Boston, Maryland, Sarasota and a bunch of other festivals. After a self-release in New York, Chicago and some other bigger cities, I got the call that we had been nominated.
How did you feel when you didnï¿½t win the award?
August Evening won, but it was cool. We didnï¿½t really expect to win. I didnï¿½t get to see any of the other films that we were up against, but it was so great to just be there that it didnï¿½t really matter. Itï¿½s also really overwhelming. None of us [who worked on the film] knew what to do at the awards. Weï¿½re as independent as it gets; we made Quiet City in a week for $2,000.
Wow. And the award was for films made for under $500,000, right?
Right. And weï¿½re like, ï¿½Weï¿½re way under $500,000,ï¿½ so it was really just a shock to be there with these other, much bigger films.
How did you make a whole movie for only $2,000?
We borrowed equipment and we stayed in different apartments, things like that. A lot of the people who worked on the film lived there so we had a lot of places to stay. We also shot in different apartments.
Did people wonder what you were doing on the streets of New York while you were filming?
We didnï¿½t have any permits and youï¿½re supposed to have them when youï¿½re doing things like filming in the streets. People didnï¿½t really notice because we filmed at night a lot in these fairly deserted places. We were stopped once in the subway by this cop who was in a really good mood. He told us to stop, but he was really nice about it. Most of it was inside where weï¿½d known the people who lived there. We also didnï¿½t have any lights or anything, which would have made us more noticeable and would have made it harder to run away. We didnï¿½t have to shut down streets or anything, which you would have to have a permit for, and we still could have been shut down, but we wouldnï¿½t really have gotten in trouble. Itï¿½s mostly legal stuff so that if someone gets hurt, or something like that..
Where are you going to go when you graduate?
Iï¿½m trying to find an internship in New York. Iï¿½m not against LA, or even here, thereï¿½s so much going on here, but Iï¿½m from the East Coast and I donï¿½t really want to do the Hollywood thing.