The film has been getting great buzz thanks to high-profile screenings at New Directors/New Film at Lincoln Center, SXSW and the Berlin Film Festival, where it was nominated for Best First Feature Award and won the C.I.C.A.E. Award.
The WGAE Write On Blog caught up with Anja as she heads to the Nantucket Film Festival, where SHE’S LOST CONTROL will screen on June 27 and 28.
Your film, SHE’S LOST CONTROL, which you wrote and directed, is in the midst of a successful festival run which includes the upcoming Nantucket Film Festival. For those who have yet to see the film, can you tell us a bit about it?
It’s exciting to have the film travel like that. My own perception of what the film is slightly changes from time to time. One version I’d say is: it’s about a woman who thinks she’s invincible and can handle the rabbit hole… until it all turns on her and she is forced to adjust.
How did this story come to you? What was your writing process like?
It came to me one day in the fall of 2010. I had been working on another script and realized it was too big (in scope) to be my first feature. So I went for something containable. In some ways SHE’S LOST CONTROL is really a behavioral character study. The first draft wrote itself, in a couple of weeks. It took another year or so to rewrite and rework the narrative structure to sort of mirror the protagonist’s emotional journey – the film’s pace and tension are like a spiral, if you want. It creeps up on you and then hits you.
Any reason you decided to set the film in New York?
It’s hard to imagine the film anywhere else! Seoul maybe, that’d be an interesting sequel. I wrote the film for New York and knew I could find locations there that feel urban yet avoid showing them in an all too familiar light. It was an interesting challenge.
Do you have any particular scene from SHE’S LOST CONTROL that you felt translated from the page to the screen in a completely different way than you could have expected? What was it about the scene that moved you?
There was a scene that was loosely scripted as a “dance scene”, a moment where Ronah manages to make Johnny step outside himself, and it’s fun. I was looking to create some lightness between the two main characters, a moment where the film becomes its own opposite. On set, we shot the rehearsal without talking much about blocking or the arch of the scene and Brooke and Marc just went with it. And director of photography, Zack Galler, and 1st AC, Matt Manning went with it as well. We were lucky. I remember staring at the monitor, with some people from the team, and all of us were just completely taken and surprised by it. Interestingly the scene is now more of a seduction scene where Ronah seduces Johnny, and the audience is seduced to believe that maybe this could all turn into a love story. I believe we shot one or two more takes, but most of what’s in the film now is from that first rehearsal.
What movies, television shows, books are high on your radar right now?
I recently watched Steven Soderbergh’s K STREET, from 2003! Incredible. It feels so ahead of its time. It’d be interesting to take its shooting style and level of narrative sophistication and apply it to… say, an Amazon Studios show. One of the most interesting films I’ve seen this year so far is probably HISTORY OF FEAR by Benjamín Naishtat. I’m really curious about THE CONGRESS.
If you could write for any fictional character from television or film history, who would it be?
For some reasons, Billy Kwan comes to mind, from THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY. This might be tied to the casting of Linda Hunt, but I’ve always felt that this character would be interesting to explore further. A supposed outsider who comes back with a vengeance. In another life, I could see Billy as a contract killer, or part of the defense team for Edward Snowden.