Directed by Joshua Moore and featuring a standout performance from Alexandra Clayton, ATLFF12 alum I THINK IT'S RAINING has been acquired by FilmBreak and has begun landing on the VOD platform of your choice. We're ecstatic that those who missed it at ATLFF now have a chance to checkout what we hope will be the first of many Moore and Clayton collaborations.
In conjunction with the release, we asked Moore a few questions about the film; and you can find where to rent and buy the film in the links below.
You've said previously that I THINK IT WAS RAINING was inspired by the French New Wave. What is it about that movement that fueled the film? Is there one particular film or filmmaker that had the greatest influence?
Well, it was the “spirit” of the French New Wave that really inspired the film. Those Nouvelle Vague films were made very cheap, on location, used long takes, focused on characters over plot, and just had a very free-flowing style that fit perfectly with Renata- a character very much in transition; always in motion. Those films really let the viewer walk in the characters' shoes, which was really important for me in my film, but shoes being white cowboy boots of course.
There wasn’t one particular New Wave film that inspired this one; it was more the movement as a whole, though I did show Goddard’s “Breathless to the cast and crew right before filming started. Another New Wave film that played an important role later was Anges Varda’s “Cleo From 5 to 7.” I had never seen the film and my editor, Staci DeGagne, while cutting “Raining” told me I had to see this old French film where a young woman, a singer, spends the day walking around trying to get her life together. I loved the film instantly and Varda has become one of my favorite filmmakers. “Cleo” really inspired us in the editing room to not be afraid of spending so much time holding on our character and it re-affirmed my intent of letting all the small in-between moments that often get cut out of films remain in ours.
One of my favorite scenes in I THINK IT'S RAINING is the club scene. Renata's reaction felt familiar to me. It's that sense of being removed from your friends and family and falling out of sync with them, yet they don't acknowledge it, or why that happened. Can you talk about that scene a bit?
Sure. That scene was very difficult to pull off because it was done with only one shot and there were a lot of people in that club that we had to move in and out of as we tracked Renata with the camera, so it all had to be choreographed, yet appear natural. It was very important to me that the scene be done in one un-interrupted shot because this is the first time in the film where Renata is really confronted with her old life and all the people she left behind. It needed to be frenzied and emotional and awkward, which makes the scene that shortly follows in the bathroom where Renata takes her pills all the more relevant. The club scene is about being confronted with a world you no longer connect to, but you’re not sure why. Things are the same, but you’re different.
When you came to ATLFF 2012, I was shocked to learn that you and Alexandria hadn't known each other that long. Her performance is so strong and specific, I assumed you two had been working together for years before that. How did you create that level of intimacy with the character on screen?
We had only known each other for a year before the film. Sometimes you just click with people, there’s no rhyme or reason for it other than you have a gut feeling, and the first time I met Alexandra I knew right away she was someone I wanted to work with. She emits a fearlessness kind of quality where she can be very vulnerable, but there’s something else, this little glimmer of elusiveness that’s both charming and heartbreaking that sneaks out of her every now and then.
After I cast her, we would spend a lot of time talking and hanging out in a lot of the locations we ended up using in the film. It was important to me that she really connected to Renata in an emotionally honest way; a non-judgmental way. We work-shopped the script for that whole year leading up to the film and I’d re-write dialogue and scenes after our meetings. I had Alexandra create a notebook that Renata took on her travels, which we used in the film, and she wrote and drew in it in the voice of her character. She also wrote all the songs she performed in the film from Renata’s voice. It was my intent to keep Renata’s back-story vague in the film, choosing to focus on her present, but I needed Alexandra to know all about Renata's past, and having her help create it really brought this complicated character to life.
You and Alexandra have kept working together on new projects, right? One of the key elements to any movement, like the French New Wave, besides the filmmakers, has been the partnerships. What is it about working with Alexandria that you think is integral to your process? With other actors?
Yeah, we just finished writing another feature together that we'd like to shoot next year. It's called “We Are Young” and it's about siblings taking a road trip up the Northern California coast to attend the wedding of their reclusive father. She'll act in it and I'll direct. What I like about working with Alexandra, among other things, is that she always brings fresh ideas to my writing. She's very opinionated as I am too, and she's not afraid to suggest new approaches. We don't always agree on everything of course, but when we do, we really have something we both believe in and care about a lot.
Every relationship is different from actor to actor, but what I really look for in an actor is their ability to listen and their ability to contribute. Both are pretty essential because the actor needs to understand what it is I want from them, who the character is and why their story is worth telling, and then they have to be able bring something from themselves to the role that is uniquely their own, something I haven't written in the script, something that connects them to the character, that makes the film stronger.
Loved playing your latest short KEEP A TIDY SOUL at ATLFF 2013. What inspired it? Especially the characters? And is it just me, or are Flyn and Renata kindred souls? They are characters I could spend more time with.
I'm glad you feel that way! Both Renata and Flyn are somewhat polarizing characters, but I also feel they are very sympathetic in their own ways too. Both are stubborn and want happiness on their own terms. Renata isn't quite ready to accept that happiness and Flyn is struggling to remember what happiness actually felt like. Perhaps they are kindred souls.
“Keep A Tidy Soul” was a story I had been wanting to do for a very long time with Claire McConnell who plays Flyn in the film, and appears briefly in “I Think it's Raining” as Val's roommate. It's a story about re-connecting with yourself; being the person you really want to be, not the person people expect you to be. There was definitely a time in my life where I needed to become “me” again, and Claire who is a close friend of mine had recently been going through a similar experience and hadn't really focused on acting in a very long time. I wrote the film for Claire so she could act again, and we weren't able to make it until after I had finished “Raining.” This film is a lot more stylized, yet controlled compared to “Raining,” which was nice to switch gears a bit, and we shot it on super 16mm instead of digital this time. The look of the film really came from the character. Flyn's struggle is internal and very existential and I always imagined her fitting right at home in an old B&W French movie questioning her existence and smoking lots of cigarettes, so that's what we did.
AFTER people watch I THINK IT'S RAINING, what's the one movie, or two, you think people should watch as a companion piece?
That's a difficult question. I've shown the film many times to all kinds of audiences and people always have a different feeling that they take away after watching the film; of spending time in Renta's boots, which is great. The films I enjoy the most are the ones you can take away different emotions from each time you see it, and depending on where you are in your life at the time or how old you are, you'll view it entirely different than the last. So its tough for me to say what other films might fit well with mine, but a recent one that comes to mind is Noah Baumbach's “Frances Ha” which I thought was a great character portrait of someone who wasn't always likable, but always captivating. Those are the people I never forget.