Come as You Were
Sarah Kelly and Connie Britton on 'The Lather Effect'
It isn't hard to see why people are drawn to writer/director Sarah Kelly. Genuine and quick to laugh, she rose through the ranks as a production assistant during the indie-film boom of the mid-Nineties and, after working with such directors as Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, Kelly returned to Austin for South by Southwest with her own film, The Lather Effect. The very funny and poignant look at Eighties nostalgia follows the intersecting lives of nine high school friends who return for a reunion party weekend. Kelly sat down with star Connie Britton (TV's Friday Night Lights), to chat with the Chronicle about big ideas, small movies, and why making The Lather Effect was just so damn fun. Look for the film on DVD or in theatres later this year.
Austin Chronicle: So where did the idea for this film begin?
Sarah Kelly: It was actually an Eighties party I had. The idea was, "Come as you were." And everyone came with that mindset and went off the hook. I dressed as Madonna. We had a Tom Cruise and a Gorbachev. Everyone regressed to teenage-dom. The next day everyone was calling, reminiscing and pining, and I thought, "This is a movie."
Connie Britton: Hearing you say that, I feel like I was at that party because our movie was that party.
AC: What was the shooting process like?
CB: We always shot the rehearsal, which is like Friday Night Lights, where we have no rehearsal and no marks. I'm a big fan of that style, and it really helped to create a spontaneity and naturalness. A lot of things could percolate that wouldn't necessarily be there if it was more technically precise.
SK: We walked the line. We had to be technical in a way because we only had three weeks to shoot. But we had to be loose, too, so that it would feel like they were all friends.
AC: You've said that you wrote this to be a "small" movie. Can you explain that?
SK: It wasn't that we would've turned down $10 million, but I knew I just wanted to make a movie. I wrote specifically so it could be shot at my parent's house if we had to, with friends of mine if we had to.
AC: Can you talk a little bit about being a woman and a writer/director?
SK: I certainly think that women make great directors because you feel like the mother of a group of people. I do anyway. You're so in love with your cast and crew. It was probably crazy for me to direct an ensemble of nine people for my first time, but it didn't seem hard because I loved them and trusted them so much. I got really lucky. It sounds Pollyanna-ish, but it really was just so fun.
AC: Why do you think that was?
CB: That's easy: Sarah Kelly. She has this amazing infectious way of just getting people so inspired and pumped up and in that moment; she really created that whole aspect on the set.