Cinematographer-turned-filmmaker Reed Morano has visual style flowing through every inch of her attractive 40 year-old body.
After shooting such indie gems as The Skeleton Twins, Frozen River, Kill Your Darlings and her own first feature Meadowland, and most notably directing the first three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale, she presented her second feature, I Think We’re Alone Now, starring Peter Dinklage and Elle Fanning to an ecstatic crowd in Sundance.
Written by Mike Makowsky, the film was offered to her by Dinklage. The Game of Thrones star is one of the film’s producers.
Set in a world where it initially seems Dinklage’s Del is the only man left alive, the film is spare on dialogue and full of atmosphere as Jed’s librarian cleans up the small town he lives in and arranges it to his needs. He never was particularly social and now is somewhat happy at not having to endure people’s patronising attitudes because of his size. But then he discovers Fanning’s Grace and although initially sceptical he eventually succumbs to her charms.
Morano is currently directing a Paramount feature The Rhythm Section starring Jude Law and Blake Lively. It’s based on the first of Mark Burnell’s Stephanie Patrick, a series of four British novels.
Interview with Reed Morano at Sundance
How does it feel to have your film accepted into Sundance?
I feel very lucky because so many films try to make it into the festival every year. My other film Meadowland didn't get in and having had so many films here where I was the cinematographer, I know how lucky I am to showcase my new film here.
How has The Handmaid’s Tale helped your career?
It definitely changed my career. Meadowland was the reason I got The Handmaid’s Tale and probably my experience in cinematography helped. Everything was like a stepping stone to the next thing. But The Handmaid’s Tale was like a dream. You hope every project you do will have that kind of ripple effect on people.
The series was prescient to the #MeToo movement.
Yes, it’s pretty strange how the timing of it fell together.
How do you reflect on the female character in I Think We’re Alone Now?
I always connect with the female character. When Mike wrote the movie, Del, the main character, came from him. We worked together on Grace a lot, because she had to come from someone, he said. Basically Del’s him and Grace is me. I think you’re always bringing yourself and your own perspective to it as a woman.
How was it doing double duty as director and cinematographer?
It felt pretty natural to me because cinematography is where I came from. The way I’m used to telling a story is by looking through the viewfinder and being really close to the actors. It’s an easier and quicker way. Also I don't have to translate what I’m doing with the camera. It’s handheld, it’s very intuitive and it’s very personal. This is a small movie so it really was a way to keep it very connected and intimate. But I actually love using cinematographers. They’re my favourite people. (Her husband of ten years is cinematographer Matt Walker). I’m working with one right now Sean Bobbitt (Shame, 12 Years a Slave) on my new movie The Rhythm Section. So I think both ways have their pros and cons.
How was it working with Peter Dinklage and Elle Fanning?
It was pretty much the dream experience. We are a little movie and we didn't have everything that we could possibly want but actually we did. I worked with the most amazing filmmakers anyone could hope for and there was the best energy and attitude on set, including with Peter and Elle. We’d joke around, like, “Three’s company”. We felt like we were playing games every day, imagining every scenario and tricking each other.
Did having a small cast make it easier?
Yeah it was actually easier. Still you have to keep them engaged from moment one until the end knowing that you only have these two people and have to keep the tension there.
Was it easy to get such a cast?
It was very quick. Peter actually cast me! Of course I wanted to do the movie not only because of Mike’s script, but particularly because of Peter, as I was dying to work with him. I didn't know Elle but I had a feeling about her because her luminosity comes through in everything she does. I thought we needed somebody like that, a person who is magical because that’s who Grace has to be in order to change a person like Del.
The sound design helps create the post-apocalyptic atmosphere in the film.
We had a lot of fun in our edit suite. We’d put in sounds of whales and pick out lines of dialogue from other movies. We got lucky enough to get a Dolby grant because this movie needs to be seen this way, to immerse you in sound.