Sunday, March 27, 2011

An Interview with Director Maggie Kiley, about her short film Some Boys Don't Leave starring Jesse Eisenberg


Here is the first blog interview! Director Maggie Kiley was kind enough to answer some questions for me about her recently released short film Some Boys Don't Leave. You can buy the film on iTunes for $2. As she says in the interview,  Maggie is currently working on the feature length version of this film. 

Maggie and her film won the Student Visionary Award at 2010 Tribeca Film Festival, Alexis Award for Best Emerging Student Filmmaker at 2010 Palm Springs Shortfest, and Film Groundbreaker at 2010 Hatchfest Asheville. 

Synopsis: Some boys is the story of what happens when the break-up happens but the break does not. 'Boy' is forced to come to terms with the fact that 'Girl' no longer wants him around. The only problem is he just can't seem to leave their once shared apartment. 'Girl' decides to keep living her life around him; while he remains, watching at a distance. In time, each decides to go in his or her own distinctly different directions. 'Boy' soon finds that sometimes the greatest distance we are asked to travel is one within ourselves. 

Here is what Maggie and I discussed:

What is it like to release a short film? How do you feel about releasing a short on iTunes release?
Maggie: Shorts have a limited audience unless you have a great festival run. It's exciting to have an iTunes release.  We found a lot of followers of the film on Facebook and were receiving a lot of requests to view the film - when we finally got it up it was a great day.

What are your thoughts on the art of short film? How is it unique and at times better than the feature film? Do you have any favorite short films?
I had seen very few shorts before I started this project.  I have great respect for the art form now.  It is quit difficult to do a short well.  I love NEW BOY from Steph Green.

What are your influences for this film and/or what are your favorite films in general?
I come from an acting background and am drawn to character driven stories.  In terms of tone for some boys I always pitched collaborators by telling them I imagined it was Garden State meets Eternal Sunshine.  I'm not sure if that is where we ended up but it influenced where we started.

Tell me about how the writing dynamic between you and Matthew Mullen worked? 
Fantastic.  He's a wonderful collaborator - we did almost everything over email.  We worked like a relay team- constantly passing the baton back and forth.  We wrote the entire feature this way as well.

How did you structure the film? Is each scene a different stage of denial?
Any plan for structure came from a great quote about short films- that they are 'the swift illumination into the heart of a character" It's The Boy's story and I wanted to present this slice from his life- and how things got progressively more difficult for him as the days go by.

Why did you choose Jesse? Who else did you consider? Is he doing the feature? 
Jesse and I acted together in a play and he is a good friend.  I knew he'd be a wonderful collaborator and it worked out that it fit in his schedule. Jesse is not doing the feature.  I'm sure we will find a project again in the future - the some boys feature is an entirely different piece.

Certain elements, like the fact that The Boy actually changes clothes, are close to reality while others are strange like the fact that he literally doesn’t leave her apartment. How did you balance being realistic and being cinematic?
Honestly I tried not to think about it too much.  There were certain rules we stuck to - we never see him leave the hallway etc. and I wanted a simple progression of clothing but nothing so specific to days and changes - it's like a memory play - it appears to you in snippets.

What can you tell me about the feature film? Will it embody the same strange cinematic plot or take a more literal approach to the situation?
It's called LIGHT YEARS - and it's a coming of age story of The Boy - how he arrived at this break up and how he literally and figuratively gets up off the floor and finds his way back.  It jumps around a lot and definitely shares a similar tone as some boys.  It opens up to whole world of characters he deals with along the way.

You seem to bring in the color yellow more than a few times (The Boy’s shirt, the tennis ball, the plate, The Boy’s mention of a banana). Is the color yellow important to the film and/or The Boy’s character? 

Not specific choice.  We had an amazing colorist who we worked with who did great things like a gradual shift from a more vibrant beginning to a washed out and bleak end.

You are a female writer/director in a male dominated industry. Curiously, you wrote the film from a male point of view. Why did you make this choice?
It's funny - most of the other women who have participated in the Directing Workshop for Women at the American Film Institute with me wrote from the female point of view.  I didn't give it much thought.  I have scripts written from both - I don't think it should matter who you are - if you get behind a character and find their story you can and should jump in there.  We have enough limitations already.

One thing I’m left wondering is whether or not the story would go the same way if he had left her; would she cling on to him? Do you think her recovery process would be different? 
Of course.

If so, did you intend to discuss gender with this film, in the different way males and females deal with being left? 
Breaking up is a universal experience and I don't think there is a traditionally male or female way to go through it.

I once spoke with an Oscar nominated screenwriter and director (nominated for screenplay, not directing), who told me she’s been challenged by misogyny because of which she had to leave a project. Do you find it important to identify yourself as a female filmmaker in a male dominated industry?
Of course. The statistics are just ridiculous.  But for now it's just about the work and I'm moving forward as a director not a female one.

This is definitely not a fast paced energetic film, yet you use a fast energetic song over the ending credits. I find this similar to Tom getting back on his feet in (500) Days of Summer over the similarly paced “Vagabond” by Wolfmother. Is this meant to inform the next step of the story that we don’t see in the film?
I always knew I wanted to end credit song to be a boy anthem so we were left knowing he was going to be ok.  My husband composed the music for the film and wrote and sings the end song.  I told him what I wanted and he wrote 4 passes- as soon as I heard How You Do (without any real lyrics yet just a rough idea) I knew it was it.  We also put the song in really loud - which I am so happy about.  Some festivals turned it down but it was great when they kept it and let it rip.

What does the future hold for Maggie Kiley? Do you have any plans aside from the Some Boys feature? When can we expect the feature? Do you know when you’re going to shoot it and/or where (or have any details on production for it)?
Thanks for asking! We are in prep to shoot LIGHT YEARS in the late Spring in NY and LA. Hopefully it will play festivals next year and have a late 2012 or early 2013 release.  I'm also attached to direct the feature PHOBIC, am developing another writer/director project DIAL-A-PRAYER with my own production company and have two different cable tv projects in different stages of development.

Info available on all fronts at

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