Director Noah Baumbach discusses his new film Frances Ha

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Courtesy of Pine District Pictures

Noah Baumbach’s well examined look at love blending in both it’s disappointment and joy in relationships, can be found in his latest movie Frances Ha, screening October 10th at the New York Film Festival. Baumbach’s career started at the festival, which is celebrating it’s 50th amazing year. It was there he showed Kicking and Screaming, the first film he wrote and directed at the age of 26. He continues to write and direct his own hand crafted unique films with stellar casts. His film in 2005 called The Squid and the Whale was a semi-autobiographical comedy-drama about his childhood, for which he got an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. This was followed by Margot at the Wedding, which examines his favorite theme marriage and families and the fascinating challenges they bring.

This movie is so different from your other movies yet covers the subject of the complexities of relationships.

This movie was less about budget. It was more about approaching it in a new way. When I did my first movie there wasn’t the technology that there is now. I also felt like if I was going to do something differently with a studio film, I wanted to reinvent how I made that movie a little bit. So with this film it was less about budget and more about the philosophy of shooting I guess.

So what was your approach?

I was comparing it to making a record by creating a big sound yet personal, like Paul McCartney did after he left the Beatles. I wanted to make this movie like he made his records, like in his basement with his wife. To me, they sounded very personal and intimate. There is a traditional way of making pop records. I thought that’s what we did (with this movie), make a record version of a movie. We can put a small group of people together and make it homemade in some ways but just like a great pop album.

You write your own screenplays. Please explain how you give the material to the actors?

On this one there was something interesting happening, in that I gave them just the scene, not the entire script. By having actors just read their scenes, not the whole script, that was the experiment. Most actors figure out where the scene is in the whole flow of the movie, like this scene must be near the end when they read it. I think when you know too well where everything is going, it’s not as interesting. So I just wanted them to focus on the scene they were in and not tell them the whole movie.

So what was the challenge in shooting it that way?

There are turning points throughout the movie. Sometimes I think it’s shared over the course of a long shoot for an actor to either forget where the scene falls or as I said, you know too well where it falls as the director. With this movie, I shot it chronologically. With the structure of the script I realized more consciously while I was writing it, less so when I was directing it, where everything is. It has a lot of little scenes in a row, and each moment is like a punch. Then you get to a long scene like on the subway and it goes to real time and that goes through the whole movie . So the movie is structured by different locations because she keeps going to different places. I came at it with that in mind I think. I also came up with specific shots and themes that way also.

So did this help you with the editing process?

Yes, by structuring it that way it’s a continuation of what I did on The Squid and the Whale and Margot at the Wedding. It’s a big part of my editing. I generally know what I want to be in and out of the scene during the editing process. Sometimes it means cutting someone off in the middle of a sentence or whether you should let the sentence go into the next shot. Or something like that. I guess it’s more of a kind of feeling you get.

You shot this movie in black and white which very few directors do these days? Why?

Shooting in black and white allowed for a feeling I wanted to convey. It’s something I have wanted to do, shooting in black and white in New York. There is something so clearly cinematic about black and white. I wanted to shoot this in a very formal way. There is no hand held camera for example. The music is grand and romantic. It’s very difficult to shoot anything commercially on black and white film. We shot digitally in color but I never saw it. I was at the monitor that was in black and white then edited in black and white.

The Film was shown at the New York Film Festival celebrating its 50th Anniversary and screens on October 10th.

Called by the festival as a love poem to his co writer and star Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha also stars Mickey Sumner who turns in a command performance. She is the daughter of Sting and Trudi Styler and plays the best friend of Gerwig.

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About Cynthia Parsons McDaniel

Cynthia Parsons McDaniel works as an artist in the mediums of video installation, collage and illustration and diorama. She recently attended the National Academy Museum & School in New York City for Drawing and Visual Story Telling and Monotype Printmaking. Her collages were shown in a group exhibition at the NATIONAL ACADEMY OF DESIGN. Other exhibitions Include CHESTERFIELD GALLERY, ART TAKES SOHO, TRIBECA ART + CULTURE NIGHT, SEEME + SCOPE ART FAIR + MIAMI ART BASEL + CHASHAMA GALA + ARMORY SHOW + GUILD HALL MEMBERS EXHIBITION EASTHAMPTON LI She is represented by the New York Museum of Contemporary Art in Manhattan. At the American Museum of Natural History she studied with the curator in charge of building and maintaining their DIORAMAS. She has written about design, film and theater for METROPOLIS, ELLE DECOR, IN STYLE, ELLE, DAILY NEWS, FASHION JOURNAL and NEWSWEEK. She has contributed to five books on design and film related subjects. She was nominated for an EMMY while a producer at NBC. She was head of pr and marketing at Cannon Films, New Line Cinema and VP Grammercy Pictures, then special projects editor at IN STYLE and Features Editor New York Daily News. McDaniel then went back to working with actors on MAD MEN, WEEDS AND 30 ROCK and doing personal publicity and creating Tony, Emmy, Grammy and Academy Award Campaigns. She has produced events and handled press including European Film Awards in Berlin, Cannes Film Festival Party at Hotel Du Cap, Sundance and Toronto Film Festival and Elton John's Oscar party, re-opening of the Hall of Mirrors and the Royal Opera House at Versailles and the Bob Hope Memorial Library Ellis Island. The short she produced was shown at both the Tribeca Film Festival and the London Film festival. She recently did props for Boardwalk Empire (HBO) including window displays using antiques She has wrote a one act play about early broadway called ZIGGY and created the props by hand using various antiques and paper techniques. She has worked on over 200 movies as studio executive and worked as unit publicist in ROME BERLIN LONDON BUDAPEST LOS ANGELES PARIS working with some renowned directors including Fellini, Wertmuller, Godard and The Coen Brothers just to name a few. She was the personal publicist for Daniel Day-Lewis, Carrie Fisher, Lauren Bacall, Matthew Modine, Jane Krakowski, Paul Bettany and many other gifted actors. She is a member of National Women Film Critics Circle. She contributes to the national Arts Express Syndicate Radio WBAI RADIO. She is currently writing a memoir. http://cynthiapmcdaniel.wix.com/home/ http://vimeo.com/user51648799/videos http://www.boxdioramas.com/cynthia-parsons-mcdaniel/
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