IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Erin Fede talks 'Esposito'

Friday, 19 August 2011 13:37 Written by  Jami Philbrick
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IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Erin Fede talks 'Esposito'

Writer and actress Erin Fede is living out her dream of being a filmmaker. Fede wrote and stars in the new independent movie Esposito, which has screened at the Manhattan and San Antonio Film Festivals, and won Best Narrative Feature at the Puerto Rico International Film Festival. The movie is currently available for distribution and also recently played at the Feel Good Film Festival where Fede was nominated for Best Actress. Esposito was directed by Matt Nunn and executive produced by Michael Vadini, who also appears in the movie along with Fede, Stephan Monteserin, Chris Crutchfield, and Ali Fischer.

Esposito tells the story of Ephraim (Monteserin), an honest young man who makes a living bidding on unwanted units at storage facility auctions to obtain hidden treasures for his uncle’s antique shop. One day Ephraim, along with his pal Julius Von Foust (Crutchfield), wins an auction for a storage unit at Esposito Storage. But once Ephraim looks at the contents inside, he begins to fall in love with the girl whose items he now owns. He soon realizes that the storage unit belonged to Jamie Osbrink (Fede), a funny and attractive young woman who was recently promoted to manager at Esposito. It turns out that her unit was accidentally put on auction by her jerk of a former boss, who was let go from the job and she has now replaced. In order to “do the right thing,” as well as possibly become closer to the woman he has become infatuated with, Ephraim devises a plan to use Jamie’s belongings as leverage to win her heart, without letting her know that he is actually the guy that bought her stuff. Jamie unknowingly hires him to work at Esposito and the two co-workers begin to become close, but when Ephraim finally decides to tell her the truth, he risks loosing Jamie and exposing the lies that their relationship has been built on.

I recently had a chance to speak with writer and actress Erin Fede about her new film Esposito. The delightful writer/actress discussed with me the process of making the film, how she came up with the idea, the relationship between Ephraim and Jamie, what it was like for her to write and act in her first film, and why watching a commercial for the premiere of A&E’s Storage Wars almost made her cry. Here is what she had to say:

To begin with, can you talk about how you came up with the idea for the film? We’re you just driving by a storage facility one day when you all of the sudden had an idea for a movie? How did it all come together for you?

Erin Fede: Well actually my husband and I were on our ninth move in seven years and so we became very familiar with storage facilities in and out. One day it just hit me. I just realized there's a lot of stuff here and what in the world are behind those doors, what are their stories, and what's going on? So that's initially what kind of intrigued me. I had done some short films before that and so I started thinking what kind of a short film could I do for this. So I actually went and asked the guy at the front desk about it. I told him we'd like to hear any stories that he had and so he gave me an hour of his time. He just talked about the things that he experienced, and the shady ex-boss that was in the film is actually inspired by some of the things that he encountered with his own boss. Then he also said that people tried to live in storage units, and then ultimately he brought up the storage unit auction. At the time he was just kind of talking and he skipped right over it. He kind of mentioned it and kept going. I was like, what was that? I’d never even heard of it before and to me there was such a great story there. So then I had to actually research how that could possibly happen because their process is so professional with the auctions that it wouldn't just be a fluke. No one would just accidentally auction the wrong unit, so I had to have a very deliberate, specific and realistic way that that could possibly happen. So that's kind of where it started.

The idea itself could go in many different directions, did you always know that you wanted to make a romantic comedy and have the storage facility just be a backdrop to that genre of movie?

Fede: Honestly, it's funny because I'm just not a romantic comedy person. There are some romantic comedies that I adore, but for the most part I'm not the type to just want to go and shoot the latest rom-com. So it's really ironic that it turned out to be that. I had originally intended it to be more like you would just get a picture of all the quirky, weird things that go on in there, and the different characters, but the love story was supposed to be more of just like a thread. But what I learned, because this is actually my first feature and for Matt (Nunn) the director too, we learned a wealth of knowledge from this process. We had to cut out a lot of stuff. I'm just intrigued by all the different things that could go on and it was so hard for me to just choose one story.

When you first began making the film it was before the hit A&E series Storage Wars premiered, and most people didn’t know that this culture actually existed. Do you feel that the series being released before Esposito is a good thing for your movie because it brings national awareness to the film’s subject matter, or were you disappointed when you heard about the series because you felt like they beat you to the punch?

Fede: I guess both ways. I can see both sides of it. To be honest, my first reaction was … I was sitting outside on the balcony and my husband says, "Come in here real quick." I noticed he had the TV paused. At the time we were in post-production on Esposito, and we were getting near the end of editing. Then when he hit play and I saw that promotion, it actually made me cry. We’re just a little independent film with no star power, and a low budget, so the one thing that I felt good about as far as being different, was our unique storyline and having the auction as the catalyst to move the story forward. So that just kind of hit me hard. But I got over it in a couple of minutes. It's not like I cried for an hour. It was just kind of a passing thing and then I realized it could be a good thing. People could become familiar with it now and maybe if they were interested in this show then they’d be interested to see a film about that subject. So I kind of have mixed feelings. In a way I do wish the show wasn’t out, but then again you know it very well could have some positive influence.

Can you talk about the relationship between Jamie and Ephraim in the film? While they have an organic chemistry together, the audience knows from the beginning that he is lying to her, can you talk about those elements of the story and where that eventually leads the characters?

Fede: I think it’s the kind of thing where honestly she was around him enough to see and want to believe the best. So when she’s hurt obviously the walls go up. She doesn’t want to go back into the relationship and get hurt again. But he’s basically saying, here’s my heart, my life for the past seven years and you have full access to it all. It wasn’t just a confession saying “I lied to you” but he was making himself vulnerable. That’s cool because I think when someone is willing to be that intimate with you it’s easier to forgive, move on and realize this is definitely worth trying again.

Since you wrote the script but are also playing the lead role, how much of the dialogue that you speak in the film are actually the words you wrote or did you end up doing a lot of improvising on the set?

Fede: Actually we all did a lot of improvisation. As I said this was my first feature, and by the way I think I was on my fourth draft after only a combined total of three weeks before we have to go into production. I started conceptualizing and working on stuff but I was working part time, so I was working half and half. Twenty hours was on work and twenty was on the screenplay. So at first it was hard because I was just gathering info, developing characters and figuring out the story. When I was actually able to start writing and put full focus on it, I remember being outside at three in the morning and having to stand up to type because I was falling asleep. But I had to keep writing because we were shooting in two weeks.

Do you consider yourself an actress as well a writer, and which do you prefer?

Fede: Yeah actress/writer, I love acting and I love entertaining. I love to be on both sides of it. That reminds me, when you were asking about the script, yes we did a lot of improvisation. There were problems with the script that we had to chop out. Then we realized that some of the other scenes would not make sense without those original ones. Since we cut those out, we needed to help explain what was happening. So we would be writing scenes in the moment. For example the scene where Ephraim’s trying to tell me the truth but he shies away and just tells me he got vanilla ice cream. That was one of the scenes we kind of made up minutes before we shot.

Finally, what’s next for you as a filmmaker? Now that the movie is done and is finally being seen by audiences, are you already working on a script for another project that you hope to make?

Fede: I do have an idea brewing in my head, but I haven’t even written it or anything yet. I kind of let things process for a while. I take it one step at a time and do it when I can. I’m just really thankful that I got to create my first feature film.

For more information about Esposito, please check out the film's website by clicking here

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