IAR EXCLUSIVE: Director Nate Taylor Talks ‘Forgetting The Girl’

Wednesday, 14 March 2012 14:32 Written by  Dana Feldman
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IAR EXCLUSIVE: Director Nate Taylor Talks ‘Forgetting The Girl’

The beautifully dark psychodrama Forgetting The Girl (Full Stealth Films) is a fascinating dissection into the traumatized mind of photographer Kevin Wolfe (Shutter Island's Christopher Denham). First-time feature film director, Nate Taylor, who admittedly got chills up his spine the first time he read the script, takes the viewer along with him on the journey following Wolfe as he attempts to navigate through a world in which he is a prisoner to both his past as well as his own mind. Haunted by a childhood too painful to really look at, Wolfe is in a state of constant struggle as he attempts to systematically forget any and all of the bad memories from his past.

The attempt to eradicate from his mind all of these horrifying memories consumes his present as well as any hopes he may have of any sort of a happy future. Dealing with the death of his little sister as a young boy, the seed is planted for his obsession as a man to find a girl who can help him to love another, as well as himself. Tragically, each of his encounters with the opposite sex end in disaster, pushing him deeper and deeper into a well of despair – a well that proves too deep to ever crawl out of.

With the many mounting rejections that ensure his search for happiness as futile, his search for love becomes overwhelmingly turbulent and his desperation takes over. Wanting desperately to connect to another, he is the definition of an emotionally bottled up individual who is completely closed off and unable to truly open up to anyone. Denham has been quoted as calling this character a photographer who cannot see, a man who has worn this mask of normalcy for so long that he no longer sees it as a mask.

In an interview with Taylor, the tortured mind of Wolfe is revealed. “Kevin cannot handle intimate relationships. The only person in his life that he has any sort of real connection with is Jamie (Lindsay Beamish).” Taylor goes on to further explain that many of the characters in this film are unhappy internally and therefore struggle to find happiness externally. The main character cannot handle being accepted any better than he is able to handle rejection, which further solidifies Taylor’s point. In each of these characters is a certain desperate yearning for happiness that Taylor admits resonated personally with him. “I was moved to the point after reading this script where I knew that I had to turn this story into a film.”

He and his editor, Victoria Lesiw, spent a year-and-a-half cutting the film and had at least one hundred rough-cuts. With film being what he calls a synergistic craft, Taylor feels that the best work comes from the collaboration with talented artists at each step of the process. “By the time I got to the edit suite, I had five years of mental baggage attached to every shot. I needed someone with a fresh perspective and impartial eye to help me make sense of it.” Their history of working together proved pertinent to creating the end result. With a rather complex story that included multiple storylines intertwining throughout, they had their work cut out for them. “The story itself is linear, however the way we told it is non-linear so we were able to play with the order of the scenes and move the various parts around.”

Taylor used various subliminal visuals throughout the film. An example is his usage of imbedding numerous concealed images such as brief flashes, which were designed to create a subconsciously unsettling tone. “We used short bursts of static as transitions between different time periods in the storyline.” With each lasting only a few frames, he adds, “Within them there are distorted shots foreshadowing tragic events later in the film.” Another unique visual, “The opening credits and all the dream-like flashbacks have ghosted figures appearing in them. Most people in the theatre won’t be able to see these, but once the movie is on Blu-ray, fans will definitely be able to hunt down all of these ‘Easter eggs’”.

The all-too familiar tight budget served as an obstacle, but one that Taylor navigated around seamlessly. “We had an eighteen day shoot, in six-day-weeks, and got through an average of just over five pages of script per day, spread out over twenty-four different locations in New York City.” He acknowledges the fact that they were forced to work in some pretty extreme conditions, including severe heat, with such a demanding, and ambitious, schedule.

What helped, he insists, is the two weeks of rehearsal time before filming began. “This time really gets the actors comfortable and in a place where they were able to be creative. I was also able to make notes and truly see what was, and what wasn’t, working in a particular scene.”

Recently an official selection at the Cinequest Film Festival 2012 in San Jose, CA, Taylor was thrilled when he was able to, for the first time, see the audience’s reaction to his work. “It was so exciting and inspiring to see that it worked! It was validating to see the audience react as we’d hoped they would. We saw that our instincts had worked.”

His intention was to not answer all of the questions, to allow the audience to interpret the art for themselves. “We gave plenty of information, but we wanted people to leave the theatre and think about it.” Mission accomplished. This is a film that resonates within you long after the credits have rolled.

One scene in particular proved challenging to shoot. Per Taylor, there was a scene near the end of the movie that was really emotional. The scene he is referring to involved Beamish having to sit in a bathtub for a long period of time. He tells of having to bring in heated water, as the bathroom set did not have plumbing. “The water heaters we got ended up malfunctioning, so all of the water in the bathtub was freezing cold. And Lindsay has a phobia about drowning – to the point where she’s never submerged her entire head underwater.” He admits how difficult it was for him to ask her to not only sit in the ice-cold water, but to also deliver some extremely intense emotions. “Of course Lindsay was undaunted. In fact, she sat in the water until her skin was so blue our stunt coordinator told us she needed to come out for her own safety.”

Taylor’s usage of a variety of locales in New York City, from the crumbling and lonely atmosphere of his own Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, enabled him to successfully set a vividly textured visual palette of the gritty tone of the city. Blending the blurred recollections of this psychologically scarred protagonist’s past with the doomed reality of his current world is a spot on reflection of his inner and outer turmoil. Disturbingly beautiful, the tension builds as what is just beneath the surface boils to a haunting crescendo not easily forgotten.

Up next for Taylor, a collaboration with the award-winning writer of Forgetting The Girl, novelist Peter Moore Smith. “We are working on a children’s movie about a little boy and a flying bat who both spend the day in one another’s world.” The other project that he is currently developing is a solo screenplay endeavor entitled Tripping The Light. “This one is a New York City urban fantasy that I would describe as a surreal love story.”

Rounding out the cast in Forgetting The Girl are Elizabeth Rice (Mad Men), Paul Sparks (Boardwalk Empire), Phyllis Somerville (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), and Anna Camp (The Help). The film has a run time of eighty-five minutes and is not yet rated by the MPAA.

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