Kelly Reichardt interview

Posted 1 March 2017 about Certain Women and Film Studies.

Director Kelly Reichardt in conversation with Mia Bays, Director-at-large, Birds Eye View Film. 

Mia Bays: Can you talk a bit about how you came to the stories of Maile Meloy and what attracted you to their situations and characters?

Kelly Reichardt: I can't remember where I first read the stories or even which one I read first. All the characters are so good and she has a beautiful way of writing and a really relaxed way at getting at things. The characters were just people you wanted to stay with longer and they were all built into the environment they were from, and that's up my alley. I get hooked in pretty quickly and then spent a long time trying to make these stories work together. She was very generous let me have my way with her fine work.

MB:  Did you work with her on the adaption?

KR:  No.I didn't really know her. I had made the last four movies with John Raymond and we were very good friends, so we worked really closely together and hung out a lot but this was a much more lonely. But it was good for me,

MB:   You swap the gender of the character played by Lily Gladstone.

KR: I can't remember where exactly when that happened but made the whole work better. In Maile's story it's a boy with Polio and it is set in a different time. I was trying to make the whole thing more contemporary and I thought that the lonely old rancher was something that had been done as far as cinema went.

MB: Making her a woman and then the power of the interaction with Kristen Stewart's character just frames it in a very different way.

KR: It leaves room for different interpretations. From my point of view, and I don't know if this was true from Lily's point of view, the teacher was someone you might have a crush on her or might have a crush on her life and you might wish that you had more access to the things she had access to. There's more ambiguity to it.

MB: There is a sense of people looking in some way to connect.

KR: There is also the lack of connection. I think there is a sense of this in all my work. It’s also in the writing of Raymond. I was influenced by Chantal Ackerman. I even have a book of hers with me. I really had not shot interiors, a lot and I was worried about whether I could afford to do it. I could never afford the lighting set up so I became very accustomed to shooting outside. This was especially true on Night Moves and the anticipation of shooting the scene at the dam. But I was also worried about the fact  that I had a kitchen scene to shoot on Thursday with four walls and have four walls and what the fuck do you do with four walls? So, in Certain Women one of the things I wanted to conquer was, how to shoot inside. When I was leaving New York, I put this Ackerman book in my bag, in case I should I get stuck in a space . And I did, in the bedroom scene.

MB:   And Chantal Ackerman guarded you?

KR: She’s a good guide. I keep being guided by Chantal...

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