So yes, Whit Stillman is currently at work on his first film in over a decade, "Damsels In Distress," and we really couldn't be more excited. It's a voice that has been absent far too long from the filmmaking scene and we're glad he'll be returning.
The film stars Greta Gerwig and Adam Brody and features an ambitious concept. The pic centers on "a group of style-obsessed college girls who take in a new student and teach her their misguided ways of helping people" and they are "convinced that musical dance, sharp clothes and good hygiene — the Dior perfume 'Diorissimo' is their trademark — can all contribute to staving off the inevitable self-destructive impulses that follow hard on the heels of failed college romances." That already sounds pretty ambitious, but in a new and very in-depth profile on the director, he spills a few more details on the project.
In addition to the girls being musical dance enthusiasts, some of them will "suffer from nasal-shock syndrome at the faintest sniff of B.O." perhaps making that Dior perfume all the more valuable. And for those of you missing Stillman regular Chris Eigeman from your life, there is "a possibility of a cameo appearance" by the actor in the film. However, don't expect the picture to be a continuation of the trilogy of pics "Metropolitan," "Barcelona," and "The Last Days of Disco." “This film is different,” Stillman says. “Completely different. Okay, not completely different, but it’s different.”
So where has Stillman been all this time? Following "The Last Days Of Disco," Stillman reveals that his "trunk" of movie ideas and scripts was completely empty. “After I finished 'Disco,' I had no trunk,” he says. “Since then, I have been recreating my trunk.”
And certainly, that trunk is now full. Among the numerous projects that he has been attached to over the years are an adaptation of Christopher Buckley’s novel "Little Green Men" (which he eventually abandoned), a biography of American Revolutionary War officer Francis Marion called "The Swamp Fox," and a film of Anchee Min’s "Red Azalea" (for which he turned in an ill-timed script on September 12, 2001). He even shot a commercial for a chocolate company in Jakarta in 2007 but didn't think much of the experience saying, “I wasn’t that keen on the final thing,” he says, “but I got to do a director’s cut.” And he even tried to get financing from London investment firms but seems to have been caught up in a quagmire of red tape, “You would call it development hell,” he says, “or what I would call development heck.”
However, one project we are definitely curious about is "Dancing Mood," his Jamaican music-influenced film. He reveals he's currently on the sixth draft of the script, and has done extensive research for the project traveling "back and forth from that island country and [reading] every Jamaican newspaper he could find from 1958 to 1970." It sounds fascinating and it's certainly one we'd like to see freed from the trunk and brought to the screen.
It's certainly been a long road for Stillman to get back behind the camera, but we're definitely eager to see what he has in store. The project has been independently financed by Martin Shafer, the CEO of Castle Rock, but currently doesn't have a distributor. Is it too much to expect it to be ready for Sundance? Here's hoping we don't have to wait to too long see "Damsels In Distress."