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'Upstream Color' Star Amy Seimetz Talks Multitasking and Directing 'Sun Don't Shine' (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

by Anne Thompson
April 24, 2013 4:13 PM
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Amy Seimetz
Amy Seimetz

Back in 2010, indie producer-writer-actress Amy Seimetz was living in Tampa, Florida and dealing with losses in her family, "a lot of anxiety," she says, when she realized that "I need to get out of acting in these movies... I need to direct my own thing."

Her first feature "Sun Don't Shine" is a well-shot micro-budget portrait of a couple on the run for murder in the mold of James M. Cain's "The Postman Always Rings Twice" or Terrence Malick's "Badlands." Seimetz recruited fellow experimental filmmaker Kentucker Audley and actress Kate Lyn Sheil to star as the couple, one rational, the other an "emotional fireball" trying to escape from a bad situation. Seimetz shot up close in intense July Florida heat with grainy Kodak Super 16 for her first stab at not-so-conventional narrative. She decided to avoid her intellectual/referential side in favor of a more emotional nightmare, she told a 2011 SXSW audience. "I wanted to make a movie based on pure anxiety and emotion." (See our video interview below.)

Sun Don't Shine

Seimetz, 31, is a vital member of today's wide-flung, amorphous, fluid, independent filmmaker community. She had been following various indie films that she had produced or acted in, for filmmakers such as Joe Swanberg ("Alexander the Last"), Barry Jenkins ("Medicine for Melancholy") and Lena Dunham ("Tiny Furniture"), around film festivals, where she met many of the people she wound up working with on "Sun Don't Shine." 

Director-actor Audley "has this mysterious charming magnetism I can't put finger on," she says, "but I can't help but listen to every word he says, you want to watch him. He says he's not professional actor. I used to say the same thing, but I've embraced the idea that I do like performing. I do like the attention. I'm getting over this vanity issue."

Amy Seimetz in 'Upstream Color'
Amy Seimetz in 'Upstream Color'

She likes "to find the right people who understand what I'm doing," she says. "I like the smaller scale and intimacy you get from shooting with eight people on set, people who you know, it's like friends working together. Who else can you be honest with, have shorthand knowledge with, six seconds and everyone knows what page you're on and you shoot your scene? I didn't have a casting call, I chose people I really loved liked working with, great performers. You can have these conversations and get deeper, with Kentucker and Joe Swanberg and Kate Shein, she's a writer as well. I don't think any of us see ourselves as actors specifically, we want to tell stories, whether through writing or performing."

The steamy film noir won Indiewire's best undistributed movie critics poll, and finally opens this Friday via Factory 25. Like her "Upstream Color" writer-director-co-star Shane Carruth, Seimetz was willing to wait until the right distribution set-up came along. "If you have a good story, you don't have to get bought by a huge company to get it out there," she points out. "Other projects are skipping the traditional route. There's so much content on the internet that in order to take control, you can be your own artist or tastemaker and not depend on tastemakers outside yourself."

The brooding "Sun Don't Shine," inspired by her recurring dream about having done something bad and trying to cover it up, was shot on 16 mm, which "gives you a classic feeling, that the film could have been shot in the 70s or 80s or 90s any time color stock existed," she says. "You're invited into the world, the film grain moves and invites you in."


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