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Kat Coiro, writer/director of And While We Were Here

Well Go Entertainment And While We Were Here at Cinema Village on September 13th, 2013.

NYC MOVIE GURU: How did you find the right balance between entertaining the audience and provoking them emotionally?

Kat Coiro: I always start with characters. I hope that I find characters that will interest me and other people. The characters that interest me are the ones that have honesty. One of the best comments that I've heard about And While We Were Here was, "At some point in my life, I felt like all three of those characters." When I wrote it, I set out to create a tale about infidelity that wasn't a morality tale and that looked at each character compassionately. What I hope to attain with this film is well-rounded characters, even when they're in situations that are maybe not very flattering or situations that are boring. Jane and Leonard's relationship is quite dull, but it would still be interesting for the audience because it resonates with them a kind of truth that they can relate to. I try to never pander to the audience and hope that they would stick with it. It is a small, contemplative movie but it comes from a very personal place in that the grandma's tapes were based on the original recordings of my own grandmother before she passed away. I told the story with the idea that it would maybe touch a few people.

NYC MOVIE GURU: How challenging do you think it is for women to find complex roles in Hollywood?

KC: I think it's getting better. There are more complicated roles for women being written. One of the reasons why I chose to work with Kate Bosworth is because she was looking for something very different. Being a very beautiful woman, she was often playing roles that that's all that she was and how she was defined. One thing that I'm definitely interested in is taking beautiful women and giving them complicated roles because there are some complicated people out there.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Where in the spectrum of optimism vs pessimism do you find yourself? How do you think the advancement of modern technology is affecting the quality of human relationships?

KC: I'm an optimist, through and through. That doesn't meant that I'm not concerned with the way that we're going. We're connecting more to our telephones than to the people around us. It's become a cliche, but how many people do you see sitting across from each other at dinner and not speaking to each other. It's scary. I intentionally tried to remove that element in this film. We see a cell phone twice during the film and, of course, there are cars in the background, but I really wanted to make a modern film that didn't feel very modern. One of the themes in the film is timelessness and the fact that our struggles really don't change whether we're our grandmother living through WWII or going through a crisis in our marriage. The themes and the feelings are very similar. Although the film isn't overtly about technology, there was a back-to-simplicity that I wanted to achieve in this film. The original screening at the Tribeca Film Festival was in black-and-white. When the film will be released on Blu Ray and DVD, in the extras there'll be the black-and-white version available as well. While I absolutely love it in color, when I originally shot it in black-and-white, part of it was just to get back to the classic feeling and timelessness that's not all about Facebook and cell phones.

NYC MOVIE GURU: What are some films that you would double feature And While We Were Here with? Are there any films that inspired you to make it?

KC: Drinking Buddies. There's a simplicity in that film. In a way, nothing really happens, but there's an admirable realness to it. I don't know if I'd want it in a double feature, but I appreciated its simplicity. One of the films that visually inspired this film is the Anton Corbijn film Control. I love that film.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Whom among the actresses in the Golden Age of Hollywood do you imagine casting in the role of Jane?

KC: Gene Tierney. There's something really alluring about her.

NYC MOVIE GURU: What was the process like to get the running time down to 83 minutes?

KC: I love short feature-length films. As much as it was a shoe-string budget and guerrilla filmmaking---we had a crew of 4 and a cast of 3, everyone else you see in the film is a genuine Neopolitan who we ripped from the street--it's exactly as it was written in the script. The script was 83 pages, so I always wanted to get in, tell the story, and get out.

NYC MOVIE GURU: What are the benefits of working with such a small crew?

KC: One of the beautiful things about making a small film where I don't have a lot of crew is that all the clothes I picked out as a costume designer. Everything was chosen by me. I hope to, along with my cinematographer, create a look in the costumes that reflected Jane's emotional journey. The same goes for the music. I worked with a composer that I've worked with many times before, and we sat down and meticulously scored it to follow Jane's character arc. I think that with a regular-sized crew, you'd lose that attention to detail that I was able to have on this film. When you have the ability to focus on the details, you're able to say a lot more with a lot less. And While We Were Here is definitely more about the unspoken than about the words.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Do you think it's fair to classify this film in a genre given that genre is more of a marketing tool? If you were to play God with your life, what genre(s) would you like it to be?

KC: You're absolutely right. Genre does come down to marketing. Some of the best films have elements of sadness, drama, humor, lightness and beauty. Most of what I've done outside of this movie is more comedic. While this movie is obviously serious, I did consciously try to infuse it with humor. I wouldn't classify it as a comedy, but I remember watching it for the first time in front of an audience and being so happy that were these little moments of comedy that were put in there to break the tension. I would love to live in a comedy.

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