In Conversation: Zoe Cassavetes

October 28, 2013

If there’s one thing worth rallying around, it’s a woman with a voice. So when we learned that Writer/Director Zoe Cassavetes (of Broken English fame) is working on a new project, we couldn’t have been more excited. The film, Day out of Days, is a female driven story about making the leap from girl to woman and the wisdom to be gained with experience. At the center of the film is the captivating Alexia Landeau, who also collaborated with Zoe on her first short film, Men Make Women Crazy Theory.

We recently caught up with Zoe to learn all about the film, finding your voice as a creative person, and the pressures all women face.

By the way, be sure to visit the film’s FundAnything page to learn more about how you can help make Zoe’s vision a reality.

I love on your Fund Anything page when you describe the state of movies and you say, “Chances are not being taken.” Can you elaborate on that?

I was going to say, it’s a strange time to make movies. But actually the business is always changing forms, budget norms move up and down. But it is difficult to take a chance these days. There is no middle class of film making right now. I want to make a film starring am amazing yet not well known actress because I truly believe she is the best person for the part. There is a lot of convincing in that.

 

As a creative person and in life, what are you most inspired by?

I love people when they are truly open and honest and can admit the worry or pain or confusion they have in their lives. Struggle is so universal, sharing or having empathy for that struggle makes us more raw and tender human beings.

 

Tell us more about Day out of Days. What is at the heart of it?

Day Out of Days tells the story of an actress just about to turn 40, and how she wakes up to find she’s not as valuable to her business as she once was. As she struggles to find her place again, and she also has to decide if that’s the place she truly wants to be. But I also think it’s a mirrored situation to what women in general are going through. As we get older, we gain experience, knowledge, understanding. But the surface seems so much more important. The things we do to stay young, to fight the inevitable. When maybe what we should be focusing on is this shift where, yes, we lose the power of our youth, but we gain a perspective that should carry us through the second half of our lives.

 

With this film, you are really tackling the age issue for women in Hollywood
and beyond. Do you think men face the same pressures, or is it a double
standard?

I think the grass is always greener in someone else’s pasture. On the surface (once again) men have it great, they get older and more sexy and distinguished… But is that how they feel inside? I think everyone has that pressure of getting older, and also the pressure of wondering what have I made out of my life so far?

 

Alexia Landeau is the star of the film. How would you describe her?

Alexia is an original. As a person and as an actress. I met her when she acted in my first short film, Men Make Women Crazy Theory. She was exactly what I was looking for that I didn’t know I could have. Does that make sense? As an actress, her way of absorbing situations is so sharp and specific, but slightly oddball too. And I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. You can read everything that’s going on with her internally on her face. She’s really extraordinary.

 

Without giving too much away, is there a scene that stands out that you are
most excited to shoot?

Mia, the main character in Day Out of Days, has a lot of ups and downs. So there are a lot of dramatic scenes to shoot. The thing is, you never know which scene is going to turn out to be extra amazing. Sometimes it’s not what you expect. So we are going to go into shooting every scene with hard work and an openness to see what it could be.

 

What most excites you about female driven stories? What are a few of your favorites, in literature and in film?

I’ve always been attracted to stories with strong female characters. I loved the films of the 1930′s and 1940′s with actresses like Bette Davis, Carole Lombard and Vivien Leigh. I also love the muses like Monica Vitti, Anna Karina, and, of course, my mom Gena Rowlands. In literature, I’ve read many female writers that I love. Jane Bowles, Patricia Highsmith, A.M Homes just to name a few.

 

Is there a moment you felt you had really found your voice as a writer and director?

I feel like I’m constantly finding my voice as a writer and director. It’s a learning process that I love. It makes me keep challenging myself to do better work. I started out being a production assistant on some films, then an assistant director for a minute. But it was really when I made my short film that I knew for sure. I enjoyed every minute of it. It was then that I set my sights on trying to make a life of it.

 

What advice would you give other women with hopes of expressing themselves creatively?

I think women have a lot to say. And the roles of women and men are changing so much and there is a lot of opportunity to be heard. Don’t use the excuse that it’s a man’s world to stop you from being heard!

 

Finally, Diane is a big fan of mantras. Do you have any words that you live by?

Be nice to yourself.

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