The rebel filmmaker
Kari Skogland: I’m a bit of a rebellious person and I’m reluctant to jump into the same old times of film. The book is very much a stream of consciousness. How do you make that into a cinematic
experience? One of the things the book was that I connected with, was when we’re dealing with memories that maybe you’re not proud of, or difficult, you are not in control of them. They
can come up and hit you in the back of the head and drag you down. That’s the feeling I wanted the movie to be. We have a lot ground to cover to understand this woman. I did a shorthand style
of storytelling, which isn’t the usual fare. I don’t apologize that it’s a smart movie. It’s a movie for adults. I have noticed the audience has really responded to what
I’ve given them, which of course, for a filmmaker is the ultimate.
SheKnows: In the midst of, often times, plotless summer movies, it’s nice to see “The Stone Angel” in the middle of July. Was it nice for you to get a release
date in the summer in many ways to be an alternative to all that hype?
Kari Skogland: I think so, hopefully, it will be that kind of programming. It’s not popcorn. My goal in a cinematic experience is if you go on a journey and you feel like
you’ve taken somewhere and covered the world and laughed, lived, loved…all the stuff. It’s an emotional journey. It’s for people who want to see a movie that sticks with
them and resonates. It’s like life. It’s got the funny moments and the poignant moments.
The two Ellens
SheKnows: We just spoke of Ellen Burstyn, let’s talk about another Ellen at the other end of a career spectrum that could easily wind up mirroring Burstyn’s, Miss Ellen Page. “Juno”
hadn’t come out yet when you filmed “The Stone Angel,” did you notice something special about her?Kari Skogland: She’s brilliant. She’s actually been working a long time. She didn’t come out of nowhere. She’s been at it for ten years. I knew when we cast
her where her career was headed. On set, not only is she fantastic to work with, but she walked on set and the first thing she did was a three or four page scene with Ellen Burstyn. She
didn’t skip a beat, miss a word. She’s unbelievable from the straight perspective of her craft.
SheKnows: That must have been difficult to direct.
Kari Skogland: I honestly, on set, never had anything to say to her. I felt bad (laughs). She’d do it in one take and I’m thinking ‘I have nothing to say. She did
it perfectly. How do I direct that?’ You know, I can’t just do one take. She’ll be insulted that I’m not paying attention (laughs). Literally, I just moved the camera two
inches and did it again (laughs). Seriously! It was perfect when it came out of her month. I hope to work with again and often. And for her, it was thrilling to work with Ellen Burstyn because she
is an iconic actress, particularly for young actors. It is because her career has been one of continual interesting choices.
SheKnows: Not only as a filmmaker, but specifically a female filmmaker, to have an actress of Ellen Burstyn’s depth around you each day, how has it inspired you as a woman?
Kari Skogland: She’s quite something to work with. She’s an unbelievable professional who has fantastic ideas. She’s very thoughtful about her roles and how she
comes about them. She embodies them. In this case she plays someone in her 60’s and someone in her 90’s, so it really took immense effort for her to go there. To be in a role as a
filmmaker opposite Ellen in her element, is such a pleasure.