Small productions with a small cast and a small crew. By its very nature, that’s going to create an intimate working environment. In the case of “I Think We’re Alone Now,” that most definitely was true. Sitting down with the creative talent who brought it to life, the experience came up time and again. You couldn’t help but know that there was a bond formed while making the film. Beyond the script, everyone involved found an enjoyable working experience.
Below you can see an interview we conducted with actor Peter Dinklage, actress Elle Fanning, and filmmaker Reed Morano. The movie is a unique look at the sole survivor(s) of a world wide epidemic. Our review here discusses how the big three make this such a compelling flick. Now find out what they had to say about making it. Hopefully you enjoy this interview as much as Dinklage, Fanning, and Morano enjoyed working together. The film is out now in theaters and is well worth your time…
JOEY MAGIDSON/Awards Circuit: What made this project, and all of its uniqueness, appealing to you all?
REED MORANO: (To Peter Dinklage) Well, you got on the project first…
PETER DINKLAGE: Yeah, I got the script first. I was looking around, told my agent to find me something unique. Something where I could help put it together, from the ground up, and they sent me Mike’s [screenwriter Mike Makowsky] script, which I loved and saw real potential in. I just love cinema that the potential for visuals is there. Then, Reed, we met in Brooklyn, and pretty instantaneously, you know. You know when you know that something is going to work. I’d worked with Elle before, loved working with her. All the team got together. It wasn’t a very large team, especially the cast (all three laughs). So it was easier and quicker than most projects. We got to shoot upstate. It was actually the quickest I’ve ever been a part of something, going from reading the script to getting it made, being here talking to you.
ELLE FANNNING: For me, I was sent the script and I had heard that…
PD: Dinklage? I’m in! (Laughs)
EF: (Laughing) Basically! Peter and I had worked together on this film and had a very small scene together, but still had such a great time. Then, Reed was also already attached at the time. That’s something I always look at, who’s attached as director and who’s in it, but also the story is the thing that matters the most. It floats to the top as well, of essentials. I just loved the story. People have said to me before that the best movies are always about two people, and I think that, obviously in this case, is very true. It’s a beautiful relationship that they have, and I think everyone can relate to the feeling of being alone, even when you’re in the biggest room or crowded party. That’s when you can feel the loneliest. Feeling lonely is such a universal feeling, that everyone feels and can relate to. Also, this character! Reed and I had a Skype meeting when we first met, she just got me so excited to think about the possibilities of Grace. On the page, I could see so much that she could be, the potential. Reed and I got to explore that. I pushed myself in ways that I hadn’t gotten to before, and actually be the most like my true Elle self. Grace is the character that I can relate to the most. I was allowed to put a lot of my weirdness into her.
RM: That was actually the main reason I liked Elle for this. Like, I didn’t know Elle yet, but I just imagined that she was like Grace. It’s such a particular character, because she’s coming into his life, busting in, and if anyone else did it, it would run the risk of becoming…the person would be annoying, you know? We needed the person to be a magical human being, who would come into your life and you couldn’t ignore, in the best way. That’s who Elle is in real life. When she comes on set, no matter how pissed off or grumpy or not morning people Pete and I are, Elle would come on set and we would instantly start laughing. You couldn’t help but be in a good mood! Anyway, as far as why I wanted to do the project, exactly what you were saying, I love the post-apocalyptic genre, I love weird movies that trick you into thinking that they’re very grounded, but then things actually are a little bit off. So, when I read Mike’s script, he has such a weird and unique voice, I was instantly drawn to it. I also knew that Peter was already attached. Everything you think this story was going to do, it did something else. I really don’t think there’s a reason for me to make a movie in the exact same path as someone else. They’ve already done it and done it well. So, to do something like this, whether people agree with it or not, is, you know, why do we want to watch the same shit over and over? We should see this world in a different lens.
JM: Oh, I know. Three hundred movies a year will do that to you! (All laugh)
PD: These movies always have the same thing. The scientist who has it all figured out!
EF: The zombies!
PD: What if it was just two people, with no idea what happened?
EF: Yeah, everyone just dropped dead.
JM: I was really taken by the idea of him feeling alone when people were around. Being alone is almost a net gain for him. That’s a concept that you don’t usually see.
PD: Sure. That’s the difference. That’s how he thinks he feels, that’s not how he actually feels. We’re all creatures of the pack. That’s what I love about this.
JM: And there isn’t this one moment where it all switches. There’s just slowly a change that you notice, which is well done on all your parts.
PD: And it’s sort of, given the difference in our characters, and also age, there’s no, it’s hard to find common ground. They would never find that in the real world, together. Left with just each other, there’s great humor in that. How do you find common ground with someone who you traditionally wouldn’t have any with? Because I’m 75 years old! (Laughs)
JM: When it’s just the two of you, does it change how you prepare at all?
PD: I became fast friends with these two. It depends, I think, on what you’re working on. We were just joking earlier about how I just did a TV show for a long time, and to be “method” on a TV show is impossible. Try being method for nine years!
RM: Quit the act!
PD: As you can tell, the three of us call each other on our shit, and we’re really good friends. So there’s that. Maybe at the beginning I was trying to do that and…
EF: Shut up, Peter!
PD: They rolled their eyes and told me to shut the fuck up. So, I couldn’t do that! Trying to isolate myself over here! (All laughing)
RM: Others may have isolated! (Laughs)
PD: Once again though, it was a very small and respectful crew. Intimate. Reed not only directed it, she’s the cinematographer, and held the camera for about 80% of the movie. So she was right there with us. It was really just the three of us.
JM: Excellent segway, since that’s what my next question was about. Doing my job for me!
PD: (To Moreno) So, what’s it like to be a cinematographer?
RM: And a director! Is that the question?
JM: Yes, actually. You shoot your films, as well as direct them. When you think as a director, are you also thinking as a DP?
RM: I think it was a pretty quick transition, from my first time where I did it on “Meadowland,” where I was so worried about getting the directing job right, I didn’t really give a shit about getting the cinematography right. But, also, I can’t help it, it’s in my nature to know that when I walk into a room, I’m going to shoot in that direction, because that’s where the windows are. Do you know what I mean? I don’t really put a lot of thought into it now, and I think that’s why it was a natural progression to go into directing. I got to a point with cinematography where, basically when I started to get really okay at it, I moved into directing. Now, I feel like I’m a pretty decent cinematographer for the first time, but I’m also never going to shoot for anyone else but myself ever again. Unless, maybe if one of these guys make something.
PD: Hmm! She said it here!
RM: What I think was different here with this movie, as opposed to the first movie, was that I knew I could do both jobs. I knew that I needed a guy who could shoot handheld, I knew what I wanted to do with the light. It actually gave me really great freedom, since I could do everything that I wanted to do for other directors as a DP, but never…I didn’t know enough. I wasn’t in their brain enough to know I could get away with shooting this scene at magic hour. So, those things I thought about secondarily, but also I put in a lot of prep work beforehand. Testing lenses, doing all the work beforehand, so when I got on set I could mostly phone that part in. You’re going to be, especially on an intimate movie, your actors are mostly going to be hanging around on set with you, between set ups. Talking to you about stuff while you’re setting up anyway. So, it’s basically a good job for a mom! Someone used to having kids around. You have your crew asking you questions at the same time as you need to be there for your actors. That has to be the first priority.
JM: It’s always interesting to hear that, since there isn’t actually that much crossing over from one to the other.
RM: As a cinematographer, I could have been a much better cinematographer, if I knew then what I know now. Now that I’ve had this experience, I know that this is what my job was. Also, now I find, when I’m shooting for myself, I don’t have to tell someone else what I need. It just goes quicker. On a movie like this one where time is of the essence. Also, where intimacy is important, it can be awkward when someone else has to go up close for a shot.
PD: Or a director is halfway down the block on his cellphone and you’re up close with the cinematographer.
RM: I can not even fathom that!
PD: We did not have that with Reed.
RM: I have FOMO in real life. The actors are also working so hard, so they can see you in there and they know that we’re all working hard, as opposed to someone sitting at a monitor.
JM: Is it comforting to literally see your director when the camera is pointed at you?
PD: I loved it.
EF: I loved it too.
PD: It’s hard to go back, really.
EF: It’s also the flow, it flows so easily. It’s a quicker pace. She’s so available, she’s right there. So any adjustments that she wants to make, there’s no conversation transferred to another person.
PD: There’s no third party.
EF: Exactly. Also, Reed is just, as a person, she understands human behavior so well. We’re so comfortable together. It makes you want to perform better, I think, as well. It didn’t make me feel nervous. It made me feel supported.
PD: There’s an element as an actor as well, when the director is down the street, you do it and then you’re waiting to hear back. You’re just a performance. Here, you just keep going and it’s fluid. That’s how film should be, I think.
EF: The best directors pick up on the smallest details too, and Reed does that. If you’re doing something, you want the director to catch it, and Reed does, because she’s right there!