In our ongoing column Deep Focus, TrunkSpace is going behind the camera to talk with the directors, writers and producers who infuse our world with that perennial pop culture goodness that we can’t get enough of.
This time out we’re chatting with Pat Kiely, writer and director of the new film “Another Kind of Wedding.” We recently sat down with him to discuss the benefits of wearing various hats on set, why absence doesn’t always make the creative heart grow fonder, and the reason directing is where he feels most at home.
TrunkSpace: The movie opens tomorrow What emotions do you juggle with as you gear up to put a film like “Another Kind of Wedding” out into the world?
Kiely: It’s exciting but also… you’ve probably heard this before about the worst part of making a movie is when it comes out. It’s much more fun just to do the thing. When a movie comes out, it’s a mix of anxiety and excitement. I mean, it’s super cool, right? You’re sharing something that you’ve worked on with the world, but it’s also totally out of your control, so you just have to sort of sit there and wait to see what people think of it. So it’s a mixed bag.
TrunkSpace: You mentioned it being out of your control now. With this particular movie, you really did everything. You wrote it, you directed, you produced. Sticking with the idea of control, do you feel like you have more creative control over a project when you’re wearing so many different hats like you are with “Another Kind of Wedding?”
Kiely: Yes. Absolutely. But what I would also say is that, it takes so long for a feature to get made, right? And as an artist, you’re constantly growing. And so, for instance, with this movie, I think I wrote the first draft maybe six and a half years ago. And then it got the funding and of course, I’m grateful and I’m super excited to make the movie, but there was definitely a bit of a pivoting that happened with me where I had to turn back and figure out, “Okay, who was Pat Kiely when he wrote this movie?” And, “What is this movie all about, and now I have to direct it?” So yes, there is a lot of creative control when you write, direct and produce it, but just the nature of how feature films go, it’s still a struggle to be like 100 percent passionate and dropped into the material because these projects exist with you for so long.
TrunkSpace: When you have to put your writer’s hat back on and revisit a script after such a long time, is it more difficult to then have to rewrite it years later after being so far removed from the story and characters?
Kiely: Yeah, definitely. I mean, sometimes the distance is good, right? You can look back on the script with objectivity. But, there’s something magical that happens when you’re down in the mine of creating the script in the first place, and then with the distance, it takes you out of it. So, again, there’s pluses and minuses.
TrunkSpace: As you said, as an artist you’re constantly growing. Because you wrote “Another Kind of Wedding” over six years ago, is it still representative of the filmmaker you want to be today? Would you write “Another Kind of Wedding” today?
Kiely: Definitely not. At the time when I wrote the movie, I was in love. I was feeling really, I don’t know, blissful in my life? I was excited about creating an ensemble wedding movie that had a measured happy ending where things kind of work out, but not totally. And I definitely think that I’m excited about different things. I’m proud of the movie. I think it’s cool. I’m happy that I made it. But, to answer your question in short, I definitely would not write this movie right now.
TrunkSpace: The film has a large ensemble cast and you seemed to utilize a bunch of different locations. Did that prove to be a challenge?
Kiely: Yeah, it was really challenging. They’re at a hotel in the film, but that hotel… we used, I think, six or seven different locations around the city to try to just piece it together because we couldn’t find that one magical hotel that had everything that we needed. So in the end, it turned out that we shot the film in 16 days. You know what an assembly is, right? It’s the first thing the editor shows you – everything that you’ve shot, strung together. So I’m sure that when Paul Thomas Anderson looked at his assembly for “The Master,” it was probably like six and a half hours. But this film, it was 86 minutes. Essentially everything that you saw was the only thing that we shot. We cut out two and a half minutes. It was an extreme exercise in precision.
TrunkSpace: Was that a product of you sitting down beforehand and hammering down your exact shot list and then sticking to it while in production?
Kiely: It was all these meetings in pre-production where we’d sit down with the producers and they’d be like, “You have to cut out like 10 pages. We have to lose this, we have to lose that, we have to lose this.” And so it was me trying to just figure out, “Okay, what can I lose in order to still make this movie work?” And then, like you said, it was such a big cast. A lot of the exercise in production was getting people in and out. And there’s a reorientation period. With my previous films, they were much more sort of like, chamber dramedies. I’d be working with two or three actors in a room on a five-page scene, which was, given my theater and sketch roots, I really enjoyed. And you build this intimate relationship with the actors. But with this one, it was so hard because it would be like, “Okay, the van is arriving right now. Wallace (Shawn) is getting out. I have like 12 minutes to shoot this scene.” So it was definitely a challenge to get comfortable with each other, figure each other out, and get what we needed narratively in order to move on, in such little time.
TrunkSpace: It sounds like one of those situations where, when you’re in the moment, it’s probably so stressful, but then you wrap, go home and sleep off the stress, and then wake up and want to do it all over again.
Kiely: Definitely. I feel so lucky that I get to make movies. And it was a blast, for sure. It was a challenge, and it was cool, and I’m proud of myself that we basically shot this like a Movie of the Week. That was the amount of time that we had. And I think given all of the factors, yeah, I’m definitely proud that we managed to pull off a movie.
TrunkSpace: We know that you’re an actor as well. As you wear all of these various hats in the industry, do they all sort of tickle the same part of your brain that made you fall in love with the industry in the first place, or do they each give you something different?
Kiely: I think they each give me something different. I’m probably the happiest when I’m on set directing. It’s just such a privilege, and so much fun to be bringing your vision to life. And I love working with actors and crew. I just love the animal that it is, directing a film. So that is where I feel the best. Not saying that I’m the best at it. But that’s definitely where, spiritually, I feel most happy. Writing can get a bit lonely. It can be really fun, you can have fantastic days, but then you also have days where you’re like, “Oh God, why is my posture so bad? Why am I just staring at the cement?” It can wear you down a little bit.
“Another Kind of Wedding” is available Friday in theaters and on VOD.