New York-based filmmaker Harris Doran took some time recently to speak with Solzy at the Movies about Beauty Mark, which is playing this week during the 2017 Flyover Film Festival, and filming in Louisville, Ky.
Thanks for joining Solzy at the Movies today. How are things treating you?
Harris Doran: Good. How are you?
I’m doing well. You’re gearing up for the screening of Beauty Mark at the 2017 Flyover Film Festival. Will this be your first visit to Louisville since filming wrapped?
Harris Doran: Yes. This is going to be my first time back.
Louisville isn’t really a city one thinks of when it comes to a setting. Why Louisville?
Harris Doran: The film was inspired by true events that happened to one of the film’s producers who is from Louisville so that’s where that came from.
How does making a film in Louisville compare to other locations like New York or Los Angeles?
Harris Doran: I think, in some ways, you hear to make a film when you leave New York or LA that it’s not as expensive having your regular resources but Louisville is such a welcoming city that we were really supported by the town itself, local crew, restaurants, producers, and people who really came out and believed in the film and supported it. It had a family feel that you don’t necessarily get in New York or LA.
In making Beauty Mark, you’ve cited Room, Winter’s Bone, and Frozen River as influences. Can you expand on those comments?
Harris Doran: I think I mean tonally that the film is similar in that it’s character-driven, dark, intense movies about an important topic. Films that confront issues in society that are important and worth making a film about.
I know it tackles the topic of abuse and that is not an easy topic to talk about. The film tackles the topic of abuse. This isn’t an easy topic to talk about. As far as a message from the film is concerned, how do you want the audience to respond?
Harris Doran: I would like the audience to respond in whatever way they organically feel toward the film. The film covered abuse but quite a bit over important issues such as abusive relations, poverty, what happens when there are no resources in society to actually help you—what do you do.
I’m sort of hoping that the film gets people to talk. The numbers of people that have been affected by abuse is one in four girls and one in six boys—an enormous amount of people. For many people in the movie theater, this will be a personal issue for them. There’s no one who doesn’t know someone that hasn’t been affected. My hope is that it gets people to talk so that it happens less. The more you don’t talk about it, the more it just continues to happen.
Auden Thornton delivered a breakout performance for playing Angie. Her performance is on my short list for some of the best performances I’ve seen this year. As a director, what goes through your mind when you’re directing?
Harris Doran: First, it starts with casting. I cast Auden because she was one of the best actresses I’ve ever encountered. I was wanting a very specific performance that I knew she could deliver. She and I worked for a couple weeks straight before we started filming. By the time we got to the set, she and I were both on the same page about the entire movie. It was a lot of preparation, which is really the most important part that a director and actor can experience together. You can redirect someone but the fundamentals of a performance, a character, being able to talk about history, character psychology, and things like that, what’s happening moment to moment—that’s in the prep work. She and I did a lot of that together.
What was your writing process like for the screenplay?
Harris Doran: It was developed over the course of two years. I did many drafts of it. I ended up getting feedback from a bunch of abuse organizations to help me sort of develop it in a direction that was true to people’s experiences. I did some readings of it and got a lot of feedback of the script so it was ready.
Has there been any interest from a distributor or will Beauty Mark continue to play in festivals?
Harris Doran: We’re in the process of talking to distributors right now.
Good to hear. Thanks again for your time and have fun in Derby City.
Harris Doran: Okay, great. Thanks so much.
Beauy Mark will be screening on Friday night as a part of the closing night festivities of the 2017 Flyover Film Festival presented by the Louisville Film Society. For more information on the Flyover Film Festival, please click here.