Dakota Gorman @dakotagorman
Photographer: Dean Foreman @foreman.dean
Makeup Artist: Kim Konsler @kimkonslermakeup
Wardrobe : Deanna Zaccari @deannazaccari
What inspired you to direct and act at the same time in this movie?
That makes me incredibly happy to hear! Anytime the film resonates with someone, it reassures me the risks were worth it. Even though I’ve never taken on something like this before, I was Very adamant about being attached to direct. That was decided before locking in any financing. When I write, I tend to visualize how it would look on screen as a sort of blueprint. With this particular project, the tone of what I wanted to achieve was getting lost when people would read the script. That was the driving force that pushed me behind the camera, to see if I was able to execute what I was envisioning and how people would be receptive (or not) to my style of storytelling. Because this project was low budget and a character driven piece, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to put that curiosity to the test. I knew there was room to be a little messier with everything, more playful and that it would be a good environment to learn all the first time mistakes, hurdles, challenges. It didn’t require the extreme meticulousness that something more intricate would demand. I wanted everything to feel very true to life, so my goal was to stage as little as possible, use the resources that were around us and focus on the relationships between the actors.
As for taking on an acting role myself, that definitely wasn’t part of the initial plan. We actually had someone else cast as Sage, and then about one to two weeks before filming we lost our actress. The immediate people around me, both on and off the project (including the lead producer, Nicole Rio -- who is also my mother, but claims to be unbiased) essentially were like, “You’re an idiot if you don’t take this opportunity for yourself. You’re an actress. You have parallel life experience. Why are we even talking about this?” I’m so happy to have had that support because jumping into that role was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
How difficult is it to direct friends or family or even close friends without being to boss?
Surprisingly, I didn’t have any hesitancy in that area. My friends involved in this project I already self tape with or take class with, so it was just an opportunity to do what we already do together but on a bigger scale. At the end of the day we’re all there to do the project justice, so it would be counterintuitive to have any restraint in communication. Acknowledging that actors are an essential part of the collaboration helps. I constantly opened the door for people to tell me what they felt was working for them or not. From there, we collectively leaned into where we felt the best chemistry was happening. Having that fluidity and inclusive exploration eliminated that sensation of hierarchy. Being an actress myself, I know what makes me comfortable on set, what opens me up to be my most vulnerable and playful, so I tried to just provide that to everyone.
Do you have to take certain classes or mentoring for your first director debut?
I’m sure all of that is helpful, I know I would have loved either or both of those, but they weren’t a necessity. Having a strong vision is most important. Behind that, stress management, being solution oriented -- those kinds of skills were most helpful to me. This experience really solidified that I thrive in structured chaos. All the technical aspects I learned as I went, and I am continuing to educate myself on. It’s important to find people who excel in the areas you are a novice in, ask all the questions, invest in garnering that knowledge of the vocations that support yours.
I always wondered as a director have say over casting choices?
I can’t speak to every production, but ours was definitely a collaboration. I always make sure to have a reason as to why I feel strongly about an actor, how I think that particular casting choice will affect the story. If I’m super passionate about someone, I’ll absolutely be vocal about it, even if in the end it goes another direction. At the same time, I love hearing if so This me one has a different opinion because it encourages me to look at the script and the characters in new ways, to explore angles I haven’t previously considered. That’s what is so exciting about working with a script in the early stages, everyone has a different read on it and there’s the chance to create something beyond what the page gives you.
What's your role in the movie as the actress, and how different is she from your real Personality?
My character Sage is an artist bound to the barista paycheck. Plain and simple, she’s defeated and self-deprecating, having assumed that great potential meant inevitable success, which is not at all how her life is unfolding. She represents those who feel stuck mainly because they don’t know where to start or for whatever reason are lacking a certain tenacity at the present moment (which I’ve definitely experienced). She absolutely speaks to the part of me that got content with being discontent, where I was at my most disenchanted, but I’m definitely more outward with my emotions than she is and am now at a point in my life where I’ve learned to not be so passive when it comes to pursuing what I want in any facet of life.
What's your favorite part about being an actress or director, which one do you prefer?
“The reason I love these jobs is because it really is rediscovering how to be free and play, which I think can get beat out of our systems as we grow into our adult selves.”
I can’t choose between the two when it comes to preference. Maybe my one pro about directing over acting is I don’t have to care at all what I look like. I have a valid excuse to wear sweatpants, have greasy hair and that be totally acceptable.
Can you give us your all-time favorite movie to date?
I know there is a lot of controversy around Woody Allen, but if I’m being completely honest, Annie Hall is my all-time favorite. Every time I watch it, I discover new things. I respect how innovative it is, especially for that time period. The dialogue is impeccable. It really shaped what kind of material I’m interested in and what I would like to aim for as an artist.
What other projects should fans know about for 2022?
There are a lot of things in the works, nothing with a hard release date yet. Out of the things I’m part of developing there are two projects I’m attached to direct. “Late Bloomers,” a dramedy about a group of teens who form a reckless bond via a cancer support group. Nicole Rio is on board to produce. Our casting director Steven Tylor O’Connor has quickly become our ride or die, and just won an Emmy, yay Steven! The script (penned by Sam Kozé and Gary Alan Wright) is truly unique from any other I’ve seen in the cancer movie realm. The other project is a supernatural horror feature I’m currently writing for Myth Division, a new production company I couldn’t be more excited to collaborate with. Horror is a huge passion of mine, so I’m beyond grateful to Ramon Govea (Founder) and Neal Fischer (Head of Development) for bringing me into what they’re creating.
How can fans reach out to you via social media?
Instagram or Twitter, @dakotagorman