'Untogether' director Emma Forrest on putting her life on screen and why working with Jamie Dornan has spoilt her forever
Forrest speaks to MEAWW about working with a star-studded cast, writing romance and the influence of 'female artistes whose detractors dislike them for oversharing' in the film
There aren't many times that a directorial debut manages to amaze a film festival, but Emma Forrest isn't your garden variety director. Forrest is a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter and has previously written for Brad Pitt's production company Plan B Entertainment as well as big players in the game like Miramax and Paramount. Her debut venture too has some big names — it features 'Fifty Shades of Grey' star Jamie Dornan, 'Animal Kingdom's Ben Mendelsohn, and sisters Lola Kirke and Jemima Kirke from 'Gone Girl' and 'Girls' respectively. However, Forrest's 'Untogether' isn't about the stars — it's about a damn good story.
The film follows two love stories. One involving an ex-teen prodigy trying to get back on her feet after losing herself somewhere along the way to heroin — Andrea knows the value of sobriety and is desperately trying to hold her ground. She meets Nick, a handsome young writer who's already where she wants to be — reveling in the success that his memoir has earned him. His story of war-time bravery brings him a great deal of wealth and women.
The other parallel arc follows Andrea's little sister, Tara who just cannot understand the emotional upheaval she's feeling.
She's got a solid relationship with her older boyfriend, Martin but just cannot help but be insanely attracted to David, the charismatic rabbi, who's even older than Martin. The film deals with money, fame, relationships, age gap and the idea of love like it happens next door and doesn't shy away from telling you exactly what Forrest is thinking.
Forrest spoke to MEAWW exclusively about working with the star-studded cast, writing romance and the influence of "female artistes whose detractors dislike them for oversharing" in the film. Here are a few excerpts for the interview.
Why did you pick a romance film for your debut?
It wasn't planned that way, but it was a relief, in the aftermath of the 2016 election, when we all felt so hopeless, that I actually did get to go to work every day and edit a story about love and, even more so, about characters fumbling towards "How to be good". I have no control over this evil man and his equally evil enablers... but I did get to put a tiny bit of love back into the world even if only a hundred people end up seeing it.
Where did you draw your influence from for 'Untogether'?
I've always loved Nicole Holofcener's work, and it was beautiful that she was one of the first people to read the script, one of the first people to watch my first edit. And that's not because she knew me, I just went up to her at a party and fangirl'd, and she offered to read it. Beyond that, my biggest influences were female artistes whose detractors dislike them for oversharing: Sophie Calle and Tracy Emin especially. When I was 12 I saw a Tracy Emin show at the Tate that really shaped my thinking (it was the one with a beautiful tent that has hand sewn inside it the names of everyone she had ever slept with).
What led to the casting choices of Jemima and Lola in the same story?
I just knew I wanted real sisters to play the sisters and they're both such terrific actresses and lively faces. They were working out a lot about their own not-always-easy relationship by agreeing to make the film.
How was working with Jamie Dornan?
Jamie is the kindest, the funniest, the most ego-free male actor I could ever imagine. Honestly, everyone else is going to seem like a little b*tch after him.
Will you begin working on 'Your Voice in My Head' again?
I'd do it. Someone has to see 'Untogether' and like it enough to give me the money! An actress might feel wary about a director making a piece that is literally about themselves. But I'm far enough removed from it now, it's been so many years since I wrote the book, that 'Emma' feels like a character and not me.
Any other upcoming project you'd like to talk about?
I have a new novel out from Bloomsbury later this year, called 'Royals'. It's a tragic teen love story set during the marriage of Charles and Diana. It's kind of 'Emma Forrest does John Green'.
'Untogether' releases in theatres on February 8.
Watch the trailer below: