Meadowland is a powerful piece of work.
It follows the lives the parents (played by Luke Wilson and Olivia Wilde) of a young child after he disappears from a gas station bathroom. As the film progresses, they sink deeper and deeper into grief, each one of them veering into their own path of self-destruction.
On Sunday, a special screening of the film was held at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema in New York City. It was presented by Forevermark. On the red carpet, I managed to conduct short interviews with Luke Wilson, Olivia Wilde, and director/cinematographer Reed Morano.
The film deals with some pretty dark subject matter. Did that make for any sort of specific acting challenges or a more difficult shoot?
Luke Wilson: Yeah. I mean it’s like, on a comedy, It’s so much kind of clear-cut goals to me. It’s like, you want to make a scene funny or something, and when you’re doing more emotional stuff… To me, it’s like, less defined goals. So, the challenge [is] keeping a good attitude and staying on track throughout the course of a shoot. To not think, “Ah, this isn’t working,” because people aren’t laughing. When you’re doing something kind of more emotional, you just kind of have to have faith in it.
Olivia Wilde: Yeah. I mean it’s challenging to be completely vulnerable. It’s challenging to be on set and not be able to be the kind of fun, comic relief on the set. It’s challenging when you just have to focus completely, and there’s no time for messing around. It’s challenging when you’re also producing the film, and you have to maintain focus from both perspectives. But it’s also gratifying. The more challenging it is, the more gratifying it is — like anything else.
How did you prepare for the role? Was there anything you did either in general or each day?
Wilde: I knew the script inside and out. I knew our vision very well. I felt completely comfortable within the character.
What was the collaboration like with the director? What was that working relationship like?
Wilson: Reed Morano I worked with when she was a cinematographer — she’s still a cinematographer — but she shot the movie The Skeleton Twins, so I knew her. So she is, you know… We had already worked together very closely. So it was fun to have her actually giving me direction, too. Just ‘cause she knows a lot about acting, and… Yeah, she’s a very very sharp person who knows what she’s doing, and very comfortable on the set.
What drew you to the material? What made you want to work on this film?
Reed Morano: I was sent a few scripts prior to this one to consider for directing, and I’ve seen a lot of directors go through making their first movie. And I know how much time and how much energy, and how much of their life and themselves they put into it. And I thought to myself, “I don’t want to screw around. I want something that’s really powerful and not something that’s just wishy-washy and safe.” And when I read Meadowland, I knew that it could be that film.
You’ve been a cinematographer for a while, but this is your first film as director. What was it like moving to the director’s chair, especially while also serving as cinematographer?
Morano: It was a little tricky. I think moving over to directing I was worried I wasn’t as prepared as I actually felt. Once I got into it, it was sort of like the jitters beforehand. But really, a lot of directing is talking to people and having humanity and sensitivity. And being able to communicate very well. So, it was tricky. It was tricky balancing the time to do both jobs, but it worked itself out.
Did you have any specific directorial approach, style, or method?
Morano: I wouldn’t say I was picking a specific style. Maybe this is a specific style, but I kind of don’t want to taint the situation or the actors too much prior. I would rather see what they do and adjust it.
Following the screening, guests headed around the corner to La Gamelle. The film is now playing.
[The interviews have been edited for clarity.]