May 26, 2011

Indie Film: Maine native brings home her Hollywood touch


What makes a local girl makes good story even better?

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Katie Aselton grew up in Milbridge and has scored acting roles in “The Office” and “The League.” Now she’s coming back to Maine to direct “Black Rock,” a thriller she also stars in with Lake Bell and Kate Bosworth.

Courtesy photo



Friday: "The Greatest Movie Ever Sold." Documentarian prankster Morgan Spurlock ("Super Size Me") financed an entire movie about the pervasiveness of product placement in movies by selling product placement in his movie. If that's the cleverest thing about the film, it'll still be pretty clever. 


Saturday: "Of Gods and Men." Award-winning French drama about a group of nonviolent monks who must decide whether to evacuate their remote Algerian monastery when local sectarian violence threatens their lives and vows.

When she comes back home.

Not in the "it didn't work out and I'm moving into my parents' garage" sort of way, but in the "I became a successful actress, writer, and director in Hollywood, and now I'm coming home to direct a movie" sort of way.

Meet Katie Aselton.

Growing up in Milbridge, Maine (population 1,279), she achieved fame (amongst the indie film crowd) for her work in such well-regarded films as "The Puffy Chair" (by "mumblecore" mavens the Duplass brothers), and with the rest of the world when she scored a small but winning role on "The Office." In 2010 she directed (and starred in) her first feature, the moving, improvised relationship drama "The Freebie," (which I highly recommend). Aselton is married to Mark Duplass and, starring with him, achieved her highest-profile role as the only woman able to hold her own against the guy-centric comedy lineup of the hilarious hit FX series "The League."

Now she's coming back to Maine to direct her second feature "Black Rock" (script by Mark), a dark thriller about three vacationing women (Aselton, Lake Bell and Kate Bosworth) whose Maine getaway goes horrifyingly wrong. I spoke with her about "Black Rock," shooting in Maine, and the dangers of the Maine accent. 

Where is "Black Rock" going to be shot?

Up on the coast Down East, with exteriors on the shorelines and small islands on the coast. We're being sort of cagey about the actual locations at this point. 

Is there going to be any Maine casting?

We will do some small casting for locals, but the main cast is pretty small and all set. 

What made you bring your movie to Maine? Are we especially creepy?

I initially pictured it in all kinds of places, but Mark and I were home for the holidays. Growing up here you become immune to the scenery until you leave and come back and then, good Lord, it's breathtaking ... and it's tragic at same time. The juxtaposition of beautiful and brutal -- it's everything I want the film to be. Plus, it's nice to come home. 

How do you intend to cope with the dreaded Maine accent curse?

I don't think we're going to address the local accent. These girls have moved away, so that's a non issue, but yeah, there's nothing I hate worse that a bad one. 

Maine doesn't offer tax incentives for filming like other states. That would make it more attractive, right?

That's true, but what you do get is amazing support from the community. In L.A., it's jaded, but here people just want a local girl to succeed. No tax breaks can equal that. 

Speaking of, you have a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the movie.

We pulled together funds on our own, but the opportunity to rent this amazing camera package came up, which is five times what we'd budgeted for. It's going to look like a $40 million film -- but it's not gonna cost that. 

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

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