The Movie Waffler Waffling With KEPLER'S DREAM Director Amy Glazer | The Movie Waffler

Waffling With KEPLER'S DREAM Director Amy Glazer

amy glazer
Director Amy Glazer discusses her upcoming Young Adult adaptation.

kepler's dream poster

This Winter, what we treasure brings us together in Kepler’s Dream!

Sean Patrick Flanery (The Boondock Saints, Powder), Kelly Lynch (Mr. Mercedes, Charlie’s Angels), and Holland Taylor (The Truman Show, Two and-a-Half Men) star in director Amy Glazer’s highly anticipated feature adaptation of the hit YA novel by Juliet Bell, in theaters and InDemand December 1st from Leomark Studios.

Eleven-year-old Ella (Isabella Blake-Thomas) is a city girl forced to spend the summer on the New Mexico ranch of her reclusive grandmother, Violet Von Stern (Holland Taylor), while Ella’s mom (Kelly Lynch) undergoes chemotherapy in another state. As she tries to cope with her grandmother’s strict rules and snooty friends, Ella longs for her mother and begs her estranged father for rescue. But Ella’s dad (Sean Patrick Flanery) has his own reasons to stay away from his childhood home. Meanwhile, Ella finds allies in fatherly ranch hand Miguel (Steven Michael Quezada) and his down-to-earth daughter, Rosie (Esperanza Fermin). But when a priceless book is stolen from Violet’s collection, Miguel is the key suspect, and Ella must find the real thief in order to save her friends. Emotional connections are reshaped, and a family that was lost finds its way. The music of Patrick Neil Doyle helps tell this unusual and heartwarming story.

amy glazer

What’s your favorite movie?

I think my favorite movie was John Cassavettes' A Woman Under The Influence.

Did it lead you to follow this professionally?

It reminded me of the power of getting inside another human being, and it showed me that when it is done with authenticity and naked truth, it's impossible not to have an empathic connection to the material. Nothing else really matters beyond performance with a film like that. If you can capture the truth, you will never see the boom in the shot. I love the notion of a film experience as a way to try on character, live their lives, a kind of “empathy” gym.

Your brother is in the industry. Who followed whom into the world of writing and filmmaking?

I followed him into filmmaking. For years my focus was as a theatre director. And I still don't think of myself as a writer; I adapt material, but I'm not a writer in the way that my brother can create a reality in a quarter page that resonates with such iconic specificity that it's mind blowing. Everything I adapt is ultimately tweaked and “finished” by my brother. But I would say I have always identified more as a director and he as a screenwriter, although I guess we both do both!

Where did you study filmmaking? Or did you just jump straight into it?

I studied at CalArts, where I got my MFA in directing for stage and film. My mentor was the brilliant filmmaker Alexander McKendrick (Sweet Smell Of Success, The Lady Killers) whose book, On Film Making (comprised of his lectures posthumously published by his students) I continued to use in my film acting and directing classes. I sometimes hear his voice in my ear when I direct film or theatre. Sometimes that's good, sometimes it drives me crazy. He was an insane stickler when it came to POV and staging on the long axis - we would even have arguments in my head when I was on the set and trying to decide where to put the camera!

Would you recommend one over the other, for any budding filmmakers reading?

I certainly recommend his book! On Film-Making. And yes, I think grad school is a great way to accrue experiences and find your voice.

And it seems these days it’s also helpful for anyone in the entertainment industry to know how to do something “extra”. What “extra” things do you do?

I'm a professor, and I highly recommend it if you're looking for career as a director. Professional work (theatre and film directing) becomes context for my academic “life”; my academic life subsidizes my professional career. And also, at the end of the day, the students whose lives I've been able to affect and support, to lift up and guide, they are my living legacy, and that feels like important work, trying to inspire and enlighten a diverse and delicious group of students, most of whom do not come from privilege and have not had access to storytelling before now. As a professor I'm more useful when I'm working on the show or film. It just opens and expands our resources for guest artists and contacts to enrich their curriculum and help them transition into the industry. I’m a big believer in mentors!

Is there something you want to try but haven’t?

Nope. I just want a shot at directing my next film!

What about fears? Anything you’re afraid of or afraid to do?

I must confess that I’ve been fearful since birth… afraid of everything! So I think over time I just became accustomed to living with a certain amount of fear and just pushing through it or using it. I think I've gotten less fearful as I've aged. So to the young filmmakers out there who are afraid, it eases up… some. I try to acknowledge that I’m afraid, then I take a deep breath and do it anyway. Just keep moving forward. 

What’s been your best professional moment of the last decade?

Filming, guerrilla style, on the streets of New York for my last film Seducing Charlie Barker. I definitely felt more comfortable shooting (day or night) on the streets of New York then I did in New Mexico, with its lightning storms and crazy terrain - it was incredibly challenging but also very thrilling.  Still… shooting KD in Santa Fe was also a great adventure for all of us on location. So both of those moments were magical and therefore my best professional thumbnail memories would be both of those location moments where all your skill and intuition comes together.

If someone was to make a quick 15-second video compilation of your work for an awards show, which moments would you hope they include?

I guess I would want them to include moments of me directing new plays on the stage and working with actors on set. Sitting next to a writer and with wonderful actors as I get into their heads, finding the beats of a scene - rehearsing and discovering…a delicate, delicious dance.

But of course I’d love to include me on horseback, next to my amazing cinematographer, Nancy Schreiber, as we followed along behind the actors - oh and my first journey/experience shooting from process trailer with Nancy! Again cosied up on apple crates peering into two tiny monitors as Nancy screams “faster, go faster!” while I hang on for dear life! And finally, one more comedic take of me walking into a cactus as I give notes to an actor on a horse, and spent the rest of the take, again huddled in front of a monitor, with a kind makeup woman pulling thorns out of my leg. I'm not really outdoorsy in that way; all the more reason to record it! Obstacles are gold for some comedy!

I definitely felt more comfortable shooting (day or night) on the streets of New York! NM, with its lightning storms and crazy terrain, was incredibly challenging but also a great adventure.

Is there a moment in Kepler’s Dream you consider the film’s finest?

I think the scene where Kelly Lynch (Amy) sends Ella off to begin this adventure as she begins her own adventure with the stem cell transplant. Emotionally it was the scariest for me, and I felt that Kelly and Isabella really found a truth that still touches me. I also love the scene from the dream sequence of Ella running on the moon, which was actually a gypsum mine but evoked the craters and barren dry dust feel of the moon. It was a stunning location. We had some gorgeous coverage; I wish we had been able to incorporate more. But I'm also quite proud of that gene sequence.

How was it working with such a legend in Holland Taylor?

Sublime. She really is amazing. She can adjust a beat or line or moment within an inch of her life. She can adjust her tone, intent, tactic, subtext with such ease - she gives everything so much dimension and such rich subtext. She’s a master actor; with each take comes an entirely new set of possibilities for the moment and the scene. She really is an amazing actress with incredible skill and brilliant instincts. She is also one of the funniest women I know - a role model and inspiration for sure.

What does the end of 2017 and the start of 2018 have in store for you?

I currently have two projects in development. I'm working on adapting the novel by Jim Shepherd, The Book Of Aron to film. Interestingly enough it’s another child hero. This one is set in Warsaw during World War II and focuses on a young Jewish boy’s complicated journey of survival. It's actually not nearly as dark as one would imagine! There is also a play I am hoping to adapt with the writer, but I'm still working on getting the rights to that secured, so I can't really talk about that one yet.