Nate von Zumwalt
We’re rolling out a new blog series offering a behind-the-scenes peek at little-known factoids, anecdotes, and morsels of trivia gathered from the film sets of upcoming releases. In our first edition, we meddle in the making of Lynn Shelton’s Your Sister’s Sister, a stirring love story infused with charm and humor, complemented by largely improvised performances from Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, and Rosemaire DeWitt. Your Sister’s Sister screened in the Spotlight category at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and opens in theaters Friday, June 15.
1. Actress Rosemarie DeWitt was an 11th hour addition.
“We lost an actress three days before filming, which is how we ended up with Rosemarie DeWitt. I’m such a huge admirer. And then remarkably I mentioned her name to Mark Duplass, and he said, “If she’s available she’ll do it. Because she accosted me in a Louisiana airport a year ago saying, ‘I don’t usually do this, but I just saw Humpday and I thought it was fantastic.’” She was just on fire about it. So that was a huge part of trying to replace this part. We needed somebody who was versed in what kind of style of filmmaking this was. And so, to know that Rose not only was versed in it, but also was a fan—I was kind of lit on fire by it.
2. A 16-person crew and intense time constraints made for regular 12-hour shooting days.
“Um, yeah, there was no time between takes. Most movie sets, the actors are working between one and two hours of a 12-hour day, and in this case it’s the opposite ratio—you’re working about 11 of the 12 hours. You’re just go, go, go.”
3. A Lynn Shelton film set is a lot like summer film camp.
“The beautiful thing was that we were all bunking together. We were on this beautiful island in the San Juans, which is in Pugent Sound (Washington), and we were all working on this piece of property that had several houses on it. So there was our ‘picture house’ where we would all be working all day long. But then 50 yards away there were three other houses that we were staying in, so there’s kind of this sorority and fraternity for the male and female members.”
4. Improvised scenes are a Shelton standard, but the fused cinematic techniques are a nod to My Summer of Love, which starred Emily Blunt in her first film.
“When I pitched the project to Emily [Blunt], I described what the process of making Humpday was like. And I said, “It will be very similar to this. I’ll kidnap you for a couple weeks and it will be like film camp and not feel like any production you’ve probably been on, certainly not the bigger ones. And it will be somewhat improvised.” I sort of described the entire thing to her. And she said, “I made a film once long ago that we made in a very similar way, and I never thought that I’d be able to have an experience like that again. I would love to do it.” It turned out that that film that she had also improvised was her very first film called My Summer of Love, which I had seen. But I had no idea at the time that it was improvised. So I went back and looked at it, and I ended up finding that film incredibly inspiring for this film. “
“He [Director Pawel Pawlikowski] has these beautiful wide sweeping shots, he really had a sense of place. And then in combination were these handheld close-ups on this very intense interpersonal dynamic between the two girls. I took a lot of inspiration from that. Because I didn’t’ really know if you could combine handheld and static shots in that way, until that film gave me the confidence. “
5. The back-story to the origin of ‘Old Red,’ Jack’s (Mark Duplass) bicycle in the film…
“I think we either got it for free, or maybe for $50 off Craigslist. We wanted something used, something that we would be able to trash.”