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Writer and director Dylan Kidd killed with his first feature, Roger Dodger. His second film, P.S., well, not so much. It received what Kidd called "“an absolutely crushing review” by Manohla Dargis in The New York Times. Roxanne Bogucka caught up with Kidd on the sidewalk outside the Paramount Theater after a screening at the Austin Film Festival.

RB: The original Scott Feinstadt was a big character in the book. Did you consider having him in the movie at all?

DK: Yes, we did. But because it’s all about not being able to go back to the past, we didn’t do it. We would’ve had to either have a different actor or have Topher (Grace) play two roles…

RB: The original Scott was, to borrow a phrase, a dickhead…

DK: Yeah, we kind of dropped the ball a bit by not having Scott [in the movie]… this idea that Scott was a jerk… But we didn’t want to use Topher twice.

RB: Why?

DK: We felt like, because it’s rare to undo what’s done, we wanted the audience to be trapped in the present with Louise and flashbacks would have hindered that.

RB: P.S. is a difficult book to imagine filming, with lots of flashbacks and interior monologue, Louise’s mother in her head…

DK: It wasn’t until we were doing it that we realized the challenge of no flashbacks or voiceovers. But for me, voiceover takes me out of a movie, so I wanted to avoid it.

RB: Thanks for male nudity!

DK: [Laughs] Well we want to sell some tickets here. But also, when you get into female nudity, the audience is thrown. They’re like, oh look at naked Laura Linney. I wanted the audience to experience these scenes without that distraction.

RB: Tell me about directing sex talk, like much of Roger Dodger, vs. directing sex scenes?

DK: It’s nerve-racking. Laura Linney stage-managed much of it the day of the scene because she’d done sex scenes before but neither Topher nor I had. I wanted it to be personal. And I figured, if there was stuff where I was kind of turning away from the monitor, like oh I’m kind of embarrassed here, that the actors were capturing what I wanted.

RB: The book is a spring-fever book and movie is actually in fall. Why? Was it fall when you filmed?

DK: Yes. The production kept getting pushed back because of folks’ schedules, until it was actually fall. I didn’t want to risk “pretending” it was spring, then having to monkey with shots because, oh we can’t show that tree, the leaves are turning, etc. So we went for fall instead.

RB: What’s it like, writing with the novel’s author?

DK: I did drafts and sent them to Helen Schulman and she sent her notes. This is Helen’s first movie… It was my decision to work with Helen Schulman; we’re both in New York City and I wanted to do the book—why not use her? And of course, I wanted her to be happy with the movie.

RB: What’s next?

DK: Another original screenplay.

RB: Two years ago at the Austin Film Festival, you said, in a choice between writing your own stuff or directing other folks’ stuff, you’d choose directing. Same answer still, now that you’ve done both?

DK: Writing is difficult. I’m very slow; it’s a painstaking process. Writing is eating my veggies. Then I get to go on set and have dessert.

RB: Thank you very much.

DK: Thank you.


Mike Doughty



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