2014 Tribeca Film Festival Filmmaker Profile: Adam Rapp (Director – ‘Loitering With Intent’)

After a chance run-in with a film producer eager to invest in a new project, aspiring writers Dominic (Michael Godere) and Raphael (Ivan Martin) need to come up with a script fast, so the pair head to the seclusion of upstate New York to churn out their masterpiece. But when Dominic’s siren of a sister (Marisa Tomei) turns up desperate for reprieve from her boyfriend (Sam Rockwell), they soon realize they’re in for more than they bargained for as their creative retreat is increasingly waylaid by uninvited guests, romantic entanglements, and unexpected distractions. Isabelle McNally and a hilarious Brian Geraghty round out the ensemble cast of New York art world characters in this romantic comedy from director Adam Rapp.

Anticipating ‘Loitering With Intent’ Screening at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival we profile the film’s Director Adam Rapp.  The film screens as part of the World Narrative Competition on Friday, April 18Sunday, April 20,Wednesday, April 23 and Saturday, April 26, 2014 in New York City.

Find More Information & Tickets to ‘Loitering With Intent’ at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival – HERE

Before venturing into film and television, you were an accomplished playwright and novelist. For you personally, is film directing more or less of a challenge than writing and why?
I’ve made three films now and with each one it’s been a completely different learning experience. With film there’s this whole technical apparatus that doesn’t exist in fiction and functions on a much smaller level in the theatre. The hardest things for me to get used to were the mechanics of setting up shots, working with a crew, and getting creative about what kind of coverage I could get away with as time was running out. I’ve always been comfortable working with actors – it’s one of the most exciting and enriching parts of the process—so that’s been a natural transition from the theatre. As the week gets longer you get less sleep and that’s also hard for me. You’re just beat up at the end of it in a way that I’ve never experienced in theatre. But the rewards can be as great as these challenges. The other aspect that is much different is how many opinions you’re dealing with during the edit. With fiction it’s just me and my editor, and with theatre it’s me and an assistant director, sometimes a dramaturge, and occasionally the Artistic Director will give notes after a runthru, but there are far fewer cooks in the kitchen (or cooks trying to get into the kitchen), than what I’ve experienced with film. That’s a tricky thing to navigate –sussing out who to trust and who’s just giving notes to fulfill a job description.

What was the very first aspect of the ‘Loitering With Intent’ script that came to you in its conceptualization stage?  Was it a specific character, setting, theme…?
I just loved that it was about these down-and-out actors, toiling in NYC, trying to hustle their way into an opportunity. The third-class citizenship of what most actors are subjected to in NYC is pretty brutal. I thought the script handled this with grace, humor and surprising heart and soul.

Some directors allow their actors some creative freedom in terms of dialogue, others do not; how much creative freedom do you allow your actors in terms of dialogue? Do you believe in sticking to the words on the page or do you encourage improvisation?
Generally, I’m really tough on actors being letter perfect with the text. But the authors of the screenplay – Michael Godere and Ivan Martin (also the main characters) – were savvy about work-shopping scenes with Sam Rockwell, Brian Geraghty and Marisa Tomei. They tailored these scenes for their specific rhythms and nervous systems. When I came on board, a lot of this was already in play and there was a wonderful looseness with the text – an intentional looseness — which allowed these scenes to really come alive on set. I asked the ensemble to know the text, but encouraged them to be creative. Lots of things were improvised, but the improvs were informed by the rehearsals. Ironically, Michael and Ivan were almost ludicrously letter perfect in their scenes with each other – they’d worked on them for months.  With my previous two films, the actors were letter perfect and I was insistent on that. I think in the future I will encourage that same approach but when it feels right I will invite some chaos and improvisation because with great actors there’s tremendous life in that in-the-moment discovery.

‘Loitering With Intent’ features a great ensemble cast – Sam Rockwell, Marisa Tomei, Natasha Lyonne, Brian Geraghty, Michael Godere and Ivan Martin. What was the casting process like for this film?
Most of the major players were already set up before I came on board. I’d never worked this way – I’m a terrible control freak when it comes to casting –, so inheriting a pre-set group of principles was a little daunting. I knew Sam and Marisa (though not well), and Ivan was in my first film, WINTER PASSING (he plays a bartender), but I’d never met Brian, and I’d only known Michael Godere as the writer of the script. It’s an unusual way to helm a project, but I was open to it.

A lot of the smaller roles – many of the day players – were actors who I know and trust (Patch Darragh, Aya Cash, Nick Lawson, Brad Heberlee, etc). It was fun to bring them on board.

With regard to the main ensemble, the good news was that because Ivan and Michael had written these characters specifically for Marisa, Brian, and Sam, I didn’t have to do a lot to help them “find” their characters. I just had to create a safe environment for them to play and show me stuff and we were able to hone things from there. Isabelle McNally was the only principle role that I brought on and as soon as she was cast she started coming to rehearsals, so we were able to get her into the vibe of things as well. They were all wonderful to work with and we had a ridiculous amount of fun.

In your opinion, why is The Tribeca Film Festival a natural destination for the World Premiere of ‘Loitering With Intent’?
It’s about New York actors, these underappreciated artists who are still fighting for something, still trying to eke out a life, trying to wrestle down more purpose. It deals with the effects of this city; its relentlessness; its disregard for the weak; its invitation to the dreamer. Then there’s the bucolic intoxication of the meadows and treelines of the Hudson Valley where traffic and garbage trucks disappear and you can suddenly her the symphonic pleasures of birds and rustling leaves and wind chimes. We New Yorkers need a dose of the rural now and then to set our hearts and minds at ease. I couldn’t imagine premiering the film in a better context.

Well, it’s about New York

Loitering-With-Intent-Adam-RappAbout The Filmmaker
Adam Rapp is an award-winning playwright, theater director, novelist, and filmmaker. He wrote and directed the feature film, Winter Passing, which was an Official Selection at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival. His second feature, Blackbird (2007), which he adapted from his play, was an Official Selection of SXSW and The Edinburgh Film Festival.


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