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Faces of the Festival: Maggie Kiley

Meet Maggie Kiley, director of the TFF 2010 short film some boys don't leave, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Eloise Mumford.

Maggie Kiley, Director of some boys don't leave
Maggie Kiley, Director of some boys don't leave. Photo by Dana Patrick. Tell us a little bit about your film.


Maggie Kiley:
My film is a short film basically about the fact that breaking up is hard to do. What inspired you to tell this story?

I wanted to tell a story that could be felt from the inside out, and I feel like this is a story that so many people can relate to—young, old, the dumpers, the dumpees—and it felt like something I could really approach through the performances, because that was something I knew I had a handle on and I thought I could figure out the visuals later. Was there a real-life instance that happened?


No, no, but there are references to several stories thrown in there. Jesse Eisenberg is a pretty big name for a short film. How did you cast him?


We acted in a play together Off-Broadway a couple of years ago. I have tremendous respect for him as an actor and he's just a great person. He came off Zombieland and onto my tiny movie! That's a good friend. What's the craziest thing that happened while making the film?
[The entire film takes place in one hallway in one apartment.]


MK: I couldn't find an apartment that was my vision for this film in all of Los Angeles. I couldn't find a hallway that was long enough, so we had to rent an entire house, which you would only do in LA, and then build the apartment inside of the house, and we had to build extra walls to make the hallway actually as long as it is in the movie. The night before we were set to start shooting, we still didn't have the front door. It's just like one of those things that somehow didn't end up right or whatever, so you know, 5:00 in the morning of the first day of shooting, they were at Home Depot, you know, getting [a front door]. So that was pretty much awful because it was the night before [and] we weren't ready. Do you have any advice for aspiring first-time filmmakers?


Everything starts with your story, and you have to be so, so clear about what your story is at the beginning. Then surround yourself with a lot of wonderful people who can help you tell that story and elaborate on it, but also be able to keep referencing back to what your intent was at the beginning. You have to be open to accidents and people bringing in new ideas and all of the things that make a film so wonderfully collaborative, but you're the one who has to hold on to that seed of the story throughout. And that was something that I tried to do, and I think it helps. What are the challenges and advantages of making a short film?


I think it's smart to make a short first because you're getting your feet wet. You have to do all of the same things you would do on a feature, from start to finish; you just have fewer pages and less money, but you're still going through all the pre-production and post-production the way you would on a feature. I think the challenge of it is knowing that you only have a certain amount of space and not trying to cram in a million tricks. I got kind of fancy with how we shot it, because I was so worried it would be visually stuck because of that one space, so we did a lot of really neat things with the camera, but I ultimately cut a bunch of them, because they weren't actually serving the purpose of the story. If you could have dinner with any filmmaker alive or dead, who would it be?


I think I'd kinda dig Jane Campion, you know? I just want to know what's inside of that brain where I feel like she's so strong and so specific in what she does. I don't necessarily want to make exactly that kind of movie, but I'm really drawn to her perseverance and her dedication to whatever her thing is that she wants to do. What piece of art/book/film/TV/whatever do you recommend to your friends most often?


I always tell people to read these short stories by Alice Munro, because I love that they're short yet so complete and powerful... I got really into her, and then I started getting short story collections, and I'd [only want to read her stories]. I don't know how many people actually take my recommendation and do it, but that's the one thing I always go back to. What would your biopic be called?


My biopic? That is so hard! ... My biopic would be, I don't know, Charm School or something. Because I think—I don't want to say I'm charming—but I've been told that, like, part of how I got the stuff done that needed to get done was that people met me and were like, 'Oh, all right. That's cool.' What makes some boys don't leave a Tribeca must-see?


I think it's really unlike any other short you're going to see. I think it's unexpected.


Read more about some boys don't leave and the Shorts: Identity Theft program. You can find out where and when all films are playing in the 2010 Film Guide.


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