From the archives of Cosmopolitan Italy, comes this Whit Stillman interview for Damsels in Distress. The obvious tie in to this is Stillman’s possible upcoming Amazon Studios project named “Cosmopolitan.” Although his project has nothing to do with the magazine.
Damsels in Distress – Girls in disarray is a bubbly and funny comedy that takes aim at the contemporary American society . It tells the story of three girls from different characters (there is a dynamic leader , the girl quieter and the sexy and daring ) , but with the same foibles as personal hygiene, perfumes and designer clothing . The group decided to open a center for suicide prevention within the College with the intent to change the social life of the East Coast College, but above all to reverse the disturbing and grotesque attitude to the machismo of its male population. A new arrival in the group of friends will change the cards on the table by creating new and unpredictable dynamics . We asked the director Whit Stillman how was it working with so many women …
The protagonists of his films are four young women . As he approached the reality of university students ?
The protagonists of the film are girls , but I think the issues addressed and what they say in a certain sense is valid for both sexes. It is a question of identity , rather than kind: the protagonists in the film are trying to build their personality , and all around them , the world they want to live . Regarding the feminine aspect of the story, is based on the story of a group of young women brought a wave of change in my university. She did not know her personally but I’ve heard a lot from my companions were girls who had decided to dress well and change the social life of the campus, at that time still male-dominated and not very elegant , based on codes of conduct of the brotherhoods as in the movie . And then I have two daughters, one has already attended college , the other , which appears along with some of her friends in dance scenes , is still studying .
The protagonist Violet claims that the boys are beautiful and intelligent and arrogant then they will end up hurting the girls .
The thesis of Violet does not reveal very faithful to reality, it is a kind of joke: in fact the protagonists end up with all the boys and the cutest character played by Adam Brody will prove to be one of the most ” pathetic .” Instead, the character was supposed to be the most mediocre , Frank , is quite attractive, even if he tries to make himself awkward in the way it moves.
The four protagonists manage the Suicide Prevention Center of the College , convinced that dancing and a kind of aromatherapy can help other students in need.
At the end of one of the first screenings of the film presentation , a psychiatrist at Cornell University told us that he found it very helpful and truthful in dealing with the ways in which we can change the attitudes and predisposition of mind of a person. I was thrilled , even though the aspiration of the film is not to be necessarily realistic but to amuse and entertain .
Not only the cast , but also in the production of the film were young talents. At a time like this , what advice would you give to kids who want to work in TV and movies?
In fact I think this is an amazing moment for them because they can create what they want and upload it on the net. Lena Dunham was already an entertainer college when he made a very popular web series . Another very funny actress who has done a similar path is Aubrey Plaza , which in our film has a small part ( Debbie ) : I think I’ve received a lot of help from his previous experience of online comedy ( he participated in the online series The Jeannie Tate Show and Meyne Street). Today there are great resources available and low-cost technologies . The audience is much closer and can give an immediate response to your work . You can create a work with a very low budget . I think it’s the best time to enter this world but it is not necessarily profitable : if you want to make beautiful things for fun and express yourself is fine , if you want the gain is another matter.
During the casting , what were looking for in actresses to choose from ?
The four women protagonists are all very different and all have different acting styles . We have had a very different casting on both coasts of the U.S. from NY to LA, and most people who sent video of specimens from abroad. For example, Hugo Beckert has sent her audition from Paris. For his part at the beginning was that of an American boy called Tom but since Hugo had a style that I liked, we did become the French character so do not have to worry about the accent. At the end we were very happy with the choices made.
The part of Violet is played by Greta Gerwig bright and promising . How was it working with her?
We were very lucky because it is an actress who has made full all what we expected from her. Greta is fantastic and comes from a past of improvisation that is also very close to the style of the film. In the Last days of disco , I was lucky to find someone like Chloe Sevigny, who has a natural talent for acting. It is always satisfying to have something to do with talent like theirs.