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Afternoon Delight: An Interview with Writer/Director Jill Soloway

Last week I had the chance to see the independent film Afternoon Delight, a movie about a disillusioned couple in LA that is both hilarious and poignantly raw.  Frustrated with the realities of preschool auctions, a lackluster sex life and a lack of purpose in life, Rachel visits a strip club to spice up her marriage. While there, she meets a stripper who becomes her project. Rachel throws a bomb into her life and marriage when she invites her to live with them as a nanny.  It’s a portrait of modern marriage. but also of the lengths we go to in order to cope with our existential angst. I had the opportunity to interview the brilliant writer/director Jill Soloway:

What do you hope people take away from this movie? I mean, besides a totally rational fear of commitment?

I guess I feel like women are often punished for their sexuality in popular culture. Prostitutes are welcome on TV as long as they are a corpse on CSI and someone is pulling a DNA sample out of their ear. To that end, I have always felt a driving need to create a character that was not a good girl, yet let her get out alive. I guess I want women to recognize how — in every woman — there are a lot of women — and the way society asks us to hate other women ultimately distances us from our own power.

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Do you think being a Mom makes you a better director? Vice versa? How do the two affect each other?

Definitely. As a mother you are constantly organizing, planning, re-planning, you have to fly by the seat of your leggings. Mothers must make a space in their brain big enough not only to keep their own lives running, but also many human beings’ lives.  A film crew is essentially a large family and you’re the mom.  The true secret to directing is emotion capturing real feeling. Mothers are dealing with emotions their own and their family’s all the time.

Did it make me a better mother? I hope by pursuing my creative instincts, by building things, I’m showing my kids that they can become whoever they want to be.  Being so busy also reminds me to stop. Check in. Unplug so that when I am with them, the time can be real time instead of half-distracted time. I guess I am making movies about my deepest anxieties as a parent too. So hopefully it’s helping me work through that stuff and at the end of the day I’m coming to them a more open, present mother.

 Is it weird that I’m actively trying to have more sex with my husband after watching your film?

 Not at all! That is the goal. More happy couples makin’ the love. Yay!


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 So, making this movie (and winning best director at Sundance, badass) are a dream come true for you, right? What has the process been like of making this film independently?

 I loved it!  I think it was the only way to tell this story — the studio version would have probably had the kid get in a car accident at the hands of McKenna. I was lucky to collaborate with two amazing producers, Jen Chaiken and Sebastian Dungan at 72 Productions. They loved the story and trusted my desire to cast all these amazing comedy actors in this very realistic movie filled with unfunny things.

I am used to fast-paced production from working in television, and ironically being an independent film production meant once we were up and running, we had to do things much faster than if we were on a studio budget, so in a way, it felt like the way I’m used to working.

 This story is very close to me and of my community, so having a tiny budget was actually an asset. Instead of tons of location scouts and prop houses, I used what was close to home. My dining room table and chairs are in the film.  My friend’s houses and my son’s school are in there.

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 Why do you think this story reaches parents on such a powerful level?

 We live in an age and a country of modern comforts. We have this miracle in our pockets that can give us all the information in the world. We don’t want for food or shelter. If we are lucky, we have children and a family and vacations. And parents, moms especially, are told that that is supposed to be enough.  Becoming a parent is awesome, but some people may need more. Women can get judged for needing more. And I think all parents — and especially moms — crave content that feels like it was made BY them and not just FOR them.

 

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if you’re in L.A., there is a free screening of the movie Saturday, Sep. 1st following by a Q&A with the amazing Jill Soloway, and the film’s star, Kathryn Hahn.

 

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If you’re in NY, there are some fun events going on surrounding the movie there too that you can get in on. If you live anywhere else, visit the movie’s Facebook page for info on when it’s coming to your town.)

 

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