Emily Wilson‘s Danny’s Girl had its World Premiere in the ‘Midnight Shorts Program’ at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
The film follows the first in-real-life meeting of Danny and Cleo, who have had an intimate online realtionship for some time. Per chance, Danny accidentally discovers something utterly shocking in Cleo’s luggage. When Cleo realizes this, tension and chaos ensue. Amidst the chaos, their mutual vulnerability and desire to connect wins.
Wilson was able to answer a few questions post premiere of her short film at Sundance.
HM: You wrote and directed Danny’s Girl. Let’s start with the premise of the film; could you please share how the idea for the plot come about?
Emily Wilson (EW): I wrote the film for my friend Danny, who plays…Danny. And real Danny was in a long distance relationship at the time, a relationship that started online. So that was the initial seed for the idea. And then I was coming off of working on a doc series about feminine frustration and grief, so that was the inspiration behind Cleo’s predicament. That, and I wanted to make a film that was both romantic and terrifying.
HM: What are some of the main themes you wanted to explore in this film?
EW: Human loneliness, isolation, grief, feminine frustration, profound disappointment, and vulnerable love.
HM: I am a fan of dark humour. Was dark humour something you wanted to include in Danny’s Girl from the very beginning?
EW: Absolutely, one hundred percent. Dark humor will forever be what I strive for while making films and telling stories. Laughing through life’s tragedies and hardships can truly save us, and maybe even prevent us from going insane. And by us, I mean me.
HM: Let’s discuss casting. Once you had your leads picked, Danny Dikel (Danny) and Rémy Bennet (Cleo), how did you collaborate with them in terms of pre-filming and throughout?
EW: We rehearsed countless times at my apartment. And we read the script, sure, but we also just spent hours discussing the character’s backstories and how they ended up in this situation in the first place. We needed to make sure their actions and reactions were motivated and sincere. Once we nailed the emotional side, we were free to play with humor and tone. So by the time we started filming everything was pretty much taken care of and there was already a level of comfort and trust.
HM: What are some of the highlights in terms of how audiences have responded to the film now that it’s premiered at Sundance?
EW: Several people have approached me randomly at the festival to tell me how much they enjoyed the film, which is really a beautiful thing and I truly appreciate those people. And it was just really exhilarating to see how the film played in front of an audience. The level of awkwardness portrayed really resonated with people, which I wasn’t necessarily anticipating. They were cringing in their seats during certain scenes, which is awesome!
HM: Lastly, what is next for you and for Danny’s Girl?
EW: Danny’s Girl will be playing festivals during 2020, with an eventual online release. I wrote a feature screenplay that is not an expansion of Danny’s Girl, but a new story, and is similar in terms of tone and style. It’s an outrageous dark comedy with thriller and road film elements. It’s called Nasty Little Lisa, and I’d love to get it made.