Last week I had the absolute privilege of sitting down with Zoey Deutch, the lead actress in Before I Fall, and the director Ry Russo-Young to discuss the film. The film follows Sam’s (Zoey’s character) as she relives her last day on earth. It’s an incredible movie and I don’t want to give too much away so I’ll just say: this is the movie you go watch with your girlfriends and leave the theatre with an even stronger bond.
Here’s what the two lovely ladies had to say:
What’s it like having a film premier at Sundance Film Festival and TIFF Next Wave?
RY: It’s fantastic! We make movies for audiences, to share with an audience so actually being able to do that, not just be alone in a dark room looking at footage over and over again and obsessing over it…the fun part is really seeing the audience reaction and have it be a dialogue.
Do you like being there to witness the audiences reactions when the movie premiers?
RY: Absolutely. It was really rewarding at Sundance to see how people were emotionally moved by the film and that people were feeling it
ZOEY: This is a film that in a lot of cases, smaller independent films don’t get the opportunity to be seen on such a large scale. It’s extremely thrilling and wonderful that the world is going to get to see it. There are so many worthy messages and so many beautiful elements of the film and to have the opportunity to bring beauty and spread love and kindness is very special.
RY: Especially what’s going on in our country right now, it feels more necessary than ever.
What would be the main takeaway that you want people to get from the film?
RY: For me, part of one of the things I always wanted while making it was that literally at the end, the audience member would touch the person next to them, who theoretically they loved, and feel that they wanted to express their own love to that person. Really to make you appreciate the people that your love and your love for them, and that expression, that sentiment.
ZOEY: Although this movie is questioning mortality and it talks about a lot about death, and who you want to be when you die – to me ultimately it feels like a celebration of life and I hope that people in turn feel like this is a film that celebrates both Sam’s life and theirs, and the person that you love’s life. Don’t take things for granted.
RY: I also remember seeing movies when I was growing up that were so important to me, they kind of taught me about the world, and how to be in the world when I was figuring out “who am I?”, “what is my purpose?”, and “how do I behave?”. I think that this movie is about someone figuring out who they are in the world and I think that it is a really good, positive message, not only just about who you are eventually but about that process. Becoming who you are is a process and allowing that to be a journey and understanding that there’s going to a lot of bumps along the way and that’s okay. I hope that it’s also inspiring to people wherever they are in their own journey of that process.
We see a lot of the high school dynamic throughout the film, within the friend group – would you say that’s comparable to your own experience growing up?
ZOEY: I think the relationships and scenarios feel very authentic to the teenagers that I experienced. [About high school] Everyone was very supportive but if I took it back a few years to middle school there are some parallels I can draw for sure.
RY: One of the things that really resonated for me with the script and the book was the intimacy between these teenage girls. I remember in my high school we all had a belt that we would pass around and share, we were always wearing each other’s clothing. It was very intimate and I do think that as a teenager you kind of leave your parents and your friends become your primary social world, and that’s very high stakes. The relationships between these girls and the authenticity, but also the real sense of those relationships being life or death and very important and intimate, that was something that we were really dedicated to capture, and the actresses did such an incredible job with that chemistry on screen.
What was the most challenging part of playing the role of Sam?
ZOEY: I think the way that we shot it was the most difficult part of playing Sam because we block-shot it. We would shoot my close up for all six days, then we would shoot my master for all six days, but not in sequential day orders. It was an exciting challenge but difficult.
RY: Keeping it all straight in her brain and sometimes wardrobe would change.
ZOEY: Those changes would take away from the actual opportunity to have more takes, so it could get frustrating for me, personally, if I didn’t feel like I got in one or two takes. There wasn’t enough time as me and Ry would’ve wanted.
RY: The film feels big but it was very fast and dirty shooting it.
ZOEY: It obviously contributed to the greater good of the outcome.
There you have it, a little bit of the inside scoop from Zoey and Ry! Be sure to check out the film, it comes out March 3rd!
Take a look at the trailer: