The majority of shorts filmmakers seem either endlessly seduced by the often errant muse of what they consider to be “experimental” or avant garde or foolishly bent on telling a feature film story in 10 to 15 minutes. Both can be beyond painful to view, which is why shorts programmers could often times justify combat pay. It is also why those who program nothing but the experimental, can swiftly turn off countless potential (but uninitiated) short film fans after their first experience viewing an onslaught of several of those films put together as a package.
That’s why Kate Barker-Froyland’s MATCH is such a pleasure. Simple, linear storytelling with compelling characters that live beyond the boundaries of this particular story, she gets it. Barker-Froyland displays a sure hand with this film about sisters that must face the hurdles set up between them before they can both face the solution to the crisis facing their mother. Whether she’s learned from osmosis, having been “in the room” with countless amazing filmmakers from around the world thanks to her father, Sony Pictures Classics’ Michael Barker or whether it came from her studies at Columbia and augmented by her time assisting David Frankel on THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA – she learned “it”, simple as that. And her work on MATCH definitely shows promise of what’s to come.
1 What inspired the story of MATCH?
I wrote a short story with Jacqueline and Celia as the main characters and they were very vivid to me. A couple of years later I read a “Letter to the Ethicist” in New York Times Magazine about two brothers whose father needed a kidney transplant. Suddenly I could see Jacqueline and Celia so clearly in a situation where they couldn’t decide who should be the donor and I knew I wanted to write this film. The relationship between siblings is fascinating to me.
2 Which sister are you?
I love Jacqueline and Celia, but I don’t think I’m either one of them specifically. My own sister is five years younger than me and now that we’re adults we get along well.
MATCH Director Kate Barker-Froyland
3 You worked as an assistant to David Frankel on THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA. Can you specify something you learned during that process that directing your own short films and music videos hadn’t yet taught you?
Seeing how David ran his set and worked with actors - and the great relationship he had with the DP, Florian Ballhaus, gave me new insights into being a director. When it comes down to it, whether it’s a small independent film or a big-budget movie, I think the relationship between the director and the cast and crew is so important. The director sets the tone. On PRADA, I also learned the importance of great wardrobe!
4 Casting actors or actresses to play characters that are supposed to be related carries its own unique challenges. How did you approach that casting process and what was it about the two actresses that convinced you they could be sisters?
I had worked with the wonderfully talented Mona Lerche on my two previous shorts and knew that I wanted to cast her as I was writing MATCH. I had seen Lisa Werlinder in the Danish film THE INHERITANCE a couple of years earlier and thought she was amazing in it. I wrote the part of Celia for her and was thrilled when she said she would do it. I knew these two actresses would be great as sisters – both in terms of appearance and interaction – and I wanted to keep the fact that they were Scandinavian in the film.
Mona Lerche as Jacqueline and Lisa Werlinder as Cecilia in MATCH
5 You have had the privilege of being around some legendary filmmakers from a very early age. Can you name one or two in particular that made a great impression on you (and maybe influenced your filmmaking)?
I’d have to say Wim Wenders and Pedro Almodovar. Wim’s films for their landscapes and his unique storytelling. Pedro’s films for his complex women characters and the full world he creates for his audience. They’re both amazing filmmakers and people.
6 Smoking. Are you Pro, Con or Switzerland?
Switzerland. I’m not a smoker myself, but I tend to always write a character who smokes! I don’t mind it.
Mona Lerche as Jacqueline tries to grab a smoke in MATCH
7 You are currently developing a feature that has Jonathan Demme onboard as an executive producer. Can you give us an idea of what that film will be (or by this point, what you hope it to be)?
The film is about how music can connect people in unexpected ways. When I wrote the script, I wanted to tell a story that captures a very specific moment in my generation and the struggles of love, infatuation, and the role that music plays in all of this.
8 Okay, you have to give up a body part or organ. Which one do you think you could do without?
This is a hard one… I think I’d miss my tonsils the least. I would give up a kidney in a heartbeat for someone I loved.
9 So, what will happen in the feature film sequel to MATCH?
MATCH 2! I’m so focused on my feature at the moment that it hadn’t even crossed my mind. But more drama between the sisters most likely.
10 Popcorn or candy?
Twizzlers, no contest.
MATCH will screen prior to ATTENBERG at MoMA on Thursday, March 31 at 6:00PM and at the Walter Reade Theater on Saturday, April 2 at 1:00PM. Kate Barker-Froylandwill participate in a Q&A following both screenings.