Grip

On a hot summer afternoon, two women with a plan check into a motel room. As one of them wrestles with keeping her word, she begins to lose her grip.

What inspired you to bring this story to life?

I’ll start with the practical: I set out to write a short script that takes place in a single location. I know that’s not the most exciting answer, but it’s true. Limitations can be very freeing. One of my favorite poems, Wild Geese by Mary Oliver, was written as an exercise in end-stopped lines. Once you have a form to pour things into, everything that’s been sitting in the back of your head finds its way there. So I found myself writing a story about obsession, about the kind of love that makes you lose your grip on yourself — and I pushed it to an extreme. Honestly, the script surprised me when it came out, and that made it worth bringing to life.

What was your process behind finding the perfect setting for the story?

Oh, that was FUN. I had a very specific idea of this motel in my head when I wrote the script. My wonderful DP Rove and I scouted motels all over Long Island for a day — we were shooed out of several places when we asked if we could film there and eventually realized the motel owners might have been… misinterpreting the kind of shoot we were talking about. But thankfully this place said yes and it could not have been a better fit.

The film is very quiet and personal, how did you design that specific aspect?

I think that’s just my instinctive impulse and style, really. I was interested in seeing these characters go through an experience, and letting the claustrophobic setting have its effect on them. I also wanted the terror of the situation to sneak up on both the characters and the audience, so that by the time we realize how far gone we are, it might be too late.

I know this is up to the viewer ultimately, but in your perspective, did she take it in the end?

Oof. You know, I’m such an optimist, I want to leave a glimmer of hope about it. But I don’t know, it doesn’t look good for her, does it? The last shot in the film, of the woman sitting outside the motel snuffing out her cigarette, was completely unplanned and ended up feeling symbolic to me.