Childhood friends Eleanor and Margaret meet again after first semester away at different colleges for a night out in the city. The question lingers: can old friends stay friends?

As They Slept takes us to that strange time in life. Not puberty, the one after that. Director Haroula Rose (Wedding Dress) was interested in exploring that period of time where you’re not a kid, but you’re not a grown up either. The idea that friendship takes on these different patterns and roles in your life…especially as people change and start to grow up. Who stays and who goes? Does it come in phases? It’s a ripe time for character exploration, and also seeing the dynamic play out between two people who are both evolving, and yet they still find common ground even amidst tension and possible farewell.

“I knew at the time I was working with young stars who were about to have their breakthroughs, that was clear.”

This came together fairly organically as part of a collaboration between myself, the writer Nicolaia Rips, and our producer Rhianon Jones, of Neon Heart Productions. I had met Nic through a mutual friend and she had expressed an interest in being on set more. Already knowing that she is a brilliant writer (check out her memoir TRYING TO FLOAT) I said she ought to write a short and we could collaborate on that, and I would direct. Then Rhianon was super excited upon reading it, and offered notes, and our cast (Maya and Rachel) came together shortly thereafter.

We also had a lot of women in terms of heads of department, and it was a really fun vibe. Gabby Green, our other producer, knew Fred Hechinger who was on fire. Even in such a short role, he makes it alive and memorable. I knew at the time I was working with young stars who were about to have their breakthroughs, that was clear.

Maya Hawke & Rachel Hilson in AS THEY SLEPT
Maya Hawke & Rachel Hilson

The film’s progression is subtle and honest. The gentle mood really lets us connect with our two protagonists, played by Maya Hawke (Stranger Things) and Rachel Hilson (This Is Us, Love Victor), who so brilliantly bring forward their charming characters. From there the progression is a sense of discovery as a viewer, watching two old friends reconnecting, and learning who they’ve become. As They Slept hits that mark also through its joyful photography, lead by cinematographer Charlotte Hornsby.

The Photography of As They Slept

We used an Alexa mini and Super Balthar lenses, which was very exciting and beautiful. Charlotte Hornsby, cinematographer, and I had worked together on ONCE UPON A RIVER (which comes out on VOD next week!!) and had a great experience so we wanted to collaborate yet again on this and try something different visually. While ONCE UPON A RIVER took place outside and mostly in nature, AS THEY SLEPT was urban and more lighting involved overall on city streets and more of a style overall indoors as well, trying to encapsulate that period of youth with these opalescent and coral reef inspired effects especially when they dance.