Where You Go (United States | 2016 , 20 min )

Directed by: Paul Urcioli

Written by: DeWanda Wise

Cast: Lauren Hines, Frank De Julio, Frank Harts, Eboni Hogan, Producer: Lauren Hines Gill, DP/Cinematographer: Ben Stamper

Do we stay no matter what?

Where You Go chronicles a critical day in the lives of Samantha and Conrad Stone, a young married couple living in New York. When they made their vows, neither could predict just how soon struggle would come. Where You Go is a film about dealing with the hand you're dealt, and our subsequent coping mechanisms. It's about the nature of relationship when life does not present us with the rosy future we envision when we say, "I do."
Where You Go is directed by Paul Urcioli, written by DeWanda Wise and produced by Lauren Gill.

Interview:

Lauren Hines is a NYC­ based actress and producer. Her short film “Where You Go” is an Official Selection of the 7th Annual NYC Independent Film Festival.

NYIFF: Hi, Lauren! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few of our questions. As a producer for the film as well as the lead actress, how did you go about putting together your main collaborators for the project?

LH: DeWanda Wise (screenwriter) and I have been friends for over 14 years and we wanted to collaborate on a project together. We were part of a working artist intensive one summer and I asked DeWanda if she would write a piece for Frank De Julio (costar) and me while we were there. Frank is one of those rare performers who, in addition to being supremely talented, is also a total joy to work with and be around. I then asked our Director of Photography, Ben Stamper, to assemble a small crew to shoot a short clip from the film. Ben is amazing to work with and we were really pleased with the way the project turned out, so we decided we would make the entire film with the same team. Once we had that clip and our funding, we approached Paul Urcioli to direct and added Frank Harts, Eboni Hogan and her adorable son Avery to the cast. It was a team of people that made the process very fun and collaborative.

NYIFF: The film deals with how people cope with deep uncertainty in committed relationships. What did you and Frank De Julio (the actor who plays your husband) discuss in preparing for your roles?

LH: We had a lot of discussions with Paul Urcioli (director) about what commitment means when circumstances are not what you expect them to be. When young couples get married they typically don't expect issues of illness, infertility, financial troubles, or mental illness to be part of the package. And yet we make these extraordinary promises to stand by someone's side without knowing what difficulties may come up. That's incredibly beautiful. But even though loving someone through those difficulties has nobility, we wanted to be realistic about how challenging and often times painful it is. We wanted to show how all of your coping mechanisms rise to the surface when marital circumstances get difficult.

NYIFF: After a number of years as an actress this was your first credit doubling as a producer. Did you always have that role in the back of your mind or was being a producer more circumstantial to the project?

LH: I've definitely always had that role in the back of my mind but I think I was concerned about fundraising. At some point though, I realized that I wanted to play a bigger part in conveying the story. Acting can sometimes be a disempowering process because you feel like you are waiting for people to give you roles. I wanted to have a bigger part in the creative process and more ownership over what I was doing with my work, and it's been incredibly rewarding. Ultimately, I knew that I would produce the piece DeWanda wrote. And when I got up the nerve to ask people for help to make the piece, the generosity people showed financially was what made the piece possible.

NYIFF: Can you talk a little about your relationship with the film’s director, Paul Urcioli? How did you guys get in touch?

LH: Paul was actually a teacher of mine at the Atlantic Theater Company Acting School (NYU Tisch) for two years. After college, he directed me in three shows and we've always been good friends. For the first project that I produced, Paul was a great fit to direct. As an actor himself, he knows what to say to other actors to get the performance out of them that will serve the story. He creates a structure that then allows the actors the freedom to take risks and try things out. And he's detail­oriented as well which I really valued. He would show up early, stay late, and send everyone encouraging emails. If things started to feel stressful, he would crack a joke at just the right moment to put everyone at ease.

NYIFF: If there was one thing you would want the audience to take away from your film, what would it be? And finally, what projects are you working on now?

LH: I'd love people to walk away from the film thinking about the relationship between sacrifice and commitment. When you marry someone you are making this appointment with them five years, ten years, 20 years down the line to be there. And yet you have no idea what the circumstances will be around that time in your lives. That kind of promise produces a deep sense of intimacy that lets you really show everything to another person. But it requires sacrifice from both partners. My newest project for which I just received a grant is a short film called “Ash.” It was written by Joanna Castle Miller and is inspired by interviews of a community in LaBelle, PA whose health was negatively affected by the unregulated disposal of coal ash. We have half of the funding we need for that project so I'm hoping to start shooting later this year. I also have a feature film that is in development as well. But “Where You Go” was the first piece I produced, so it will always be very special to me.

NYIFF: Thanks so much for talking to us, Lauren! We’ll see you at the festival!