For the love of science
Vail CO Colorado
The words “romantic comedy” turn most men off faster than a frigid shower. But the quirky chick flick “Losing Control,” the closing night film for the Vail Film Festival screening Saturday, isn’t your typical rom-com. It’s a smart and funny film about a female scientist (Miranda Kent) who wants proof her boyfriend (Reid Scott) is “the one.” It has enough twists and turns to keep your attention start to finish.
“Both men and women love our film and there is a lot of actual science in it, yet it is totally digestible and entertaining,” said Valerie Weiss, the film’s director/writer. “The film seems to appeal to a very wide demographic from late teens all the way up to retired folks. It is very cross-generational. I think Vail audiences will love it.”
This is Weiss’ first feature film – her short sci-fi flick “Transgressions” screened at the Vail Film Festival a few years ago – and it makes its world premiere tonight. Weiss is attending the festival with her husband and daughter, as well as the films star, Miranda Kent, the executive producer, Jeff Loeb, and producer/castmember Rob Johnson.
She took the time to answer a few questions for the Vail Daily.
1. Vail Daily: How do you avoid taking a comedy and making it so over the top that it’s unbelievable? And why?
Valerie Weiss: This is an excellent question. My favorite kind of comedy is that of grounded absurdity. For me, I like to write about characters who are a little bit fringe and get themselves into some pretty crazy situations when thrown together. I think casting really excellent and believable actors and shooting with a somewhat realistic style helps ground these over-the-top characters and makes the situations even funnier and more awkward.
2. VD: This is your first feature length film, but you have a handful of short films on your resume. What prompted you to move to feature-length films?-
VW: Feature films were always the goal, but I wanted to cut my teeth as a director on short films as I learned my craft. Short films are great because the budgets are smaller and you spend less time getting to tell a complete story. I was able to explore different genres of storytelling for each short. Among these, I directed a comedy (“Big Trouble”), a sci-fi (“Transgressions”), and a twisted romance (“I Love You”).-
3. VD: And do you plan to continue in the feature vein?
VW: Yes, “Losing Control” is the first of many features I plan to direct. I am writing my next film and my company, PhD Productions, is reading and developing other scripts as well for me to direct.
4. VD: What inspired this film?
VW: The film is loosely based on my time getting a Ph.D. in X-ray Crystallography at Harvard Medical School. I wanted to make a movie from the perspective of a female scientist about dating and show a woman trying to apply scientific principles to the search for a mate. I wanted to explore whether this was a constructive approach or not while sharing some of the quirky characters you find in academic science.
5. VD: Is it based on a real life event or is it complete fiction?
VW: A little of both. The inspiration really came from living in Boston and being in grad school and taking all the different subcultures of people I came into contact with and fictionalizing, and in some cases – but not always – embellishing them. I think it is one of the most realistic portrayals of life in an academic science lab that you’ll find.-
6. VD: You have a doctorate degree in Xray but are now a full time filmmaker. How did that change come about?
VW: I have always spent my time split between science and the dramatic arts. At Princeton, I majored in molecular biology, but minored in theater and dance and directed five plays. While at Harvard, I started a film program for graduate students and that is where I learned to make movies. I am thrilled that “Losing Control” allows me to finally combine both loves.
7. VD: How does your background in science color your films?
VW: For me, doing science or making movies has always been about a passion to know how things work. My love of science really stemmed from wanting to know how life works and why things are the way they are. In writing and directing movies, I approach character and story the same way – trying to get to the essence of why people are the way they are and do what they do.