• A Brighter Lens

SUNDANCE: Julia Baylis, Deanna Gibson & WIGGLE ROOM

Happy (virtual) Sundance Film Festival! We’re watching films from our living rooms all week and bringing you interviews with Sundance filmmakers. First up, we chatted with co-director/co-writer Julia Baylis, and actor Deanna Gibson, about their short film WIGGLE ROOM.

WIGGLE ROOM synopsis: Determined to save her wheelchair ramp from repossession, Daisy confronts the shady insurance agent who owes her money. *This short is available on-demand throughout the Festival with purchase of a pass.

Click here to listen to our interview with Julia Baylis and Deanna Gibson on Apple Podcasts.

Episode transcription below.

SUNDANCE: Julia Baylis, Deanna Gibson & WIGGLE ROOM

Jennifer: We're super excited to talk with both of you. It's fun to have two people in conversation today. So thanks so much for joining us.

Julia: We're so happy to be here.

Deanna: Definitely.

Larkin: Julia, if you could just start and give us a brief synopsis of your short film, Wiggle Room, and talk about how you and your co-writer/co-director, Sam guest, came up with the idea and developed the script.

Julia: So Wiggle Room tells a story of Daisy, a 17 year old girl who goes to the insurance agency that owes her money for a wheelchair ramp that's built at her house and she ends up confronting having a confrontation with the shady insurance agency who owes her that money. And the idea for Wiggle Room came about actually from a personal experience-- a friend of mine suffered an injury that resulted in paraplegia.

And you know, Sam and I both really kind of were grappling with the incident and we really wanted to kind of create something for him that he could see himself in and feel empowered by, but also center that in a universal story, so that the character could really be something that was was visible and empowering and encountering in situation that affects all of us. And, you know, I'm Canadian. I don't understand American insurance. I never have, I like got insurance for the first time I think like last year-- I've lived here for 10 years. So it's always seemed so absurd to me and so ridiculous and so we kind of wanted to take that experience of, you know, like trying to get your money back and dealing with these institutions. We wanted to take that and really make it this like absurd almost Kafkaesque experience.

Jennifer: That's cool, because those are two, it's like these interesting ideas that like, we just don't normally see on film before, you know, it's not like, Oh, insurance, let me see that, you know, but seeing it in the short, and just like how compelling the characters were-- that's it's it's just so interesting. Deanna, how was, how was your audition experience like and what was it like acting in your first film?

Deanna: It was pretty different. I mean, when they had me like send in the little clip, like I didn't, I mean, it was really just about me. I mean, I know I've seen a lot of, I know I've seen like personally, like my friend who was actually like at like, Was it audition for different scripts?

Like she's done. You're like she had to read something. So it was kind of different doing a how I did it. But the overall experience was amazing. I was just, it was just perfecting now, like, because I've never done this. So it was like, let me give them what they need on my part. I was just trying so hard to perfect my craft of it.

Julia: Deanna, I never actually asked you because what ended up happening is we flew down to Chicago to meet Deanna in person and kind of meet her and film her. And we ended up meeting her at her hockey game. What did you think when you first saw us at the hockey game, where you like, who are these people? What was running through your mind during that?

Deanna: Like, wow. They're really here. Like, this is legit. Like I just was like nervous. It was almost like watching scout, like Scouts watch, you had to gain almost in a way. So I was like, Oh, cause I was at hockey and I'm like, Oh, they're up there? And I was like, I kept looking.

I was like, Oh, they're talking to my mom and my sister. And I was like, this is all nerve wracking. I was like, Oh my gosh.

Larkin: Of that. And I guess for both of you or Julia, did the script evolve or change at all, once Deanna came aboard, like what what was that influence like?

Julia: I think that's a much this script because the script was, you know, done had such a structure that was kind of the, the.

Blueprint experience that we all go through. It was more just like the actual character and the way Deanna approached the role that was really informed by her. And, you know, for all our other characters we wrote extensive backstories and we really like went deep into that. But with Deanna, it was really important that we just let her be her and let her draw from her own life and from her own feelings and, really ignite the feeling that Daisy is going through which she did in ways we couldn't even imagine.

Jennifer: Cool. Do you this question is for both of you, do you have any fun stories from shooting or the whole collaborative experience?

Julia: Oh, my gosh. There was a lot of onset crushes.

Jennifer: The love!

Julia: Seriously. That was one thing that was so funny. I was totally wrapped up in in shooting. So I like didn't know what was going on, but my good friend who is a matchmaker, was like going around on set and setting up all these couples. She even set up one of our extras with Deanna's mom back in Chicago.

Larkin: Oh my gosh. Wow. Wow.

Julia: Deanna, do you want to explain that?

Deanna: Yeah, we were just it was, I think it was like the day before the last shooting that we did we were just all talking and I was like talking to my mom and stuff and. We're just talking and like, Oh, your mom's so beautiful and stuff like that.

Like, my mom's single. So I mean, you know how you seven come to New York, but you know, she'll be out here one day. So it was just like, okay. You know?

Julia: Yeah. There was like a whole facetime meet and everything.

Larkin: Wow. This is like the whole, whole like B storyline of the film.

Julia: I know, I know, even in the midst of like rain and like car accidents and like flying and all this stuff, it's like, you know, there was still a romance.

Larkin: Love it. Wow. Well, lastly, Julia and Deanna, what do both of you hope audiences will come away with after watching your film?

Julia: I think it's really important for Sam and I like as directors that we never want to push an agenda on the viewer. And I think that it's always a beautiful thing when you can leave the viewer with questions and not answers, and that they're able to kind of create their own conclusions or feel a way that's specific to them. Because I think that, you know, specifically with this story, you know, there is no like ending, there's no ending that really can tie up this experience. It's like very much something that is alive and happening to all of us. And so I think that, you know, we wanted people to kind of like walk away from it ideally kind of still thinking about it and still feeling it and still experiencing

Deanna: Really with like the experience of the film and everything, like, especially with audiences that who have disabilities or just an audience in general, like obviously like the light of things. Like, even though you fight so much, like a lot of things you cannot change. So it's like, you know, always try to see the light of, you know, things that you can change.

Jennifer: Beautiful. Great. Thanks so much for joining us. We're excited to recommend the short to other people to watch.

Julia: Yes. And if you want to see more updates of the film at @anarenefilms on Instagram.

Larkin: Awesome.

Julia: Amazing. Thank you so much.

Larkin: You're so welcome. Happy Sundance!