MAKING ETYMOLOGY - BEHIND THE SCENES

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By Tom Wilton - Writer & Producer of Etymology

Most actors know what's expected of them before they go into an audition. They have the script, maybe some notes on what they should wear, and possibly a few nuggets of advice from their agent. After a while, it's all pretty standard stuff.

But often, an actor will know just how to prepare because they've been seen for this part before. The title of the script may be different, but they’ve uttered similar lines to this time and time before, often typecast into a corner.

"I want to do something dark"

 

One afternoon, I met with Kerri Lynn Miller to discuss some projects she was piecing together.  “I want to do something dark,” Miller told me. “I want a challenge.” But from what I could see, none of the things she was doing quite seemed to match that remit.

Then, we got talking about the roles she had played before - lawyers, yoga moms and businesswomen. The kind of stock characters she could handle just fine, but still, she knew she was capable of so much more.

I looked at Miller's reel and was instantly convinced that yes, she had the chops to play something more complex than the rote characters she usually played. But then I also recognized that just going "dark" wasn't really the best use of her talents, and in fact, it would be all the more interesting if we could subvert her regular casting, even just a little.

And so it was, I struck upon the idea of having her play a version of the "perfect" wife and mother, secretly battling her own demons while preparing her daughter for a spelling bee. As we talked over themes and idea for the short film, one thing kept coming up - the pressure to maintain the illusion of an idealized life, and just how crippling that can be.

The next morning, I wrote the screenplay, exploring the fragility of a woman on the edge, battling to prevent her own daughter from inheriting the same perceived flaws.

When I was done, I fired it right over to see if it fit the bill. "I love it," Miller said. "Let's do it."