This week’s Staff Pick Premiere, “Maude,” by Anna Margaret Hollyman, is a hilarious comedy about the anxiety of “adulting” and the pressure of playing catch-up with your peers.
Those familiar with the American indie film scene will recognize Hollyman from her previous acting roles (including leads in Vimeo Staff Picks “Adelaide” and “Social Butterfly“). In addition to starring as Teeny — a babysitter who spontaneously takes up a role she didn’t even know she wanted —”Maude” also marks Hollyman’s writing and directing debut. The film finds humor in the relatable millennial idiom “adulting is hard,” and then takes it a step further with Teeny’s impulsive behavior.
In anticipation of today’s premiere, we reached out to Hollyman to learn about how “Maude” came together. Read on for experts from our conversation, and be sure to check out the film right here on Vimeo.
On the inspiration for “Maude”:
“‘Maude’ is a snapshot of a certain time in my life where the realities of adulthood slowly encroached upon me. As an actor, I had a variety of odd jobs for most of my 20’s, and babysitting was one of my primary sources of income. Over time, I started to notice the moms I was meeting were getting younger and younger, until one day, it dawned on me that I was actually just getting older. So ‘Maude’ was an attempt to really lean into the discomfort I was feeling at the time, in terms of where I was in my life creatively and personally. I wanted to find a way to capture how uncomfortable I felt and also tap into how hilarious it all was.”
On making her directorial debut:
“The decision to direct was something I’d toyed around with in my mind for a few years, but never really took seriously until a handful of filmmakers I’d worked with over the years kept encouraging me to take the plunge. It wasn’t until I went out to lunch with my friend, Jason Klorfein, who ultimately convinced me to actually sit down and write something. He ended up producing the project and now represents me! But the decision to move forward with it ultimately came from the pure lack of control I was feeling an actor, which is something I’d been grappling with from the get go.”
On preparing for the lead role:
“That sense of innate insecurity as an actor and the plethora of odd jobs I had was the best preparation I could’ve asked for in playing Teeny. I feel like I’m constantly in situations where I’m secretly sweating and feeling like an insecure 12-year-old, while everyone around me seems to have it together. Of course, if you actually get the opportunity to ask the people around you if they’re experiencing the same thing, the answer is generally, ‘Yes! I thought it was just me.’ So it was easy to access this part of Teeny who is kind of an everywoman for anyone who’s felt like the odd person out.”
On directing and acting at the same time:
“It’s interesting from the standpoint that it doesn’t allow much time for you to overthink or obsess over your performance. I think the challenge is more about the balance of making sure you’re paying attention to the other actors’ performances while you’re in the scene together. You’re not on monitor so you are trying to take the scenes in real time while remaining in character. I got to work on Noel Wells’ film ‘Mr. Roosevelt,’ and watching her work was amazing. She had a true sense of character and it was amazing to watch her switch hats and jump in front of and behind the camera. She made it look effortless and I know that she was probably dealing with consistent stresses, but she really navigated it beautifully and so I had her in the back of my mind when I felt like my brain might short circuit.”
On advice for aspiring filmmakers:
“I want to tell every aspiring filmmaker to just do it, to jump in and go for it. But I also know that’s easier said than done. I’ve had ideas percolating in my head for years, and it still took me almost a decade to make my first short. And that’s ok. I think it’s helpful to listen to your intuition and let that guide you first. You’ll know when it’s time to take the plunge. Once you have the idea, it’s important to share it with your collaborators, because once it’s out there in the open, it’s alive. That’s when it starts to take shape, and when it takes on a life of its own.”