Friday, December 16, 2016

Marlee Roberts Interview

Photo Credit: Ivana Vranjes

Marlee Roberts began her career in the entertainment industry as an actress. At four years old, she showed America her dimpled smile in an Orajel national commercial. Soon after, she made appearances on David Letterman's The Late Show and ABC's One Life to Live.

At ten years old, Roberts was cast in the musical The American Girls Revue. She has appeared on TV shows for ABC and the Adult Swim Network as well as in films such as Night Has Settled, starring Spencer List and Oscar-nominated actress Adriana Barraza and The English Teacher, starring Julianne Moore and Greg Kinnear. She can also be found as the “Rachel” cover model for the Scholastic Animorphs book relaunch.

A graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, Roberts produced over twenty projects since making her move to behind the camera. Broadway World claims that Roberts' feature directorial debut "Little Miss Perfect " handles what is an extremely delicate subject matter with careful precision". The film has garnered critical acclaim and Roberts has interviewed for and appeared in The Huffington Post, Backstage, The Examiner, and Fox 5 News, among others. The film premiered at the Irvine Int'l Film Festival where it was nominated for Best Feature Narrative and was selected to screen in the Soho House Cinema Program. It went on to garner awards for Best Feature Film, Best Actress and Best Screenplay.

Roberts was dubbed a "Big Screen Filmmaker" on the cover of 201 Magazine's April 2016 issue. She serves on the California Docu Film Festival's Youth Advisory Board and has appeared on 
Sunywide Film Festival's "Breaking into the Business" and Annapolis Film Festival's "Young Hollywood" panels. She is a member of the Alliance of Women Directors, New York Women in Film and Television, Women in Film, and the Women in Moving Pictures Society and is currently in development for her next film.

Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking was not just a hobby, but that it would be your life and your living?
I think as you are first finding your footing, there’s a secret fright of failure in the back of your mind so you cop out and say that if filmmaking doesn’t work out, it’s okay because it was “just a hobby”. Making the commitment and taking a leap of faith is what I believe to be the necessary evil in turning this “hobby” into a “career”.

In my experience, there was a gradual progression of taking on more and more projects. However, I think making Little Miss Perfect was my biggest leap of faith so far because I went all in. If I fell, it would be a big fall. I spend prime years of my time, focus, and energy to prepare for the jump and it was a tremendous risk both emotionally and financially.

What do you hope for people to be thinking when they leave the theater?
I hope every good piece of art challenges perspective, opens the heart and poses a threat to the mind.

For audiences watching Little Miss Perfect in particular, I hope it fosters a discussion or makes people reflect on their own coming from a healthy place of character and not achievements or others’ flattery? How do you control the chaos in your life? Do you know someone who copes with a loss of control in a way that is like our protagonist Belle? Or perhaps more like another character in a film? Can we create a personal and societal understanding through the interconnectedness of the universal feeling of losing control?

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life in creating films?
I was at the screening for The Danish Girl last year and during the Q&A with Director Tom Hooper and Producer Gail Mutrux, Ms. Mutrux was asked if she ever felt she would not make the movie (since it took her ten years to make) and she looked at the moderator with such bewilderment and said flatly, “No. You’re either persistent or stupid.” Those words rang in my ears and echoed through my body. Not once? Not once in ten years of trial and error did she have doubt the film was going to be made?

It was the exact statement with the exact manner in which she said if that I feel makes the extraordinary difference between a successful filmmaker and an average film lover.

What makes a film great for you? Are there certain qualities that make a film better for you?
A solid story with outstanding performances. Everything else is gravy.

The best films are the ones where all creative from executives to sound mixers to composers are given creative freedom within proper guidance to enact their vision.

In your movie; Little Miss Perfect, can you tell my Nerd Community a little about it?
Little Miss Perfect is a feature drama about an overachieving high school freshman that tries to control her life by controlling her weight. When trying to cope with family disconnection, academic pressure and social exclusion, fourteen year old Belle develops an eating disorder and drops down to an unhealthy weight, a number that wouldn’t even make for a good grade.

For those who are unfamiliar with Belle, how would you introduce her?
Overambitious. Class president. Belle is the part in each of us that wants to meet and exceed everyone’s expectations until we realize we are really putting all the pressure on ourselves.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I have signed on to direct a light-hearted feature drama/comedy that I haven’t written and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to creating a vision around another writer’s piece.

I’m also developing a few projects with my sister who is currently in film school and pitching me concepts on the daily. Perhaps the story we are most passionate in telling is a TV drama centered around the bioethics of an emerging scientific technology.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another movie, who would it be and why?
I’d love to introduce Belle to Tracy Flick from Election and have them battle it out for class president. Maybe it would be reflective in that they’d find a part of themselves in each other and realize how to cope with their self-inflicted pain.

What’s the most memorable summer job you’ve ever had?
I’ve never had a very traditional type s of job as I always tried to do something within the industry but I was a host and promo product spokesperson for toy brands. I also was a motivational dancer for bat mitzvahs and sweet sixteens. It was a good workout with free food and extra cash.

Who was your first boyfriend?
My first boyfriend in grade school was the purest form of puppy love. He’d carry my saxophone when walking me home from school every day with my grandparents following in the car closely behind (overprotective is an understatement). I have a vivid memory of opening my front door to a dapper fellow holding flowers on Valentine’s Day. He took me on dates to our local pizzeria, and he’d come over and play chess. When AOL dial-up was a thing, we started to IM and send each other love letter via email.

I had the rare experience of an emotionally mature relationship. We dated because in 4th grade he asked me to the 5th grade dance. I remember the teachers laughing that there was no way we’d be together that long but we surprised them and ourselves, breaking up just a day before the dance. We spent the whole night stealing glances at one another.

Tell me about your first kiss.
My first kiss was with the bad boy in middle school with whom I had been infatuated. Unlike any of the romance that my first love had, he kissed me in Target after telling me he wanted to taste my lip gloss.

What would be harder for you, to tell someone you love them or that you don not love them back?
I think it takes incredible courage to tell someone you love them. It’s vulnerability unlike any other.

When was the last time you cried?
I cried myself to sleep on election night because any nightmare would be better that the reality that was unfolding.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
I’m an old romantic so it would be lovely to b e a teenager in the 50s with old Hollywood movies like Sunset Boulevard, Rear Window, andSinging in the Rain.. drive-ins and Sinatra.

What is your greatest adventure?
I went on a Eurotrip with my best friend when we were 19 years old and we visited 13 cities in 9 countries. Those two months of back-packing were my coming-of-age. We did all the things you aren’t supposed to; she got written up in the airport in Paris for pressing a button we didn’t’ know was an emergency exit, we rode on the back of motorcycles in Barcelona, got into a sketchy van in Mykonos without knowing the destination and ended up at a Saudi’s summer party on the terrace of a mansion at the top of a mountain. Of course, with the fun come consequences. – we also missed a flight and blistered from sun poisoning but we live and we lived.

A Film by Marlee Roberts
1h 22min
Little Miss Perfect is a feature-length drama that chronicles the life of BELLE (14) an overambitious straight-A freshman. Her newest accomplishment? Class President. Belle seems to have it altogether but as family trouble and daily social academic pressures grow, she seeks a way to control an otherwise chaotic world. Triggered by a blog promoting anorexia and other eating disorders, Belle drops down to an unhealthy weight, a number that wouldn't even make for a good grade.

Los Angeles November 9, 2016----Marlee Roberts' festival darling indie drama LITTLE MISS PERFECT will be released in North America on November 18 on iTunes and select theaters by Real Big Hits (RBH). LITTLE MISS PERFECT tells the story of an overambitious high school freshman who tries to control her life by controlling her weight. The intense lead role is played by the younger of the two Roberts’ sisters - newcomer Karlee Roberts (Jack’s Big Music Show) who upon wrapping production, went on to finish high school at fifteen and is the youngest student in history to attend Columbia University in the City of New York. Pre orders on iTunes are currently available HERE!

LITTLE MISS PERFECT also features Isabella Palmieri (Confessions of a Shopaholic), Lilla Crawford (Into the Woods), Tom Degnan (Limitless),Peter Rini (Orange is the New Black), and Jeremy Fernandez (Team Toonz).

Written and Directed by NYU Tisch alumna, Marlee Roberts comments: “After an incredible festival run, we are delighted to find the right partner who understands the integrity of our film. RBH shares our passion and vision for Little Miss Perfect and we look forward to releasing on November 18. Our mission has been to connect audiences from all walks of life to understand the complexity of our protagonist’s journey and aid in a larger effort to de-stigmatize mental health taboos. I am thrilled to see this all come to fruition in the coming weeks!"

Real Big Hits' Vice President of Acquisitions Scott Kamins said "LITLE MISS PERFECT struck me as a powerfully honest portrait of the havoc eating disorders can have on teenagers, especially in the face of dealing with all the pressure, uncertainty, and insecurity of the modern high school experience. There is a raw emotional power and natural aspect to Marlee Roberts' filmmaking that inspired me to acquire this film and play an important part in helping to spread awareness regarding an issue that is profoundly misunderstood and stigmatized in society. I am extremely proud of this film and the wonderful talent that brought Marlee's vision to life."

LITTLE MISS PERFECT has enjoyed a successful festival run this year. It was nominated for “Best Feature Film” and took home the “Emerging Actress Award” at the Irvine International Film Festival. It went on to screen at the Director’s Guild of America NY, TCL Chinese Theater, Boston Int'l Film Festival, Soho Int’l Film Festival, HollyShorts, among others. Festival awards have included "Best Screenplay", "Best Actress" and "Best Feature Film" with nominations for "Best Supporting Actress" and "Best Editing”. Most recently, the film took home the Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature at the Awareness Film Festival and screens at the upcoming Ojai Film Festival.
RBH’s Kamins is repping the film. The film was executive produced by Karl Bardosh and Nancy Malone.
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