Collecting Films with Nicole Rodenburg

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Movie theater | February 19, 2022

By Greg Carlson

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Nicole Rodenburg is a New York-based actress, screenwriter and director. She is known for her work developing new plays with our most innovative and beloved contemporary playwrights, including Annie Baker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Flick”, Samuel D. Hunter’s “The Whale” and ” Usual Girls” by Ming Peiffer at the Roundabout Theatre. Company.

“Glob Lessons,” written with longtime collaborator Colin Froeber, received the Prairie Spirit Award and Honorable Mention from the 2022 Fargo Film Festival and will screen Saturday, March 19 at 7 p.m. at the Fargo Theater. Nicole and Colin will appear live on stage for a chat immediately after the film. Tickets are $12 and go on sale at noon on February 22.

Greg Carlson: At the start of the Fargo Film Festival’s 2-Minute Movies contest, you and Colin submitted a film called “Deed I Do.” I still think about it.

Nicole Rodenburg: I ​​think it was the second thing I did with Colin. The first thing was a movie we did for our acting teacher Gwen Stark called “Study Date.” With echoes of “Glob Lessons”, it was a strange couple story. “Deed I Do” was based on a very short story from a book that Colin had. “Study Date” had dialogue, but it didn’t sound like movie dialogue – I didn’t know how to make it sound like a movie. It was so frustrating for us. So we turned to making films that were set to music. No synchronous dialogue.

GC: By dispensing with dialogue, you and Colin have become pure visual storytellers.

NR: “Deed I Do” got second place that year. We were really proud. I listed the honor on my college audition resume.

GC: What films have inspired you and Colin as filmmakers?

NR: I remember watching “Casablanca” together. I got really obsessed with “Mulholland Dr.” I watched this movie with everyone I knew. You couldn’t come to my house without having to watch “Mulholland Dr.” with me.

GC: What was the first film you saw that made you realize that you wanted to be part of cinema?

NR: I think it was two things. “The Little Mermaid” is the first movie I remember seeing at the cinema. The experience left a big impression on me. I thought the creatures and animals that appeared in the film were hidden behind the curtains that line the sides of the auditorium. I was sure Sebastian the Crab was behind the scenes until he came on screen. I obviously crossed my sons of theater and cinema.

The other thing that obsessed me was the 1960 performance of Mary Martin doing “Peter Pan.” I enlisted all the children in my daycare to help me put together my adjustment. Even at the age of four, I wanted my production to be picked up as a Saturday morning TV show on CBS. I convinced some of the kids to make paper costumes but had to give up when my mom wouldn’t let me fly off the balcony in a harness.

GC: How long have you been in New York?

NR: Since 2009.

GC: In New York, you move around. You should minimize physical possessions.

NR: I used to keep a lot more of my DVDs. Once I started moving around, I put them in binder pockets. When streaming started to take off, I let go of even more records. The shift to Blu-ray, yet another format, was another factor that had the effect of swaying me even more towards streaming.

My ex-partner, filmmaker Dean Peterson, had a physical Netflix account. So we rented Blu-rays of movies we really wanted to see. But in New York you also have access to some of the best film presentations in the world. You can go watch a 70mm print. It’s hard to top.

I was in this play called “The Flick” by Annie Baker about three people working in a Massachusetts movie theater with the latest motion picture projector. The show’s setting is the time when digital technology replaced the way we watched movies for decades and decades. I played a projectionist. So it also got me thinking about the differences in media consumption. It wasn’t really something I had considered before this time in my life.

GC: What was the first film you collected?

NR: When I was a teenager, my mother bought me the Stanley Kubrick box set for Christmas. These are the first DVDs of the house that belong to me. At that time, I had only seen “The Shining” and “A Clockwork Orange”, so it was an introduction to a whole world that I did not yet have the artistic maturity to fully understand.

GC: Your mother is great.

NR: She is. And my father was a projectionist. So I gained knowledge and awareness of how films were presented in different contexts. A big part of my introduction to cinema was thanks to my father. We used to go to the cinema regularly when I was a child.

As an older teenager, my friend Matthew Bakko and I would go to the Fargo Theater every Sunday after church. We were just watching what was going on. For me, you can’t replicate the experience of seeing movies in the cinema. You can share a powerful experience with other people at the same time.

GC: Did you have any conversations with your parents about the types of movies you were watching at the time?

NR: I think once I got old enough to want to see certain movies, my parents gave me the freedom to investigate on my own. And I’m grateful for that. I remember getting together with friends to watch “Requiem for a Dream” after the Trollwood musical ended. Children really want to feel things!

GC: How did “Glob Lessons” start?

NR: We started writing in 2013. Colin and I have been writing together since high school. And he had moved to New York after doing a theatrical tour like the one depicted in “Glob Lessons.” Working creatively has always been the cement of our friendship. Ms. Stark’s acting class was so amazing because it was all about creating.

GC: She inspired so many people.

NR: She definitely did. Colin and I had met through theater and had the same larger group of friends, but we bonded because we knew each other from acting class. Once we started imagining it was like wildfire. Being able to think about something and have the other think about it at the same time – we would make the same connections. We had two brains working in tandem. The older we get, not only do we understand each other better, but we also understand the differences in our minds better. We make each other laugh. We make the other feel understood. Everything we did was so much fun that we couldn’t stop working together.

GC: Are you writing another film with Colin?

NR: Yes. I have a script that I want to do. And hopefully that will be our next movie, in the same kind of low-budget world that “Glob Lessons” comes from. We’re also collaborating on a longer-term project about our mutual curiosity about the turn of the millennium and growing up in a religious community, which is what Fargo was really like back then. Religion was part of the landscape. We don’t want to dismantle religion. It’s more the thematic basis of how we learned, at a formative age, to interpret the world. But it’s still going to be funny.

GC: “Glob Lessons” is your first feature film as a director. Where did you look for inspiration?

NR: I met Dean when he was shooting his second feature film, “What Children Do”. He saw me in “The Flick” and contacted me. When we met, we exchanged scripts the same day. I thought he just wanted me to read his script. I didn’t immediately understand that he was offering me a role in his film.

Dean encouraged me to do “Glob Lessons”. I said, “Of course I want to do this, but I don’t know where to start.” Being an actor is a tough job. You have to wait for someone to choose you. And I have a lot of creative energy. But I didn’t know how one became a filmmaker. It was just so far. Dean reminded me that no one knew these characters better than us and encouraged me to direct it myself.

Making a film is a lot of work. And it never stops. “Glob Lessons” is still my responsibility, with Colin, all these years. My friend Grace Rex, who played my sister in “What Children Do”, is an experimental filmmaker. Her short “Others” was at Slamdance last year. So getting to know some of these artists made the idea of ​​filmmaking more feasible for me.

After finishing the first draft of “Glob Lessons”, I took a low-budget independent filmmaking course at the School of Visual Arts. That’s when I started to understand how films are put together. How to set a budget. How to decompose a script. How to program. All different tasks and positions.

GC: Have you seen any movies that fanned the fire?

NR: “Tiny Furniture” by Lena Dunham inspired me to keep working towards the goal. The seething jealousy I felt after seeing it made me realize it was something I wanted to do myself. Jealousy can work like a North Star that describes and defines something a person aspires to do. The year after “Tiny Furniture” was released, Brit Marling co-wrote, produced and starred in “Sound of My Voice” and “Another Earth.” Suddenly, it seemed possible to me to do it.

As invested in the arts as I was, seeing these young women take their own voices so seriously and not only that, seeing the world take them seriously, made me realize that I might have something to contribute too. to the conversation.

GC: Have you ever watched “Glob Lessons” on the big screen in a cinema with an audience?

NR: No. Colin got to see it in Tampa when he played at a festival there. I saw it at a festival in Fort Worth. The screening took place in an art museum. So seeing him in March at the Fargo Theater with a large group of people will hopefully be the first time I’ve seen him like this. And the Fargo Theater is my favorite place to see movies. Never.

GC: It’s also for me. I’ve only seen “Glob Lessons” streaming as part of Tribeca, so I can’t wait to watch it with an audience.

NR: There’s a scene in the movie that takes place at the Fargo Theater. A dramatic moment when the lights come on and Colin walks across the stage after performing in cafeterias and libraries. I think I’m just going to lose my mind.

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