“I had gotten about as far as you could get being a writer and performer living in Portland, Oregon,” says July, a performance and video-installation artist. She had been accustomed to striking out on her own when Sundance accepted her script “Me and You and Everyone We Know” at the 2003 Screenwriters and Directors Labs. “I didn’t know what the next step in my life would be,” July recalls, “and I think that was partly because I never went to art school and never had any mentors.”
For the Directors Lab, July brought five scenes from her screenplay and filmed them with a skeleton professional crew, an experience that taught her the logistics of navigating a film set as well as an even bigger lesson: “That I could be helped. There was not only no shame in that, but you could be much more daring with the feeling (since) there were people all around you supporting you.”
Ed Harris and Sally Field were lab mentors that year. When July told them she absolutely would not cast widely known actors in her film, Harris agreed, telling her, “This is just a treasure. Don’t let them talk you into casting stars.”
“I kept that in me through all those pitch meetings,” says the writer-director, who also starred in her film.