Reed Morano has been one of the most in-demand cinematographers working in independent film over the past few years, having lent her observant, nuanced talents to Sundance favorites including “Kill Your Darlings,” “The Skeleton Twins” and “Frozen River.” This year, she graduated from cinematographer to director with the moody drama “Meadowland,” which screened last night at New York’s Landmark Sunshine Cinema with an event sponsored by the diamond company Forevermark. Though she’d already had plenty of behind-the-camera experience, Morano still learned a few new things from the experience.
“The thing that was new to me was being able to make a lot more decisions that I had always wished I’d had control over. It was a lot more work because I was DP-ing and directing, but it was so gratifying and so fulfilling,” she told Variety last night. She chose “Meadowland” — which stars Luke Wilson and Olivia Wilde as New Jersey parents who unravel after their child is abducted — because, “I’d always been attracted as a cinematographer to very dramatic, powerful stories, and this one just moved me the with the words on the page, and I thought, ‘if I’m already feeling this with just the words, I bet with the right crew and cast, I can make something special.'”
“Meadowland” was also a learning experience for Wilde, who produced the film and fought for the lead role as soon as she discovered Morano was involved. “It was the most challenging experience of my career, and the most gratifying, as anyone who has produced an independent film will tell you. But I learned a hell of a lot about producing and acting,” she told Variety, adding that her main was lesson was “how difficult it is to get a film financed, how difficult it is to find people who want to invest in small, female-directed, female-produced films.”
Wilde has become known for light comedies, like “Drinking Buddies,” and action films, like “Tron: Legacy,” but “Meadowland” is probably her weightiest role yet, as her character descends into drugs, cutting and seedy sex with Kevin Corrigan’s character after her son disappears. “I don’t think I was seeking out something heavy,” she says, “I was seeking out something interesting, and this had so much depth and nuance.”
For his part, Wilson, who worked with Morano on “The Skeleton Twins” and has generally been seeking out more dramatic fare as of late, said he liked the script because it reminded him of the best part of his daily newspaper.
“It reminded me of a paragraph you’d read in the metro section. That was always my favorite section growing up, in ‘the Dallas Morning News,’ the crime in the city section. And I’m always wondering, ‘what happened after that murder, what happened after that stabbing in the bar downtown, to people involved?'” he said. “And this is exactly that kind of story, what happens to these parents whose child is abducted, and killed or not killed.”
“It’s the flipside of ‘Taken,’ which I love too,” Wilson added. “Here, it’s more realistic and heartbreaking, what happens to people. It’s not just sadness, but it’s strange, what happens.”
After the premiere, the director and members of the cast, including Juno Temple and Scott Mescudi (“Kid Cudi”), as well as guests Paul Haggis and Jason Sudeikis, attended an after-party at the Lowest East Side French bistro La Gamelle, where they were served cocktails and canapes.