Amber Tamblyn Climbs to Director’s Chair for ‘Paint’ Job

Actress/poet turns helmer to bring L.A.-set ’80s punk tale “Paint it Black” to the screen

Amber Tamblyn Headshot
Courtesy of Amber Tamblyn

A third-generation Angeleno, Amber Tamblyn says she has L.A. “deep in her bones.” So it may have been inevitable that when the actress decided to make the jump to directing, she chose an L.A. story.

“Paint it Black,” which Tamblyn adapted from Janet Fitch’s novel about the L.A. punk scene in the 1980s, will have its world premiere at LAFF on June 3.

Tamblyn – a published poet – was given the book by friend Amy Poehler a decade ago. She instantly had a visceral reaction: “It [looked] like a movie to me,” says Tamblyn. “I think most people who want to adapt a novel into a film have a similar strong and quick response to the narrative.”

Tamblyn’s been acting for 20 years, starting with a six-year stint on “General Hospital,” but directing was never on her mind. Originally, she had another director signed on who eventually convinced her that she should be the one to do it. “Nothing is a natural progression to directing, especially if you are a woman,” Tamblyn says of the transition. “You have all odds against you and it takes sheer obsession and the inability to hear the word ‘no.’”

While Tamblyn is already working on her next film, she’s cautious of the public’s reaction to her first — a highly stylized feature influenced by Ingmar Bergman and David Lynch. “It’s not a little handheld indie picture.”

“Paint It Black” stars Janet McTeer and Alia Shawkat. It premieres June 3 at LACMA’s Bing Theater, with Tamblyn’s pal Poehler hosting.