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On Our Way with Sophie Lane Curtis

May 18, 2023


Film is a stitching of other arts sewn together by poetry. Some lean closer to literature or painting, others to theater or music, but cinematic language itself is a kind of poetry, be it beat, free verse, iambic, or haiku. It’s in the editing, sound design, cinematography, the altogether mise-en-scène, and some films are closer to pure poetry themselves.

That’s how On Our Way feels, a title that (despite its musicality and dramatic dialogue) couldn’t exist in any medium except film. It’s the debut feature film from Sophie Lane Curtis, an underrated actor who has made an impression in films like Vox Lux, Magic Lantern, and The Childhood of a Leader; Curtis wrote and directed On Our Way and also stars in it alongside Micheál Richardson and a vibrant supporting cast including Keith Powers, Jordana Brewster, Paul Ben-Victor, Daisy Bevan, and even Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero.
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Curtis plays Rosemary, a kind of beautiful apparition haunting the memories and melancholy of a depressed filmmaker named Henry (Richardson). On Our Way chronicles their love(lorn) story in hindsight, after Rosemary’s death, and interweaves various timelines, fictions, and fantasies together in order to replicate the mind and mourning of a young man trying to finish his own first feature film while coping with the loss of his beloved. Henry’s grief leads him through his childhood trauma and closer to finding some kind of peace with himself and his first film. It’s a bombastic, beautifully kaleidoscopic vision of what it’s like to love and lose in your 20s. Sophie Lane Curtis spoke with MovieWeb about the process and inspiration behind making On Our Way, and the intersection of the personal with the creative.

A Debut Distillation of Your 20s

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Debut projects are some of the most interesting, whether it’s great first films or first albums. Perhaps it’s a byproduct of youth overflowing with ideas, or just the result of the dam finally breaking and the creative juices seeping outward when an artist has the chance to produce something major for the first time. On Our Way often feels like that, an energetic hybrid of multiple films that somehow coheres thanks to the aforementioned transcendent poetry of cinema.

“I always say that to people, when they ask how I feel about my first movie,” said Curtis, who can see how On Our Way feels like several great films. “I started it when I was 22, so five years ago, and I didn’t even think the idea of me directing a movie or writing a movie was possible at that point […] I always tell people I was like a kid in a candy shop. I had so many ideas and so many different things that I wanted to try.” Curtis continued:

I was also going through the motions of being in my early 20s, which I feel like is an interesting time. I always call it the time when you’re running from hurt and reaching for hope, because I feel like you’re kind of coming to terms with maybe trauma from your childhood, or the idea of being in like the first kind of adult relationship, or what you want to do with your career […] And so I feel like On Our Way kind of turned out to be a reflection of the mental state of being in your young 20s and kind of just being lost and confused, kind of in a beautiful way, but also hard, and sad, and happy, and all of those things.

Sophie Lane Curtis Pushes Through

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Curtis is 27 but began On Our Way five years ago, and in your 20s, years seem to last longer, so that five years could be a lifetime. A lot has happened between when she began the film and today, May 18th, when she’s seeing it in a theater in its finished form. “On Thursday, we all get to sit in a theater together and watch something that started as an experiment,” mused Curtis. The film was birthed from a kind of restless hopelessness, capturing the suicidal melancholy and nostalgia of a young man who is finishing his first film. Rosemary starred in Henry’s film after they met and quickly fell for each other in; she was smart, talented, gorgeous and hopeful, and he was troubled and handsome but ambitious, pushing past the trauma of his childhood and his father’s death and diving deep into writing and directing a cathartic feature.

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The process of production has moved Curtis forward in her life, almost in the exact same way that it does for Henry after he suffers the loss of Rosemary. “I feel like it helped me realize things that happened in the past, they don’t define you,” explained Curtis. “I had never really finished anything before in my life. I wouldn’t say I was a quitter, but I guess I had bad follow through. I didn’t finish college, and just a bunch of other things. And when the film kept getting delayed, because COVID was right before our principal photography, I remember just thinking like, ‘Wow, what a sign, I should really just give up.’ […] It became a much deeper thing to me than about just finishing something and proving that like, I could do it.” Curtis continued:

“I just kept kind of pushing forward, and I said to myself, I’m just going to keep going and see how it is […] And I remember, I never run, like I’m not a runner, but I went for a run [for the] endorphins. This is cheesy, but it started raining, and I just had this overwhelming feeling like everything was going to be okay. And when I got home, I had like 50 missed calls, and it was basically my producer Haley calling me, saying that it was gonna happen again.”

Revisiting On Our Way for the May 19th Release

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Now she’s revisiting the film for its official release, and it’s like a sensory scrapbook, an opportunity to look back on everything. Curtis purposefully hasn’t watched the film in about nine months (almost like a creative pregnancy that will be birthed for the film’s premiere) and wants to experience it close to how her cast and crew will. “Revisiting it,” explained Curtis (who, like many people of our postmodern age, has the understandable tendency to equate sentiment with sappiness), “I think it’s brought up just very kind of cheesy feelings. Like strength, like confidence, and the fact that, Oh, I actually do know how to do things that I didn’t know how to do five years ago. I do have a really good production team […] I feel like I started this at the beginning with a mission, and I am so much more of like a full person than I was five years ago.”

“Now I know the kind of stories I want to tell, and my voice. I felt, for a really long time, really, really indebted to people. And I think I am starting to feel like I actually have something to offer. Like maybe it’s not always someone doing me a favor by including me. Like I can add to the conversation, I have things to say. The more that I feel confident in that, the more I’m actually able to be vulnerable in my thoughts and express those things on a deeper level.” The editing of On Our Way feels reflective of this personal and artistic journey; Curtis the writer was younger, but Curtis the editor (with incredible work from Alex Safdie) was a bit older with a perspective that seemed to extend past the periphery. “I feel like by the time I was editing it, I was in a much different place than when I was filming it. It’s funny because I play Rosemary in the movie, but to people who haven’t met me before, but they’ve seen the movie, they kind of think that I’m more of a Rosemary type of character.”

“Back then,” Curtis continued, “I was definitely Henry. I was so depressed and miserable. And then by the time I started editing, especially at the end of editing, I really became more of a Rosemary, more optimistic […] I like to think that when we filmed it, you’re inside Henry’s head. And then when we were editing, we were thinking in terms of what Rosemary wished for him.”

Sophie Lane Curtis Is On Her Way

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Sophie Lane Curtis believes in herself (or at the very least, has learned more about the self she can believe in), and she has a fascinating life and mind to share with the world. She loves acting, but whether it’s the patriarchal nature of the industry and film canon or just social conditioning, she once thought that was the only real way she’d pursue her love of film. “My dad, when I was younger, would show me all the old films and I would memorize the words and then perform them for him. I just fell in love with movies,” recalled Curtis.

Her story of becoming an actor and then discovering her talents and desires is delightful and straight out of an indie dramedy; in fact, it will hopefully be one, titled Acting Out. “20 years ago, the world was a different place and I just thought, I love movies so much, I want to be a part of them. And in my head, that was just an actress,” began Curtis. “I was in a talent show at my school that had a lot of managers and agents come, and this manager came and we met. She had me remove my braces like a year early; my teeth were all crooked. I had curly hair, and she told my dad we had to Japanese straighten it. I wanted to be a part of movies, and I thought that was the way, and so I started acting.”

Related: 27 Coming-Of-Age Indie Movies Everyone Should See at Least Once

“This manager said she would only represent me if this guy, Harold Gaskin, who was this old school acting coach in New York, would work with me. So I was a very independent like city kid; my dad just dropped me off outside and told me he would be back when I was done, and I didn’t have like a phone or anything.” Curtis continued:

I remember I was ringing the doorbell, and Harold answered, and he looked at me, and he was like, ‘I don’t work with kids,’ and then he slammed the door. And I just kind of waited out there, and then it started to rain, and his wife Sandra told him that he had to let me in. Eventually he did, and we kind of just ended up talking about life. They were like this really amazing couple, they never had kids and my family was always like, kind of crazy. So I would just end up hanging out there all the time […] She’s like, my best friend, we hang out all the time. She’s a writer and Harold always said that I was always more interested in her writing and talking to Sandra about it than his acting lessons.

Acting Out will take her beginnings and the industry and transform it into the story of a working-class woman with a passion for slam poetry (Curtis initially majored in poetry). It’s clear that Curtis is already on her way; it’s downright dreamy to think of what she’ll accomplish in another five years.

From Tomorrowland Productions, Sugar Rush Pictures, Matlock Entertainment, Commonwealth Pictures, Boxcar Pictures, Paola Paulin Ventures, and Artemis, in association with BarBHouse and Carte Blanche, Gravitas Ventures will release On Our Way in theaters, on Prime Video, and on VOD on Friday, May 19.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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