After winning various awards on the festival circuit including the Teddy Award for best LGBT-themed feature film at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival, “Nasty Baby” finally made its way to American audiences. The movie stars Sebastian Silva, who also wrote and directed it, as Freddy, an experimental artist based out of Brooklyn, New York who is desperate to have a baby with his boyfriend Mo (Tunde Adebimpe). Joining them on this quest for parenthood is their best friend Polly (Kristen Wiig) who plans to be the surrogate mother for the couple, and we watch as they deal with various complications and obstacles which keep them from starting a family. But when an especially annoying neighbor known as The Bishop (Reg E. Cathey) constantly harasses them, it leads to a terrifying situation which could destroy all their plans forever.
Kristen Wiig and Sebastian Silva were on hand recently for the “Nasty Baby” press conference which was held at the London Hotel in West Hollywood, California, and they were both very descriptive about what went into the making of this movie. We all know Wiig of course from her endlessly hilarious years on “Saturday Night Live” and for acting in and co-writing the wonderful comedy “Bridesmaids.” Silva’s previous directorial efforts include “The Maid,” “Crystal Fairy & the Magic Cactus” and “Magic Magic.”
One thing that struck me in particular was how freed up the actors appeared to be onscreen as the movie was shot mostly with a hand held camera. I couldn’t help but think that the actors had an easier time moving around and performing scenes this way than they would have on any other film set as they didn’t have to worry about being in the right position at the right time. They were all just let loose and trusted that the cameraman would capture their best moments with no problem. I ended up asking about them about this aspect of filmmaking.
Ben Kenber: This movie was shot mostly with a hand held camera, and it felt like this gave the actors a lot more freedom to move around that they would not have had on a regular movie set. Would you say that you found a special freedom in acting with this way of filming?
Kristen Wiig: Yeah, I did. Sergio (Armstrong, the director of photography) was amazing. You just sort of feel like you can be those people and do the scenes and he’ll kind of find you. If you wanted to do it again he would kind of figure out where to go. There was a lot of freedom. There weren’t a lot of marks we had to hit.
Sebastian Silva: Yeah, there were no marks at all. All of the actions of course are written and all the scenes so we know the locations and everything that needs to happen. But there are a lot of times where we didn’t use the slate, and then we would move from a wide shot to a close up without cutting ever. I was acting, I had never acted before, but I feel that for actors not to be cutting all the time that it is also so much fun because scenes and takes usually don’t last more than four minutes. It’s usually like ‘action’ and then it’s like four minutes that the actor gets to do his or her thing, and then it’s like ‘cut,’ makeup and then they don’t really get to enjoy performing as much as like when you’re improvising a take and go for as long as 35 minutes sometimes, right?
SS: Yeah, it was a lot like that, changing things as we were shooting without cutting. It was fun.
BK: I imagine that not having to worry about hitting your marks frees you up a lot.
KW: Oh yeah, definitely (laughs).
The one thing they always taught in those acting on camera classes is that the camera is always your friend and will never let you down. It certainly didn’t let Wiig or Silva down during the making of “Nasty Baby” as the both inhabit their characters more than play them, and it never feels like you are watching a movie. Instead, it feels like you are watching real life unfold, and this is not an experience you often get at the movies.
Copyright Ben Kenber 2015.