Amy Redford Interview On 'The Guitar,' Dad Robert Redford, Saffron Burrows
Amy Hart Redford, the daughter of film icon Robert Redford, is making her own directorial debut with her new brilliant film, The Guitar, starring Saffron Burrows, in an unforgettable stunning performance. “It was positive, interesting, thought-provoking material,” said Reford of the film in an exclusive interview with Uinterview. “And it was such a great role for an actress.”
Given her genes, it is no surprise that Redford took a deep interest in the film industry. Redford has starred in several films such as When I Find the Ocean and the romantic comedy Maid of Manhattan.
Redford was able to take what she has learned as an actress to sharpen her directing skills. “It’s been wonderful,” she told Uinterview. “It was sort of an evolution for me, to take what I learned as an actress and then be able to apply some of my love for the camera and the more technical elements of filmmaking.”
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I had been looking for something to direct for a while. The script was given to me in the context of acting in it. I was introduced to the writer, Amos Poe, and I heard the story that the script was inspired by and then read the script. I kept firing myself in the lead role and hiring other actors in my head, and I realized I didn't want to be in the story, I wanted to tell the story. It had relevance for me. Not only did I think it was the right scale for me to direct for my first venture in directing, but I also related to the messages and metaphors inherent in the story. It was positive, interesting, thought-provoking material. And it was such a great role for an actress. The idea of being able to guide an actress through a performance like that was really exciting.
It's been pretty wonderful. I certainly don't want to give up on acting entirely because I think it's really good for me to remind myself what it is to be an actor. People give actors a hard time, but acting is a real act of generosity. You're using yourself as your tools of the trade, and I don't want to forget what that is. So I'd like to continue doing it when I can, but my passion and my focus is primarily in directing right now. It was sort of an evolution for me, to take what I learned as an actress and then be able to apply some of my love for the camera and the more technical elements of filmmaking. And being able to collaborate on a different level than you get to when you're an actor was really satisfying. I loved my crew. I loved all of the design elements that went into making the film look the way it did… And also being able to guide an actress through a performance was more satisfying to me than the idea of doing it myself.
She found me, actually. She got a hold of the script and she really liked the story, and I got a call from her agent saying that she wanted to talk to me. So I was walking my dog down the street in New York and I get this phone call from her. I was familiar with her and I knew she was really beautiful, and I sort of wondered why she'd want to do a part like this. So I asked her, "What should I see of yours that will tell me that you should do this part?" And she said, "Nothing, that's why I want to do the part." Which made me know that she was smart, and she was good at self-diagnosis. Then she flew herself to New York and we sat in a restaurant for about four hours and talked. I knew she had the emotional sophistication that the part would require and the work ethic. I really believed in her as a person and I felt we would develop a good language. So I told her that night that I wanted her to do it, and she was so grateful and excited that I knew I made the right choice.
In terms of what the guitar means in the story: for the character of Melody, her unrequited love affair was with this guitar, and she goes back into her childhood and sort of excavates this passion that she had. She goes back to the moment of departure for herself, when she started becoming a person that was more anemic and living a state of deprivation. And she retrieves that part of herself. What I like is being able to ask yourself if you're living your life to the fullest of its capacity or if you haven't inadvertently cut yourself off from the things that you love–because of fear, or because you've gotten rigidly on a certain path. And the idea that we so often don't value things until we lose them. In Melody's circumstance, it takes facing her mortality in order to reacquaint herself with the things that she loves and open up a new side of herself. For me, I wasn't necessarily facing literal death, but I was certainly facing a crossroads in my life when I had to question whether or not I was using the currency of my life to its fullest capacity. That, plus the themes with music in the film, spoke to me.
I picked various elements from different films and used them as inspiration, or permission, to sort of think outside the box. The story was so specific that when I read the script all the images were coming to me pretty naturally. It was the material that really dictated the style. But there was a film Amos showed me called The Match Factory Girl that had to do with a subjective point of view, point of audio. And the film Persona affected me… I like films that fulfill their purpose. Whether it's Mel Brooks or Bergman, when a film knows what it is and has the courage to be authentic and specific in that genre, that's inspiring to me.
No, I pretty much hoped that I didn't want to go into his line of work. It's a tough gig, you know. But I was certainly enamored with the ability to tell stories the way that he does, and the people that were in his life, that were around the process of filmmaking, the kind of crazy personalities. There's a childlike environment that I was always attracted to. And then my first love was the theater. So I took what I witnessed from the way that he approaches his career and ventured off on my own. But it took me a while. I was hoping that I didn't want to do it, and I found it kind of inevitable that I did, so I just had to go for it.
I'm working on a project called Face Value that is about the actress Hedy Lamarr and her scientific collaboration with a composer named George Antheil. There's a project that I'm involved with about the life of Eva Cassidy. And there's a TV show that I've been helping to develop, and a musical film. I'm also pursuing the rights to a book that I've wanted for a long time. [These projects are] all directing... And I just had a daughter two months ago. She's my main project at the moment.