screenwriter to watch
Ann Lupo is an award winning writer, director, producer, and actor, a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the arts, editor of many commercials, and a romantic through and through. Her debut feature film, IN REALITY, which she wrote, directed, produced, edited and starred in screened at thirteen film festivals domestically and internationally in 2018 winning nine awards including the Jury and Audience Award at Austin Film Festival and the Special Jury Mention at Los Angeles Film Festival.
How did you break in or get your start in screenwriting?
I grew up writing scripts in high school and through college. Most of them were cringe-worthy and one dimensional but in retrospect they were necessary experiments in the themes and sense of humor I know find myself predisposed to. I kept writing because I figured at some point, one of these ideas would be good enough to actually invest the time and hard work into making good. IN REALITY ended up being that idea because it was a story I knew through and through and a subject about which I had a lot to say. I was supported in the writing process by Esteban Pedraza & Aaron Pryka, classmates & friends of mine from NYU, who serve as co-writers on the film. IN REALITY is an autobiographical story, so it was important for me to have collaborators I trusted to ask me the questions I couldn’t ask myself and see certain aspects of the story with an objectivity I wouldn’t have been able to access had I been writing alone.
Writer/Director “IN REALITY”
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
Work with people you love and trust. Embrace feedback, especially from mentors, peers, and collaborators who you trust thoroughly. If someone gives you a note that’s contrary to your original instinct or vision, take a moment to consider it before rejecting it, it could be an idea that opens up a whole new world in your story.
What’s the hardest scene or project you’ve ever had to write? How did you navigate the challenge?
The process of making IN REALITY was extremely challenging because it was never meant to be a feature film. It started as a short, grew into a six part series with a 60min total run time and then ultimately was developed into a feature all over the course of three years. So the script kept growing and expanding with every stage of production. It was made more challenging by the fact that from the beginning I had set out to write something truly autobiographical and vulnerable, so as it grew I was discovering and uncovering things about myself that
I had to first understand and *then* get comfortable with including in the narrative of the story and *then* figure out how to artistically include in the narrative of the story. Having co-writers was really important for that purpose but also was challenging at times because we all had our own brilliant ideas. I, as the lead writer, had to steer us in the right direction, and I frankly didn’t always know where that was. Ultimately I think those challenges are exactly what make the film really unique and allow the unconventional format to work.
What was a major turning point in your career?
Making IN REALITY was/is/has been a turning point in my career. I had no idea where it would lead me when I first conceived of the idea but I’m so grateful for the journey it’s taken me on. But of course there were micro turning points leading up to this production that prepared me to take it on, notably my editing work with Mac Premo.
What are you working on right now?
I’m just at the beginning of the development process of a new script, story and world. It’s taken a bit of time to muster up the courage to go back in but I’ve found a story and idea that I think is worth telling so I have to follow that instinct.
What are some of your favorite movies?
This question has always given me hives but here goes: Moulin Rouge (Baz Luhrmann), Slumdog Millionaire (Danny Boyle), The Departed (Martin Scorsese), 8 1/2 (Federico Fellini), Cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tornatore), Don’t Look Back (D.A Pennebaker), Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola), Capernaum (Nadine Labaki)
Who are some of your favorite screenwriters?
I’m going to go with Sofia Coppola on this one not because she’s my all time favorite but because I’ve been revisiting her films lately and am very inspired by her delicacy and nuance. My writing tends to be maximal with as many ideas, jokes, threads, and themes smashed in as possible, and I’m learning it’s way harder and can be more effective to use silence and stillness in storytelling. What is being left unsaid is usually more powerful.
Share a memorable experience at Austin Film Festival.
Showing up to our second screening at Alamo Drafthouse and hearing that it was sold out was an incredible thrill. The audience was so passionate and responsive, I cried a little after the screening because I was so moved by the reactions people had. It was the kind of response you dream of. Of course winning the audience and jury awards in the comedy category was memorable too.