Last year I sat down with writer and director Rosemary Rodriguez in New York City to talk about her career trajectory, and directing for television for this publication.
Rodriguez’s television credits include The Good Wife (she directed 18 episodes, more than any other director in the seven seasons of the series) The Walking Dead, Amazon’s Sneaky Pete starring Bryan Cranston, Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Empire, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, Outsiders, Law and Order: SVU, and Rescue Me. Acts of Worship, Rodriguez’s first feature, which she wrote and directed, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards, including the John Cassavetes Award for Best Feature.
We recently caught up to talk about Silver Skies, her second independent feature film, which she wrote and directed. The film is being released by Joe Amodei and his company Virgil Films Entertainment (VFE) and will be available on DVD and Streaming on Amazon and iTunes April 4, 2017.
Silver Skies chronicles a group of seniors whose lives are turned upside down when their Los Angeles apartment complex threatens to be sold out from under them.
The film won the Audience Award at the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival, Best Feature at the Manhattan Film Festival, Best Comedy at the Tiburon International Film Festival, Best Film at the Live Free or Die Film Festival, and it was the Closing Night film at the Palm Beach Film Festival. Alex Rocco won Best Supporting Actor at the Madrid International Film Festival.
Rodriguez: The film opened in September 2016 in a limited theatrical run, playing eight weeks in Palm Springs and eight weeks at The Villages in Florida. We played in Orange County, Arizona and around Florida. Little by little, it’s kept going. We are finishing our theatrical run March 30.
Kouguell: Tell me about the evolution of Silver Skies.
Rodriguez: It took about ten years. I went to the MacDowell Colony with an outline for ‘Silver Skies‘ and wrote the script there. Then, when I directed an episode of Law and Order, I hit it off with the show’s star Dennis Farina. He loved the script and helped to get the movie made. Two years later I called Dennis, told him we got the money, and we picked the start date. Two weeks later he passed away. I was devastated by his passing. Sometime later we had a script reading and producers Fred Roos and Arthur Sarkissian came, and they said, ‘let’s do this movie.’ The movie is dedicated to Dennis.
Kouguell: Did your actors have any input into the script?
Rodriguez: Yes, they definitely did. I’m a big collaborator; I want to hear what people have to say. For example: George Hamilton’s character is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Jack McGee’s brother, George Hamilton’s mother, and my dad, all had Alzehimer’s and we shared our respective experiences to further develop George’s character. In a way it was a tribute for George to his mother, for Jack to his brother, and mine to my father.
Kouguell: You describe Silver Skies as very personal and inspired by your parents’ aging. The characters of Nick and Phil are inspired by your father, who was a bookie in Boston, and the character, Eve, by your mother.
Rodriguez: Valerie Perrine’s character always has flowers; that was my mother. I watched my parents get old when I was still young and I saw how their relationships changed. I think seniors don’t have a voice in this world. These are people who want to have sex. They want to work. They want to spend money. Make money. Have money.
Kouguell: These issues about sex and money, as well as ageism and women’s power, are themes in Silver Skies that dare to challenge the viewer. Indeed, these topics have resonated with your audiences.
Rodriguez: The audience response was incredible and that’s what kept us going! When we had no money for marketing, people would show up to see these actors that they miss: George Hamilton, Valerie Perrine, Barbara Bain, Mariette Hartley, Jack Betts, Jack McGee, Alex Rocco. Then as they watched the movie, something wonderful happened: they would stop seeing the actors and start seeing themselves in these characters! That was my goal! These incredible actors pull off some extraordinary, relatable performances.