From Harvard to Hollywood: Our Exclusive Interview with Scientista/Film Producer, Valerie Weiss, About her Award-Winning Rom Com, Losing Control
I’ve been multitasking these two interests forever, so it was natural. I still didn’t know which career I wanted to pursue. So I thought, while I’m here, I know I can do science and something else at the same time. Most of the writing came afterwards, but the process of writing I learned there. It was through starting the Dudley group that I learned writing for film.
Christopher Keane teaches at Emerson. I read his book and invited him to speak at the Dudley Film group….we ended up making a movie, written collaboratively between me and 6 other students. 6 other students helped me write it because I knew with a PhD I wasn’t going to have time to do it all myself. We shot it for $5,000 dollars, we premiered it…The script had a lot of problems, but it was a great way to learn.
How does science figure into "Losing Control"? Did you have scientific advisors besides yourself? Was it important to you to be dead accurate with the science, or were you happy taking some liberties?
I knew that I could do the science myself but didn’t have time to. So a colleague of mine at Harvard, Michael Sawaya, who was a postdoc at the time offered me a lot of help…invited my actors to come to the lab, to lab meetings, to learn how to pipette, loaned us a lot of equipment we couldn’t get otherwise. We went to Xencor for a week, and the company took my actors under their wing, taught them how to hold a pipette, all kind of things.
What’s the target audience?
The answer is everybody. Women and men both love the movie. Undergrads—it’s really fun because it’s not your typical romantic comedy, it’s not laugh out loud funny like Bridesmaid, but it really deals with the questions young people are dealing with, like who they want to spend the rest of their lives with…but then people like my parents go crazy over it to, because it's funny and it's dealing with the generational conflict.
What's the critical and audience response to "Losing Control" been like? What surprised you about people's reactions, and what did you hope for or expect?
We sold out almost every festival screening we had, and won a bunch of awards. People say, not only is it really fun the whole way through, but there’s a lot of really deep emotional stuff, the relationship stuff is really real, and the science. And the general audience, they really understand it. We used a lot of visuals and a lot of analogies to explain what she’s working on. There’s a scene—she goes to a bar and uses the things on the bar to explain what she’s working on. People really get it.
What are you working on now? If there’s a typical day, what’s it like?
We open March 23rd in NYC, then Boston April 6th, LA April 13th. We’re adding more cities all the time. A lot of what I’m doing right now is press and promotion for the movie. But there are three other projects: a sci-fi short called Off the Grid, a feature called Overstuffed that’s a family dramedy about 3 estranged siblings who need to move back with their hoarder father. Getting rid of stuff to become a family again. There’s some science in Overstuffed: one of my characters is an environmental engineer…and then I have another movie I’m directing, written by one of our actors, Ben Weber, called Positively Negative. But mostly right now it’s promoting “Losing Control.”
We will definitely be checking out the film when it hits theaters this spring, and hope you will too!