In our first report from Sundance Film Festival 2020, we spoke to the director and stars of Eliza Hittman’s new movie Never Rarely Sometimes Always before it had its premiere at The Ray Theatre. Hittman was at Sundance a couple of years ago with her film Beach Rats, which featured a breakout performance from Harris Dickinson. Once again, she has chosen raw, untapped young talent to feature in her latest work, about a teenage girl who must travel to New York City for an abortion.

Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute

Talia Ryder (Skylar)

How was working with Eliza?

Eliza is an incredible director and you can see that in It Felt like Love and Beach Rats. And this is going to be a really great, cool addition to the trilogy. She’s just one of the those directors who is really open, she’s truly an actor’s director. Everything she does in her work is to help us and make us feel comfortable and safe while we’re on set.

Was there any improvisation at all or was it all scripted?

We followed the script pretty strictly, we were given liberty in certain scenes though, to change up certain words in some cases, to make them more our own, which was nice of Eliza to do.

Sidney Flanigan (Autumn)

How was working with Eliza in your first starring role in a movie?

Yes, I met Eliza when I was 14. It was a very brief moment, in passing, but her partner was working on a film and they followed me on Facebook. I posted videos of me playing music and then they eventually reached out to me to do this film and it’s very exciting. I just love it so much.

Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute

Eliza Hittman (Director)

You worked with Helene Louvart again on this movie, your cinematographer, what do you thinks makes you two such a strong partnership?

Helene and I have a very good relationship and I really value her perspective and point of view, not only on cinema, but on the world and I just couldn’t imagine doing a film without her. She brings a tremendous amount of insight and intuition into the story and it all comes from within, all her vision for the film comes from within. It’s never external and never forced and what that translates to is a wonderful ability to operate in a natural way. She’s very much a performer, on set with the actors.

You have chosen 16mm again, why do you choose to work in that format?

I love 16mm and I made my first short films on 16mm and I’m a bit of a minimalist and I believe that with a few right tools, I can tell the story the way that I imagine it. My films are all set in stagnant communities and marginalised communities and they all have kind of an “out-of-time” quality that I feel 16mm supports as a choice. I feel it’s the best format to document intimacy and emotion.

And how do you create that intimacy on set, with your cast and crew?

Well, right at the beginning, even in the casting process, Helene came in for location scouting. She was there when Sidney came down for her first audition and the three of us went out into the city and began to film her, just moving about the city, tying to figure out how to buy a Metrocard. Casting that role was very much about finding someone who fit into our little world and Sidney very much did and it’s all about working together.

Full review of Never Rarely Sometimes Always to come shortly.