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"(Acting in her blood?) I sort of prayed that it wouldn't be!"
"New York is one of the warmest, most wonderful places to be. But if you're alone, it can be an incredibly lonely place."
"You hit a point in your life when you realize you've been defined without your consent."
"I realized I wanted to tell the story, but I didn't want to be in the story."
"He tells stories that he cares about and he cares about what he puts into the world."
"I think mostly what inspires me is what's going on in the world today."
Amy Redford  

Interviewed by Mark Sells
May 2008

Born to the legendary Hollywood actor and filmmaker, Robert Redford, one might automatically assume that acting was in Amy Redford's blood. But, says Amy, "I sort of prayed that it wouldn't be!" In fact, the New York native pursued many different majors from religious studies to humanities to photography across many different colleges from Boulder to San Francisco to London. She even referred to herself as Amy Hart to avoid any unwanted attention. But ultimately, the call of the theater prevailed. Says Redford, "I think, it beckons you or it doesn't. And it beckoned me."

Since being "hijacked into acting," Amy has gone on to make a name for herself with roles in such films as "Maid in Manhattan," "The Music Inside," and "Sunshine Cleaning." Also, a handful of television appearances on some of the hottest shows: "The Sopranos," "Sex and the City," and "Law and Order." But perhaps it's her latest move that's most impressive - as first time producer and director of the heartfelt and inspiring indie film, "The Guitar," screening at 2008's Vail Film Festival.

Based on a true story, "The Guitar" follows the life of a young woman who discovers she has cancer and only two months to live. On the same day, she loses her job and boyfriend. But rather than give in, she decides to live out her dreams - musically, romantically, and emotionally. A story that resonated well with Redford. "You hit a point in your life when you realize you've been defined without your consent. When did I become this person? When did I stop trying things? Living?" It's the kind of story that is rich with humanity, energy, and dignity. Like father, like daughter.

Reel Questions, Reel Answers

How are you liking the festival so far?

It's great! You know, it's so important to support festivals like this because every festival needs a start. Sundance had a beginning. And it's important to create an appetite for independent films in some of the regional areas because a lot of times, the focus tends to be on New York and LA. And while those markets are helpful, in some regards, you don't want to make films just for people in New York and LA. So to see a festival like this trying to get their legs, it's important to support it.

What is "The Guitar" all about?

"The Guitar" is about a woman who is living an anemic life in New York City. She's one of the forgotten, ignored in a city that reflects back to you whatever state you're in. So, you're in a good place because New York is one of the warmest, most wonderful places to be. But if you're alone, it can be an incredibly lonely place. You can be amongst thousands of people and never be seen.

So, she's living that kind of existence and she finds out that she's got a terminal disease. And subsequently, has a chain reaction or series of awakenings when she realizes she's got nothing and she's hit rock bottom. And so, she decides to go out on her own terms and sort of redefine herself. She rents a loft and goes through credit card fever because she's been so frugal her whole life. And the sort of final frontier, the thing she's always wanted and what's connected to her soul, is a 1963 Fender Stratocaster. So, she buys herself a re-issue and marches back to live out her life. It's about that catharsis. About what that does for her. That kind of awakening at this moment in her life.

For me, the sickness is a metaphor. It's for all of us. You hit a point in your life when you realize you've been defined without your consent. When did I become this person? When did I stop trying things? Living?

I was having my own crossroads and I thought, this is a great story to tell. Maybe it's not changing your whole life? But maybe it's getting up a half an hour early and writing that chapter in that book you always wanted to write? Or taking that trip around the world? Or reconnecting with someone you once loved? Those kinds of things.

If you were in Melody's shoes, given 2 months to live, what would you do with your remaining time on earth?

That's a very interesting question. And I'm probably more fortunate than her in that I have some pretty extraordinary people around me that I love and who have helped me realize myself. So, I think that's an important part. I'm really close with my family. Plus, I have a bun in the oven (laughs)!

But I don't know. I think it's hard to predict what you would do. A lot of people that have been in that position have come up to me and said, "Oh my God! That's very much like what I've done or what I did or what my mother did." The consumer part of the story, as somebody told me, was that their mother, when she found out she had cancer, started going shopping. An online shopping frenzy. And actually, things were still being delivered to her house after she passed away. And the family kept receiving all this stuff.

So, I don't know, I'd probably like to see a little bit more of the world if I could. Travel for a little bit.

Any place, in particular, that you've always wanted to go?

There are many places. But you know, I've never been to Africa. And I'd really like to go.

After years of acting, what made you decide to go behind the camera?

Well, I started out directing in high school. I directed theater in high school and then got high jacked into acting. And I'm very thankful for it. Now, I feel more mature, probably a little more humble, a little more willing to collaborate. So, it feels like a natural evolution out of acting.

In this story in particular, I was given the script to consider acting in. But I kept firing myself in the part and hiring other actresses in my head. I realized I wanted to tell the story, but I didn't want to be in the story. And the character kind of led me too because a lot of my friends have always said to me that the way I talk about material, it's very much like a director. I just had to kick it into gear. So, I took a cue from Melody and said, "Okay, I need to live my life on my own terms."

But I hope to continue acting as well because I think it's a good muscle to keep flexible. Remembering what it's like to be an actor is important.

In what way, has your father influenced your career...both as an actress and now, as a filmmaker?

I think my Dad really leads by example. I've witnessed the way he conducts himself professionally, with a lot of dignity. He tells stories that he cares about and he cares about what he puts into the world. So, I really watch him and that's taught me a lot. I think as a kid, you watch more than you listen (laughs). And I think that has been a huge part of it. But my parents would have supported me in whatever I wanted to do.

Both my parents are teachers and growing up, the last thing I wanted to be was a teacher. Did you always want to work in the movie industry? Was it always in your blood?

(Laughs) No, I sort of prayed that it wouldn't be!

But I think, it beckons you or it doesn't. And it beckoned me. There are so many things to do in the world and being an actor and being a filmmaker sort of happened.

When I went to college, I was doing religious studies and humanities and I was a photographer and I managed a photo studio. But I kept being called and called back to the theater. It's an extraordinary thing to do. And I know I'm really lucky that I get to do it. Especially getting to an age where you realize how lucky you are. You're among the elite. Because if you get paid five dollars to act, five dollars to do something you love, you're in the minority of people on this planet that have the privilege to do so. And I feel pretty good about that.

Who or what inspires you as a filmmaker today?

Lots of people. But I think mostly what inspires me is what's going on in the world today.

Obviously, I take time to watch a lot of films. And I just saw "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." I really appreciated the dedication. Making the kind of film that he (Julian Schnabel) wanted to make, which is a really hard thing to do.

And I absolutely love comedies. Films that fulfill their intentions. Because it's hard not to let your film get highjacked by commerce. So, I see those kinds of movies.

Also, I feel there might be a place for me here because this film is very specific. It's got a very specific personality. And the next film that I'm going to make is very different, even in subject matter.

And that's "Face Value?"

Yes. "Face Value" and a couple other ones that are in the hopper. But I'm going to have a baby now and I'm really looking around at the world, trying to imagine what kinds of things I want to be putting out there. I guess maybe a little more responsibility to do that than when I was younger. Seeing people struggle, seeing a war going on. I'm navigating around all of that.



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