Director Kelly Reichardt on Making ‘Certain Women’ and Who She Trusts For Honest Feedback

     September 17, 2016

One of the many films to play at this years’ Toronto International Film Festival was writer-director Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women. Based on the short stories of Malie Meloy, the film takes a triptych approach to storytelling, revolving around the tales of four individual women striving to forge their own paths. Set in the American Northwest, as are the majority of Reichardt’s films, the four stories are as follows: Laura Dern plays a lawyer who ends up contending with office sexism and a hostage situation at the same time; Michelle Williams plays a wife and mother who is determined to build her dream home; and Kristen Stewart plays a young law student who strikes up a relationship with a lonely ranch hand played by newcomer Lily Gladstone.


Image via IFC Films

Shortly after watching the film I sat down with Kelly Reichardt for an extended video interview. As a fan of her work (she’s previously directed Meek’s Cutoff, Wendy and Lucy, Night Moves) and this film, it was really cool to have an in-depth conversation that not only covered how Certain Women came together but how she got into filmmaking and her process as a director. Check out what she had to say in the video above and below you can see all the questions I asked her. In addition, further down the page is the Certain Women trailer and poster. The film opens in theaters on October 14th.

Kelly Reichardt:

  • How tough was it to get financing on this film?
  • Had they attached actors before going for financing?
  • How much is she figuring it out on set versus planning before they arrive?
  • How much did the story change along the way?
  • Who does she typically show early rough cuts to for honest feedback?
  • What did she learn from early screenings that impacted the finished film?
  • How long was her first cut versus the finished film?
  • Does she ever do test screenings?
  • What camera does she like to work with and what are her thoughts on film versus digital.
  • How did she assemble her cast?
  • How has her process as a director changed through her career?
  • certain-women-michelle-williams

    Image via IFC Films

    When did she decide that she wanted to be a filmmaker?

Here’s the official synopsis for Certain Women:

One of America’s foremost filmmakers, Kelly Reichardt (Wendy and Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff) directs a remarkable ensemble cast led by Michelle Williams, Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern and newcomer Lily Gladstone in this stirring look at four women striving to forge their own paths amidst the wide-open plains of the American Northwest: a lawyer (Dern) who finds herself contending with both office sexism and a hostage situation; a wife and mother (Williams) whose determination to build her dream home puts her at odds with the men in her life; and a young law student (Stewart) who forms an ambiguous bond with a lonely ranch hand (radiant newcomer Lily Gladstone). As their stories intersect in subtle but powerful ways, a portrait emerges of flawed, but strong-willed individuals in the process of defining themselves.



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