Who is Madelyn? How would you describe yourself in a nutshell?
A walking contradiction! Day dreamy, hyper focused, beyond sensitive, opinionated and combative; Debilitating neurotic, totally intrepid. You get it.
Where are you originally from? Tell us about your hometown.
I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, which totally gets a bad rap from LA kids who grew up elsewhere, but I adore it forever. It's managed to maintain a lot of the culture that was sucked out of places like Silverlake and Echo Park . When I'm driving over Laurel Canyon or stuck in traffic on the 405 and can see the San Gabriel Mountains come into view, I can feel my heart rate slow, no joke! If I've been spending too much time on the "other-side-of-the-hill" (as we valley rats say), I'll make a point to have a proper deep valley day - solid thrift shop, Vallarta market for mango and topo chico, and a cruise in my ultra-dusty Pprius. Windows rolled down, 92.3 turned up; that's my happy place.
How did film get started for you?
For college, I attended a music conservatory in New York City, but the curriculum and the culture of "art school" really stressed and restricted me. In a kind of sophmoric haze I went to my Uncle's (actor Robert Walden) scene study class in midtown, just to see what it was all about and try to expand my world a little. I had never acted before, or even ironically, been that involved in cinema, but it sucked me in quick.
Tell us about “The Year of Spectacular Men”, what is the film about? What has your role been in the making of this?
The Year of Spectacular Men is about Izzy Klein, a 22 year old recent college grad, who is as shook about her prospects in the "real world" as probably every other privileged American millennial. The film follows Izzy over the course of a year as she dates five super complicated, wildly different guys and tries to take responsibility for herself, her past, and her crippling addiction to the X-files.
I wrote the script, played Izzy, and composed the score for the film.
When did the writing process of “The Year of Spectacular Men” begin? How has the story evolved over time?
I have been a closeted writer my whole life. I say closeted because as a kid I intended to be a musician, but, I've kept journals since I was 7 years old, wrote poems to get out of math class, short stories and prose for extra credit - you name it. However, The Year of Spectacular Men was my first stab at screenwriting.
Because of this, the first draft took around 6 months to complete, but by the time we started shooting two years later, we were on our 9th or 10th draft. So, yes, the story changed tremendously over time. I based it and the characters on a year of my actual life, but as you tinker and rewrite they take on a life of their own. And by the end they cease to resemble real life at all.
As a first time screenwriter, did you find it difficult at times?
It was the hardest thing I've ever done. And it made more sense to me than anything I've ever done. See, walking contradiction!
Is there anything in particular that helps you with the screenwriting process? Is there something that re-inspires you constantly?
People. People are bananas. They are layered, have strange ticks, laugh weird, do their makeup wrong, say words funny.. I'll just walk up to the bank teller, the cashier, a lawyer, a gardener, anybody, and ask them to tell me all about what they do. They always think I'm being facetious but I'm enthralled by people.
What perspective on romance were you hoping to portray through the relationships the characters live out in the film?
Reality, as I've experienced it - but better lit.
How do you want people to feel when they walk away from the film?
I hope that during they laugh and cry. And that after, they keep laughing and maybe cry again. (But mostly laugh.)
What was it like acting alongside your real-life sister, Zoey, and mother, Lea?
Total joy, beyond. My Mom is such a veteran, I always learn from watching her. All the guys were brilliant that way too (Nicholas Braun, Cameron Monaghan, Brandon T. Jackson, Zach Roerig, Jesse Bradford, Avan Jogia.) And my sister is like the actor version of a formula 1 race car; fast as hell and pro AF. So when we got in our zone, ping ponging and improving off each other, I heard from people on set that it was like watching high wire acrobatics. I can't describe how fun it was.
When you were writing this, did you already have it in your head that Lea and Zoey would be acting as the characters?
Yes! We wanted to build a vehicle for all of us to work together in an acting space, but also for my mom to direct and my sister to produce. So I thought, if we have all this freedom, I'm going to create characters that they never get offered as actors.
What is your proudest moment in your career so far? What experience has most shaped you?
The Year of Spectacular Men, without question. We saw it through from an idealistic pipe dream, to an actual living breathing feature. Everyone involved - actors, producers, grips, transpo, everyone - bent over backwards to make it happen.
Do you have any upcoming projects?
Writing wise I have three pilots and a feature floating about, and I'm set to direct a few music videos this summer
What’s your dream project?
This came pretty freaking close!
What are you reading?
What keeps you busy aside from film?
I realized a few years ago that if I don't do something creative every day, I freak out. So I would work on a script, a song, an audition every day. But then I discovered that it's critical to sometimes separate creativity from commerce. So I've started doing dorky "craft days" with my girlfriends where we tie dye, make ugly beaded chokers, fail at mixing up bath bombs (I melted all mine in the oven) - creativity as it relates to play. It helps keep the creative child alive, sans stakes and criticism!
Currently binge watching?
Any advice you can give to aspiring filmmakers out there?
If you don't figure it out in the shooting draft, it will come back on set or in the edit and bite you in the ass!
If you will be given the chance and opportunity to help a specific charity, what would it be and why?
At this harrowing moment in our current political hellfire: the ACLU. They're the little guys looking out for the underdogs, and lately they seem to be the only ones interested in actually upholding the constitution. For democracy's sake we need them now more than ever.