Nineteen years after effectively launching her acting career at Sundance with Gregg Araki’s “The Doom Generation,” Rose McGowan is back in Park City to launch her directing one with her accomplished directorial debut, the short film “Dawn.”
Since becoming an icon to the hipster generation via Araki’s lurid thriller, McGowan has made a career out of playing deadpan, glamor pusses, most notably in the first “Scream,” TV’s “Charmed,” Robert Rodriguez’s bloody Grindhouse homage “Planet Terror” and the teen cult comedy “Jawbreaker.” She doesn’t’ star in “Dawn,” but her fingerprints are all over the material from its satiric edge to its dark heart. The period pic concerns a closeted teenage girl (played by “God Bless America” breakout Tara Lynne Barr) who decides to walk on the wild side when she encounters a hunky gas station attendant. What unfolds over the course of their courtship is shocking, and best left a surprise.
Indiewire caught up with McGowan before Sundance to discuss her debut, why she feels like a natural born filmmaker, and her future feature film.
From the opening shot of Dawn, you know something is not quite right. In an eerie flash-forward, the scene is set for the directorial debut of Rose McGowan (Jawbreaker, Planet Terror, Charmed). The story focuses on Tara Barr (God Bless America) who plays the title character. She is a shy and quiet teenager in mid last century America, donning saddle shoes and all. Clearly sheltered by strict parents, she is a rule following good girl. One smile to the local boy who works at the fill up station and she is smitten. Her innocence isn’t long lived when she invites the boy and his two friends over to listen to records while mom and dad are out of town. All she wants is some attention but, as everyone knows, peer pressure can be the end of who you truly are.
This 17 minute short is so incredibly lush in it’s color pallet and the soundtrack truly captures the era. Tara is lovely on screen. Regardless of the year, this character is someone we either knew or were at some point in our adolescence. You see every honest beat in Barr’s eyes. You want everything to turn out alright for her in the end. The film left me literally breathless, heart racing and disturbed. I am so impressed with McGowan’s dark choices. The woman clearly has a strong point of view and I cannot wait to see what’s next.
Directed by: Rose McGowan
Written by: M.A. Fortin, Joshua John Miller
Cast: Tara Barr, Reiley McClendon, Hannah Marks, Michael Moskewicz, Julia Sanford, John Grady
TRT: 17 minutes
While Rose McGowan is known for taking on edgy roles in the films like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s “Grindhouse” and the hit TV series “Charmed,” she says she only recently found her true calling, behind the camera.
“Directing wasn’t particularly challenging, I find acting more challenging,” McGowan told FOX411 ahead of the Thursday night Sundance Film Festival screening of her directorial debut short film, “Dawn.” “I’m used to handling a lot. I run a tight ship. I find acting harder because I have no control in that. I kept waiting for the panic attack to happen while directing, but it just didn’t… I like acting, but if I never act again, I’ll be okay.”
Written by M.A. Fortin and Joshua John Miller, who McGowan first met when she skipped school as a 14-year-old to play a movie extra, “Dawn” is centered on a quiet teenager living in a Kennedy-era America who longs for something or someone to free her from her sheltered life. The girl soon meets a boy at the local gas station who gets more from her than he anticipated.
We’re overjoyed to report that Rose’s directorial debut, a short film titled Dawn, will premiere in the US Narrative Short Films category at the Sundance Film Festival next month!
Dawn / U.S.A. (Director: Rose McGowan, Screenwriters: M.A. Fortin, Joshua John Miller) — Dawn is a quiet young teenager who longs for something or someone to free her from her sheltered life.
The upcoming 30th anniversary of Sundance Film Festival, which runs from January 16 to 26, 2014, sees 66 short films to be screened from a record-breaking total of 8,161 submissions.
Rose McGowan moves intuitively around her LA home in this tender portrait by Marlene Marino, shot earlier this year when the photographer captured the American actress for the latest issue of lifestyle title Apartamento. The Brian De Palma and Quentin Tarantino favorite made her name in tongue-in-cheek slasher Scream and supernatural series Charmed, and established her cult status in director Gregg Araki’s 1995 comedy thriller The Doom Generation, which saw the pin-up entangled in a sordid ménage à trois. Yet shooting today’s short was a strict case of ‘Two’s company.’ Having met through director Ridley Scott’s Black Dog Films—set to release McGowan’s directorial debut Dawn—the actress and Marino bonded over a shared attitude towards beauty. “Marlene and I were just celebrating femininity,” she says of the visceral short that is soundtracked by Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi, who previously scored Shane Meadows’ This Is England. “I think people can rise higher than the consensus of what is considered sexy; our only objective was to do something natural. I didn’t act, I just flowed into it.”
Rose McGowan Dances Au Naturel in the Privacy of Her Californian Hideaway
What was it like to see yourself in this completely uninhibited state?
Rose McGowan: It was really transformative: it actually made me cry. It was born out of reclaiming my own ideas of what beauty is. I have realized that I don’t have to be bound by the “rules” here in Los Angeles or Hollywood. It is me, but not an artificial version.
What’s next for you?
RM: I’m going to direct my first feature film, taking things I borrowed from Marlene. I’m also making a show about art and pornography. It will be custom-made porn but not in the kind of way that you’ve seen or that you think of it.
Is that in production?
RM: I just shot the teaser for it and in it I’m wearing a strap-on. It’s pretty balls-out, I’m not gonna lie—it’s going to look insane.
What’s your experience of pornography?
RM: I have never liked it and don’t find it sexually interesting: I don’t like their hair, makeup, or acting. How am I supposed to get excited by something that I think is cornball and not beautiful?
So what would you consider to be sexy?
RM: Oh I don’t know, maybe two people in a lovely field on a farm, shot like Terence Malick.