The Big Picture
- Alden Ehrenreich’s debut short film, Shadow Brother Sunday, is currently on the festival circuit, and he hopes to release it theatrically.
- Ehrenreich drew inspiration from director Francis Ford Coppola, who emphasized the importance of rehearsals and creating a fun and safe environment for actors.
- Ehrenreich’s experience with Coppola taught him the value of rehearsal in developing great performances in a shorter amount of time.
Whenever an actor decides to make the leap behind the camera, it’s only natural that they would turn to the people who directed them for inspiration in their own work. That’s exactly what Alden Ehrenreich did when preparing his debut short film, Shadow Brother Sunday, about a down-on-his-luck musician plotting against his far more successful filmmaker brother. Although the talented actor has collaborated with some big names throughout his career, including Ethan and Joel Coen and Ron Howard, he told Collider’s Steve Weintraub in an interview that there was one director who taught him a particularly crucial lesson that came in handy during filming – Francis Ford Coppola.
Directing was something that Ehrenreich always gave some thought to and every project he was involved in taught him something for his first time calling the shots. “I mean, I have like notes on my phone, and it’ll be ‘Directing,’ and in parentheses whatever the movie is, and it will be just pages and pages of all the notes that I’m taking as an actor,” he said. “A lot of them are do’s, a lot of them are don’ts, and it can be really micro things, you know?” Coppola made an especially strong impression on him as a young actor, however, when the Academy Award winner cast him in Tetro, his first film role. Playing the younger brother to the titular Tetro in the 2009 film noir, Ehrenreich got a front-row seat to Coppola’s process. What he loved most of all about the director was how he handled rehearsals in a way that allowed actors to have fun.
Reflecting on his experience with Coppola in both his first role and his appearance in the auteur’s 2011 horror film Twixt, Ehrenreich said he wanted to emphasize the rehearsal process as an important method of getting his stars invested in the project and each other:
“My first film was for Francis Ford Coppola. He really emphasized the rehearsal process, and in that rehearsal process, we were experimenting, we were making fools out of ourselves. He understood on a deep level that actors needed to play and needed to have fun and needed to feel that they could make mistakes and feel safe, and so he facilitated this rehearsal process that, yes, helped us figure out where the scene wanted to be and practical things, but mainly it made us feel like a troupe, and it made it feel like the joy of being in a play in middle school, and that really translates to the films. For all the seriousness and the gravitas of his films, at the heart of it are these great performances, and that comes more quickly out of that than it does out of these other environments. So rehearsal being really, really paramount to me, and then, you know, [laughs] just about hundreds of thousands of other things I feel like I’ve picked up from all these people I’ve been so fortunate to be able to work for.”
When Will ‘Shadow Brother Sunday’ Be Available to the Public?
Shadow Brother Sunday debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year, and it’s currently still out on the festival circuit. Once its run is complete, Ehrenreich hopes to bring it to the public through a theatrical release. The Solo star works both behind and in front of the camera, playing the older brother Cole who aims to take his sibling, played by Nick Robinson, down a peg by stealing his computer for the paparazzi. Coppola was gracious enough to come aboard as an executive producer for the approximately 15-minute film as well and offer Ehrenreich some advice as he wrote and filmed the project. Ana Auther, Lisa Edelstein, Elizabeth Guest, Nick Searcy, Ayah Weitz, and Jacob Wysocki round out the cast.
Stay tuned here at Collider for more on Ehrenreich’s directorial debut, and check out the trailer below:
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Khushi Patel is a science fiction author who lives in Austin, Texas. She has published three novels, and her work has been praised for its originality and imagination. Khushi is a graduate of Rice University, and she has worked as a software engineer. She is a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, and her books have been nominated for several awards.