'Echo Park' Premiers a film and a director
When Amanda Marsalis was approached to direct Echo Park, she was not a director. An established photographer with a resume that would impress anyone, sure, but directing a narrative motion picture was foreign to her. She knew she was jumping into uncharted territory but that was not going to be an issue. She was primed for it, saying, “Obviously I understood it was going to be a lot of work so, I was ready to be surprised daily.”
The collaborative process of movie making totally took Amanda aback initially, remarking, “All these people are there to help you make art. There’s all these people who are just excited that you asked them to help you make art.” Usually, she explained, on a photography set, everyone works towards the same goal but in a different way. “I learned a lot,” she says. “I think I’m a much better photographer because of this experience.”
It wasn’t just a great crew on her film, but also incredible actors, like the compelling Mamie Gummer. Mamie has been gracing stages and screens for more than a decade, she’s a pro, and it supported Amanda a ton to have someone so formidable on her set. Amanda says, “I was really lucky that [Mamie] trusted me, and helped me. I’m proud to have someone who’s such a great actress in my film.”
Amanda didn’t leave anything on the table with Echo Park, it’s deeply personal. Not only has the story become personal to her over the process of shooting and editing a film, but her life is literally on screen. She explains, “I put everything I had into this. The furniture was moved out of my house onto the set. My friends gave music. My photos are on the wall. My friends are extras in the background. I gave it everything. Everything I had.”
Just like any fulfilling endeavor, the more you pour out, the more you have left to give. And she’s not going to stop now. “It’s my complete intention to direct another movie,” she proclaims. What’s her next project? She’s keeping that to herself for now.
Echo Park will finally be seen by audiences at the LA Film Fest on Saturday, June 14. Even though the film is cut and ready to go, Amanda hasn’t relaxed quite yet. “I don’t feel like it’s done yet. It’s exciting.” It’s not over ‘til it’s over. “Once the world has seen it then I feel like I’ll deserve vacation.”