Tribeca 2018 was truly the year for female filmmakers. With “Egg,” actress and director Marianne Palka (“Glow”) proves that she’s just as talented behind the camera as she is in front of it. Fresh off the success of writing and directing her dark comedy “Bitch” (2017) Palka takes on a more dialogue-driven relationship story. In “Egg,” two art school friends and their husbands meet for an afternoon in New York. While discussing pregnancy and pending motherhood in the backdrop of an artsy apartment, one of the couples reveals their non-traditional surrogate.
The film stars Christina Hendricks (“Good Girls”), David Alan Basche (“The Vanishing of Sidney Hall”), Gbenga Akinnagbe (“Detour”), Anna Camp (“Pitch Perfect 3”) and Alysia Reiner (“Orange is the New Black”) who also served as one of the producers. I was lucky enough to talk with these talented ladies about their recent film.
When asked what drew Palka to the script, she claimed “Everything!” adding that she loved the material and always wanted to work with Alysia, as she is a “multitasker.” “I’m the same way, so we had a real sister vibe.”
As far as working in the limited space of basic set both Palka and Reiner enjoyed the experience. “It was very organic and supportive, with no tension,” said Palka, adding, “everybody knew each other’s names.”
Reiner commented, “every cell of every human was on that set. The crew was so supportive. Everyone had their cell phones turned off and everyone listened.” She added “unlike on a big film, when you move from set to set you don’t lose your energy.” When asked if it was harder to direct someone else’s script as opposed to one of her own, Palka responded “It’s the same thing for me. I’m very detail-based. It’s wonderful to collaborate on someone’s script and wonderful to do my own scripts.” Since the film takes place in the apartment of a conceptional artist the set design was of great importance. According to both Palka and Reiner, “all the art was created by women.” Reiner added that many of the pieces were found by their production designer Sally Levi and some pieces were donated by friends.
I asked Palka if she ever read a script and wanted to be both actor and director? Palka stated “I’m not egotistical that way,” As for what she finds harder, between acting or directing? “I like them both the same.” As for what Reiner finds harder, acting or producing, she chose the latter.
Ironically, Reiner appears in the film with her real-life husband Basche but not as a couple. When asked what it was like she replied, “Awesome and fun, especially because my character doesn’t like him.” She later mused “We hugged between takes.” In response to the question what’s harder, comedy or drama, both women said at the same time “Comedy!”
As far as being called a “female” director as opposed to just a director, Palka said “I don’t feel you have to say it.” Reiner then made the comparison “That’s like asking women do they like to be called actress or actor” to which she added, “I personally don’t care.” When asked what the film meant to allude to, Palka said, “ot’s O.K. to not agree with someone you’re in a relationship with.” Reiner added “It’s about loving and listening to each other.”
Rudy Cecera is ScreenComment’s New York-based contributor. He has covered the Tribeca Festival since 2013 (@RComwrit22j)