In­grid goes west

The In­sta­gram Movie? Sort of. Aubrey Plaza and El­iz­a­beth Olsen star in pitch-black dram­edy In­grid Goes West, the zeit­geisty tale of a so­cial me­dia su­per­star and an ob­ses­sive fol­lower. To­tal Film gets face­time with the stars to talk about fame, fol­low­ers a

Total Film - - Contents - Words Matt May­tuM

We meet Aubrey Plaza and El­iz­a­beth Olsen IRL to talk about an In­sta clas­sic.

Park City, Jan­uary 2017. To­tal Film’s in town for the Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val, where In­grid Goes West has just gone down a storm. The scalpel-sharp com­edy fol­lows In­grid (Aubrey Plaza), a young woman with men­tal health is­sues, who takes an ob­ses­sive shine to In­sta­gram in­flu­encer Tay­lor Sloane (El­iz­a­beth Olsen). Head­ing to LA to stalk/be­friend the ob­ject of her af­fec­tion, In­grid in­vei­gles her way into Tay­lor’s heav­ily fil­tered life, and also be­friends Bat­man-ob­sessed Dan (O’Shea Jack­son Jr.). It’s very much a film for right now, smartly dis­sect­ing so­cial me­dia cul­ture, ex­am­in­ing the dark and funny side be­yond the likes, emo­jis and hash­tags. It’s cer­tain to make you re-ex­am­ine your own habits next time you log in.

Tak­ing a break from the snow out­side, we’ve hun­kered down in a stu­dio on Main Street to get to know the peo­ple be­hind the on-screen cyphers. “It’s weird that it’s a chal­lenge to be real,” de­but di­rec­tor Matt Spicer muses of so­cial me­dia. “You think it’d be su­per-easy, but it’s ac­tu­ally hard, be­cause I think we’re kind of pro­grammed to project this ver­sion of our­selves, this other iden­tity that we’ve cre­ated for our­selves.”

In terms of public per­cep­tion, both Plaza and Olsen ex­plore new ter­ri­tory in IGW. Plaza (who also pro­duces) has earned raves, with some com­par­ing her turn to some­thing from De Niro’s hey­day, and va­pid In­sta-icon Tay­lor gives Olsen a chance to do a com­plete 180 from the in­tense screen per­sona she’s been cul­ti­vat­ing since 2011’s Martha Marcy May Mar­lene.

In per­son, the pair make for easy com­pany, talk­ing can­didly about their re­la­tion­ships to fame and so­cial me­dia (Olsen’s of­fi­cial In­sta­gram ac­count has be­come more active since our chat). They have an easy rap­port that is worlds away from their char­ac­ters’ ar­ti­fi­cial friend­ship, which we dis­cover when the parkas come off and the con­ver­sa­tion be­gins…

El­iz­a­beth olsen ‘I don’t have so­cial me­dia.

I don’t want to feel the pres­sure of cre­at­ing an image of my­self.’

How active are each of you on so­cial me­dia? EL­IZ­A­BETH OLSEN: I don’t have so­cial me­dia. So I’m not active at all.

And why is that?

EO: I think it’d prob­a­bly be a good idea for dif­fer­ent as­pects of this job, but I don’t want to be pre­oc­cu­pied by it, and I don’t want to feel the pres­sure of cre­at­ing an image of my­self and un­der­stand­ing what I would want peo­ple to see my life as. I’d just rather do what­ever it is that I do, pri­vately.

AUBREY PLAZA: My re­la­tion­ship with it al­ways… I strug­gle with it. I don’t re­ally like it. It kind of goes against a lot of my in­stincts. But some­times I have fun with it, but I haven’t been on Face­book in a re­ally, re­ally long time. I do it very min­i­mally.

Aubrey, can you talk about your role as a pro­ducer on In­grid Goes West?

Both of you have done re­mark­able things to shape your own ca­reers.

AP: Yeah. I re­ally en­joy col­lab­o­ra­tion. I don’t like hav­ing that pres­sure of like: “Oh, ev­ery ac­tor has to write their dream role for them­selves, and that’s the only way it’ll hap­pen.” Which I think… some­times, that does work, and that’s great, too, but this movie was a very or­ganic process. I read the script. I loved it. I met Matt [Spicer], and he as­sem­bled all of th­ese peo­ple I’ve been want­ing to work with. So I think, for me, it’s all about that col­lab­o­ra­tion and just hav­ing that or­ganic thing lead­ing the way.

EO: I just started work­ing six years ago, so I think I’ve just started in the last cou­ple of years to find my groove and how I want to make choices. And I’m en­joy­ing what I’ve been do­ing the last cou­ple of years, which is the bal­ance be­tween hav­ing time off Marvel – which I love do­ing – and find­ing pas­sion projects like this one and Wind River.

Like Aubrey, I’m just start­ing to de­velop projects and be a part of things from the be­gin­ning, and pitch­ing. That world, to me, is re­ally fas­ci­nat­ing, be­cause I think there are holes in sto­ry­telling, that I think the things I’m cre­at­ing help fill. And that’s ex­cit­ing to me.

How did you de­velop the on-screen chem­istry be­tween the two of you?

EO: Well, I fell in love with Aubrey.

[starts laugh­ing]

AP: You were ac­tu­ally my stalker on set. We kind of de­cided to do a role re­ver­sal when we were in our trail­ers.

EO: Yeah. I think it’s be­cause I was ini­tially in­tim­i­dated by you, so then

I just de­cided to be weirder than you.

AP: And I think you suc­ceeded. [laughs]

I would just take sneaky pic­tures of her getting her make-up done and then…

EO: …and then it was the screen­saver on her phone for the en­tirety of film­ing.

AP: That’s right. It’s the lit­tle things that add up.

EO: Yeah. It’s also just nice to work with a fe­male of a sim­i­lar gen­er­a­tion. I don’t re­ally get that op­por­tu­nity that of­ten, so that felt novel to me.

AP: And it’s nice to work with cool women that are fun, and like, we are ac­tu­ally friends. So it’s re­ally… it’s the best.

When you’re mak­ing a dark com­edy like this, how do you know when you’re rid­ing that line prop­erly?

EO: I think we all un­der­stood the tone in­her­ently in some weird way, right? AP: I think for any com­edy…

EO: You play it sin­cerely.

AP: Yeah. You just com­mit to your char­ac­ter, and the com­edy will come out of the truth of that. Peo­ple that don’t un­der­stand that and go for the joke – that’s when the tone starts to get weird.

EO: But we also un­der­stood what it was that we were try­ing to com­ment on. Like, the overuse of hy­per­bole, for ex­am­ple. That kind of stuff was con­sis­tent. We knew those kinds of things, as themes al­most, I guess.

How do you think wider au­di­ences are going to re­act to In­grid Goes West?

Are peo­ple going to quit In­sta­gram?

EO: No, be­cause I think it’s more about shar­ing the most ex­treme ver­sion of a re­la­tion­ship to it, as op­posed to sham­ing.

AP: Yeah, I don’t think the mes­sage of the movie is “In­sta­gram is bad”. I think it’s more com­pli­cated than that.

EO: Be­cause at the same time, what it ends up show­ing is that your char­ac­ter even­tu­ally has to be the most hon­est, raw ver­sion of your­self, and then she gets what she al­ways wanted out of it. So it’s ac­tu­ally got some weird, pos­i­tive, twisted mes­sage at the end.

What would you say is the big­gest dis­con­nect be­tween how your fans see you and how you ac­tu­ally live? EO: I don’t know what fans think of me. AP: I have a slight idea… [laughs] I have a slight idea of what they think of me.

EO: I guess there’s one com­ment that I made a joke about with a friend when I was hav­ing some dark, dark mo­ment in my googling of my­self

– as you just fuck­ing do. And it sucks, but you do it, and it’s hon­est. But I re­mem­ber, some­one said a com­ment that I was a bitch be­cause I waltzed through a door that some­one was hold­ing or some­thing.

I was like, “What? When was that?!” [laughs] And then I was re­ally up­set that some­one thought I was rude! I re­ally try to treat ev­ery­body the way you want to be treated. But I was like, “Fuck that. That sucks! Why is that out there on a com­ment?” No one else read it but me. AP: It’s not even real. It’s just stupid. EO: I know. But that’s when you read it, and for half a sec­ond, you are up­set, and then you’re like, “Lizzie – stop. It’s so weird that you’re even think­ing like that. Just stop.” You’ve played so many char­ac­ters in the public eye that peo­ple think they know who you are and what you’re like.

AP: Yeah. I think be­ing on a tele­vi­sion show [Parks And Re­cre­ation] for so long, for seven years, and be­ing in peo­ple’s liv­ing rooms and play­ing a char­ac­ter like that, of course they’re going to as­so­ciate it with me, and I am that char­ac­ter. I mean, I’m not that char­ac­ter, but I play that char­ac­ter with my body and my ex­pe­ri­ences and my sense of hu­mour. I’m sure it feels like, you know, peo­ple think they know who I am, but they prob­a­bly don’t. I don’t re­ally know. [laughs] Have you guys ever fan­girled about any­thing? Was there any­thing you were ob­sessed with? EO: Michelle Pfeif­fer, as a lit­tle girl.

Bat­man Re­turns Michelle Pfeif­fer? Or ev­ery­thing?

EO: Ev­ery­thing. I watched al­most all of her movies be­fore the age of 13, and dressed up as her as Grease 2, but like… I think it started with Bat­man.…

AP: One Fine Day.

EO: One Fine Day. Ev­ery­thing. Any­thing. Tequila Sun­rise. Just name it. [laughs] Be­cause I was ob­sessed with her.

AP: The Fab­u­lous Baker Boys?

EO: Oh, God, don’t even get me started. AP: [dead­pan voice] Oh, don’t get me started, girl.

EO: That is the sex­i­est way a dress has ever been un­zipped.

AP: I was re­ally ob­sessed with Judy Gar­land grow­ing up, since I was, like, 11. So I have a lot of Wiz­ard Of Oz stuff in my room. But I wasn’t even that ob­sessed with The Wiz­ard Of Oz, but that was just the eas­i­est thing that peo­ple as­so­ci­ated me with, so I had a lot of that going on.

Does it ir­ri­tate you that a lot of cur­rent so­cial me­dia stars can be fa­mous with­out hav­ing any real ta­lent?

EO: No, be­cause it’s not about fame. If you have some­thing that is a craft, I guess, then it’s dif­fer­ent. Be­cause I don’t think [Aubrey] and I are try­ing to get mil­lions of fol­low­ers for no rea­son. [laughs]

AP: No, and I hate it when peo­ple fol­low me. It freaks me out.

shar­ing’s caring El­iz­a­beth Olsen as so­cial me­dia star Tay­lor Sloane, with Aubrey Plaza’s fan­girl In­grid; O’Shea Jack­son Jr. as In­grid’s land­lord Dan Pinto (bot­tom left).

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