Seriously Red marks actress Krew Boylan’s debut as a screenwriter. Boylan also is the lead, playing a Dolly Parton tribute performer named Red. Boylan talked to Deepest Dream about her ambitious and entertaining feature, which is now out in theaters and PVOD (premium video on demand).
Seriously Red also stars Rose Byrne as an Elvis tribute performer and Bobby Cannavale as the booker/manager who helps Red get started in show business. Thomas Campbell delivers a scene stealing turn as Red’s best friend Francis, a well meaning guy who simply wants the best for his BFF.
If you love Dolly Parton and her music, Seriously Red’s charm and energy should win you over. I also appreciated the dramatic undertones of Krew Boylan’s script, and she carries the film with a ton of moxie and heart.
Boylan discussed Dollhouse Pictures, a collective which also features Seriously Red director Gracie Otto and Byrne, and her journey as a writer during our chat.
How did your production company Dollhouse Pictures come about?
Krew Boylan: Make sure you surround yourself with some great collaborators. That’s how we really started. We had this film, we’ve known each other for years. We had this script for years and we’d pass it around and we would all talk about it.
It started years ago. Jessica Carrera our lead producer of the film and a co-founder of Dollhouse Pictures, said “Hey, we’re stronger together. Let’s start a production company. We all have 20 years each of experience in the business. Let’s come together and start telling some stories we’re interested in.”
Geena Davis came out to Australia to talk about women in film. She was talking about the statistics (regarding) female driven stories. It was a whole Women in Film and Media discussion. We had only just started our production company. This was about eight years ago . . . we all have different strengths and we have a similar ethos in terms of what we want to achieve. And what we want to deliver.
Yes (we are making films) out of Australia but not necessarily. We very much have a global headspace. That is where we are at.
I really loved one of the themes in Seriously Red, where one character asks Red, to paraphrase, “who is busy being you.” Can you speak to that element of your story? Did you know that was going to be a big part of Seriously Red?
Krew Boylan: Identity is such a strong theme in the film. It probably wasn’t something I wasn’t consciously thinking about when I started writing it. My conscious thought was, ‘what is success’ and ‘why do I want it?’ What does success look like to me?
Very quickly, I realized success to me looks like Dolly Parton. And then throughout trying to figure out what that is, identity became such a strong theme in the film. The idea of living as Dolly Parton sounds quite theatrical, however when you break it down, it’s actually not.
In society, we are all living under the guise of a filter. And how do you choose to decipher who you are in today’s world. It’s something that I think we all lose so quickly . . . especially being an actress and a writer you struggle to figure out who you are and how you fit in and how you are getting cast.
Can you talk about Red’s platonic and pure friendship with her co-worker Francis (Thomas Campbell)? I loved how that relationship played out in the movie.
Krew Boylan: Yeah, thank you for talking about those two characters. I too have such strong relationships with, not only with my dad, but with a lot of other men who are gay and straight. It’s not something I see enough in films and I so often got pushed to make it a really strong gay character and I was like, “Why, can’t we have someone who is not necessarily a gay man?” It’s not about sex. It’s about a friendship and a deep love for each other.
I love finding those nuances and I love watching those relationships unfold. It’s almost like the next film it would be great to see how they evolve and how they work out. I really love Francis and I have such great, sensitive men in my life. I want to see more of my life. There are heaps of Marvel (characters). We don’t need any more macho (male characers) – can we talk to the other people who aren’t superheroes? Men who are more new age and nuanced and show all those different sides. I love that character.
Podcast version of Krew Boylan interview via Spotify:
What was it like for you to finally meet Dolly Parton? That must have been a surreal moment.
It was. I thought when I met her, I would be like very much more like my stupid, annoying, impulsive self. But I was very much in my boots and I was very cool. Even though Dolly’s manager Danny Nozell who has been instrumental in helping us with Dolly’s music and texted Jessica our producer and said “See you in 20 minutes.”
I’m in my wet swimming costume. I was on my bed with a wet cossie. I was planning on being dolled up and beautiful if we had the chance to meet her. Because it wasn’t confirmed.
I threw on an outfit and took an Uber. We were in Austin, Texas. We arrived backstage, she was (performing at) a concert. And then we just walked in and there she this beautiful, little tiny pocket rocket and she was like, “You’re really beautiful.” I was like, “Thanks, so are you (laughs).” She was as kind and as humble and as normal as I had dreamed. She was giving.
Sometimes when you are meeting someone as famous as that, you just don’t know how it’s going to unfold and what their energy levels are like. We were in very much the same energy space.
She (said), “I see you. I can see you.” And I started to cry. I (said), “I think I can see you too.” I was crying and said “Thank you for letting me share my story through your stories.” She said “Are you crying, angel?” She wiped away my tears and we had another good 30 minute chat about the film, about life, and about success. She was just so cute and humble. Yeah. It was a dream.
Was writing Seriously Red an intimidating experience since the myth is that it can be a very solitary experience. Plus, you deliver some emotionally charged moments in the movie – was that hard as well?
Krew Boylan: The acting is old hat for me. That’s my go to. That is what I know. It’s so comfortable. And I love being ugly and fat and skinny and beautiful. I love showing all that. I don’t mind at all.
The writing is pretty personal. Because this was my first feature film. I did feel a bit vulnerable. I still kind of do. At the same time, it doesn’t matter. You just got to let it go (laughs).
It is very solitary. I talked to a girlfriend this morning – she’s studying. She (said) “Oh my gosh, sitting by yourself and having to just have your own self-generating motivation is intense. I really appreciate your writing. How long it takes to write and sit down by yourself to do it.”
I love the joy of the story and the musicality of it. All of that stuff kept me going. I wrote a lot of it in America. I was living in New York City and I wrote a lot of it in some of those cafes on 9th street. I’m not quite in the headspace to write a dark horror. I don’t know if I could sit with that. I’ll probably keep it in the vein of joy. It’s easier to sit with.
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