B-MORE Cultured Interview: Tiny Furniture’s Alicia Van Couvering

If you didn’t already know The Maryland Film Festival is this weekend (and you should be excited.) 

Tiny Furniture is one of the many films that I think you should check out. The film is about a 22-year-old post-grad who moves back home to figure out what’s next. As a 22-year old senior in college who is getting ready to graduate in a couple of weeks…I don’t know about you, but I want to see this!

The film will be showing at the MICA Brown Center on May 7 at 9 p.m and May 8 at 2 p.m.  

producer Alicia Van Couvering (right)

Check out my interview with Alicia Van Couvering the producer of the film.  

1) How do you feel about showing at the Maryland Film Festival?  

Maryland is one of the festivals in the US where the programming is so unique and bold and inventive, that you know you’re going to see really surprising movies that you’d never get to see otherwise. It’s becoming a really important festival in terms of defining what is New on the indie film scene. I think Scott and the programmers do an incredible job. Needless to say, we’re incredibly honored to be a part of it — it makes us feel like our film is a part of something big and important, that we’re included on a very important list of new films. It’s also a really fun place to be.  

from "Tiny Furniture"

2) What can people expect from the film? Why should they come out to see it?  

If you like Woody Allen, Elaine May, Noah Baumbach, Nicole Holofcener — you’ll like this! For people who like to keep abreast of what’s happening in indie film, I think that Tiny Furniture combines some of the most interesting new trends in American indie cinema — first person narratives, real-people casting, what you can do with a micro-budget, the latest camera technology (its the first film to premiere that was shot entireily on the Canon 7D HDSLR camera, which is technically a still camera.) Lena’s been widely crowned an Important New Voice in independent film, and I think her voice is really genuine, true and hilarious. It’s also a movie about being female in a way that only a woman could make. Most of all though, the movie is extremely funny and very touching.  

3) How did you get involved with the film?  

Around the Spring of 2009, people kept coming up to me asking if I knew Lena Dunham, or assuming I was friends with Lena Dunham. Finally I met Lena, and she said, “people keep coming up to me and saying, ‘You know Alicia Van Couvering, right?’” And we immediately bonded over a mutual fondness for gossip and savory snacks.  

from "Tiny Furniture"

4) What did being the producer of Tiny Furniture entail?  

It entails everything from creating and managing the budget, executing contracts, hiring crew, arranging transportation, renting equipment, and running the set from minute to minute (I AD’ed as well, while the other producer, Kyle, staying in another part of the set, making phone calls to plan the next day.) When the movie is finished, we gave notes on the edit as it developed, managed the festival strategy, put press materials together, obtained a sales agent, managed an overbooked premiere and then got very drunk afterwards. It’s extremely gratifying working with Lena because even though she knows exactly what she wants, she really trusted us as producers and her key crew — the cinematographer, the editor — for creative input.  

 5) What was your experience producing Tiny Furniture?  

Totally gratifying in every way. For me personally, since it was my first movie as a producer, it was the experience of doing the thing that you always thought you would enjoy and be good at, and then going through something that exceeding your expectations in every way. I’m so proud of Lena, and feel so fulfilled by knowing that I contributed to her making the movie she had in her head.  

on set

  6) What was it like on set?  

Our set was small and intimate — about 12 crew members at the most, at any time. We moved very fast but very efficiently. Most of the crew — the DP, the Editor, the Sound Recordist, the focus puller, both producers including myself — had gone to NYU together and been working together since graduation, which made things really fun and easy. We shot for 18 days, about 13 of them in Lena’s parents house, where the movie was set; of course, Lena’s mother is in the film, and Lena, her mom and sister all live in the house together. It was a very relaxed, fun shoot, made more fun by the fact that everyone could see how good the movie was while we were making it. It was fun to wake Grace up every day and force her to get dressed and come downstairs to act in the movie.  

the crew

 7) Did you have any difficulties?

There’s always difficulties making a low budget movie — it’s a lot like trying to run a small army through an invasion of hostile territory — but we had all been through it enough times to know what to expect. There was actually never a moment where it just seemed impossible, which is pretty amazing; on almost every movie, there’s a moment where you think it’s all going to fall apart. I never felt that way, although Lena has since admitted that she was afraid every night that the crew wouldn’t come back the next day. The reception to the film has been so positive that it makes any difficulty along the way seem totally worth it.

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About Katie K.

Katie K is an aspiring something or other from Baltimore. She loves film & music. contact: Katie.Killon@gmail.com
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