LA Times — Karen Gillan has recently transplanted herself away from sunny Los Angeles to much-less-sunny New York City, and she couldn’t be happier about it. “It’s cool here! I find it really inspiring,” the actress turned filmmaker explained, FaceTiming in from her new digs on a crisp spring day. “I think I like to be a pedestrian — I don’t know how to drive — I’m really pale and I like the colder weather because of where I’m from.”
“L.A. doesn’t lend itself to any of the things that I am,” she quipped with a breezy smile. That’s just fine with Gillan, who seems to find the bright side of most things. Besides, she points out, New York is practically halfway home to Scotland. Back home is where her heart has led her, professionally speaking, as her acting success has dovetailed with a new itch to get behind the camera.
This month Gillan is celebrating a more personally significant cinematic feat: Her feature directing debut, the Scotland-set “The Party’s Just Beginning.” The scrappy drama made on an indie budget in 18 days premieres Sunday at the Tribeca Film Festival. Gillan directs herself in the film as Liusaidh, a young Scottish woman in her 20s stuck in a tailspin of grief a year after the death of her best friend. She’s smart and capable but aimless and a touch hostile, haunted by a loss she can’t seem to communicate to anyone else. Drowning herself in drink and sex, she screams to be heard in a town where everyone is battling their own private demons. It’s a project that brought her full circle back to Inverness, in the Scottish Highlands, where she grew up. “It’s such an idyllic place to live,” she described. “It’s really picturesque and beautiful and safe, so as a child you could run around without your parents worrying about you. In that respect it was just a really lovely upbringing, running around Scottish landscapes.”
At 24, her television and film career taking off, she began writing a script, finding a kernel of inspiration for a fictional story in a startling statistic she’d read about her own hometown. “The suicide rates in the Highlands of Scotland where Inverness is are higher among young men than in the rest of Scotland,” she said. “Why is this dark statistic looming over us?”
“My favorite director is Stanley Kubrick – and it doesn’t look like a Kubrick movie, but a lot of the choices we made in the film were informed by the emotions of the character that was feeling them. I wanted it to feel static, like she’s stuck in a moment. The flashbacks could feel more fluid, more warm and natural. We played around with aspect ratios where we go from 2:39 to 1:85 every time it goes into flashbacks which was a fun device to feel immersed in it.”