For his debut feature film “Exhibiting Forgiveness,” which mines from some of his own struggles he has faced in life, writer-director Titus Kaphar tried his best to create a safe space for his actors when a scene required them to be emotionally raw.

“This is an intense film, so there were a lot of moments where I said, ‘It’s just going to be the folks working on the scene,’” said the filmmaker, seated inside the IndieWire Studio at Sundance, presented by Dropbox. “We would have just Lachlan [Milne], our DP, in there. Sometimes he was actually [camera] operating and anyone who did not need to be there was not there.”

Starring André Holland, Andra Day, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, and John Earl Jelks, who all joined Kaphar in the studio, “Exhibiting Forgiveness” tells the story of an acclaimed painter whose life unravels after coming back in contact with his former addict father. 

Having a closed set, where his actors felt more comfortable, was Kaphar’s way of telling them “We can take some risks here,” said the artist. “No one needs to worry about being embarrassed or anything like that. We’re just going to go until we feel right about it.”

He added, “That was one of the strategies that we used because on a set, there are often so many people that energy comes into the performance. And so sometimes you need to make sure that that stuff is out of the way so that you can engage with your team directly.”

See the full interview with Kaphar, Holland, Day, Ellis-Taylor, and Jelks above.

The 2024 Sundance Film Festival runs January 18 to 28, with festival talks taking place January 19 to 26. See the full list of IndieWire Studio at Sundance, presented by Dropbox, lineup here.

Dropbox supports and champions independent makers, crews, and teams behind the camera who bring their unique perspectives to life at the Sundance Film Festival. We’re proud that over 60% of films at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival leveraged Dropbox in their filmmaking process.It takes a monumental effort for film projects to go from ideation to completion, and Dropbox is dedicated to helping filmmakers get their projects across the finish line faster. Filmmakers used Dropbox as one organized homebase to keep video files secure, to remotely collaborate with teams around the world, and to get real-time video feedback with Dropbox Replay.

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