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For another Creative Collaborations in Filmmaking, check out this discussion with Mark Duplass and Mel Eslyn.

“Scream” alum Melissa Barrera had to shed her final girl persona for indie romance dramedy “Your Monster.”

Barrera said during the Adobe | IndieWire Creative Collaborations in Filmmaking discussion, moderated by IndieWire’s Executive Editor of Crafts and Special Projects, Chris O’Falt, that the 20-day production for writer/director Caroline Lindy’s “Your Monster” was an unprecedented experience for her.

“As an actor, I feel like I’m always very contained and everything is very internal. And Caroline was like, ‘I want it bigger,’” Barrera said. “We would do take after take. I was like, ‘What do you mean “bigger”? It’s going to feel super fake!’ I felt very self-conscious. That’s why I loved working with Caroline so much and think she’s such a brilliant director because I think that’s the role of a director, to guide you to a place that they know in their vision that you can go, even as an actor and a person you don’t know if you can go there.”

Barrera added, “In these kinds of environments, in indie cinema where you don’t have a lot of time, you kind of have to get in it quickly and find a rhythm on the first day because you don’t want the first day to be a waste. In bigger films, you have that luxury.”

One of the first days on set saw Barrera’s character Laura have a crying fit as her life implodes. After her dark realization, Laura falls for a monster (Tommy Dewey) living in her closet. Barrera added of acting opposite Dewey, who also is an executive producer on the film, that she would “just break all the time. He loved making me laugh. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as much in another set.”

Dewey appeared in the original short six years ago as the monster. He recalled that the feature version is “much more romantic,” adding, “As we found as we were developing the script into the full-length piece, we found that following the love affair between Laura and the monster was the way to go.”

Actress/producer Kayla Foster shared how the project was semi-autobiographical for writer/director Lindy.

“The story is based on the lowest point of Caroline’s life. She got sick and got brutally dumped. And for the first time in her life, with everything going wrong, she tapped into a new rage inside of her,” Foster said. “She sort of lost the ability to control it. She wanted to make the darkest time into something beautiful, so she created this ‘rom-drom’ with some blood and lots of different genres and a really fun, good time about a girl whose life falls apart and she falls in love with a monster living in her closet, who represents her rage.”

Foster continued, “The cool thing about this project is everyone is a person with an exclamation point. There’s something big and broadening about each person. I think the thing that Caroline did so successfully is cast actors who are so grounded. It balanced out that really fun symbolism of who everyone represents in the story.”

That heightened, theatrical approach took a meta turn with stars Edmund Donovan and Meghann Fahy playing theatre-world figures in the film. Donovan’s role was of a sinister “Captain Hook”-esque playwright, while Fahy starred as an actress who lands the lead part in his show — a part Laura knew was originally intended for her.

“I went to drama school and my first job was working in the theatre. That’s my first love,” Donovan said. “It was fun to send that up and live in that world, and send up some of the worst behavior that I’ve seen in my time as an actor in the theatre.”

Fahy added of how her character relates to Barrera’s role, “There’s so many themes of female friendships and the female experience in the film. All the women are in different kinds of pain.”

“Your Monster” premieres in the Midnight section at the Sundance Film Festival. IndieWire partnered with Adobe for a trio of panel discussions taking place at Adobe on Main in Park City. The other discussions include a talk with Duplass Brothers Productions president Mel Eslyn and producer/director/actor Mark Duplass about their upcoming TV series “Penelope,” among other projects.

The third discussion was the New Voices in Film: Sundance x Adobe Fellows Spotlight, also moderated by O’Falt. Speakers Gerardo Coello, Gabriela Ortega, Iliana Sosa, and Sean Wang shared their latest projects, creative processes, and their unique stories shaping the future of film. 

The IndieWire x Adobe talks are in addition to IndieWire’s annual Sundance Studio, presented by Dropbox.

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