After making her first feature “Saint Maud,” English film director Rose Glass wanted to take a break from psychological horror and explore something new — “pulpy” and “melodramatic,” as she describes it. Teaming up with her friend and fellow writer Weronika Tofilska, she formed the idea of what would eventually become her sophomore effort “Love Lies Bleeding:” an ’80s-set lesbian romantic thriller about a love story between a bodybuilder and the daughter of a criminal family.

Glass was joined by stars Katy O’Brian, Jenna Malone, Ed Harris, Anna Baryshnikov, and Dave Franco for a conversation in the IndieWire Studio at Sundance, presented by Dropbox. The crew spoke about discovering Glass’ debut film “Saint Maud,” heading to the ’80s for the romantic thriller, and the visceral reactions they hope the movie will elicit from viewers.

Discussing her inspirations for the film, Glass said she referred to a wide variety of erotic movies, including David Cronenberg’s “Crash” and Paul Verhoeven’s “Showgirls,” as projects for the cast to study. But she didn’t specifically have them in mind during the writing process.

“That was a weird list of films I put together,” Glass said in the studio. “I don’t think many of them I was conscious of while we were writing, we were really just focusing on these characters and this story and the tone. So it was really more in hindsight, as we’re in prep, trying to sort of give [the cast] of the world this story takes place in.”

Opposite Kristen Stewart as Lou, Katy O’Brian stars as bodybuilder Jackie. O’Brian said she found the call for the role via a fan, and decided to do it when she saw it was a queer bodybuilding movie. “The script was so unique, so quirky, so crazy, so fun,” she said.

Although she jokes that her body in the film was “all CGI,” O’Brian bulked up significantly for the role. Having worked previously as a bodybuilder beforehand, she used a trainer and dietician and trained three hours a day in the leadup to shooting.

“It’s looking at your schedule, and just working around when I would be able to fit stuff in,” O’Brian said. “You kind of just got thrown in,” Glass added.

“Love Lies Bleeding” will be released by A24 on March 8. Watch the full Sundance interview above.

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

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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