Q: Where did the idea for this film originate?

A: In 2010 I began channeling this idea of flight. I asked a number of up-and-coming NYC-based theater composers if they would write me a song based around on this idea, or feeling, of flying. When I approached composer Mike Pettry, he said, “Well I have an idea for a song, but I’m not sure it’s about flying… it’s about this girl who’s so fed up with her life that she decides to go around naked all the time.”  That felt like flying to me!  Mike wrote the song, I fell in love with it, and “Without a Stitch On” became the last song on my EP fly woman genius (2010).

When the album came out, I sang the song at my release party and at a number of open mics around town (including in the middle of Times Square!)… andpeople always loved it.  The audience response was so strong, in part I believe because the tune is so catchy, but also because the story of the song is universal.  We’ve all experienced the need to break free from something that’s been holding us down or holding us back.  I started to wonder what this girl’s life would look like if we could see it on a screen instead of on a stage, with her reality fleshed out in more visual, tangible terms.  At the time I worked for Showtime Networks, where I met indie producer Becky Froman, and we started to explore the idea of making a film out of it.

Q: How did you develop the music for this project… talk about the process a little bit.
A: I had Mike’s song as the foundation for the project, and over some months working with Producer BeckyFroman, it grew from its origins of a music video into a short film, with story added to flesh out the circumstances of The Girl’s life.  VP Boyle, who also produced, wrote the screenplay with scenes at her soul-sucking day job to give the impetus for her life-changing leap.  But I digress…you asked about the music!

I knew that in order to make the song warrant the heightened reality of a movie musical, we would have to fully orchestrate the song beyond the original piano and vocal arrangement.  We brought on Gates Thomas, a friend and master musician/producer with years in the music business, to help.

In August 2012 we recorded the new soundtrack in one day at The Creamery Studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn– piano, bass, drums, horn section, and me.  We decided to go “big band” because of the song’s classic, “golden age” musical theater feel (this also played into our decision to put her “idealized self” in a gown and fur for the rooftop dream sequence shoot).  Gates added a number of effects, and NYC chamber choir Choral Chameleon is featured as the “Choir of Angels” toward the end of the song.  The soundtrack is available on iTunes at:

Q: What are some of the challenges of filming a musical? Did you match the music to film or the other way around? How difficult was it?
A: This is really a question for director Sean Robinson. My background is onstage, and I’m deeply indebted toSean, to Becky and to VP Boyle especially for helping me put together such an amazing team of film professionals to make the project such a success.

But for me I will say that I spent a lot of time listening to the recording after we had finalized it so I could memorize the exact intonation and choices I made.  Each time I sing the song live, it changes based on what’s happening in the moment — but obviously on film I did not have that luxury!  We always had playback on set, whether from a laptop or in a couple scenes I’m on my headphones, so I could sing along to get a good sync.  I also did actually sing every take so that I would be breathing and using my body and face as I do when I sing.  Just mouthing the words wouldn’t have looked genuine enough for me.

Q: What, in your words, is it about the connection between nudity and the truth?  How does it lead your characters to make the moves they do?

A: As you say, the song is (and this is obvious I hope) an allegory for living a life of authenticity and truth. Many of us feel trapped by circumstances that we didn’t exactly choose, and we see the story play out over and over again, whether it be the JetBlue flight attendant who took (literally) the escape hatch out of his misery… or the lover in the film who leaves their by-all-appearances-right relationship to follow their heart… we always cheer for them!  We have phrases in our vernacular like “sticking it to the Man” or “letting it all hang out” or the most literal one, “the naked truth” … and there is a connotation of courage and boldness in these statements..  We want to be free, to be the best possible versions of ourselves, and to be able to be truthful, however that manifests for us individually. But society doesn’t always provide a safe space for that, so there is great risk in challenging the status quo.  For me, there are so many layers… thefetishization and sexualization of the body, particularly the female body; and the flip side of that coin being the great shame that many women carry about our real, imperfect, sensitive, animal bodies that carry us through our lives and hold all our experiences.  I could write a book.  But instead I sang a song and made a movie.  

In the film we see The Girl’s day job, her unhappiness, and then she moves through the world wondering what it would be like to be free.  Would it be like this?  Would it be a PDA with my lover?  Would it be like being famous?  We see her “ideal self” as she dreams through all these ideas, and then we see how she decides to make the choice, take a risk and take the leap for herself.





© 2014 Chain NYC Film Festival