I ran into Miranda July — filmmaker, performance artist, and short-story writer — on an elevator at the Liberty Hotel a few minutes before we were scheduled to sit down in a conference room inside the former jail-turned-luxury lodging facility back in April. It was the start of the Independent Film Festival of Boston, where her second feature, The Future, was about to have its East Coast premiere. Among other oddities, the film features an ailing kitten, Paw-Paw, who speaks in stream-of-consciousness narration, as well as the stoppage of time. July had just nabbed a chocolate-chip cookie from a table set up for a conference of visiting doctors. She was surprised — not only by the fact that one of the physicians had recognized her — but that the woman had also already seen July's latest, which is set to open in the Boston area next Friday.
HOW WAS THE COOKIE? Well, I’m saving it, as a reward.
SO IT’S NOT GUILT THAT’S KEEPING YOU FROM EATING IT, SINCE YOU STOLE IT . . . THAT’S AN OFFENSE THAT MIGHT’VE GOTTEN YOU LOCKED UP IN HERE BACK IN THE OLD DAYS. No, no. It’s gonna be good, I’m sure.
WHEN YOU WERE WORKING ON THE SCRIPT FOR THIS, WHAT IDEA DEVELOPED FIRST? WAS IT THE CAT, PAW-PAW? No, the cat came really early on, but the very first little seed actually came when I was editing the first movie [Me and You and Everyone We Know]. I went through a really abrupt breakup, which would quickly not be that important to me, but in that moment, I remember thinking like, oh, this surreally violent feeling. Like, what if I had this in a movie, this feeling, ’cuz I was editing a pretty hopeful, comparatively lighter movie, and that’s when I thought of the stopping time scene. I was just, like, how would you show this feeling, and I thought of that.
AND THAT IDEA HIT YOU FULLY FORMED WHILE IN THE EDITING SUITE? Not while editing, no. I remember lying in bed . . .
WAS THERE A PARTICULAR IMAGE YOU HAD FROZEN ON YOUR AVID MONITOR IN THE EDITING BAY? No, no, no, no. [Laughs.] I don’t know that I had that exact . . . it was shortly thereafter, but I remember thinking this feeling, which I thought of as like a . . . like a murder, or something. You know, like I wanted to make it feel really tangible.
I’M RATHER GLAD YOU MOVED BEYOND THOUGHTS OF MURDER, THAT NO ONE’S KILLED IN THE FILM AS IT STANDS. It was just an idea of showing darkness. Which coming from where I was working from, seemed very provocative to me.
SO IT SOUNDS LIKE QUITE THE EVOLVING PROCESS FROM WHERE YOU BEGAN WITH YOUR SCRIPT TO WHERE YOU ENDED UP. Uh-huh. Yeah. . . .
WAS THE PROCESS SIMILAR FOR YOU DURING DEVELOPMENT OF ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW, AS WELL? Yeah. I mean, you work on it over years and a lot of stuff happens. Your perspective changes; what you’re interested in in the story, you know? And I was working on a lot of other things, too, other projects, which had an impact.
IFC HAS BEEN RUNNING WAYNE WANG’S CENTER OF THE WORLD A NUMBER OF TIMES RECENTLY. CATCHING IT AGAIN, I WAS SURPRISED TO SEE. . . . Oh, yeah. I have a huge credit on it. . . .