With movie-star parents in Malcolm McDowell and Mary Steenburgen, an American Film Institute education, and acclaim as a published author, Charlie McDowell was as prepared as one could be to direct his first feature film. Still, co-writing and directing a movie that's accepted into the Sundance Film Festival — let alone one that sells to a distributor (Radius-TWC) before the festival's even over — is no easy task, especially when it features as intricate a story as McDowell's debut The One I Love.
The film stars Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss and director, producer, screenwriter, and actor Mark Duplass as a couple searching desperately for a solution to their floundering marriage, which is suffering under the influences of ennui and cheating. The movie is filled with twists, turns, and an element of the supernatural that makes it very different from most domestic dramas. And though The One I Love is largely set in the small confines of a vacation home and its guesthouse (where Duplass and Moss' characters retreat after consulting a therapist), it's actually a movie with a high degree of cinematic difficulty, given how unconventional and unpredictable the narrative turns out to be.
It took several steps, both fortuitous and borne of hard work and preparation with creative partner Justin Lader, to make The One I Love a reality. BuzzFeed spoke with McDowell, Lader, Moss, and Duplass at Sundance to find out, step-by-step, how it all happened.