Actress/director Laura Seay talks about her new short film The Coupon
You might recognize actress Laura Seay from projects such as super badin which she starred alongside Emma Stone and series such as Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, pure genius, NCIS and NCIS: New Orleans. His most recent project, the short film The Couponwas released this week on Vimeo and features Micah Cohen (Shameless, Grey’s Anatomy) and Adam Harrington (Bosch, The small things). Not only Laura starred in The Coupon, but she also directed the short with a screenplay written by Micah Cohen. Matthew Mullen and Micah Cohen of BabyBird Worldwide produced the film.
Coupons the official synopsis reads as follows: A woman finds herself embroiled in a Kafkaesque legal nightmare when her husband gives the cute romance coupon she made him to a stranger, and that stranger shows up at her door asking her to honor him. Audiences may soon see more of the filmmakers; The Coupon also serves as a pilot episode for a black mirror-comedy series that Micah and Laura are currently developing with Ian Easton of Dr Chorizo Productions. We wanted to know more about The Coupon, so we talked to Laura below about a lot of topics, including moving from acting to directing, Adam Harrington being the perfect villain, and what she’s working on next. Read the exclusive interview here:
You’ve starred in projects such as Superbad and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD What made you want to direct The Coupon?
I started directing seven years ago, with my first short SPEAK. Besides working on my own scripts, I really enjoyed covering songs written by other people. Particularly brilliant people. Micah Cohen is one of those people. His script for The Coupon was not only hilarious but full of satire and potential symbolism. I missed seeing surreal comedy and thought it was an opportunity to pay homage to that genre.
What was pre-production like for you on The Coupon?
A little chaotic as we did a quick turnaround, but great fun. I worked closely with our clothing stylist Alex Nelson to bring emotive tones to each character. For example, the role of Terrence, played by Adam Harrington, wore pale yellow and somewhat dated clothing to imbue an eerie, unstable, and disconnected quality. We did a zoom-read chart and I did a lot of scripting, so we could move quickly during production because it was only a three-day shoot. I ordered craft kits from Etsy to make the coupon books to make this sordid thing look as cute as possible.
What kind of discussions did you have with the film’s screenwriter, Micah Cohen, to bring the page to the screen?
We wanted to play with themes of bureaucracy and big business hurting the little guy. Especially women and decisions about sexuality and physical autonomy. We wanted the tone to feel, look and sound like drama. To play the ridiculous circumstances completely straight, so that the audience feels like they’re going crazy right next to the main characters.
Not only did you direct The Coupon, but you also starred in it. What was the key to juggling these two roles?
It was challenging but great fun. For me, the key to any production is careful preparation. Even more when you are both behind and in front of the camera. Also, have a fantastic cast and crew around you. They will make you look good.
What first sparked your interest in moving from acting to directing?
I think I always realized in my head but I didn’t realize it. My first attempt was because a script I had written was so personal to me that I didn’t think it was right to put it in someone else’s hands. But through this project, I realized how much I enjoy creating a story on levels beyond just performance. I was hooked. The realization seems holistic.
What scene was the most difficult for you to shoot in The Coupon?
The final table negotiation scene was a real meal, as are most table scenes. Lots of coverage and angles there. But we pulled it off brilliantly thanks to our masterful DP John Orphan.
What did actress Laura bring to director Laura’s table?
I have an effective shorthand with actors like myself. It gives me a lot of flexibility to direct and play against the rest of the cast. I always look for honesty when I take on a role. The goal is the same in staging. Say something that is true.
Adam Harrington plays the perfect villain. How did you get him to join the project?
I met Adam many years ago in an acting class. He has since become a theater teacher himself in addition to having a prolific screen career. He is a master. He did me the honor of participating in this project. I was thrilled because I knew he would elevate the whole project with his talent.
The coupon serves as a pilot episode for a Black-Mirror-esque comedy series that you and Micah are currently developing. If there were to be a full series, where would you see it going, story-wise?
Our series is called Gaslight Junction. Each episode will be a stand-alone short in the horror, thriller, or sci-fi genre. Each takes the audience on a journey through a twisting new storyline. It’s a comedy played like a drama. Imagine if Key & Peele and The twilight zone had a stupid baby. It’s the atmosphere.
What are you going to work on next?
In addition to gas lampI am developing an independent feature film based on my short film SPEAK. I also have an unscripted dance documentary series in the works for 2022.
You can look The Coupon here: