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THE IMAGE OF YOU Director JEFF FISHER Chats with Barbarella

Hey, friends. Barbarella here. The psychological thriller The Image of You examines duality in the form of twins, Zoe and Anna, who although they look identical, couldn’t be further apart. When sweet and naïve Anna meets a man and falls in love quickly, her bad-girl twin Zoe aims to test the strength of the relationship and the caliber of man who has captured her sister’s heart. The movie will be in select theaters and on Digital Friday, May 10. 

[L-R] Sasha Pieterse as “Anna” and Parker Young as “Nick” in the thriller, THE IMAGE OF YOU. Photo courtesy of Republic Pictures (a Paramount Pictures label).

I had an opportunity to speak with director Jeff Fisher about directing dual roles. Check it out!  

I want to start with kind of a crazy icebreaker question, but what is the weirdest or craziest experience you've had dating, that you're willing to share?

“Oh, my God. The weirdest or craziest experience I've had dating. This is not going to paint me in a very good light. I will tell you, my last long-term relationship, we met at a bar. I don't know if this was dating. We made out in the back of the bar for three and a half hours, on our first meeting, so it was an egregious public display of affection, and just shameless. I guess that would be my weirdest, but it was great. It didn't show a lot of couth, but there we go. I'll go with that.”

Couth is overrated. How did you get involved in The Image of You

“The production company helped with distribution on my first feature back in 2008. They had sent me the script, and I thought Chris Sivertson did such a great job with his screenplay. I thought it was twisty and turny, and it reminded me of all those kinds of nineties thrillers that I loved watching, like Basic InstinctFatal Attraction, and Body Heat. I read it once, and I was in. I was hoping that they'd let me direct it.”

Sasha plays twins. Would you talk about the experience of directing her in both roles? 

“Sure. Well, Sasha was a great, great creative partner. We met early on. I had worked a little on Pretty Little Liars and knew her work and loved it. I thought that show was so smart and had all these great Hitchcock references and some great acting and writing. I knew Sasha's range. We had to figure out, how are we going to make Anna and Zoe two different characters? How are they going to look different? How are they going to feel different? How do they move differently? How do they behave differently? How do they interact with Nick in a different way? 

Sasha Pieterse as “Zoe” in the thriller, THE IMAGE OF YOU. Photo courtesy of Republic Pictures (a Paramount Pictures label).

"We watched other film references. We both made kind of, for lack of better terms, mood boards for what each character would like. I was really lucky that they really aligned. Sasha was just a gamer, and in it to win it, and lovely. The crew loved her, and I loved working with her. All of our actors, I just can't tell you how grateful I am to work with that group.”

Cool. What was your favorite day on set, and why?

“My favorite day. Okay. Nick and Zoe at the bar, their first meeting. I love that location. It's the Pendry Hotel in Park City. It sounds like the most random reference, but Cameron Diaz's entrance in the mask, that jaw-drop moment...To see Sasha in full wardrobe, really kind of come out in public as Zoe, Parker's reaction to it, they just nailed that scene and found all this fun and drama in it. My good friends and family were at the bar. They were the background artists, so having them there was super fun. That was a great day on set.”

[L-R] Parker Young as “Nick” and Sasha Pieterse as “Zoe” in the thriller, THE IMAGE OF YOU. Photo courtesy of Republic Pictures (a Paramount Pictures label).  That's very cool. I believe that we learn something from every project we do. What did you learn from working on The Image of You?

“Barbara, I learned that shooting twins takes a little more time than anybody thinks. Motion control is amazing, and I think it helped us from days of the Hayley Mills’ Parent Trap. It let the actors do different crosses and really interact with people, but it makes a seven-page scene seem like a fourteen-page scene to shoot in the same amount of time. It drove home how important time management is.”

I believe in shining a spotlight on people in the crew that maybe don't get much recognition. Who would be the MVP of your crew in this?

“Oh, gosh. It's hard to pick one. I loved the whole crew. They were awesome, but I have to tell you, our glam squad, Sam [Lambson] and Kelly [Porter], our hair and makeup people and their team, they turned stuff around so fast. They had such great energy. Right? Our already awesome actors would come out of the trailer in good moods. The actors looked great. I love them, but gosh, man, from our Intimacy Coordinator to our Costume Designer to our great Cinematographer, I hate to shortchange. Amazing Grip and Electric, everybody. We had a fantastic crew.”

[L-R] Sasha Pieterse as “Anna” and Mira Sorvino “Alexia”  in the thriller, THE IMAGE OF YOU. Photo courtesy of Republic Pictures (a Paramount Pictures label).

I'm curious about the Intimacy Coordinator. How involved are they? What exactly are they doing during the shooting, or is it all beforehand?

“It's a little before, and then it is actually on the day. It's a great question. Barbara, on the page, it was very sexy, and it was sexier than anything I had shot before. I wanted Celeste [Chaney], our Intimacy Coordinator, to have private conversations with Sasha and Parker before we ever got to go so they could gauge privately what they'd be comfortable with. Before we started shooting, we had a closed rehearsal to talk through what the beats would be. Celeste was there by my side for all those scenes on a closed set, just to make sure we had talked through everything, and had written down what was going to happen in each scene, and at what level it was going to be. She was another great creative partner. We were there to make sure that we were doing exactly what we talked about, and that there were no surprises. Right? The last thing I wanted was anybody to be uncomfortable. It's not the most comfortable thing anyway, but I didn't want the actors or the crew to feel wonky. So, Celeste was a great teammate to help execute this stuff.”

Very cool. What do you think is the most important skill for a director to have?

“Patience. I think, you have to have patience and passion. You've got to really love and believe in what you're doing, because why is anybody else going to be excited about it if you're not excited about it? Those would be good foundations, I think.” 

What is your favorite part of the whole process of making a movie?

“Actually, getting on set. I just started a new project this week; we just started shooting. There’s so much talk about it, and it’s like, oh my gosh, it's a Sisyphean task to get a movie to go. Right? When you get there, and you actually see the actors in the environment, bringing it to life, you start thinking, "Oh, okay. Maybe, this could be a good movie." It's hard to beat that, that idea that we, as a group, are making something special. That's great.”

This is my last question. You've produced a lot of reality TV. How has that shaped you as a person?

“As a person? I'll pivot from that. I will tell you, especially the early days on something like The Real World, where you're shooting a hundred hours, and you're like, "Okay, man. What eight scenes are going to make my A story? What four scenes are going to make my B story? I'm going to make a twenty-two-and-a-half-minute episode out of all this footage." I think it made me an incredibly economical shooter, because if you shoot a scene for two hours, and it becomes ninety seconds, you get pretty locked in about what are the story beats that actually turn this scene? What coverage do I need to tell this story?

“The other thing is, my early scripts, besides just being terrible, everybody sounded like me, right? Listening to all these reality characters, all these people talk with their different cadences and their different colloquialisms, it hopefully made me a slightly better screenwriter and storyteller. My reality resume helped me, I think, with storytelling skills, one hopes. I don't know.”

Check back later for my interview with best-selling novelist, Adele Parks, the writer of the novel on which the screenplay is based. In the meantime, here’s a trailer for The Image of You, starring Sasha Pieterse, Parker Young, Nestor Carbonell, and Mira Sorvino. The movie comes out tomorrow in select theaters and on Digital.


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