At Adolescent, we love hearing what amazing projects are going on by young directors and filmmakers. We are so excited to share this awesome project from upcoming director Emily Cohn! Read below about their process of creating feature film CRSHD. They just launched a Seed & Spark, so check out more details here!
Sonia Frank: Describe the timeline of making the film from script to post.
Emily Cohn: So, CRSHD has been almost two years in the making, which is crazy. I started writing it my senior of college at Oberlin. The screenwriting process was about nine months, the last four months were just revising and getting feedback. At the same time I was casting in Ohio and back in New York. I knew I had to cast most of the people locally because we couldn’t house that many people. From there I did a lot of outreach in New York, different acting schools like NYU and Laguardia High School’s drama department and backstage.com. Then receiving taped auditions and scheduling in-person callbacks. Ultimately, [we found] our three perfect leading ladies—Sadie, Izzy and Deeksha!
Sonia: For the actors: how did the CRSHD set compare to other sets you’d been on?
Sadie Scott: THE BEST SET ON THE WHOLE PLANET! I really loved it because I didn’t go away to college, so [the set] was like my faux college experience because we were all living, waking up, and eating together. It was the best set that I have ever been on—for sure. I just loved how we would work for the longest hours and then go back to the house talking till four in the morning. I never had roommates before, and I felt like I had found my people.
Isabelle Barbier: Well, I haven’t been on that many sets, it was the first time I had gone away to shoot anything, and so the set just had this great summer camp feeling. Everyone was taken away from their normal element, especially us, the three girls, being in this small town, living in a house together… it was so special. The set was supportive and nonjudgmental, it was okay to be flawed and imperfect. Everyone was young and eager to prove themselves and do their job—no one was jaded, almost everyone was new and excited to be there.
Deeksha Ketkar: I’ve been on many sets before in India, and the thing that stood out the most on the CRSHD set was that there wasn’t a hierarchy, there was no ‘Oh my god, the actors are coming in, everyone needs to move away.’ The actors weren’t the most important people on set, it wasn’t all about us.
Emily: Wait, you wouldn't have wanted an air-conditioned trailer?!
The girls erupt in laughter.
Deeksha: I mean, NO!
Isabelle: I wouldn’t have minded a trailer…
Deeksha: It was equal. Everyone wanted to make this amazing film together with the same energy. It was so great. Also, there were so many women on set, so we all felt comfortable enough to talk to each other about our personal lives. Hopefully that translates on screen as well, like Sadie said.
Sonia: Tell me about the general highs and lows, your best and worst days on set, and the biggest setback(s).
Deeksha: The best day was when we were filming the scene where Anuka, my character, meets her crush for the first time. I was nervous before, but everyone on set was so relaxed, and I didn’t expect that that would be the case. The actor who I was doing the scene with was ready to improvise with me. It was just so easy, it really flowed. That was a particular day where I really enjoyed being an actor. The worst moment was when I almost lost Anuka’s necklace! I was so scared that no one was going to trust me again because it was such a key prop for the character. But we found it in a car!
Sadie: For me, the first three days on set were really hard because all of a sudden I was surrounded by all of these people who were super young, and it felt like ‘Oh my God, we’re adults, but we’re not and don’t know what we’re doing.’ I also just have a hard time leaving New York professionally. I never feel like I’m doing enough, so I was kind of freaking out that I was gonna be in Ohio for a month, asking “What am I going to do with myself when I’m not filming?” Leaving set was also one of the worst days. But, the best day shooting was with Will Janowitz, who plays my on-screen boss at the college’s bowling alley. I just have all these videos of us improvising and laughing hysterically getting into character. Sometimes when I’m sad I’ll rewatch the videos of us, because it's just us cracking up for hours in between takes. Another high was playing Fiona in general—I had never felt so comfortable being responsible for a character before. I remember we were shooting in this field, and I just felt fully like this other person, but also myself. I don’t think I have ever felt that free in my life. I was proud to be this person, and I felt like I was most myself being another person. Fiona was fucking crazy, and I loved her.
Emily: I completely agree with Sadie, the first three days of set were tough. We all just wanted to do a really good job and prove ourselves, and obviously this was something where I was the only one who had met everyone already. For example, our DP, Saaniya Zaveri, came from India, our first AD came from the Netherlands, and there was someone who was brought on last minute from Ireland. I just didn’t really know what to do with all the people on set, I was overwhelmed.
Sadie: But somehow you managed to throw a huge crew together and a huge cast!
Emily: Part of why I even went into writing CRSHD and thinking I could make it was because Dan Chaon, my screenwriting professor, was like “You need to make this, you can just film it [at Oberlin],” and I was like, “Yeah, you’re right!’ So I just went into production being like “Yeah, I can make this.” I had done other indie projects before, and I felt confident enough in my skills and film knowledge, but then it started to dawn on me that CRSHD involved a lot of locations and a lot of people and a lot of visual effects—it was more ambitious than I thought it was going in. And that all hit the hardest on the first three days of production. It was a lot of discovering and learning for all of us as we went along. The high for me honestly was the wrap party. It was the first time I really could talk to everyone instead of giving them directions or running off to log footage or take notes for the following day.
Isabelle: I think the low for me was the first day on set. Saaniya yelled at me because I kept missing my mark, and it was one of the first times where I questioned if I could act on camera. I really felt like the pressure was on. You know, I was put on as the lead actor last minute, and here I was on the first day forgetting my lines, missing my mark. But things got better after that. It’s hard to pick a highlight for CRSHD because there was no peak, it was just sort of the whole experience. When I look back on it, it just feels like the best version of when you’re a kid and you’re really deep into a game of tag or hide-and-seek [and] you convince yourself that it’s real. The line between imagination and reality becomes blurred. [There wasn’t a big] difference between us shooting and not shooting. It was just a constant flow of friendship and laughter. It was really organic, and I hope people respond to [CRSHD] as something they relate to in that way.
Sonia: What are your hopes for the CRSHD release?
Deeksha: I want this movie to be a turning point in our lives, and I want people to see our hard work. We filmed it in a month, and it looks like we did it in three!
Sadie: My hopes were realized just filming CRSHD. It brought these amazing people into my life, and I feel like I have a family of [creative] people who I really trust. But, it would also be nice for some of the world to see it as well of course!
Emily: I think we’ve already gained so much from it in the making of the film, [especially through] the relationships and learning. In terms of a release, I just hope it gets some sort of platform so that the people and age group it was made for have the opportunity to connect with the film—that’s why we're excited to be working with Adolescent, because their audience is similar to CRSHD’s. So far, we’ve been getting all sorts of positive responses across ages and genders. 40-year-olds love watching it and realizing how different college and socializing is today with social media. I’m glad CRSHD is able to shed light on these experiences. I felt super lonely my freshman year of college, and I wanted to tell a story about those vulnerabilities you feel during that time, and I hope people will be excited about it. I also hope people will be excited to see female sexuality on screen—seeing the girl who’s confident and goes after the girl or guy she wants, but also seeing the girl who doesn’t know what the fuck do to and is just figuring it out.
Isabelle: As an actor I feel like you need to have these stamps of approval in order to get other stamps of approval, and I just hope that CRSHD gives the three of us actors some sense of legitimacy and notoriety.
PHOTOS: Jasper Soloff
MAKE UP: Bailey Prado
CLOTHES: Official Rebrand
NECKLACES: Jennifer George
INTERVIEW: Sonia Frank
Ting Ting Chen