On Nov. 10, 2012, Victoria Negri’s father passed away. Five years later, on that same day, her movie “Gold Star,” based partially on the experience of dealing with a sick father, opens at Cinema Village.
How does one sum up six years filled with such grief, such stress and — now, with her first full-length film getting a commercial release — such celebration?
“I feel like a much different person from when I started thinking about making this movie, which directly coincided with my father getting sick,” she says. “It’s just been a really crazy journey. I think I’m going to have to be a couple of months completely past the release of the film to be able to process.”
amNewYork caught up with the Brooklyn-based filmmaker, who produced, wrote, directed and starred in “Gold Star” — which is also streaming on Amazon Friday — to talk about the grieving process and working with the legendary Robert Vaughn in his final film appearance.
Your character in the film isn’t always the most likable when under the stress of helping her family in this way. How did you cope with that stress in real life when dealing with your father?
In real life, I got along really well with my father. It’s never easy to lose a parent, but I didn’t have this massive meltdown, I just had these quiet moments to myself of grieving. My breakdown, I guess, was making this film. But in the movie, I wanted to depict someone who doesn’t want to grieve, someone who is basically in this deep state of denial that she’s losing her father.
I think there’s no right way to grieve. It’s really messy and this surreal state of … to grieve is to not really accept something. You’re fighting with yourself, and how do we fight with ourselves — do we take it out on other people, on ourselves? What are the steps?
Putting an independent film together is a challenge. Was there a moment when it sank in that this was actually going to happen, was actually going to get shot?
The first time was when we decided to lock in [shooting dates] for sure. It was like “all right, here we go, this is happening.” And then when we brought in the casting director to hire actors, because once you have actors on board and the dates are set, this is happening. And then locking Robert in was absolutely frightening. I remember I was laying down the wardrobe on my bed, organizing it, maybe a few days before shooting, and I was thinking, “this is it. Even if I didn’t want to do it, I’m gonna have to.” It’s scary, but it’s good scary.
“Gold Star” is the final film of Robert Vaughn’s tremendous career. What did you take from working with him?
I had such fear going into this film immediately after he said yes, and getting to know him, and seeing how much he believed in the film and how committed and dedicated he was to what I think was a really brave performance for somebody that age, to work with a first-time director. It really put a lot of confidence in me, once I got over the fear that this was something that I could do, that I could make a good film, and I’m going to take that with me for the rest of my life. I was a sponge on set, hearing his stories, and it really made me feel like a part of his legacy in a small way. And that’s such an incredible honor.
Victoria Negri’s significant other is Robert Levin, amNewYork’s Editor in Chief, who had no role in this story.