If the outbreak had a silver lining for Natalie Morales, she had to spend part of her summer break in Los Angeles directing “Language Lessons,” a self-titled film. A low-budget drama in which she co-wrote and starred with one of her filmmakers, Mark Duplass.
During the making of that dream project, Morales learned that she could return to work on another dream project – the humorous teen road trip comedy Plan. B, which she is preparing to direct until postponed amid corona worries. Filming started that fall.
These are the first two films Morales, best known as an actor, are film directors, and are hardly the same. “Plan B”;, which Hulu releases on Friday, follows the adventurous adventures of the film. The worst of two high school friends (Kuhoo Verma and Victoria Moroles) in search of emergency contraception.
The Berlin Film Festival and SXSW Film Festival, coming later this year, document the friendship of a Spanish tutor (Morales) and her students (Duplass) as they bond between online classes.
Morales was aware of the difference between the films as well, and she admitted it. “These are two of the strangest movies that people can do at the same time,” she said in a recent interview. That enjoys being pinned in any way. I guess it’s nice to have people see both sides of me pretty right away. ”
She is not at all unknown quantities. As an actor, Morales, 36, has a supporting career in TV sitcoms (“Parks and Recreation”, “Dead to Me”) and feature films (“The Little Things”).
But as she progressed in Hollywood, Morales wanted to gain more control over her content and tell a story that was meaningful for her. And if both of these two vastly different projects had something to say about the type of artist she wanted to be, it could be.
“My life, like my art, is always high and low,” she said.
Morales, the daughter of a Cuban refugee and raised in Miami, made brief strides in her acting career. She co-starred in ABC Family’s The Middleman, a season-only sci-fi adventure in 2008, and she appeared in the US film “White Collar”, although she found herself cut. Unexpectedly left that crime drama after The first season in 2010
Even before these formation experiences, Morales said she viewed directing as the most efficient route for the work she wanted to do.
“Me and my friends weren’t recruited or even seen what I knew we could do, and we knew we wanted to,” she said. Want to make it “
The leading role in the landing was not necessarily the solution of Morales’ problem either. Two years ago, she starred in “Abby’s,” NBC’s 2019 comedy about a woman who runs her own backyard bar.
Although Morales says she enjoys the enthusiastic support of the show’s creative team. But she felt that NBC had lost interest during the executive turnover and failed to support the series.
“You can go to the front end to get advertising sales, and you can convince your diversity,” she said, “‘Look at our bisexual Cuban leader!’ And you keep it and don’t promote it. Put your money where your mouth is. If you don’t give them the opportunity to grow, what will you really support? ”
Over the years, Morales has directed musicals and sketches, comedy, music videos and the web series Funny or Die, where the actor relentlessly read James Joy’s dirty love letters. Z wrote to his wife Nora Barnacle. (She herself read from a book that the author of “Ulysses” lovingly describes his spouse’s flatulence.)
But at times, Morales found her identity as an actress invisible to her as a director and parted ways with a talented agency that she said would never set her up to meet with. The director’s department “I’m like I’m trying to give you money – why don’t you,” she said. “They don’t support it.”
She was given a big opportunity when she was invited to direct an episode of “Room 104,” HBO’s anthology series created by brothers Jay and Mark Duplass.
Mark Duplass said he and Morales have become friendly over the years. “We see the world the same way,” he says. “We see it in the dark and choose to keep smiling. But we have a very busy life. I am married and have children. She works 95 million projects a year. ”
Morales recalls her directing work when Duplass wrote to his wife, Katie Aselton, about a woman claiming to be an artificial intelligent robot: “I attended my first filming meeting with all these ideas. And Mark thought ‘You know you only have two days to film this?’ I was like, ‘I know.’ He knew I knew what I was doing. Or at least I have a plan. “
Duplass said Morales was “definitely caught” and that she directed another episode for the final season of the show in 2020.
A number of disagreements in their collaboration are common and there is nothing to worry about, Duplass adds. “She’s wayward, I’m very self-indulgent. We look at each other and have a smile on their faces,” he said. hot One of us finally had the feeling, “Oh yeah, you’re right.”
When Morales was offered the opportunity to be a producer of “Plan B,” she followed the project with a similar stubbornness.
Although the film is a modern comedy like “Superbad” and “Booksmart,” Morales says, “Plan B” written by Joshua Levy and Prathi Srinivasan, has different elements. To her.
“The leaders were two daughters of two non-white immigrants, and that was a revolution by itself,” she said. Morales said. “The mission in the film is healthcare – accessible healthcare.”
Filming on “Plan B” is scheduled to begin in March last year. But stopped by the epidemic As Morales waited for the first two weeks of delay that stretched for months, Duplass contacted her.
“He texted me and said, ‘Can you speak Spanish?’ ”Morales recalls.“ Am I like that? ”
That is the electronic seed that grows into their film “language lessons” about the evolving scope of the friendship between an online tutor and her students. Presented as a series of video conversations between their characters, the film makes Morales and Duplass a low-cost channel for creative expression that fits the production limitations set at the stage of production. scourge
While Morales works after production in “Language Lessons” were completed, “Plan B” continued filming, putting her in a challenging position as a first-time director with duties on two projects.
“She didn’t crumble in any way,” Duplass said. “She set boundaries very well. She will tell you that ‘Mark, I want you not to email me right now about it because I’m directing the set and we have to do it tomorrow.’ That’s part of what I love about her. ”
The cast of her “Plan B” said Morales was never priceless about her status as a newcomer to directing, relieving their concerns about having to act once in a movie. first
“If you’re flying in your pants, Natalie is the perfect guide to get you through it,” says Verma, playing Sunny, a sexually explicit high school student with essential party sex experience. The journey of the film.
“It was an intense tutorial for me to be in front of the camera,” Verma said. “Should I watch myself on the monitor or I pulled Johnny Depp up and not watch what I did? She’s there for all the stupid questions. “
Victoria Moroles, who plays Sunny’s best friend Lupe, said the director told her and Verma that she would support their trials and make sure even their wildest scenes didn’t go off the rails. Unsafe
“At the beginning of the film, she said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m your guardian angel,’ ”Morales recalls.“ That’s what I felt throughout the story. There is someone behind the monitor that I can trust, who will let me take the risk. That is very important. “
Morales isn’t sure viewers will see her in the next acting or director role. But she is writing the script with her friend and co-star Cyrina Fiallo.
In the meantime, she said she might travel to New York to check out the digital billboards for “Plan B” in Times Square, or she might watch movies featured in Burbank and hear viewers’ reactions to scenes that have been played. I can’t. “All I want is to be in a movie theater and hear people saying
Plus, she warmed up to the idea of being very satisfying that there wouldn’t be any follow-up assignments.
“I would just lie in bed for a while and do nothing,” Morales said. “I can’t wait to be left alone. I can’t wait for no one to want me. “