2015 Sundance Trading Card Series: #31. Sophia Lin (Z for Zachariah)
Eric Lavallee: Name me three of your favorite “2014 discoveries” …
Sophia Lin: Top of the list of my 2014 discoveries was New Zealand. We filmed Z for Zachariah on the Banks Peninsula, outside Christchurch on the South Island. It was an amazing months-long adventure that was incredibly challenging but gratifying. We made wonderful new friends while working amidst some of the greatest landscape in the world and got just a new perspective on everything. Another discovery is that I realized I could probably live in Los Angeles, which was a total surprise! I did a short television job there over the summer, and it was by far the longest I had spent there. It was interesting to realize living there could be an option. And finally, my third discovery is tied between Guardians of the Galaxy and Taylor Swift. I really got in touch with my teen-aged populist side this year, apparently.
Lavallee: This marks your third collaboration with Craig, with Z for Zachariah being a significantly larger production versus the former pair. What qualities as a filmmaker (producer and director) does Craig possess that made this the next logical step in his film canon?
Lin: This is my third film with Craig Zobel with him as director and me as producer, but we also did 2 films before that together as production managers and line producer (David Gordon Green’s film All the Real Girls and Undertow).
So we’ve been working together for a very long time now, and doing those productions together is actually what made me believe that Craig is not just talented in a very innate and instinctual way, but that he also has the skill set needed to deal with complicated and difficult productions, to tell challenging stories. Seeing him work with actors starting with Great World of Sound was like witnessing the last piece of the puzzle click together.
Lavallee: Some producers concurrently have several buns in the oven, while on paper, you appear to devote yourself/focus to one project at a time (more of a quality versus quantity model) that critically appears to have panned out. How would you describe your instincts or tastes as a producer when it comes to selecting your projects, choosing who you work with?
Lin: It’s true, that I probably do not have as many projects simultaneously in the works as other producers at the same time. I do indeed have a couple that I’m always working on, but I’ve learned over the last few years that generally it’s better for me, and my work on these projects, if I’m focused on more or less one thing at a time.
As far as my instincts or tastes for choosing projects – I haven’t yet set out looking for anything in particular, but do often ask myself when reading a prospective script, “Do I want to spend several years (at a minimum) working on this project? With this person or team?” When using the calculus of the my incredibly fortunate experiences of the last few years, these couple of questions suddenly set a really high bar. That combined with feeling that focusing on just a few things at a time, makes for relatively low output, but hopefully decent in terms of quality.