Lorelei Director Sabrina Doyle on the Human Spirit, Stars' Chemistry

When Sabrina Doyle wanted to make the leap from shorts to her first theatrical release, she wanted to tell a story of heart and redemption in Vertical Entertainment's Lorelei. It follows, and ex-con Wayland (Pablo Schreiber) who reconnects with his high school sweetheart Dolores (Jena Malone) after his stint in prison as both try to make ends meet for themselves and her three daughters. I spoke with the director about the inspiration behind the film and how Malone and Schreiber make it work. "I remember thinking a lot. It was a very emotional time in the world," Doyle said. "I remember thinking a lot about the relationship between the past and the present. I felt that there was a lot of nostalgia in the air. Lorelei has a lot of reverence for the past as a film that speaks to nostalgia as a kind of beautiful, precious thing that reminds us of the passage of time in life and the seminal nature of love. Also, I think nostalgia can be a kind of good thing, but I also was feeling like in the world generally."

Lorelei Director Sabrina Doyle on the Human Spirit, Stars' Chemistry
Jena Malone and Pablo Schreiber in Lorelei (2021). Image courtesy of Vertical Entertainment

Doyle broke down the struggles with Dolores and Pablo. "That kind of struck me a little bit, and I thought, 'How do I tell the story on the familial level of people who had this past that they wanted to go back to but can't," she said. "They're different people now, and their lives are different. They need to move on, but they don't embrace the life that they have. It was just a very personal way of reflecting what I was soaking up from the environment and sort of feelings across the world of nostalgia and wishing to go back. That's why I remember the timeline so well because I remember everything that was happening politically in the world and when I started writing it."

Lorelei Director Sabrina Doyle on the Human Spirit, Stars' Chemistry
Jena Malone in Lorelei (2021). Image courtesy of Vertical Entertainment

When it came to casting Malone and Schreiber, Doyle broke down their characters. "It's always a leap of faith, and you just know when people are going to have the incredible chemistry they ended up having," she said. "They invested in the movie, and they gave a lot. So Pablo lived in a trailer in a muddy field behind the house we were shooting at for the duration. That was kind of level that was a degree of commitment he had to the film [going method]. Jena had to roll back after having her kid. She plays a single mom. She was invested in the character development and wanting to show a more complex situation where a mother can make mistakes and still feel worthy of feeling capable."

Lorelei Director Sabrina Doyle on the Human Spirit, Stars' Chemistry
Vertical Entertainment

Doyle credits Malone and Schreiber's acting styles in making the film work. "I think sometimes that sort of chemistry comes from attraction, and sometimes it comes from a mixture of attraction and the spiritual," she said. "I think that the fiction was also there between them because they have quite different styles as actors. Pablo is a very practically trained actor, and that kind of fits in his character. So he's like this thing where everything pivots. Jena as an actress, is very intuitive. She's kind of like this whirlwind of energy. You really see that in the film. She kind of disrupts everything and really likes to mix it up and do something a bit different in every take. So I think that shows their complimentary acting styles really helps."

The biggest challenge Doyle encountered was trying to mix the constraints of budgeting and time. "Everyone's working really hard at their physical limits," she said. "I never slept more than four hours a night the whole time I was shooting this film. It wasn't possible any other way because of everything that needed to be done. I think for me, that was the biggest learning curve for me for this. Going from shorts to features was understanding the stamina required to sustain that level of hard, really hard work over the course of a 25-day shoot rather than a four or five-day shoot, which is what you do in a short." Lorelei, which also stars Amelia Borgerding, Chancellor Perry, and Parker Pascoe-Sheppard, is currently in select theaters and on-demand.

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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