How Noel Wells Balanced Modern Love, Old School Filmmaking in ‘Mr. Roosevelt’ (Video)

SXSW 2017: Debut director chose to shoot on film over digital

Debut director Noël Wells brings a bold, semi-autobiographical tale and a surprisingly traditional sensibility to the process in her SXSW Film Festival entry “Mr. Roosevelt.” And she did it on an indie budget, no less.

The actress and comedian also stars in the lead, from a screenplay she wrote. As a director, she chose to shoot on 16mm film — a departure in an indie film landscape that relies on digital technology to keep costs down. It also relies on digital platforms for release, as festival acquisitions these days are gobbled up for sweet six-and-seven figure deals by the likes of Netflix and Amazon.

“It would have been cheaper but it wouldn’t have looked as good,” Wells said during a stop at TheWrap’s SXSW Film Festival interview studio, hosted at the Plexus Lodge in Austin, Texas.

“[Shooting on] film matches the movie tonally, and I think it elevates it. I think when people see it they will understand,” she added.

When pressed about her preference for the film’s release, the star of Netflix’s “Master of None” is hoping for a grander theatrical moment (she may well get it, considering Sunday’s premiere screening got a standing ovation).

“My dream is that it gets to go to theaters. My ultimate goal is that people like it and are entertained. This is a movie that feels really good in a theater,” she said.

Her costar, Andre Hyland, agreed, likening the choice to stream content over the movie theater experience to “always ordering take out instead of going to a restaurant.”

The film, which Wells also bills as a coming-of-age story, is about an L.A.-based comedian who returns to her hometown after a relative takes ill. She’s forced to stay with her ex-boyfriend and his new, universally beloved girlfriend.

For more on the experience watch the clip above, and check out TheWrap’s complete SXSW coverage here.