Neil LaBute Returns to Original, Feature-Length Films With 'Some Velvet Morning'

"Some Velvet Morning"

The writer-director talked to The Hollywood Reporter about why he felt this was the right project to turn into a movie and how he feels about its dual VOD and theatrical release.

Neil LaBute's new film, Some Velvet Morning, begins with a middle-aged man showing up on the doorstep of his young mistress after four years apart. He claims to have finally left his wife and hopes to rekindle their relationship.

For LaBute, the movie marks his return to writing and directing an original, feature-length film, something he hadn't done in several years.

"I think I was at a point in my film career where it had been a while since I directed anything that I wrote myself," LaBute said. "So I just said, 'Hmm, this is a good time to do that again, to direct something original, and this is a good one to do -- very controllable. It won't take a lot of money. It's what I like to do, which is work with actors. This has got all the earmarks of what I did with In the Company of Men … or Your Friends & Neighbors … it's about the acting and the writing. This makes sense.' "

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The 83-minute movie, starring Stanley Tucci and Alice Eve, features a concept and a structure, including an unexpected twist in the film's final minutes, that LaBute had long hoped to explore.

"I … liked the idea of working on a relationship that I hadn't worked on before, which was this older person-younger person romantic relationship. But at the same time, I had the idea of doing something that, for a long time, seemed to be one thing and ultimately was paying off as being something else," he explained. "It was just having both of those ideas together and having a way to make them work as a whole."

The dialogue-heavy story focuses on the relationship between Tucci's and Eve's characters, particularly their dark past, with all the scenes taking place in a townhouse.

LaBute says the film was shot in eight days in a real house in Park Slope, after they relocated the family that lived there and took over their home. It was filmed in order, to maintain continuity, which included stopping in the middle of a dramatic scene and having to return to that same spot the next morning.

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Now the movie, which premiered at last spring's Tribeca Film Festival and was subsequently picked up by Tribeca Film, is playing on-demand and in digital platforms such as iTunes as well as in select theaters -- a dual release strategy LaBute says he is "all for," particularly since it allows people in small towns to see independent films that might not make it to their area.

"The way that I grew up, in a town that was far from places like L.A. and New York, a lot of films I just missed. Eventually you'd see them on television or perhaps when a DVD would come out or that kind of thing," LaBute explained. "But the idea that someone today, growing up where I did, can say, 'Look, I can actually see a movie before they see it in New York.' That's like saying, 'Let's go to the moon.' "

"While it may take away from some of the revenue in places where new movies [play] on the screen, I think ultimately, the numbers are always going to show that it's benefited the audience. It's increased the audience rather than taken away from the audience. And people, in fact, are willing to pay premiums for those things."

REVIEW: Some Velvet Morning

Despite his work in theater, LaBute thinks that this film almost works better if you're watching it alone on your laptop than with an audience.

"I know that the theatrical experience is very collaborative, on a good night, when you've got people there. But a movie like this, I have no problem [with someone seeing it at home]. I actually think it's a more visceral experience when you don't have someone to share it with," the writer-director says. "With audiences, you often feel a little safe, like we're all in this together, we're sitting here in the dark … I like saying to an audience, 'Hey, you're not safe.' I like to break that fourth wall and … kind of shake things up theatrically … I like the idea of people watching this in their homes alone and going, 'Oh, I wish I was watching this with somebody because it's kind of an overpowering experience.' "

Going forward, LaBute says he hopes he can continue to move among films, theater and TV, but that he hopes he's able to explore stories he wants to tell.

"I hope every story I tell is one that I'm completely invested in," he said.

Watch the trailer for Some Velvet Morning below.