GARDEN STATE FILM FEST IS SMOKING: “GIRLS WHO SMOKE” DIRECTOR TALKS

“Girls Who Smoke,” screening at the Garden State Film Festival, is a 15 minute short film adapted from Asbury Park resident Jenifer Hixson’s true story told live at The Moth in New York City and later heard on NPR’s “This American Life.”

I spoke with Director and Producer, Tawny Foskett, about filming in Asbury Park and the world premiere of her short on Saturday.

"Girls Who Smoke" was filmed around the northwest side of Asbury Park in the fall of 2010

TBP:  Everyone can relate to meeting an unlikely friend at some point in their young lives who had some kind of impact then and now.

Foskett:  To me, this short is about a woman who has a long walk home in which events occur and ultimately turning a corner in her life.  It’s about a woman who realizes that she can love herself a little bit more than she currently does, can do a little bit better by herself and it’s the point to start to do just that.

TBP:  The original story was written by a local.

Foskett:  I co-adapted it, which was mostly about the form being changed. This is Jenifer’s story I’m telling on film.

I was attracted to this very relatable story as I heard it (on NPR) while cooking in my kitchen. I loved Jenifer’s spunky voice immediately.  I was seeing the movie when I was listening – she told it so visually.

I was also attracted to the female lead storyline and because it took place mostly outside, which is always good when you don’t have a lot of money for production design.

TBP:  You filmed “Girls Who Smoke” outside, around the west side of Fourth Avenue in Asbury Park, in 2010.  Foskett:  There were a lot of places I considered shooting the film over the year or so I was in pre-production.

Well, I just think Asbury Park is the best beach town there is.  I’m visually in love with the architecture and the lore of this place.  I think it is both run down in the most beautiful way and cute in the most beautiful way.

There is such great diversity in a short span of real estate here. We shot the exteriors and interiors primarily at and around Jenifer’s place.

TBP:  I hear you almost lost your equipment.

Foskett:  Well, yeah. We had quite a bit of our gear put in the back of a garbage truck while we were shooting and luckily one of our crew noticed this before the truck turned the corner and crushed it all.

We forgot to notice that our lead actress’s coat was in there too, and an hour or so later when she was looking for it we had to let her know it was gone.  We put up a good excuse that the wind also may have blown it away.  And I gave her money to buy another.

TBP:  What does it mean to a filmmaker to be part of the Garden State Film Festival?

Foskett:  It’s very special to all of us.  Special because this is the 10 year anniversary (of the festival), special because it is in Asbury Park and feels “homey” and like we’ll get a chance to have quality time with the festival goers and those who put on the festival like Diane.

I think Jenifer will be at the festival so it’s basically the ultimate celebration for us.  I really hope the locals receive it well – they’ll certainly recognize a lot of the exteriors!

Girls Who Smoke” screens at the Garden State Film Festival, Saturday (March 24), 6.45 pm at the City Council Chambers on Main Street (Municipal Building).  Parking on premises.  For more information about the film and to purchase tickets in advance: GSFF.org.

Richard@TheBPlot.com

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