I’ve been asked several times what the title means, Write When You Get Work. It’s a directive: to call if you get a job, to let us know if you make some money. It’s a farewell that comes with a challenge.
If you say it to someone as they walk away, it’s got promise of accomplishment but likelihood of failure in its delivery. It’s a poke in the ribs.
It was how my dad always said goodbye when I was a kid. Whether I was headed to college or off to the park, my dad would give a wave and say, “Write when you get work.”
For years I didn’t know what it meant but I could tell he thought it was funny. Especially when I was eight years old and just headed out with other kids. He never bothered to explain it but, as I got older, I figured it out.
And that gradual slide into understanding what is being said to you is like the pleasure of watching a movie -- not a proof or an essay but a story that brings problems and funny ideas and the threat of disappointment into your mind -- by way of performances and the controlling of light and rhythm. When it works, it’s an authentic and heartfelt sleight of hand.
Write When You Get Work, the movie, is a love story and portrait of New York, a city where people live and walk in unexpected combinations, in their own heads but together.
The characters in the movie, Ruth and Jonny, and also Nan and Steven (Rachel Keller & Finn Wittrock, Emily Mortimer & James Ransone), have loved each other and lost each other. They crowd each other, taunt each other, and evolve toward each other in wavy lines. And their story ends with a simple camera move and a track aptly, for this movie, called Money Makes Me Crazy (BLUR).
We built a cast of perfect strangers, some of them with enormous experience and several making their feature debut, and we built a fictional universe to rhyme with the real one. We shot the movie on Super16mm film in 20 days on the Upper East Side and in the Bronx, under the Throgs Neck Bridge in a waterfront neighborhood called Locust Point. We got through production and post-production, and post post-production, with the kind of improvised navigation that drives the plot of the movie itself. And filming itself was nothing less than extraordinary thanks to the wit and brilliance of Robert Elswit, our Oscar-winning Director of Photography.
Robert and I threw scenes from Out of the Past onto the screen of his iPad not long before we started shooting and we were off to the races together. He and I had worked together before, in vastly different contexts, but always with efficiency and intuition. This movie gave us a chance to work together again for which I’m deeply grateful.
We jumped on the subway, we hailed real cabs, we laid track and stole shots on sidewalks out in front of delis. We made last-ditch pleas for perfect locations. We pulled rabbits out of hats.
Stacy Cochran, September 2018