Ingrid Goes West

Were there any little details or the small things that you’ve experienced living in LA that you wanted in the movie?

The one thing, and I did it, was saying everything is the best. Like the best. The best. We gave that to Taylor, but I mean that’s something that I do that I think I’ve picked up just from friends or whatever is this use of hyperbole. You know, like everything’s the best. Everything’s amazing, or whatever. I just think that’s a really funny thing that people that live outside of LA might not talk like. I don’t know, I just know that I know a lot of people around me talk like that. That was one thing that we had talked about from the beginning where it’s like we want Taylor to always say everything’s the best.

It’s funny how that happens. Before I got to LA, I don’t think I ever said, “It’s cool” so much, and I don’t think I ever said “Dope” before.

Oh yeah. Yeah, exactly. Also, everybody hugs out here, I noticed. I remember when I first moved out here, everyone was like hugging and I’m like, “Okay.” And then I started doing it and then I went back to Philly where I’m from and was like hugging all my friends, and they were like, “Dude, what are you doing? Why are you hugging?” I was like, “That’s what people do, man.”

(Spoiler warning for the rest of the interview.)

[Laughs] I want to ask about the ending. I could maybe see someone taking the wrong message from it. Have you heard any interesting interpretations or takeaways from the final minute that have surprised you?

Well, I’ll tell you what, some people I would say have echoed that concern about it, but just about everyone I’ve talked to, when I really press them, “What do you think? What is your takeaway from the ending?” They’re always spot on. I’ve talked to a lot of 15, 16, 17-year olds that have seen the film and they all totally get it. They get that Ingrid’s not supposed to be a role model and about all that stuff. And it’s usually older people who are the ones who are like really concerned they are going to take the wrong message from it.

But it’s funny. Usually, kids are the ones that are like, “Oh, I totally get it. And I like that the ending didn’t treat me like an idiot and tell me,” you know, it wasn’t like an after-school special that’s like “Social media’s bad.” My favorite films are … I love Taxi Driver and that ending, he shoots a bunch of pimps and then is rewarded for and called a hero. It’s like, I don’t think you’re supposed to leave taxis ever being like, “Yeah Travis Bickle. I want to be that guy.” You know what I mean? I think obviously it’s a film, it’s not for everybody. It’s rated R. You know, it requires a certain level of engagement, I think. It’s not something you could just turn your brain off and enjoy, but those are the kind of movies that I like.

Ingrid Goes West Red Band Trailer

In a way, it feels truthful, too, in that not everyone changes. Ingrid could change, but…

Yeah. We screened it for people, and some people were like, “I just wish that she could just turn off her phone and throw it into the ocean or something.” That just doesn’t feel like Ingrid. I just can’t really envision that. No other ending sold right to me and we just had to follow our instincts. But we’ve definitely fine tuned the ending, I would say, to get to a point where I felt I was happy with it. I think you add a few frames to that last shot, or you take a few frames away and it doesn’t have the same impact.

I also think that Dan Pinto and O’Shea’s performance does a lot in terms of what I think is ultimate map to the movie, which isn’t necessarily that social media’s good or bad, but that authenticity is being valued over whatever fakeness you might experience online. I think that’s what Dan Pinto represents and why it’s important that he’s there in the end, so she really feels she’s torn between these two choices. Is she going to go down this path or a different path? Is she going to change or not?

You mentioned the idea of fine tuning the ending. What scenes took required more tweaking in post-production?

We did some fine tuning and tweaking to the beginning. We kept getting these notes about the end, and they were like, “We just don’t care about Ingrid and all these things.” I was just really frustrated because I was like, I know we have the right ending. Originally, Ingrid, when she got out of the mental hospital in the beginning of the movie, she was going to live with her sister. The performance of the sister was great and everything but I think by taking her out and having it just be Ingrid by herself, you suddenly just empathize with her so much more and understand her loneliness and what’s driving her. We really needed that engine to send her on this journey.

And then once we changed that, people started liking the ending. There’s an old screenwriting adage that’s like, “If there’s a problem with your third act, there’s a problem with your first act,” kind of a thing, and that was a hard lesson we had to learn in post. You know, people weren’t taking issue with the ending, but the problem was at the beginning of the film, not the end of the film.

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Ingrid Goes West is now in theaters and available to rent on iTunes.

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