A debut feature from a lifelong artist, Laurie Simmons' My Art examines how the personal and professional lives of a creator often merge. It's not explicitly autobiographical, but certain elements are closely aligned. Like Simmons, the lead character Ellie is an art professor interested in making movies similar to the ones that inspired her. As she travels upstate for the summer to experiment with performance art mirroring moments of classic cinema, Ellie comes across a number of eager locals interesting in getting involved. They become her silver-screen stars, and in the process, the cast becomes Simmons' too.
As the film opens in limited theatrical release this weekend, No Film School spoke with Simmons about the choice to cast herself in the lead role, how she sought advice from fellow filmmakers, how she recreated classic movie scenes, and the frequently challenged integrity of comedy.