January 2023 - EXTRAS: Mike Donahue's TROY at Sundance
In our lives, we find ourselves living vicariously through others. Writer & Director Mike Donahue takes those encounters and creates an enlightening short called Troy, screening at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Troy stars Adina Verson and Michael Braun as Thea and Charlie, a couple living in New York in a compact apartment complex with thin walls and busy neighbors. One particular neighbor, Troy, has a very active sex life.
Where did the idea of this short develop?
As a director, I've always been interested in looking at how people navigate loneliness, restlessness, and competing needs for stability and a comforting routine vs. chaos and stimulation - inspired by our experiences with a particularly wild and engaging neighbor. A place like New York affords a particular kind of anonymity + proximity. Whether in your apartment or on the subway, we live pressed up close against our neighbors, and our lives - in both their daily routines and moments of piercing pleasure or grief – so often become intertwined with those of our neighbors in unexpected, unnamable ways.
Adina Verson and Michael Braun are outstanding as the leads. You had quite a few heavy hitters for this short. How was the casting process? Did you know who you wanted to play each character?
We created most of the roles with these particular actors in mind - all folks we've been lucky enough to work with in NY theatre. Adina Verson and Dana Delany did the NYC premiere of Jen Silverman's play Collective Rage at MCC with us. Max Jenkins was just in the world premiere of Ana Nogueira's Which Way To The Stage at MCC for me. Dylan Baker was one of the first directors I ever assisted after I got out of YSD, where Michael Braun and I overlapped. Kristin Villanueva has done three or four plays with me, and Phillip James Brannon was in a production of Jen's at Williamstown. For our first foray into a film together, we wanted to make something specifically crafted for some of the actors we'd most loved working with – actors whom we knew would give idiosyncratic, surprising performances and keep the escalations into increasing absurdity grounded in something real.
How does it feel to present your film at Sundance?
I'm beyond thrilled about the opportunity and can't quite believe it. I'm looking forward to being inspired by the work I see and the other artists I meet. Jen and I are working on our first feature together right now – it's not Troy as a feature, but Troy serves as a tonal and thematic comp. We're again exploring ideas of fixation, obsession, and projection – and a series of escalations into increasing absurdity – but, this time, things take a darker turn.
Teresa Robinson is the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of New Mexico Entertainment Magazine.