Director Fisher Stevens discusses Palmer

Director Fisher Stevens discusses Palmer

January 29, 2021 A DGA Virtual Q&A

An ex-convict strikes up a friendship with a boy from a troubled home in Director Fisher Stevens’ drama, Palmer.

Stevens’s film tells the story of Eddie Palmer (Justin Timberlake), a former high-school football star who has returned to his Louisiana hometown to rebuild his life after spending 12 years in prison. He forms an unlikely bond with Sam, an outcast neighbor boy from a troubled home, but Eddie's past threatens to ruin his new life and family.

On January 29, Stevens discussed the making of Palmer in a DGA Virtual Q&A moderated by Director Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea).

During the conversation, Stevens spoke about wrestling with the director’s dilemma of shaping the arc of the story in a way that didn’t cheat via a “screenplay moment” that establishes the character growth in Palmer’s ultimate acceptance of his young friend.

“It wasn't a dilemma until a lot of the producers and Justin and people would go, ‘What is the turning point where Palmer finally accepts Sam?’ There wasn't one moment like that movie moment where, cut to Palmer looking at Sam… In the film there's several moments leading up to it. It's just sort of a sea change, it's not a turning like a bend in the road. I think a big challenge in raising the money for this movie was [backers who’d read the script asking], ‘What kind of boy is Sam? Is he trans? Is he gay?’ I'm like, ‘He is a 7-year-old boy who is who he is.’ As a filmmaker, it's kind of like what we try to do with documentaries. We just try to show and not tell the audience how to feel.”

Stevens’ other directorial credits include the feature films Stand Up Guys and Just a Kiss; the documentaries And We Go Green, Before the Flood, Mission Blue and John Leguizamo’s Ghetto Klown; and episodes of the series Early Edition and the documentary series Dirty Money.

Stevens has been a DGA member since 1998.

You can listen to Stevens' Q&A by clicking the podcast episode embedded below. You can find more DGA podcast episodes here.

About the DGA Virtual Q&A Program

Mirroring the ever-popular DGA Membership Screening Q&A program in the virtual space, DGA Members can now learn more about films directly from the filmmakers in this series of livestreamed conversations.

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