Skip to main content
#
The Independent Critic

 A Trip to "Big Stone Gap" - An Interview With Adriana Trigiani 
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Reddit
Add to favorites
Email

Book maven Robin Kall coined the term "Adri-addicts" to describe the millions of readers who follow bestselling author Adriana Trigiani, whose career has included being a writer/producer for "The Cosby Show" and "A Different World," serving as executive producer/head writer for Jim Henson Productions' "CityKids," directing the award-winning documentary feature "Queens of The Big Time," and being the New York Times bestselling author of fifteen books including the blockbuster epic "The Shoemaker's Wife," the "Big Stone Gap" series, "Lucia, Lucia," "The Queen of the Big Time," Rococo," and her acclaimed memoir "Don't Sing at the Table." After years of holding out for a deal that would allow her to shoot a film based upon her "Big Stone Gap" series in the small Virginia town where the series is based and where Trigiani herself grew up, Adriana Trigiani is all set to add a narrative feature film to her credit with the October 9th Picturehouse release of "Big Stone Gap" starring Ashley Judd, Whoopi Goldberg, Judith Ivey, Jenna Elfman, John Benjamin Hickey, Jasmine Guy, John Benjamin Hickey, and Patrick Wilson, the latter also having family living in the town of Big Stone Gap. As the film prepared to open, The Independent Critic caught up with Adriana Trigiani while she was promoting the film in Chicago only a stone's throw from where she graduated from college at St. Mary's College in South Bend, Indiana.

Section title here
Patrick Wilson and Ashley Judd, from "Big Stone Gap"

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

First off, congratulations on the film. I know that this is a longtime dream of yours. How are you actually doing? It has to be a little nerve-wracking with your film opening in limited release today. 

ADRIANA TRIGIANI

Are you kidding me? I'm loving it. We started so well off in Chicago last night, I'm feeling nothing but love.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I want to start off with a question I'm sure you've heard a million times, but I'm here in Indianapolis.

ADRIANA TRIGIANI

I love Indy. I went to school in Indiana.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I actually read about that preparing for this interview. That's very cool. I'm sure you know that we've got John Green who has recently had a couple of his books, The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns, turned into films. One of the things I think we've kind of lamented has been that these films weren't actually shot here in Indy. So, I'm really intrigued by the fact that you felt so strongly about having Big Stone Gap actually shot in the town of Big Stone Gap. Can you talk about why that was so important to you and what you think that added to the film now that shooting is done?

ADRIANA TRIGIANI

First off, John Green is a phenom and he's fantastic. I adore him and I adore his work. You should be so proud of him. That said, everybody's got different things that they get jacked about. For me, I grew up in a family of self-employed people. You know what that means? I don't know if you did, but it means you never went on vacation and you were always worried. Self-employed also means that you care very much if things are made in America. For the life of me, I do not understand why we don't make American movies in America and, in particular, movies made where the movies are set to benefit the local communities and economies. Movies should be made where the stories were born. That's why it took me a long time. That's why I fought to the finish. That's why I made a deal with myself that I was going to fight until I got it. I could have gone to Canada fifteen years ago and made this movie. The Canadians are good people and I love them. But, I know that Canada has different trees than Southwest Virginia. People talk about the money, the money, the money. I don't care about the money. I care about the fact that a community got together and had a great time with the actors, the storytelling, and the camaraderie. That's as important as the financial incentives. John would have the best time filming his stuff where he grew up. It does something for your soul that you can't even quantify. But, his movies are big studio pictures. He only had so much control, so don't get mad at him!

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Oh, I'm not. Not at all. He's very popular here. I absolutely love him.

ADRIANA TRIGIANI

Good, because he's great.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

He seems to get so jazzed when he gets to come back here to promote his films. I had the chance to talk to him with Paper Towns and just absolutely loved him.

ADRIANA TRIGIANI

I've got a lot of love for Mr. Green.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Another thing that you do really well as both a writer and a filmmaker is that you create really wonderful characters.

ADRIANA TRIGIANI

Thank you.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

You do. They are fully developed. The women that you create are strong women, yet they're fully developed and sensitive, intelligent and emotional. You write women like the women in my circle - strong and talented and funny and loving and just the full spectrum of what it means to be a human being.

ADRIANA TRIGIANI

That's what I think my job is. I think my job as a dramatist is to illuminate the human condition. People are lonelier than they've ever been in the history of the world. We have more ways to get in contact with each other and less ways of expressing it. Our relationships are in trouble. We have a hard time sustaining them. Our expectations aren't met. There's a lot of sadness. There's a lot of fear. People don't feel safe. They feel isolated. We see so many examples of it around our culture. There's not anything you can throw at it. There's no money you can throw at it. Success doesn't do it. Fame doesn't do it. None of these things that we think are going to cure all this will cure it. The only thing that will pull us together really, and this is where I come in, is stories. It's the idea that we need each other. Without each other, we got nothin'. They can call it corn-pone, though I was raised in the South and I never ate any. If somebody wants to step forth and tell me what corn-pone is, I'll be happy to sample some. They can call it whatever they want to call it, but to me the riskiest thing you can do ... the most dangerous cliff you can dive off of is to tell somebody you love 'em and you commit to them. That's the most dangerous thing you can do. It isn't entertainment to me to see somebody get their head blown off or to see a woman slapped around or to see any number of violent acts or to see terrible dialogue or to see the backstory of a woman's life be that she worked a pole. It isn't real. What's real is the blood and guts of trying to survive day-to-day in work that sustains you and on some level you hope and pray fulfills you a little. Who you love is what it's all about. That's what I write about. You paid me a huge compliment, because that's what I'm going for.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

You attracted a really great cast for this film. Do you think that's why? I mean, I know that Patrick Wilson has family in the Big Stone Gap area and that likely played a factor but do you think it was the story that brought them in?

ADRIANA TRIGIANI

They were attracted to the story. They were attracted to the script. You can't get them without the script. The reason they're all so great in it is that they're all ensemble actors. Nobody here was looking for that tour-de-force solo act. They didn't want to do the high-wire act alone. They were looking for the trapeze act. You know, Where they swing across and grab the arm. They were doing the Wallenda's here. It wasn't a solo thing. For great actors, which every single one of my actors were, they were team players. I'm going to tell you this to ... they were very focused with chakras and heart wide open. The local people, my friend, they were taking them in and taking care of them. It was wonderful.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

That's really wonderful. I was reading your website last night. You're a builder. It just radiates in everything that you do. You're a community builder, a project builder, a relationship builder. That's obvious. From what I understand, you had something like a 20-day shoot. How did you work the way you like to work with such a compact schedule?

ADRIANA TRIGIANI

That was a killer. You'd work all day and you'd go "Oh, it's another day now." You know what you learn? It's a great way to work, because a lot of the way things are made when there's a lot of money is slow-motion and indulgent. This was wonderful for the actors. I mean, I'm sure we'd all like to have more, more, more. You know what? When the words are there and there's superior technique, which these actors had, and when the director's prepared and you have a great cinematographer and team then you're not going to go wrong.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

And you didn't. They really brought their game to it.

ADRIANA TRIGIANI

They really brought their game to it. I am so happy that you see what this movie is, because there are things in this movie that are so key to living a life that is full and purposeful. I'm galvanized by the audiences. That's who it's for.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I know I need to wrap up here, but I want to squeeze in one more question. I know that you've been a writer for a long time. I also know that directing, particularly this project, has been on your radar for a long time. How was that transition for you in moving from writer to director?

ADRIANA TRIGIANI

I'm a dramatist really. I've been directing for the theater forever. I think the first thing you need to know is that I love actors. As much as I love playwriting, I really started those two things concurrently because for me part of writing plays is that it's never a solo thing. I wrote them and put them on their feet pretty quickly all the time from the beginning. This was very natural to me. I will tell you this ... when you go to put something on film you find out within 48 hours if you're a director. That's 48 hours when everybody's going in the corner and throwing up because they don't know if you're a director. Once you show them that you know, everything's okay and everyone relaxes and that's exactly what happened. It's that first 48 hours, though. Oh boy.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Well, I do want to be respectful of your time and I do know you've got an incredibly busy day planned. I wish you the best with Big Stone Gap and congratulate you on your film.

ADRIANA TRIGIANI

Thank you very much.

"Big Stone Gap",  a Picturehouse release, opened in limited release on October 9th and continues on its run through theaters nationwide. For more information on the film, visit the official "Big Stone Gap" website.

Interview by Richard Propes
Copyright 2015, The Independent Critic

 

    The Official Rating Guideline
    • A+ to A: 4 Stars                
    • A- to B+: 3.5 Stars            
    • B: 3 Stars                         
    • B- to C+: 2.5 Stars           
    • C: 2 Stars
    • C- to D+: 1.5 Stars
    • D: 1 Star
    • D-: .5 Star
    • F: Zero Stars

    our twitterour facebook page pintrestgoogle pluslinkdin

    The Independent Critic © 2008 - 2019