Kendyl interviews writer and director Robin Swicord about her film Wakefield (2016), based on the E.L. Doctorow short story of the same name which follows the strange and complex journey of a man who secretly starts living above his own garage, watching his family go about their lives in his absence.
Robin Swicord is primarily known for her work as a screenwriter for Memoirs of a Geisha (Satellite Award for best screenplay); Little Women, (co-producer, Writers Guild award nomination); Matilda (co-written and co-produced with Nicholas Kazan); the cult comedy Shag (shared); The Perez Family; and Practical Magic (shared). She has written two plays that were produced off-Broadway (Last Days at the Dixie Girl Café, Criminal Minds, both published by Samuel French).
In 2009 Swicord received an Oscar nomination for her contribution to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a project Swicord originated and worked on for more than a decade.
Swicord made her feature-directing debut with Sony Pictures Classics’ The Jane Austen Book Club, produced by Julie Lynn and John Calley, for which Swicord also wrote the screenplay adaptation.
Swicord most recently wrote and directed the feature film Wakefield, an adaptation of E.L. Doctorow’s short story starring Bryan Cranston and Jennifer Garner which had its international premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, after premiering at Telluride. Wakefield opens in theatres in May 2017.
Swicord is currently a Governor for the Writers Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and chairs the prestigious Nicholl Fellowship. She mentors for the Sundance Screenwriting lab, and often co-leads Film Independent’s Writers Lab. In 2015 she helped create and launch the inaugural Hedgebrook Screenwriting Workshop for women writers, which took place again in October 2016. Swicord is married to writer-director Nicholas Kazan; they have two daughters, actor-writer Zoe Kazan and actor-writer Maya Kazan.
In Robin Swicord’s adaptation of E.L. Doctorow’s short story, successful suburbanite commuter Howard Wakefield (Bryan Cranston) takes a perverse detour from family life: He vanishes without a trace. Hidden in the attic of his carriage house garage, surviving by scavenging at night, Howard secretly observes the lives of his wife (Jennifer Garner) and children and neighbors. Wakefield becomes a fraught meditation on marriage and identity, as Howard slowly realizes that he has not in fact left his family, he has left himself.