Amy Berg, director of “Deliver Us From Evil,” a powerful, difficult documentary on a notorious pedophile priest, discusses her first narrative film, “Every Secret Thing,” starring Diane Lane, Elizabeth Banks, Dakota Fanning, Danielle Macdonald, Common, and Nate Parker.
Parenting is a difficult, imperfect, often painful process for parent and child, and Berg’s film looks unflinchingly at the hard and often wrongheaded choices parents make.
Amy Berg: This is my first narrative feature. It's called Every Secret Thing. And I was drawn to this film because it really explores a lot of different themes in the guise of a really interesting psychological thriller. So I felt kind of excited because there were themes from all the documentaries that I've worked on that were all condensed into this film. The idea that you can actually organize the film and how you want to make this film is something that you never get to do when you make a documentary because you're constantly just editing and then something happens with the story and you have to drop everything and go chase it. This is kind of a different — this is a very different approach to filmmaking to what I've been used to.
I have such a great cast in this film. I have Diane Lane, Elizabeth Banks, Dakota Fanning, Danielle Macdonald, Common, Nate Parker, all these really talented actors; they all wanted to work — I think I wanted to work with me because of my documentary experience. So we were able to really do an interesting history of each character and just get in there and really find the truth. And then, when they were on set they were able to just let it go and just be these people that they were playing. So I thought it was a really interesting process to bring my background into this process, into this film. I think the film really has to do with accepting people for who they are and how we parent our children. This story is really interesting; it was very interesting for me to work with Diane Lane, who plays the mother in this film, who has a daughter that she really doesn't like and she has to kind of learn — she has to learn to be a better parent and she can't so she just keeps making the wrong choices and eventually pushes her daughter into a place where she basically is rebelling against her mother. She just wants to be popular. She wants to fit in with the group and her mother looks at Dakota Fanning's character and wishes that's who her daughter was. So I think it's really important to not live vicariously through your children. I think it's really important to accept your children and embrace — listen to them and see who they are and embrace that for that.
These characters are exceptionally complicated and there was a lot of judgment and typecast in these characters just by the nature of the way they look. I'm more interested in like raw, natural storytelling that is emotionally based.