Stefanie Abel Horowitz ran her theatre company, Tiny Little Band for six years before pivoting artistic mediums to direct her first short film. After embracing a brief hiatus from being an artist, Horowitz began questioning what it really was that she wanted to do, prompting her to ditch the concrete jungle of New York to relocate to sunny Los Angeles. And with her short film, sometimes i think about dying premiering at Sundance, Marmoset wanted to learn more about how she feels about death, music and getting into one of the most reputable film festivals.
Filmed in a small coastal town of Maine, sometimes i think about dying is a dark comedy of a young woman who’s headspace lingers in deathly thoughts. The audience is let in on the main character’s musings as a voice-over dialogue; the character is surrounded by others who have little to no awareness of the grim intricacies beyond an otherwise timid shell. Exteriorly, she blends into a washed out palette of muted colors, invisible in plain sight, adding to the layers of her shyness.
While the story follows the beginning of a newly founded relationship, Horowitz never forfeits the struggles and complexes that define the film’s main character, regardless or not if infatuated with a love interest. It’s this kind of narrative, about women who exist beyond tropes and simple molds, that Horowitz proves is possible in filmmaking.
“I hate how women are so often presented as cold,” says Horowitz. “If we’re not sort of these romanticized, soft maternal women, then we are cold workaholics who can't access our feeling whatever it is. She's definitely such a full character. And part of the reason we wanted to bring this back as a film is that she is so interesting and so millable to so many, and a complicated woman.”
And as an upcoming filmmaker Horowitz proves she’s comfortable forging ahead to tell these kind of authentic kind of stories—sometimes i think about dying normalizing the topic and presence of death.
“It's such a universal feeling, right? Whether it be sadness or actual death or whatever it is,” says Horowitz. “I mean we're all going to die and we all think about it at some point, but. So it's like how to let people not feel like somehow she's somehow other than them — or that we have an access to that part of ourselves. But she gets to say the things that we all kind of want to say or are all thinking. And so it sort of had to be that combination of smart, funny, bad woman.”
And much like the thoughtfully constructed nature of Horowitz’s main character, cinematography and sound design equally portray distinct presences. Horowitz worked with a composer, Savannah Wheeler and with Marmoset for music licensing — “Lonely Star” by Fred Martin and the Matadors and “I Wanna Know” by Pagents. When asked about her approach to music, Horowitz notes her evolving approach toward creating a soundtrack.
“There are directors who will make a playlist and are really engaged with the musicality side,” Horowitz says. “I actually find that to be one of the hardest parts because it is such an emotional medium. I mean people cry just listening to music. I really want to get better at that to be honest because I think it helps the film later on too when adding music in.”
With her first film wrapped and heading to Sundance, what’s next for Horowitz?
“Well, I'm excited to go to Sundance, I think that's gonna be fun. And then I'm just writing a lot more and I’m working on adapting another play that I worked on previously, called “Ghost Stories,” — it won’t be called that in the future. It's about ghosts, belief and faith and then I'm writing more stuff for TV as well.”
While audiences will have to wait to see the short film online, Sundance filmgoers can a screening of sometimes i think about dying at the festival — showtimes listed below:
Temple Theatre, Park City — Saturday, January 26, 6:00 p.m.
Redstone Cinema 2, Park City — Sunday, January 27, 10:00 p.m.
Broadway Centre Cinema 6, Salt Lake City — Monday, January 28, 3:00 p.m.
Egyptian Theatre, Park City — Thursday, January 31, 5:30 p.m.