Writer/director Lawrence Michael Levine on Black Bear – and why he’s staying behind the camera

Writer/director Lawrence Michael Levine feels he’s turned a corner, one that’s represented by his latest offering, Black Bear. Until recently, he was also an actor – often directing himself – but his experience on one particular film changed all that.

Talking to The People’s Movies Freda Cooper, he reflects on how he reached a turning point after his performance in Wild Canaries, one that he felt should have marked a breakthrough. But, when the recognition he hoped for didn’t materialise, he decided to concentrate on writing and directing and it’s a move he’s more than happy with. Acting, for him, is “a ship that’s sailed” and his new focus allows him to concentrate on the films he wants to make.

The result is Black Bear, a psychological drama with Aubrey Plaza as a film director at a remote countryside retreat aiming to start work on her latest project. It’s a set-up that Levine admits is based on experiences he’s had on film sets, but which is not directly autobiographical.

In the interview he also discusses his approach to writing and directing – he views the latter as “damage control” – and his reasons for choosing his trio of lead actors, Plaza, Christopher Abbott and Sarah Gadon.

Black Bear is released on digital on 23rd April. | Read our review of the film.