After three busy years working on the small screen, directing episodes of New Girl, Fresh Off The Boat, Casual and GLOW among many others, Lynn Shelton returned to TIFF with her first feature since 2014’s Laggies, which starred Keira Knightley as an underachieving twentysomething coming to terms with her life and responsibilities as a young adult. Titled Outside In, Shelton’s latest is another study of an emotional drifter, this time an ex-convict named Chris (Jay Duplass) who struggles with his newfound freedom after 20 years in jail, finding himself emotionally attracted to the high school teacher (Edie Falco) who fought for his release.

Shelton revealed she had no idea that Duplass – one half of the sibling directing duo who pioneered the mumblecore movement with such films as 2005’s The Puffy Chair, and whose brother Mark co-starred in the director’s 2009 breakout hit Humpday – had even taken up acting until she spotted him in a episode of Transparent as Josh, middle child of the Pfefferman clan. “Don’t tell anyone, but he’s REALLY GOOD!” she stage-whispered.

Shelton pitched Duplass the basic premise, which elicited a one-word response (“Schwinnnng!”), and together they put together the framework of the story, adding parts for Ben Schwartz as Chris’ estranged brother (“Their relationship is… fraught,” noted Shelton) and Laggies’ Kaitlyn Dever as Carol’s daughter, who strikes up an unlikely friendship with her mother’s admirer. Shelton made special mention of the absent Falco, but this did not diminish her praise for the rest of the case, whom she commended for their “emotional availability” – a key requirement for the director.

Asked what viewers should take away from the movie, Shelton demurred, suggesting that the film’s meaning is best left in the eye of the beholder. Duplass, however, did not. “A free car,” he offered bluntly.

See the full interview above.

Deadline Studio at TIFF 2017 is presented by Calii LoveWatford GroupPhilosophy Canada, and Equinox. Special thanks to Dan Gunam at Calii Love for location and production assistance; and Ontario Camera for equipment assistance. Video producer: Meaghan Gable; lighting and camera: Neil Hansen; design: Dialla Kawar; sound recording: Ida Jokinen.