An award-winning screenwriter, director, model, and painter with two shorts behind her, writer/director Mitzi Peirone went all out with her feature directorial debut, Braid, bowing in Tribeca today. A visually audacious descent into madness, Braid follows self-proclaimed artists Petula and Tilda as they deal drugs in New York City, losing $80,000 of drug money and fleeing town to evade both their dealer and the police. Hiding out in the home of their childhood friend Daphne (The Handmaid’s Tale‘s Madeline Brewer), the pair find a young woman who is off her rocker, inviting them into her world of make-believe, torture and bloodshed.

“The idea behind it came from a deep reflection that I had about reality and our existence, and our perception of things, how much everything that surrounds us is truly an extension of our thoughts, how the world is a mirror to our mind,” Peirone told Deadline this morning, appearing in Tribeca with stars Brewer, Sarah Hay and Imogene Waterhouse. “And after all, aren’t we all playing make-believe all the time, saying that we are certain things and believing those things, acting upon those beliefs? So nothing really separates us from kids playing make-believe.”

Running around a mansion all summer in the making of the film, Peirone’s cast found the director’s set to be a playground, and a creatively liberating space. “What I liked about it was the fact that we had such creative freedom on set, and every department really got to put their stamp on it with Mitzi’s vision,” Waterhouse explained. “It was just fun.”

To hear more from the team behind Braid—as Brewer reflects on Peirone’s “mad genius” quality—click above.

The Deadline Studio at Tribeca is presented by Nespresso.