If you’re a first-time film director, and you’re making a dark, female drama, well then it helps to have a marquee actress in your corner. Such was the case for DP-turned-director Reed Morano and her film Meadowland. While it’s typically the indie director (and producers) who face the uphill battle of getting a script to their wish headliner, Morano had the good fortune of being sought out by Tron: Legacy actress Olivia Wilde.

“I was begging (the director),” says Wilde about how she landed the role of Sarah, a mother, who along with her husband spiral downward after losing their son.  “I knew a lot of actresses were coming after Reed for the role. I told her to let me prove myself to her. So I offered her to come over to my apartment and shoot me in some scenes . If she didn’t like what she saw, that was fine. But she agreed to come by and gave me some great notes during that one hour,” Wilde tells Deadline at our Tribeca Film Festival Studio.

Morano adds, “I knew I wanted an actress who hadn’t performed this type of role before. When you read a script like this, you think of the usual suspects for the lead, but when I got a call from Olivia’s agents, I thought ‘This is way bigger than the usual suspects.'”

When Wilde became pregnant with her first child, Morano held the film. It was soon after that Wilde boarded as producer, a role she has held on a number of doc shorts, typically as an EP, as well as the feature comedy Drinking Buddies. “I built the character of Sarah with Reed. There wasn’t a moment on set when we weren’t connected on creating this character.  Everyday, I just felt this sense of ‘For the grace of God go I'”, says Wilde.

Morano has an extensive resume as a DP including HBO’s Looking TV series, and features The Skeleton Twins, Frozen River and Kill Your Darlings.  Financing through private equity came together in April of last year thanks to Meadowland producers Aaron Gilbert and Margot Hand of Picture Films Inc. Pic’s cast also includes Giovanni Ribisi, Luke Wilson, Elisabeth Moss, Juno Temple and John Leguizamo. WME and K5 are respectively handling domestic and foreign sales.

Meadowland premiered Friday, but there are more screenings coming up at the Regal Battery Park on Monday at 9:30PM and Friday at 6:15PM.