As an actress, she’s worked with a number of today’s auteurs such as Woody Allen, Jodie Foster, Olivier Assayas and Sean Penn, and now Kristen Stewart is stepping behind the camera with her directorial debut short Come Swim. Reminiscent of Terrence Malick’s cinematic poetry in its metaphorical, visceral images and whispering voiceovers by Stewart, Come Swim follows a young man’s emotional pan as he is oversaturated and then parched by water. He’s played by Josh Kaye, a non-pro whose natural talent Stewart was drawn to and harnessed throughout the 17-minute piece.
“The ways in which you completely aggrandize your own pain is something that I was interested in because if you’re not inside of them, it’s seemingly normal and mundane, but when you’re inside of that, you’re inside a graphic novel,” says the Twilight actress.
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Stewart dabbled with the idea of “one man sleeping on the bottom of the ocean” for about four years via poems and a painting. In an effort to sidestep CGI, she employed ‘neural style transfer’, a type of artificial intelligence which reconfigures images, to transfer her painting to the filmed images during the opening and closing sequences of the movie. Timed with Come Swim‘s premiere at Sundance, the research paper “Bringing Impressionism to Life with Neural Style Transfer in Come Swim” that Stewart co-authored with the film’s producer David Shapiro and Adobe research engineer Bhautik J Joshi detailing the A.I.’s methodology was dropped on Thursday on the Cornell University library website.
“It’s not a small movie,” asserts Stewart, “It’s not like actors in a room talking to each other which you would definitely expect an actor to start off with (as a directorial project), myself too. Why did I make my first experience so difficult? I’m a little masochistic.”
And in regards to future directing projects, Stewart will be back.
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