In between starring in back-to-back blockbusters Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Avengers: Infinity Warstar Karen Gillan brought her feature passion project to life, The Party’s Just Beginning. And at a time when studios are looking for more female directors to tell stories, look over here at Gillan.  

Gillan shows the chops that she can both star and direct a movie with a distinctive, auteur style. The Party’s Just Beginning was shot in the actress’ Scottish Highlands hometown of Inverness and she plays a young woman who is living an endless bacchanal to mask more severe pains, one of which is losing a close friend to suicide. Gillan captures Inverness with a kinetic, somber colorful hued, rapid-edit style, reminiscent of how Nicolas Winding Refn arrests Los Angeles in Drive and Neon Demon. In the hands of a less-capable director, this story could easily tip toward melodrama, but Gillan keeps an even-handed approach to both her nuanced turn as well as her actors’ performances with a grounded story and sense of humor (though she parties by night, Gillan’s Liusaidh is shackled to working in a grocery deli by day).

“The whole story is based on a statistic I read that the suicide rate in the Highlands of Scotland are significantly higher among young men than in the rest of Scotland. I was like ‘That’s a strange statistic’ because I grew up there and it’s so idyllic and picturesque and beautiful. Why do we have this dark fact looming over us?” says the actress-turned-filmmaker.

It took Gillan six years to write the screenplay and five to finance. She finally broke through with stateside film finance company Mt. Hollywood Films.