‘Little Death’ Star Jena Malone Explains Why Her ‘Number One Favorite Activity’ Is Working With First-Time Filmmakers | Video

Being an actor since she was a child, Jena Malone has been on her fair share of film sets. And what she’s learned is that working with first-time filmmakers is what she enjoys the most.

“I think, throughout my career, my number one favorite activity is working with first-time filmmakers that have a very unique vision,” Malone explained. “And [who] support innovation and clumsy emotion, and have just a unique perspective on humanity, you know?”

As his first feature film, Begert admitted at TheWrap’s Sundance Portrait and Interview Studio presented by NFP that it started “just as a bit of a writing experiment,” and evolved from there into a short film and, eventually, into this feature. For Malone, working on this film was “amazing.”

Malone stars in music video director Jack Begert’s debut feature “Little Death,” running as part of Sundance’s program this year. Begert has become known for his unique use of visual effects, working with huge artists including Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Dominic Fike, Olivia Rodrigo, Flying Lotus, and Doja Cat, among others.

Begert’s film, which he co-wrote with Dani Goffstein, follows a screenwriter’s (David Schwimmer) midlife crisis, along with a pair of taco truck entrepreneurs (Talia Ryder and Dominic Fike) who are addicted to opioids. Eventually, the trio collide and “Little Death” centers on their “efforts to find meaning and connection while struggling against the fickleness of fate and the illusion of free will.” (Of course, his signature visual effects are in there, too).

Malone noted that she didn’t “work that long” on this particular project, but felt Begert “did an amazing job,” especially when it came to allowing his actors to try things.

As Malone’s co-star Talia Ryder recalled, it was Begert’s “attention to detail and his commitment to his vision,” combined with his flexibility, that drew her to “Little Death.”

“I feel like a lot of times I’d come in with an idea, or something I wanted to try, or something very small and random that was important to me, but I felt that it would be big for my character and Jack was just always down to roll with it,” Ryder said.

“It’s a unique thing when a first-time filmmaker is not intimidated by that experience,” Malone added. “Because the longer you make films, you realize what a gift it is, to be able to be working with actors [who] have [the] faculty to make choices, you know?”

She continued, “I think that, sometimes, when it’s your first time, it’s a little like, ‘Ooh, what do we do? How do I make this fit into my script?’ But I feel like it’s also a sign of flexibility and curiosity and good work.”

“Little Death” is a sales title at Sundance.

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