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American Woman 2018

American Woman

American Woman

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About the American Woman 💬

AMERICAN WOMAN follows the story of a young, single mother whose life is forever changed when her teenage daughter goes missing, leaving her alone with her baby grandson...

  • Bridget is missing and her mom won't stop until she finds her.

In a blue-collar town in Pennsylvania, a 32-year-old Deb Callahan's (Sienna Miller) teen daughter Bridget (Sky Ferreira) goes missing and she is left to raise her infant grandson alone.

  • All she wants is an answer.

The story is told over the course of 11 years: we journey with her from the time her daughter vanishes, through the trials-and-tribulations of subsequent years, and ultimately to the long-awaited discovery of the truth.


Q: What drew you to Brad Ingelsby's script? Why did you want to direct this story as your next feature film?

Jake Scott: I was already familiar with Brad's writing and this script floored me. The family was completely real to me, their love and grievances, the thoughtful layering of the relationships, Deb's resilience and transformation. The capacity we have to change, to forgive and to endure seemed like a necessary story to tell.

Q: You've assembled a terrific cast led by an incredible performance from Sienna Miller. Sienna's character has an intensely emotional journey from her child going missing to going through a serious of difficult romantic relationships and family situations. Tell us about working with Sienna on this character.

Jake Scott: Sienna expressed her fear from the outset. That complete openness and honesty seemed the only way to build the character. Actually, her fearlessness and determination to go deeper were revelatory. Trust was for me and I think Sienna, the essential factor. And to be honest, I had my fears too! It's far too easy with something like this to resort to an intellectual refuge, by way of avoiding the more difficult truths that come up in the journey. I see it as a kind of cord through which you always feel connection and tension. The line of 'trust'. A detailed examination of her childhood and adolescence, the relationship with her father, the role Kath plays in her life and the distance between her and her mother, were crucial foundational tools.

Q: The story is set over 11 years. Can you discuss calibrating the performances and story to capture the sense of time and each character's emotional journey?

Jake Scott: I think the first thing was not to obsess too much about the passage of time, but instead allow the changes and rhythms of both character and world to emerge naturally. 11 years isn't a huge amount of time; they age a little, softening perhaps, wrinkle, wearing the scars as the world around them remains reliably familiar. And in the center of this is the unanswered question. The characters' emotional journeys were 'scored' to five corresponding beats. This really helped to navigate through the changes and years. It is a kind of map, as you say, a method of calibration. With a cast as amazing as this, you trust them, listen to them, watch them on and off set, and learn every day.

Q: The film explores complicated family relationships - bond between sisters, mothers and daughters, marriage. Can you talk about how you approached these relationships with your cast? Did you have time for rehearsals?

Jake Scott: This really goes back to Brad's incredible ear and his feeling for family dynamics. But this is an incredible cast, who just fit together perfectly (or imperfectly for that matter). A lot of personal experience and viewpoints informed the relationships, of course. We discussed absolutely everything. Rehearsals entailed meals together, walks, sitting by the fire, expressing fear, resistance, allowing all feelings to exist and very little actual running of scenes. To me, every shoot day was a kind of rehearsal, as the relationships built over the time. Everyone brought their own experiences and viewpoints. We held a 'pizza night' in rehearsals, everyone in character. Sienna and Christina had an incredible rapport, both of them are also exceptionally funny, which connected them as sisters. There are four Mothers in the family, with Bridget going missing, so Motherhood was something to really investigate and discuss.

Q: The film depicts domestic violence and the challenges of breaking out of those situations. Why was this something you wanted to explore?

Jake Scott: Deb's story is about breaking the cycle of violence in her life. The film deals with abuse on many levels; self-abuse, as a reckless Mother. The married man that leads her to believe there's a future, when there isn't. Her judgment and false accusation of Tyler. The violence that is the violation of another woman's family home. Attempted suicide. The violence of the boyfriend that she initially defends, while hiding the truth. Infidelity and the abuse of trust in a marriage. Yet through all of this experience, Deb finds and deals with the truth. I have kids, including two daughters. I made this film as a parent, from that perspective.

Q: There are many intense and emotional scenes in the film. What was the atmosphere like on set?

Jake Scott: Intense and emotional! The crew were wonderful. It felt very tight-knit and familial. There was a deep respect for the actors and a sense of collaboration. When a problem emerged, it was dealt with and put to rest. The houses were smaller so at times we were very much on top of each other, but in a way that informed the picture. All of the crew understood the emotional landscape and respected it.

Q: Was there a particular scene that excited or challenged you?

Jake Scott: Everything! The crash was both.

The wedding sequence was the high point and a sustained note, but without much in the way of scripted direction. It was a loose and spontaneous day. The 'garter' scene really helped to set the day off as the veil did actually catch fire then the whole scene became expertly improvised by Sienna, Christina and Amy. It's probably my favorite moment in the film. The Sisters and their Mum in a moment of love. This carried the entire sequence with that feeling of a happy wedding day. But beneath it all, was the unanswered question, Bridget's void.

The grave site was an awful experience but incredibly powerful. It rained incessantly. The emotion was all-consuming. To not fall into the feeling was hard. Standing back with objectivity, paramount. That was Sienna's most vulnerable moment, I think.

Q: What do you hope audiences take away from this film?

Jake Scott: Hope. The power of truth to find the strength to change.

American Woman Movie Details 🎥

Directed by

Jake Scott

Writing Credits

Brad Ingelsby


Sienna Miller

Christina Hendricks

Aaron Paul

Will Sasso

Pat Healy

Amy Madigan

Sky Ferreira

Alex Neustaedter

Rachel Singer

Gillian Mariner Gordon

Macon Blair

E. Roger Mitchell

Bates Wilder

Kentucker Audley

Aidan Fiske

Aidan McGraw

Logan Hallowell

Jack Brunault

Kobi Polisky

Maggie Castle

Music by

Adam Wiltzie

Cinematography by

John Mathieson

Genre: Drama

Countries: United States, United Kingdom

American Woman Official Trailer

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