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Interview – Danielle Katvan – ‘The Foster Portfolio’ – A Short Film


Posted May 28, 2017 by

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Interview – Danielle Katvan

Director and writer Danielle Katvan’s drama “The Foster Portfolio” will receive its world premiere on April 20th at the Tribeca film festival, and starsRoe Hartrampf (Boardwalk Empire), Joel Nagle (Do the Right Thing), and Rebecca Watson (The Normal Heart).

Based on the original short story by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., The Foster Portfolio is an offbeat, mid-century tale about a rookie investment counselor who discovers that his penniless client is hiding a million-dollar inheritance in order to conceal a strange, double life.

“The Foster Portfolio is stylish, compelling and fascinating.” –Alan Cumming

Award-winning director, Danielle Katvan, has had her films selected by numerous respected film festivals including the Tribeca Film Festival, Palm Springs ShortFest, and San Francisco International Film Festival, with her work also being featured on MTV, NBC Universal and VH1. Her short film,Stranger Things, was the recipient of an award from Kodak for Excellence in the Craft of Filmmaking, and she was both named one of Film News Briefs ‘Filmmakers to Watch’ and selected as a finalist in the 2016 HBO Access Directing Fellowship.

Joining forces with female director, Katvan, is female producer, Saleah Smith, who has worked on award-winning films and television shows including Evil Lives Here and My Dirty Little Secret. Fellow producer of The Foster Portfolio, Joel Pincosy, is another award-winner, whose short films have screened at festivals across the US.

In the role of Jim Crane is Roe Hartrampf, known for his work in Romeo Vs. Juliet, Broker, and A Good Marriage. His television credits include Boardwalk Empire, Elementary and Blue Bloods. Joel Nagle, playing Herbert Foster, is also no stranger to the screen, known for his work in Spike Lee’s Oscar nominated Do the Right Thing, We Are What We Are and Palimpsest. Rounding off the talented cast is Rebecca Watson whose extensive screen credits include HBO’s The Normal Heart, Hulu’s Difficult People, Showtime’s The Big C, Starz’ Flesh and Bone, NBC’s Deception and Law & Order.


To begin with, tell us about your short film, ‘The Foster Portfolio’…

The Foster Portfolio is a short film that I adapted from a story written by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. It takes place in the early 1950’s, and it’s an offbeat tale about an investment counselor who discovers that his seemingly penniless client is hiding a million-dollar inheritance in order to conceal a strange, double life.

Where did the idea come from? How did you get involved with the film?

I first read the story about seven years ago, back when I was in film school, and I fell in love with it right away. I was instantly captivated by Vonnegut’s writing style, which felt like a perfect fit for my sensibilities as a filmmaker. His use of absurdity and dark humor, irony and eccentric characters all really spoke to me and I felt that I could really bring a vision to his story. I reached out to the estate and was immediately shot down, but I spent the next five years harassing them with emails and phone calls. Eventually I went to visit them in person, brought over a bottle of wine… and they finally gave in.

Tell us about the cast, who is staring?

The film stars Roe Hartrampf, who plays Jim Crane, the young investment counselor. Roe has appeared in guest starring roles in shows such as Elementary, Blue Bloods, and Boardwalk Empire, but I have a feeling he’ll be a leading man very soon. He’s incredibly talented and hard working. Joel Nagle, who played Herbert Foster, I saw in another short film, and then I reached out to see if he would come in to audition. I wanted someone like Michael Shannon for the part, and when Joel came in he seemed almost too “normal” looking, but as soon as he started to perform his eyes went crazy and I saw that other side of the character bubbling through the surface. I knew he was perfect for the part. Rebecca Watson plays Alma Foster – and I actually found her because she’s a friend of my mother. When my mom first told me about her, I didn’t think much of it, since mothers have all sorts of crazy ideas- but once I looked Rebecca up I realized she had a great look for the part. And then when she came in to audition, she simply nailed it. 

When and where can we expect to see ‘The Foster Portfolio’?

The film just had it’s world premiere at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. We’re just at the beginning of our festival run, but hopefully it will be playing at a city near you soon!

What are your influences as a filmmaker?

Growing up in my parent’s photography studio in New York City, I was exposed to the art of visual storytelling from a young age. I grew up taking photographs on a 35mm camera, and developed the images in my parent’s darkroom. I feel lucky to have been raised in that environment, and in a city filled with so much culture and stimulus. I think it definitely had a big influence on my directing style and the stories I’m drawn to. I also have so many directors that I admire, but if I had to chose a favorite, it would be the Coen Brothers. I’m incredibly inspired by their masterful execution of off-beat, character driven stories and the way they create heightened worlds through cinematography and production design. I also love the way they tackle so many different types of stories, genres and periods, but what stays consistent is their voice and their style. That’s what I hope to achieve with my work. I’m interested in exploring many different genres, styles and worlds, but I hope to have a distinct voice as the underlying thread that ties my body of work together.

What advice would you give to any up and coming filmmakers?

Stay true to your vision and keep creating.

What is the next step for you? Do you have any other films or projects in production?

I have a couple of feature film projects I am developing right now and some episodic concepts. In addition to writing my own material, I’m also looking for scripts and stories to adapt. I don’t feel like I need to write everything I direct. I’m definitely open to finding a script that inspires me and that I can bring a vision to.


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Adam Snowden
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