Q(uar) & A is a series of interviews with some of our favorite storytellers and creators about how they’re living while in lockdown.
Ani Simon-Kennedy is a writer/director from Paris currently living in NYC. She runs Bicephaly Pictures, a full-service production company with cinematographer Cailin Yatsko. The Short History of the Long Road, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, will be released June 12 in select theaters and available on VOD June 16. Ani also wrote episode 6 of the anthology narrative podcast Day By Day, about human lives during these COVID times.
Where are you currently sheltering in place?
In my one-bedroom basement apartment in Fort Greene. I’ve never been more thankful for our backyard!
What does your face mask look like?
My boyfriend and I have his and hers masks that were hand-sewn by our dear friend Jenna. She’s been making them in her apartment for health care workers and dropped two off for us.
Do you follow any kind of routine at this moment?
There’s been a loose routine that has been put in place. My boyfriend is still fully working his full-time erstwhile office job at his tech cancer research company, so that has been a helpful way to structure my loose freelance life. In the morning I’ve started doing three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing followed by a guided meditation (day 16 of 30!).
Then a couple times a week I log on with my friend Anna Rose King who is a filmmaker in Houston. We’ve been cheerleading each other on as we’re each writing new screenplays. Afternoon is usually phone calls for work or friends, Airpods screwed in while I putter around the garden. I try to end the work day with some kind of workout before we start cooking.
At night we either watch a movie or read. Weekends end up involving a lot of cleaning and living room dance parties. In between, there’s a lot of staring into the void, online volunteering, mindless Instagram scrolling, spontaneous crying, pacing in circles and drawing steamy baths.
What are some pieces of entertainment that you have consumed and loved during this time?
I finally read Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible and loved it so much. It had been a minute since I had been so thoroughly engrossed in a novel. It truly took me away. Thelma by Joachim Trier was a movie that really stuck with me and helped unlock some of the things I was chewing on with the new screenplay I’ve been writing. Haley Nahman started a newsletter called Maybe Baby that has been incredibly soothing to me.
Are you working on anything during this time? And if you’re having trouble “creating” things at the moment, how are you dealing, if at all?
I wrote my first narrative podcast episode for a new show called Day By Day, which was a fun challenge and a great way to channel all the brainspace that was already going to the pandemic. My new movie was supposed to be in theaters May 15 but got pushed to June 12, which was actually a bit of a relief. All of my commercial shoots have been postponed indefinitely so I’ve had an usual amount of time to really just dream up new ideas. As a writer/producer/director sometimes it’s hard to write freely because I’m always thinking about how to physically pull off certain shots, or how to keep in mind budget limitations. But right now the idea of physical production seems so far away that I’ve been able to fully write just for writing’s sake.
Have you taken up any new hobbies?
Crying! Sweet release. Highly recommend.
What’s the best meal you’ve eaten so far during quar?
Pierless Fish is a seafood supplier that typically services restaurants, but is now offering fresh and frozen fish delivery to customers’ doors at a discount. I made mussels for the first time — so easy, so delicious! It felt like a very special date night, in the quasi-restaurant of our living room. If you also want in, email Sam at SGorton@pierlessfish.com. Also want to plug the phenomenal bread drops from Neighborhood Bread and Billie Rushe. DM them your order and they drop a bag on your doorstep with the most exquisite focaccia/English muffins/pastries your heart could ever want.
What’s your current iPhone wallpaper and what’s the story behind it?
It’s the logo of my production company, created by the graphic design genius Larisa Martin. Bicephaly is the scientific term for two-headed and she nailed the whole ethos behind our biz.
What’s the best quar purchase you’ve made so far?
Our old ceramic moka pot exploded (RIP La Reginella) in the early days of quar but we’ve been aggressively avoiding ordering anything from Amazon, Target, and the like. Hélène runs a great antique shop called Clairefontaine via eBay and now the new queen of our stovetop is a fire-engine red Pezetti who kicks off my every morning.
Who are the writers, storytellers, or makers who are bringing you great joy right now?
Rebecca Solnit is someone I turn to in any moment of crisis. Her writings are always illuminating. I bow my head to the whole writing team behind Mrs. America on Hulu — we need more female anti-heroes on screen and they created a truly layered narrative. I’ve been taking Ron Finley’s urban gardening class on Masterclass with my mom and sister and he is a true visionary.
Find Ani on Instagram @animakesmovies.