Name: Brittany Snow
Notable past credits: The “Pitch Perfect” alum recently starred in Ti West’s acclaimed horror film “X.”
SXSW project: Snow made her feature directorial debut at the festival with “Parachute,” a mental health drama and love story that she cowrote with Rebecca Gleason. The film stars Courtney Eaton and Thomas Mann, with cameos from industry friends like her “X” costar Scott Mescudi, Gina Rodriguez and Dave Bautista.
She started working on “Parachute” five years ago, but wrote the bulk of the script during the pandemic, tapping into her own experience and struggles with mental illness. “I didn’t know that I wanted to direct and write,” said Snow of her decision to step behind the camera. “I thought that maybe I couldn’t. But I knew that I wanted to tell the story, and I thought that there’s no better person to tell this type of story than someone who has lived it.”
Finding the right actress to lead the film: “It was really hard to cast someone who was inherently going through a struggle, yet there was such tenacity in her struggle, and strength and effervescence,” said Snow of her movie’s main character, Riley, a young woman who meets Ethan at a karaoke bar the same day she gets out of rehab for disordered eating and love addiction. Ethan quickly falls in love and the pair develop a codependent relationship.
Snow noted that she was looking for an actress whom the audience would still want to root for, even when her character was making selfish decisions. “Courtney was always in my mind, because she’s actually a friend of a friend — and she’s also friends with the guy that Ethan is actually based on. But then I watched a bunch of her interviews and she was so effervescent and lovable; I met her and we spent about two hours talking and eating cookies and she just was the [right] girl.”
Snow credits Eaton’s ability to be vulnerable and raw in scenes that speak to the isolation of her character’s illness. “I think that it’s a disservice to people going through this, or anyone who has been through anything like this, to glamorize or even sensationalize this sort of thing,” said Snow. “So I wanted an actress who was willing to put herself out there in that way.”
Casting industry friends in supporting roles: “It was really important to me that my friends knew that these characters were going to be such a huge part in the story, not necessarily just favors or cameos. They were really integral in [Riley] getting better and finding herself, and I think they really appreciated that,” said Snow. “I wrote Bryce for Dave Bautista; I wrote Dr. Akerman for Gina, because I knew that they have this inherent generosity to both of them that I really wanted people to see. And those are the type of people that I encountered when I was trying to get better.”
Debuting her film at SXSW: “I think the cool thing about South By is that they’re really on the cusp of understanding what’s interesting and topical in the zeitgeist of what’s going on in the world,” said Snow, adding that she hopes her film prompts discussion around the influence of social media on body image and relationships. “I think [SXSW] is a perfect place to be able to open up a film like that.”
On whether she’ll continue to direct: “Because this is such a personal thing to me, and a story that I wanted to do, I didn’t know if directing was going to mean as much if it was someone else’s script or another type of story. But I do really feel like there’s something beautiful about directing that I didn’t know about,” said Snow. “So I would love to do it again.”
What’s next: Snow is releasing her first book, “September Letters,” later this spring. The nonfiction book, which she cowrote with friend Jaspre Guest, highlights the power of sharing personal stories. “I am really proud of it because it’s showcasing stories and hopeful lessons and interesting commentary on how to be in your body and how to live in the world,” said Snow.