In “Fort Tilden,” Bridey Elliott and Clare McNulty star as a very particular brand of terrible people: Lost, vapid twentysomething Brooklynites, lashing out at anyone who suggests they don’t have it all figured out. Harper (Bridey Elliott) convinces Allie (Clare McNulty) to blow off her Peace Corps interview to bike out to the Rockaways for a beach day with some guys, but the trip turns out incredibly fraught. It doesn’t help that they’re wearing rompers the whole time.
Considering how fond you seem to be of each other, how was it playing the strong undercurrent of animosity between these two characters?
BRIDEY ELLIOTT: It was really fun. We didn’t know each other prior to shooting. We’d met very briefly.
CLARE MCNULTY: Once, for Chinese food.
BE: So I think it almost worked better that we could just fall into the characters and have fun with that as opposed to having this past friendship. We had a very professional approach, but then we were also getting along great.
CM: The circumstances of shooting something like this — it was so guerilla style, you know? Like, we’re on the street and peeing in public, sort of. In rompers, peeing, which is its own adventure.
I was going to ask about the rompers, what you think of them as fashion statements.
CM: I don’t own one. I wish I did, I just can’t find any that look good. The only romper that’s ever looked halfway decent on me is the one in the movie.
BE: I think they’re weird because they are kind of like baby clothes. You do feel a little bit like you’re in a onesie. I think it’s the same as wearing a baby doll dress. You’re kind of going for that weird “sexualization of children” look. (laughs)
CM: (laughs) It’s a weird thing. It looks really nice on some people, though. Also, I feel like there’s a difference between the short romper and the pantsuit.
BE: Yeah, the pantsuit is a different statement all together.
Making an independent film — on bicycles — around the streets of New York seems pretty terrifying.
CM: It was a little scary, mostly on Flatbush. The rest of it was pretty OK, but Flatbush…
BE: There were certain areas where it was like, “Oh, that guy just said something really disgusting to us!” (laughs)
CM: Flatbush in particular, it’s like there are no laws. And just the way that people feel about bikers in New York, it’s so fraught. People care about it so much, but also people are so angry at bikers. Cars don’t really respect bicycles, so we were also zooming in and out of traffic. It was kind of fun, though.
And New Yorkers aren’t usually the biggest fan of film shoots in their neighborhood.
CM:Although, we had a couple of really wonderful moments. There was a cop one time who was really into it. He was like, “Whatever you need!” Which was such a nice change from, you know, the rest of the NYPD.
BE:And then a lot of people in the Rockaways thought we were making a movie about the Rockaways. “What’s the movie called? ‘Fort Tilden’? Oh, thank you! Finally highlighting the courage of the people down here!” But that was not the movie.
So when they see it, they’ll be pretty disappointed.
BE:I don’t know if you saw, but the National Parks Service have scrapped our screening at Jacob Reese. It was going to be there, but it’s too racy.
CM:They said it was the nudity and the drugs. And underage drinking. It’s my favorite controversy of any controversy. “It’s the movie the National Parks Service doesn’t want you to see.” (laughs)
Is it freeing to play characters like this, where you’re not really worried about audience sympathy?
CM:Just in general, if I think about what anybody is going to think of a character, I can’t do it anymore. You can’t judge the character because if you do it comes off as false, and so if I start thinking about what other people would think about it, then I think about what I would think about it. You just have to do it.
BE:They’re obviously so vulnerable, the characters, they obviously have this sort of defensive, judgmental criticizing the world thing because they can’t really self-reflect. Their flaws are so apparent to me that I just more sympathized with them than hated them. I was just like, “Aw, they’re really lost.”