Last week, Minneapolis native Andrew Semans was pulling all-nighters to finish the sound edit and color correction of "Resurrection." On Saturday, the drama will debut at the Sundance Film Festival.
"We certainly got it done in time to show at the festival, but we were racing," said Semans, 45, who graduated from what's now called the Perpich Arts High School after spending his first two years of high school at Minneapolis South.
"Going to a school that encouraged you to make work and create stuff and gave you the freedom and time to do it was really helpful," said Semans. "Had I not gone there, I would not have spent nearly as much time learning how to write. And that's what I've been doing ever since."
Ordinarily, the next step would be to attend a glittering Sundance premiere in front of thousands in Park City, Utah. Except that won't be happening since, like last year, the country's prestigious film fest shifted to an all-virtual line-up. So Semans will spend Saturday with some colleagues and some bubbly.
"I hope I won't drink too much. I want to be lucid for the Q-and-A afterwards," joked Semans, who has lived in New York for the past 25 years. (Tickets are available for Saturday's virtual screening and another on Monday.)
The filmmaker thinks it was the right choice but he is bummed about the shift to online. He was looking forward to being a "Sundance virgin" with "Resurrection," a psychological thriller in which a woman (Rebecca Hall), about to send her daughter off to college, is disturbed when a person from her past begins to reappear in her life.
Semans began writing the "Resurrection" script about eight years ago but weathered a few false starts on the way to getting it in front of cameras last year in Albany, N.Y.
"I didn't believe it was going to happen until Day 1 of production. I was convinced the bottom would fall out any second," said Semans. "There were times it looked like it might happen and then it would have to be pushed off. So I was steeling myself against disappointment. By the time we got on the set, I was amazed it was actually occurring and Rebecca Hall was there and there were all these trucks around."
The wait seems to have been worth it, since Semans was thrilled to work with Hall, a longtime favorite of the Sundance ("The Night House" and "Christine" are among her movies that debuted there). Her writing/directing debut, "Passing," a top contender for Oscars in March, premiered at the 2021 festival.
"It's really easy to work with her," said Semans of Hall, whom he calls his favorite actor. "She's so experienced as an actor and director and I'm relatively inexperienced as a director, so it was a bit scary. But she's an absolute dream."
The filmmaker, whose only previous feature is the slacker drama "Nancy, Please," gets back to the Twin Cities often to see the Twins (he's thrilled about Byron Buxton's deal) and visit his parents. Dad Bill Semans lives here full-time and mom Margaret Lange splits her time between Minnesota and Florida.
The Semanses always have been a movie-loving family. Andrew was preceded in the business by Bill, who wrote and directed a Minnesota-set comedy, "Herman U.S.A.," with his son as his assistant. In addition to his writing and directing, Andrew is an associate producer for Magnolia Mae Films, which made the drama "The Dig."
Semans' other big plan is a pandemic-postponed wedding.
"I keep trying to get married! I've been with the same person for 51⁄2 years and we are planning on getting married but this has frustrated our efforts," said Semans, who will wed "Radiolab" editor/reporter Heather Radke "when it's feasible to get people together."
"Any film, you want to see it in a theater. I'd just love to see it at the size, with that kind of sound. It'd be great to get a theatrical deal, but they are few and far between," Semans said. "If it's streaming, that's the nature of the beast. I'm OK with that, too."
Either way, at a multiplex or in living rooms, Semans is eager for folks back home and around the world to see his "Resurrection."
When: 9 p.m. Sat., 9 a.m. Mon. (with 24-hour window to view).
Tickets: $20, sundance.org.