Brit Marling's Low-Budget Success Story

Brit Marling (Photo credit: Yvan Rodic / Face Hunter)

An economics major and an internship at Goldman Sachs as the path to Sundance? For Brit Marling, who stars and co-wrote not one but two films premiering here (ANOTHER EARTH and SOUND OF MY VOICE), and who’s been tagged as one of this year’s “It” girls

Just a few summers ago, the blonde, ethereal actress was studying economics at Georgetown University, which led to a summer on Wall Street. This led to disillusionment, which led to dropping out of school and moving to Cuba. Which led to making a documentary (BOXERS AND BALLERINAS) with a friend from school. Which led to going back to school, graduating, and moving to LA. Which led to more disillusionment.

“The things I would go read for, as a young, unknown actor, were pretty awful,” Marling said yesterday, curled up on a sofa, wearing a clingy floral dress and leather boots. “And people keep telling you, ‘Just do this stuff,’ this, like, horror film where you’re the girl in the bikini running from the man with the axe.”

Brit Marling (Photo credit: Yvan Rodic / Face Hunter)

So Marling started writing her own parts, collaborating with her GU friends Mike Cahill (director of ANOTHER EARTH) and Zal Batmanglij (director of SOUND OF MY VOICE). With no financing or even a real plan, she and Cahill began making ANOTHER EARTH, a “cosmic love story” which also stars William Mapother.

“We said, we’re just going to start making it, and so we went to Mike’s mom’s house in Connecticut, because there was free snow there, and a free place to stay. And we just started shooting stuff.”

Eventually, they wrote a screenplay, and were able to put enough footage together to get financing from producers Hunter Gray and Tyler Brodie. And the rest is pretty much history. (SOUND OF MY VOICE was made in a similar D.I.Y. fashion.)

Marling says her econ background actually helps her as a filmmaker. “Writing scripts is a bit like a good economic proof. It’s like, how can you tell a story with an economy, with the shortest number of words.

“A perfect proof is really beautiful, and so is a good screenplay. I don’t know if I’ve written one, but I hope to one day maybe do that.”

For more of Nicole’s dispatches at the Sundance Film Festival see her blog on The Daily Beast.