Few films capture the delirious experience of being a new Dad like Daniel Poliner’s In The Mix. It’s not just the sleeplessness (though that is definitely part of it). Rather, it’s the feeling of being just lost in a fog. Those early days are magical, but they’re also stressful as hell—like living a lucid dream.
Poliner’s film is warm, funny, and surreal. More importantly, it feels like an honest representation of a guy struggling to balance his artistic aspirations and family life. It’s about a good guy who’s going through a tough time. In that sense, it’s not the type of film that suddenly goes viral or gets loads of views. It’s low-key and nearly 19 minutes long: not exactly an easy online sell. But, we found the writing sweet and the lead performance (from our new favorite actor Ryan Woodle) to be so relatable, that we couldn’t help but champion it. In the Mix is just the right concoction of cleverness and heart.
As Poliner relates to Short of the Week:
“Right after we had our daughter, my wife kept walking into walls and confusing her dreams with our actual conversations. I wanted to tell a story that captured what those first few months felt like – the exhaustion, dreaminess, fear, and euphoria that engrossed our lives. I wrote it with actor Ryan Woodle (Boardwalk Empire, Amazon’s upcoming The Tick), who stars in the piece and was a new dad as well. Ryan is also a veteran commercial actor, so we launched our brainstorming from some of his professional experiences and then let the story grow from there.”
A true indie production through and through, the film was shot over 5 days mostly in Brooklyn. Poliner and Woodle tried to write for locations they knew they could easily get access to, from an empty apartment in Poliner’s building to a local casting company that Woodle had a relationship with. There wasn’t much time or budget for lighting. The film’s director of photography, Adam Miller, worked with a minimal set of resources (as well his own personal steadicam rig) to work some magics. Overall, Poliner’s goal was to give his actors space to create some funny and human moments. I’d say he succeeded.
What’s next on the docket for Poliner? He’s shooting a feature this summer that combines In the Mix’s special alchemy of relatable moments and surreality. Called Dream Years, it features three stories interconnected by dreams about love, parenthood and marriage. We’re excited to see it develop!