Eva Doležalová’s Carte Blanche might be a “short film,” but there’s nothing compact about the themes the emerging director explores in the fifteen-minute runtime, which examines the Hollywood dream as it curdles into a psychosexual nightmare, the warping effects of fame and money, and the manipulation of a naïve young actor’s heart and soul. Emerging director Eva Doležalová presents an impressionistic picture of a dizzying descent into the morally ambiguous echelons of stardom with an all-too-fitting cast of young Hollywood talent, including Suki Waterhouse, Jack Kilmer, and Dylan Sprouse.
After spending a few years modeling and acting, hopping between Europe and the U.S. before settling on the west coast, Doležalová took her first turn behind the camera to direct her debut short, Sound of Sun. The stars aligned almost immediately—Sean Penn happened across the set as he was visiting a friend, and Doležalová summoned the courage to ask him to join the project. He agreed, lending one of the most credible cameos you could hope to have. The film ended up being released by NOWNESS.
Having now finished her third film, Doležalová’s momentum is only increasing. We sat down with the Czech Republic-born director to discuss her journey from modeling and acting to filmmaking, taking on her most ambitious project to date, and all the influential moments that lead to Carte Blanche, paired here with a series of photos of the cast taken by Doležalová herself.
What inspired you to create a film on the subject of fame?
Coming from Paris to LA was quite a shock for me. I’ve been traveling all over the world since I was 16 and never stayed anywhere longer than 3 years, but when I came to LA it really felt new. Everything was about Hollywood and people going after their dreams no matter what. This definitely triggered the first ideas for this film, but when one actor told me, “Hollywood stole my soul,” that was it! I needed to express how I felt at the time and how, in my opinion, it doesn’t have to be that way—we can achieve things without falling into darkness.
Can you tell me a little bit about the development of Carte Blanche?
Carte Blanche was my first film with dialogue. All the rest, like Sound of Sun, were done with poems and voice-overs, so that was a challenge. However, I do love a good challenge.
We had a large budget, a magnificent Art Deco location at The MacArthur, and splendid actors like Dylan Sprouse, Jack Kilmer, Suki Waterhouse, Johnny Witworth, Gregory Itzin, and so on. The most fun was working with them in pre-production and seeing everything ready to come to life. During the actual filming, I felt like a kid in a candy shop. I was in my element.
Not too many people make the leap from the Czech Republic to Hollywood. How has your background and your family shaped you?
I just saw my mum in Copenhagen and she brought me short stories I use to write when I was 10-15 years old. They were all about her life, her boyfriends, and my take on it with comedic twists. Reading them again made me want to turn it into a film, which I’m actually planning to do. My mum is a very special person—she’s so full of life and passion, and her life was very interesting. When she was fifteen, the Russians barged in (Prague Spring) and occupied the country. That has shaped most of her life, and what she was able to do after will always seem incredible to me . . . My artistic vision wasn’t especially shaped by someone, I found ways to do it myself, but the unconditional love my mom gives me is its own inspiration.
Can you talk a bit about your perspective as a woman pursuing a creative career? Have there been other supportive women who inspire you? Are you optimistic for the future of women in film?
I am indeed positive about the future of women in filmmaking. I always say that I feel lucky to be alive right now, especially when things are changing for the better, and I’m happy to
be a part of it. I think women all over the world inspire me everyday. I am grateful that women today have a choice—a choice of when, or if, to have a baby; a choice to marry, or to become a director...
What’s next for you?
I just finished another short film, Butcher Boy, starring Jack Kilmer and Camille Rowe, produced by Solène Leger. I call it a “fairytale for grownups.” It’s an eerie love story about Ian, a young butcher falling in love, but the couple must go through some twists and turns. Mia (Rowe) has to go out of her way to find out who Ian really is. Furthermore, I have two feature films in development, and one of them is being made this year. I couldn’t be more excited! In the meantime, I’m always working, writing, and learning new things. I’m trying to inspire people to go after what they really want, while helping young women pursue their filmmaking careers.
Photographer for Jack Kilmer, Maya Henry, Dylan Sprouse, Jordan Barrett, Suki Waterhouse and Johnny Whitworth: Eva Doležalová.
Photographer for Eva Doležalová: Stefano Galli.
Hair For Maya Henry: Laura Polko At The Wall Group.
Makeup For Maya Henry: Patrick Ta.
Flaunt film directed by Max Kopelowicz & Edward Tyler
Hair & Makeup For Jack Kilmer, Eva Doležalová, and Johnny Whitworth: Nathaniel Dezan using Oribe, Kiehl’s, Mac, Chanel And Anastasia Beverly Hills at Opus Beauty.