Festival comedy explores science of love

Courtesy Valerie Weiss Filmmaker Valerie Weiss works on the set of “Losing Control,” a film being shown in the upcoming Philadelphia Film Festival. Weiss studied biophsyics at Harvard Medical School.

Philly Film Festival showing of “Losing Control,” blends science and romance on the silver screen.

What do science and filmmaking have in common?

Philadelphia native Valerie Weiss, founder of PhD Productions and award-winning writer, director and producer said the two go hand-in-hand.

“For the first time I saw science as a form of storytelling and a way to sort of figure out how the world works,” Weiss said. “That’s why I like plays and doing drama because it’s a way to investigate human nature and the people around you. I saw real similarities between the two disciplines.”

Science and the performing arts might seem like two contrasting fields, but Weiss proves that  anyone can combine their interests. For Weiss, a passion for both science and filmmaking, translate in her upcoming feature film “Losing Control.”

“Losing Control” will be screened Saturday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. at the International House Philadelphia at 3701 Chestnut St., and Monday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. at Rave University City at 230 S. 40th St., in the Philadelphia Film Festival.

“Losing Control” is based loosely on Weiss’ experiences while earning her PhD at Harvard Medical School. The film focuses on a female scientist who wants proof through scientific means that her boyfriend is “the one.”

Described as a quirky comedy, “Losing Control” takes the audience through a quest to answer the question of whether there is a right way to find love, and how one can avoid going about love in the wrong way.

“The character, she’s so smart and has all of this ability in the lab, but what if she tried to figure out if she was making the right decisions in her love life?” Weiss said. “Could you actually use science or your smarts to prevent mistakes? Could you actually prove, if you’re smart and you have the tools and understand science, the guy you’re with is ‘the one’ so you wouldn’t make a mistake in getting married to him?”

As a child Weiss’ interests were in the performing arts and were later coupled with biology, thanks to her 10th grade biology teacher. Weiss studied at Princeton University, where she earned a dual degree in molecular biology and theater.

After Princeton, she enrolled at Harvard University where she found success with filmmaking. While earning her PhD in biophysics, Weiss found Harvard’s Dudley Film Program, where she served as the filmmaker-in-residence and directed her first film.

“I did a little acting my freshman year, but then I got a chance to direct a play and for me that was an epiphany,” Weiss said.

After completing her PhD program, Weiss moved to Los Angeles and pursued filmmaking  full-time. She completed the American Film Institute Directing Workshop for Women. Recently, she’s trained with Michael Lehmann of HBO’s “True Blood.”

She said as a small independent film producer, her success doesn’t come without sacrifice.

“It’s like having an extended family where everyone is always in trouble and needs help,” Weiss said. “You have a limited amount of money and there’s so many ways that you would love to spend it, but you really have to be very particular about what you think will maximize your vision on screen. The biggest challenge is deciding how to allocate your resources.”

Recently, “Losing Control” premiered at the Vail Film Festival as the closing night screening and Weiss won Best Director at the Feel Good Film Festival. “Losing Control” is also set for a theatrical release early 2012. For more information on the movie and to see the trailer, visit www.losingcontrolmovie.com.

Kierra Bussey can be reached at kierrajb@temple.edu.

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