girl props: how three friends are reinventing the road movie

India Menuez, Adinah Dancyger, and Victoria Cronin are directing and starring in a new-generation DIY movie.

by Benjamin Barron
24 June 2015, 2:20pm

The American road trip as a genre has introduced us to some of film's greatest pairings - Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis in Thelma & Louise, Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen in Badlands - the list goes on. Meet the newest addition to this list: twenty-something filmmakers India Menuez, Adinah Dancyger, and Victoria Cronin, who will set across America later this summer co-directing and starring in their latest feature, Girl Props.

As with all great road trip films, Girl Props begins out of an impulse to escape - here, the New York that Menuez, Dancyger, and Cronin grew up in together. While still in high school, the three women were part of Luck You, an art collective started with their best friends - with many of the original members joining them in making the film. Now all three are firmly planted in the downtown creative class: India is an artist and frequent i-D collaborator, Adinah is an actress and filmmaker, and Victoria is a writer and artist. We talked with two-thirds of the team behind Girl Props about their epic journey, growing up fast, and how co-directing is like brushing your teeth next to someone else.

How was Girl Props born?
Adinah Dancyger: From watching a lot of movies, having admiration and frustration about female characters in cinema, making home movies with each other, going to public outings and putting on fake personas, ordering food at drive-thrus with fake British accents, and wanting to make a film together.
India Menuez: Believing in each other and the idea that we could do something as classic as a "road movie" in a new way.

Could you tell us about the film's narrative?
AD: Each character - Ann Marie, Chanti, Sylvia, and Xena - feel dissatisfied with parts of their lives in New York. The road trip offers the opportunity to set aside their issues. Their naivety, excitement, and delusions about what's in store for them as they travel further west confronts harsher realities which they either deal with or continue to ignore.
IM: The narrative follows four friends as they go on a seemingly spontaneous road trip. Along the way, chance encounters and avoided encounters shift the group dynamic to reveal the inner layers of each character.

You've known each other for half of your lives - what was it like growing up together in New York?
IM: There's this sense of early exposure that I don't think can be compared. My mom has lived here over twenty years - I would consider her a New Yorker, but it's not the same as having your childhood here. Growing up here together, there is a mutual understanding about both the imagined and real need to "get away" that this story comes from.

AD: We grew up really fast. We spent a lot of time running around, exploring less obvious corners of the city and always found something to do. As we got older, the excitement and high energy about a lot of city-centric things evolved into repetition and a need to evaluate this place we've known forever. One day the city is incredible and the next day it's the last place we want to be.

Are elements of the film autobiographical?
AD: Everything boils down to something we all personally connect to. There's something about each character and event we've seen before in our own lives. There's definitely an injection of our own insecurities, flaws, and good points. I think it was almost a therapeutic process by addressing these things through fictional characters.

How will you guys be filming Girl Props?
IM: Practicing a format of structured improvisation, we will divide the scenes amongst ourselves, with one voice at the top at a time.
AD: Working off of an outline, shooting at all times, working with one main camera and a second unit camera that functions as the girls' documentary camera.

Where will you be traveling on the actual road trip while filming?
IM: From New York to New Mexico and back.

You're writing, directing, and starring in Girl Props equally - what has that experience been like so far?
IM: Surreal.
AD: It's sort of like when you're brushing your teeth with someone and you're sharing the sink but you have different styles of how you go about it, so it becomes a lot of turning the sink on and off and having weird eye contact through the mirror but with three people. It's been difficult and fun.

How has this experience been different from your work with your art collective Luck You?
IM: This project is post-Luck You, so it is different mostly in terms of each person's level of experience. To still be working with some of that same group is a testament to what we learned together from that experience. The way we orient or negate certain traditional elements of project hierarchy comes directly from the trial and error of Luck You.

How does it feel approaching the film industry as three female directors?
AD: Less of being female filmmakers and more so being first time feature filmmakers, there's slight trepidation for entering this realm. We're lucky enough to have an incredible support system between ourselves, our film crew, friends and family who know about the project.
IM: Being a young woman making film within an industry of championed men, it feels nice not to be doing it alone.


Text Benjamin Barron

India Salvor Menuez
Road Movies
India Menuez
Benjamin Barron
adinah dancyger
girl props
victoria cronin