When Elsa Mercado (Michelle Veintimilla) is released from prison after serving 16 years for killing her father, New York City Councilwoman Sandy James (Karen Pittman) and corporate attorney Paul Jenkins (Corey Stoll) are forced to grapple with their involvement in the original crime. WHAT WE DO NEXT is a timely emotional thriller sitting at the intersection of race, class and criminal justice. WHAT WE DO NEXT features a superb cast that includes Corey Stoll (Billions, House of Cards), Karen Pittman (The Morning Show, And Just Like That), Michelle Veintimilla (The Good Wife). Director, writer, and playwright Stephen Belber joins us to talk about the challenges working on a very tight shooting schedule, staging it on Zoom before an on set production, recruiting actors with a strong stage background and bringing in a cinematographer with an extensive documentary resume.
About the filmmaker – Stephen Belber’s plays have been produced on Broadway and in over 25 countries. In addition to Broadway, his plays have world premiered at Roundabout Theater, Atlantic Theater, Manhattan Class Company (MCC), Primary Stages, Labyrinth Theater, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Naked Angels, L.A.’s Geffen Playhouse, Boston’s Huntington Theater, Pittsburgh’s City Theater, and The Humana Festival. He was an Associate Writer and actor for The Laramie Project, and co-writer/actor on The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. Belber has also written and directed three feature films, Management (Jennifer Aniston/Woody Harrelson), Match (Patrick Stewart/Carla Gugino), and What We Do Next (Corey Stoll/Karen Pittman). He has written the movies Tape (Ethan Hawke/Uma Thurman, directed by Richard Linklater), The Laramie Project (associate writer), Drifting Elegant, and O.G., (Jeffrey Wright, HBO Films). Television credits include Law & Order SVU, Rescue Me, Tommy, The First, and pilots for Netflix, HBO, F/X, USA, TNT, ABC, History Channel, and Fox TV. Has worked on numerous studio films (including Dallas Buyers Club), and developed movies with Will Smith, Todd Phillips, Bennett Miller, Jay Roach, George Tillman, Greg Mottola, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Anthony Mackie, Sam Rockwell, David Gordon Green, and others. Currently writing the pilot for a series about The Chateau Marmont for John Krasinski’s Sunday Night Productions and Paramount, and developing a series for Netflix based on his original script The Madness. His next film directing project is an adaptation of his stage play Dusk Rings A Bell, starring Jessica Biel and Chris Messina.
“A spellbinding, provocative and gripping political thriller.” – Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru
“While it doesn’t venture far from its evident stage roots, neither does “What We Do Next,” a sinewy, tautly calibrated morality play, ever stray from the decidedly contemporary issues at its complex core.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times
“One of the best of the early indie releases of 2023 is the riveting three-hander “What We Do Next.”… The film soars because of the three actors delivering committed and courageous performance.” – Frank J. Avella, Edge Media Network
“What we do next is an impressive film about the consequences of acts that seem harmless in the face of crisis, but that represent a possible turn when the control you think you had is actually very far away from your grasp.” – Federico Furzan, Movie-Blogger.com
“Spare in approach, but layered in meaning, What We Do Next definitely depends on a lot of talking. But the best conversations may be the ones you have after you finish watching it, and debate what you would have done under the same circumstances.” – Stephen Whitty, Film Racket
“There’s a lot to savor and digest in this morality play that is filmed and acted so well.” – Randy Myers, San Jose Mercury News