Private Project

Before You Know It

Stage manager Rachel Gurner still lives in her childhood apartment above the theater her family owns and operates in New York City. Level-headed Rachel is the only thing standing between her family - her off-kilter actress sister Jackie, her eccentric playwright father Mel, and her deadpan preteen niece Dodge - and utter chaos. Then, in the wake of a sudden family tragedy, Rachel and Jackie learn their presumed-deceased mother is not just alive but thriving as a soap-opera star.

  • Hannah Pearl Utt
    Disengaged (SuperDeluxe)
  • Hannah Pearl Utt
    Disengaged (SuperDeluxe), Partners (Short, Sundance)
  • Jen Tullock
    Disengaged, Partners, The Coop (Eko)
  • Mallory Schwartz
    Match Game
  • Josh Hetzler
    Anesthesia, The Emperor's New Clothes
  • James Brown
    Still Alice
  • Judith Light
    Key Cast
    "Sherrell "
    Transparent, Who's the Boss?, Ugly Betty
  • Mandy Patinkin
    Key Cast
    Homeland, The Princess Bride
  • Mike Colter
    Key Cast
    Luke Cage
  • Jen Tullock
    Key Cast
    Disengaged, Bless this Mess, Casual
  • Hannah Pearl Utt
    Key Cast
    Disengaged, Ingrid Goes West, Dorm Life
  • Alec Baldwin
    Key Cast
    The Departed, It's Complicated, Glengary Glen Ross
  • Arica Himmel
    Key Cast
  • Oona Yaffe
    Key Cast
    Sleepy Hollow
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 38 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    January 8, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    1,500,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Sundance Film Festival
    Park City
    United States
    January 27, 2020
    Narrative Feature Competition
Distribution Information
  • 1091
    Country: United States
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Hannah Pearl Utt

Hannah Pearl Utt is a director, writer, and actor who’s feature directorial debut, Before You Know It, premiered in competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. The film, which also stars Utt, alongside co-writer, Jen Tullock, was theatrically released by 1091 to critical acclaim. Hannah also directed the hit series Disengaged for SuperDeluxe, which her and Tullock also co-wrote and starred in after their short film, Partners premiered at Sundance in 2016. In 2017, Hannah participated in Sundance’s inaugural Catalyst Women’s Initiative, as well as the Sundance Screenwriter and Director Labs, and received a 2018 Adrienne Shelly Foundation Women Filmmakers Grant. In 2019, Hannah was listed as one of IndieWire's "25 Female Filmmakers to Watch." As an actor, Hannah can be seen in Ingrid Goes West, Dorm Life, and many commercials, inhabiting such iconic roles as “Egg Woman” and "Toilet Girl."

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Director Statement

In “Before You Know It,” thirty-year-old Rachel Gurner still lives at home, in a literal theater, trying to launch her seventy-year-old father’s playwriting career. Her sister, Jackie, also still lives at home along with her thirteen year old daughter, “working” as an actor in her father’s plays. You can imagine the years of repression and denial behind the Gurners’ stunted existence.

When the sisters experience a sudden loss and are pulled into a literal soap opera, they immediately set themselves to fitting this outrageous turn of invents into a reality they recognize. Rather than dealing openly and honestly with the gaping wound left by a long-kept family secret, Rachel and Jackie revert to old patterns and a broken dynamic to cope.

While I find watching people continually make the less-straightforward decision in real life to be painful, when I see it in movies I feel less alone. Isn’t the compulsion to act out of habit or fear at the center of every unhealthy relationship any of us have ever hopelessly committed ourselves to? Isn’t that the glue that binds (dysfunctional) family?

It would be remiss of me not to also acknowledge the role of love in codependent dynamics (at least the ones in which I’ve participated), and our characters, flawed as they may be, do love each other. So with that in mind, me and my collaborators decided to tell this story with an eye toward a more communicative and healthy future for the Gurners. My hope for you is that you leave this movie feeling optimistic about the complicated relationships in your own life, and less alone in your journey to understand them.