Writer and director Alexis Jacknow on the set of Hulu's 'Clock.'

Writer and director Alexis Jacknow on the set of Hulu's 'Clock.'

The psychological thriller ‘Clock’ marks director Alexis Jacknow’s feature-length directorial debut. The film starring Dianna Agron is now streaming on Hulu.

What Is The Plot Of ‘Clock’?

Directed and written by Alexis Jacknow (‘Again’), ‘Clock’ is based on a short film by the same name, also directed and written by Jacknow. The short premiered on Hulu in 2020 as a part of its “Bite Size Huluween” lineup. The feature film is focused around Ella, a woman who has enrolled herself in a clinical trial to try and fix her seemingly broken biological clock after facing the pressure to have children from friends, family, and society.


"It’s counting down for a reason."
R1 hr 32 minMar 28th, 2023
Showtimes & Tickets

Who Is In The Cast Of ‘Clock’?

‘Clock’ stars Dianna Agron (‘Acidman’, ‘As They Made Us’) as Ella, Melora Hardin (‘Self/less’) as Dr. Elizabeth Simmons, and Jay Ali (‘The Illegal’) as Ella’s husband Aidan. The film also stars Grace Porter (‘Spoiler Alert’) as Shauna, and Saul Rubinek (‘True Romance’) as Ella’s father Joseph.

Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with writer/director Alexis Jacknow about her latest film, expanding the story from a short film, her own experience facing the societal pressure to have children, and what attracts her to the horror genre.

'Clock' writer and director Alexis Jacknow.

'Clock' writer and director Alexis Jacknow.

Moviefone: Alexis, this movie really hits close to home, and I think that many women who will be seeing this are going to feel the same way. Can you talk about your creative process and your writing process for the movie?

Alexis Jacknow: Yeah. Well, the movie was initially based on a short that I made a couple of years ago, but it took over a very different storyline once I was asked to develop it into a feature-length. And it was an incredibly personal story for me. I struggled for many, many years about whether or not I wanted to have children. It was absolutely the thing that was keeping me up at night and tormenting me, and I just felt that that was a really great place to write a horror story from.

MF: Let’s talk about the short, because it’s based on essentially the same experience and the theme surrounding the “biological clock”. Can you talk about the biggest challenge you had taking that idea and that short film and expanding it to feature filming length?

AJ: Well, the short was really about the moment that a woman’s “biological clock” kicks in, and I know nobody can see us. We keep putting that in air quotes because, and I know that that’s actually not a real thing. It’s something that some man made up in the 70s. The short is about the moment that a woman’s biological clock kicks in, and then really the compromises she has to make between family and career. But to sustain it as a feature, I was really more interested in exploring something that was a little more personal to me, which was the idea of a woman who didn’t want children and was shouldering the burden of what society was throwing at her, what her culture was throwing at her, friends, family, et cetera, and having to unpack that over the course of 90 minutes.

Dianna Agron as Ella Patel in Hulu's 'Clock.'

Dianna Agron as Ella Patel in Hulu's 'Clock.'

MF:  At any time during the writing process, did it feel almost therapeutic putting it on paper and making it into this other tangible thing that is a film?

AJ: I think the cathartic thing for me has been the audience response actually because I’ve had so many people reach out to me on social media or just after having seen the movie coming up to me in the world and just saying, “Thank you so much. Because I feel less alone now and I feel seen and I haven’t seen this character or this point of view represented in a movie before.” To me, that was the cathartic part, because art is not my therapy. Therapy is my therapy. So the catharsis of this movie for me personally was knowing yes, I can make features. I can direct movies. Great. Let’s keep going with this career. But I think on a larger scale, the best catharsis, the best good feeling coming through all of this has been seeing these people that have felt really marginalized or felt really alone, saying, “I feel less alone knowing that there is a community of people out there that feel the same way I do, and that it’s okay to talk about that.”

MF: Is that what you want the audience to takeaway when they see this movie?

AJ: Yeah. I mean, I just want people to feel less alone because it’s not a movie saying that women shouldn’t have children. It’s not a movie saying women should have children. It’s a movie saying, “We should leave women alone and let them choose their own paths and either support them along the way. Or if you can’t do that mind your own business.”

Dianna Agron as Ella Patel in Hulu's 'Clock.'

Dianna Agron as Ella Patel in Hulu's 'Clock.'

MF: So let’s talk about your lead for the movie, Dianna Agron, who is absolutely fantastic and is in literally every single scene. Can you just talk about her performance and your experience working with her?

AJ: Dianna was nothing short of a dream to work with. I got incredibly lucky with her. The thing that you pointed out about her being in every single scene and the performance that she gave becomes even more impressive when you understand the context of our movie being green-lit. Then we started prep two weeks later, so she got the script maybe two or three weeks before we started shooting. To take on 90-plus pages of that material, which is a wild ride for any actor, it’s a lot to chew on that part. To show up every single day in nothing short of a great mood and just fully committed to everything was a miracle. I mean, I just got so lucky to have her as my partner. I was very blessed to have her on this project.

MF: What were the most challenging scenes for Dianna both emotionally and physically?

AJ: She just went for it and there was nothing she wouldn’t do. She pushed me. Many times I said, “No, no, I don’t want you to do that. I have a safety concern about it. Or let me just take care of that in post.” She would very kindly ignore that and then do the thing. I think that the one thing that she didn’t love or that bothered her a little bit was the moment where she had to run towards the cliff and we had a great stunt team. We had her attached to a line and everything was obviously very safe, but that was the one stunt that she didn’t love doing. But you asked her to put her head two inches from a live tarantula. And she’s like, “Yeah, no problem.” So to each their own.

Dianna Agron as Ella Patel in Hulu's 'Clock.'

Dianna Agron as Ella Patel in Hulu's 'Clock.'

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Moviefone: So the scene where she goes essentially diving off the side, that’s her?

AJ: Well, we have a stunt performer, Joy (Dashnaw), but there are many shots of Dianna running towards the cliff, Dianna stopping short of the cliff. And then there is one take where no spoilers, but we did have a stuntwoman involved for one of those shots. Yeah.

MF: There are a few really creepy elements in this movie.  Can you talk about creating the creature's look and shape?

AJ: I wanted her to be very looming. I mean, she’s really larger than life. The concept of her is larger than life. She’s taken over this idea of lineage and heritage and this idea of Judaism being passed through the mother. So to me, she had to be literally elongated and this long mouth, it’s almost like her past was trying to shout something to her to really be heard. And just the horror of feeling like you’ve maybe let down your ancestors who have been through so much and it just feels outsized to me. So that’s how the very tall woman came to be outsized as well.

Writer and director Alexis Jacknow on the set of Hulu's 'Clock' with actresses Grace Porter and Dianna Agron.

(L to R) Writer and director Alexis Jacknow on the set of Hulu's 'Clock' with actresses Grace Porter and Dianna Agron.

MF: I also love the way you played with color in this film. Everything was super vibrant including the way all the characters dressed until the third act when things get more muted. So what inspired you to approach it that way?

AJ: Well, I knew that I would be directing it. So when I began writing it, I asked myself, “Well, what do you have in your tool belt visually as a director? What can you take away from her as a career woman to show that, because she’s betrayed herself, her career’s going to go down the tubes.” I thought about color, and that really played into my decision to make her an interior designer and not only an interior designer, but the “Color Authority." That’s her jam. That’s what she’s known for as her eye for color. That was something I knew I could take away from her, which was not easily done because we did it both practically and in color. But if you look, like the first time we see her in the kitchen, she’s over this beautiful red pot with color everywhere in the kitchen. Then the second time we see her in the kitchen with Aiden, we’ve removed all the color from it. Everything’s replaced with black and white, et cetera. So a lot of that was done practically by my production designer, Kristin Gibler. Then the rest we took care of in color with my brilliant colorist Kath Leish.

MF: I really love those touches. Even from the food, to the caviar and the eggs, the details, I really enjoyed seeing all of that. Can you talk about how you paid attention to all the little things in the background?

AJ: Yeah. Well, the thing about the eggs that really just hit us hard later was Roe (v Wade) was overturned during the making of the movie. The movie starts on images of Roe and which is, of course, Roe (v Wade). And it just lends this whole other lens that we watch it through now that I hadn’t originally intended. But here we are.

Melora Hardin as Dr. Elizabeth Simmons in Hulu's 'Clock.'

Melora Hardin as Dr. Elizabeth Simmons in Hulu's 'Clock.'

MF: What is it that attracts you to the horror genre?

AJ: I just think it’s a really great way to make people sit up and pay attention. Horror gets eyes, people love horror. It’s entertaining. I don’t think that if I had written this as a straight indie drama about female body autonomy and women’s choice, that it may have even gotten made or that it certainly wouldn’t have gotten the amount of eyes on it that it has. So if you hide the vegetables, people are more likely to tune in. If you make it entertaining along the way, the messaging can still be in there.

MF: Finally, what can we look forward to seeing from you next?

AJ: That is hard to say considering the (writers’) strike, which I very much hope is resolved swiftly, and I’m out there picketing as much as I can be right now. I’m a member of multiple unions, so just staying in solidarity in this interview. But yeah, I have a couple of projects. I have one with 21 Laps movie called ‘The Blinding,’ which is also a horror film that I’m really excited about getting on its feet at some point. I do have an indie drama called ‘The Villager’ that I have a wonderful cast attached to. I am equally excited and passionate about that subject material as well.

‘Clock’ is now available exclusively on Hulu.

Writer and director Alexis Jacknow on the set of Hulu's 'Clock.'

Writer and director Alexis Jacknow on the set of Hulu's 'Clock.'

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'Clock' is produced by 20th Digital Studio, and currently available on Hulu.