• Interviews

Grant Rosenmeyer’s Trip Toward “Human Flight”

New York-based Grant Rosenmeyer plays a mourning widower who goes to extremes to find inner peace in the fantasy-like dramedy The Secret Art of Human Flight. After the sudden death of his wife, a children’s book author, Ben Grady, takes a road less traveled to try to heal his soul. He turns to a mysterious self-help book that claims it will teach him how to fly. He follows the advice of spiritual guide Mealworm (Paul Raci) and turns his life and home upside down. Because of his eccentric behavior, his family and friends are worried about his mental wellbeing, and a local detective is convinced he killed his wife. Regardless, Ben risks it all to try to fly in an effort to get through his grief. In between serious moments there are some delightful scenes of comic relief.


Rosenmeyer, who also produced the movie, spoke via Zoom about his journey to make the film.

The Secret Art of Human Flight premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. How was your experience there?

It was wonderful. We had three really great screenings and I’m still processing everything. This is like the least I’ve ever slept in my life, so forgive my appearance in general. It’s just the city that never sleeps. And now I know why they call it that. But it was great. It played surprisingly well. I was surprised at how well. You hope that a movie, when you make it, can sort of connect with an audience and it feels like this one has been connecting in the way that we intended.

Let’s go back to the beginning. You discovered the movie through the script, written by Jesse Orenshein. What was it that caught your attention?

A couple of things. The first was, it’s about a guy going through loss who is trying to learn how to fly. And that was just a quick pitch that I had never heard before. And yet it was so simple and fun in a way. And even though the movie does deal with grief and loss, it’s very light on its feet. And I loved that sense of humor. I loved the relationship between my character, Ben Grady, and Paul Raci’s character, Mealworm. I loved how you never knew where the story was going, and yet every choice felt inspired and very natural. And then it was just beautiful. And it arrived in my inbox at a time when everyone was feeling grief and loss, and a general feeling of destabilization.

You said you were surprised that it got good feedback. Why the surprise?

Maybe not surprised. When you work on something, you hope that it will connect in the way you intended. But it’s not a given right? So many things can happen from the time you get a script to bringing on hundreds of creative people. And when you eventually arrive at the theater and you put it in front of the audience and they’re laughing where you hope they would laugh, and they’re sort of thrilled where you hope they’re thrilled – it’s just a relief. I had no pretensions that people would just go ahead and love it.

You also chose H.P Mendoza to direct this film. Why was he a right fit for this project?

First of all, I was a big fan of his through Richard Wong, who directed my last film, Come as You Are. They’re best friends. They basically grew up together. And I’ve been sort of watching H.P. from afar for a while and was just so inspired by his other films and his style of directing and also just him as a person. I wasn’t sure he was the guy when the idea first came up. I just had a different film in mind, one that maybe felt a little bit more like something we had seen before. But then in talking to him and the way that he conceived of the project and the way he saw it, it was so much more interesting than the way that I initially saw it. And when he proposed it to the team and some of the changes that he wanted to make and the aspect ratio. It was also very important to us that he not only direct but edit and compose because he’s just a one-of-a-kind artist. And ultimately, you know, as I’m not just a producer, but as an actor I want to be in movies with directors that excite me and maybe scare me a little bit. And it’s been the most rewarding.

Previously you have mentioned that contacting your co-star Paul Raci was intimidating because he had just been nominated for an Oscar. How was it working with him?

The best. He is the opposite of intimidating. Once you get to know him – he’ll probably hate me saying that but he’s got a huge heart. He’s so generous. He’s so humble and just a really fun person to be around and has had so much life and is so incredibly interesting. And then probably most importantly of all, he’s an actor who loves acting. When you’re in a scene with a person who loves acting and is so committed the way that he is, it’s truly electrifying to be across from that person.

Your character, children book’s writer Ben Grady, is a grieving widower who turns to a mysterious self-help book from the dark web, written by an eccentric guru, which promises to unlock the power to fly. What was your process to find this character?

Difficult and a bit harrowing at times. Very scary. I gravitate towards things that I’m scared of and terrified of. I think that if you’re not afraid of something or of a challenge, that maybe you shouldn’t do it because maybe it means you’ve already done it. In this particular case, there were so many things about Ben Grady that I had never played before or, more importantly, hadn’t gotten the opportunity to play before. And with this one, it was really important to – I haven’t been married but I’ve been in significant relationships and I’ve lost significant relationships, romantic and personal. It was important to me that I talk to people who had lost their spouse. I found a widow in the town where we shot, and she was extremely helpful. That was hugely important, just that relationship and that time together and talking to lots of people, mostly just listening.

So, like the character, you’ve also gone through some grief and loss. But how did you relate to some of his more extreme behavior?


I think the pandemic was really hard for a lot of people. It was for a lot of people, the beginning of the acknowledgement of their own mental health and their own journey with mental health. And it was for me too, which is another aspect of the script and the project that allowed me to address and exorcize some of my own demons. Maybe “demons” is a really hard word. I think people are very complicated and I don’t want to get too far into it, but in this movie, I was working out a lot of things as the character was working out a lot of things.


How do you cope with your own bad times? Do you have a good support system?

I do. I have a very good one. I think one of the things that’s the most relatable about the film is, as Maggie Grace’s character (Wendy) said, “People need people.” Over the course of this film and over the course of the last couple of years, I have felt like I found the people who can help me. Personally, I felt like I wanted to make this movie so that it exists for whoever needs it to provide comfort, to help them laugh, to help them cry, but also to just sort of nudge them in whatever direction that they need to be. Hopefully not off a cliff. I don’t think that’s the point of the movie and that’s not my personal read.

Have you read many self-help books?

I found help from them. I think you can glean lots of things from them. Podcasts can be helpful. Talking to other people is helpful. Self-help books can be helpful depending on who they’re written by. I’ve definitely read self-help books where that really resonated with me, and I’ve read other ones that I slammed shut and threw across the room like, this is fucking stupid.

What extraordinary power would you like to have?

I would love to fly. I’m personally terrified of heights, so I think that would help a lot if I was able to just say, “I got this.”

What extreme would you go to in order to learn a new skill? Would you try to learn to fly?

Not right now, I think. I think I have too many good things going on in my life to attempt that. Maybe if there was a real way but the movie’s about faith and having hope.

Have you learned any new skills lately?

I learned how to take care of a cast iron skillet.

The movie is about hope. What kind of things bring hope for you?

Watching great movies. Meeting people who have an innate inner positivity and light. Being around those people, gravitating toward those people, if you can.

You started as a child actor and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2012. Was acting and the creative field always your passion?

It’s the only thing I’ve ever been built for. I think I’d be completely lost if I couldn’t do this.

What are you going to do next?

I’m dying to see where this movie goes and how it continues to connect with audiences. And I hope that there’s a road for it. I feel like the more I can make things that connect with audiences and not waste people’s time, maybe they’ll let me keep doing this. Lately, I’ve been reading some scripts that really energized me. And I have this one that I just hopped onto a couple of days ago, actually, where it’s a role that I’ve never played before. It’s sort of two roles in one that I’ve always wanted to play, which is a romantic lead mixed with a complete narcissistic psychopath. I’m really excited about that one.