Improved director Carlson Young for her artistic taste and acting background

Improved director Carlson Young for her artistic taste and acting background


  • Prime Video’s new rom-com Upgraded combines the traditional trope of mistaken identity with lively energy, led by Camila Mendes as the tenacious protagonist Ana Santos.
  • The film follows Anna as she navigates between the demands of her job and the desires of a romantic date, resulting in a charming romance and a refreshingly female-centric workplace comedy.
  • Director Carlson Young worked closely with Mendes, who served as executive producer, emphasizing confidence and intuition to bring Anna’s character to life.

Prime Video is flying high with Improved, a new romcom that has arrived just in time for Valentine’s Day and Galentine’s Day. Director Carlson Young (The world on fire) imbues the traditional trope of mistaken identity with a lively energy that’s perfectly in line with the script’s ambitious protagonist. Camila Mendes (Riverdale) leads the cast as an art gallery intern named Ana Santos, whose lucky break into the art world comes when her boss Claire Dupont (Marisa Tomei) requests her presence on a business trip to London.

After finishing first grade, Ana meets Will (played by Shadow and bone star Archie Renaux) and is mistaken for an art dealer in his own right. From there, things spiral as she juggles the demands of her job and the wishes of Will’s mother, Catherine (Lena Olin), which conflict with Claire’s goals. Both a charming romance and a female-centric workplace comedy, EnhanceYoung’s positive reviews reflect Young’s impressive balancing act.


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Screen rant interviewed Young about the collaboration with Mendes as well Enhanceprotagonist as well as producer, as well as what her favorite piece of art from the film was and how her experience as an actress influences her style as a director.

Director Carlson Young talks improv, the art and love of acting

Screen Rant: I really enjoyed it Improved. I thought it was such a fun and different take on the typical romcom story. I read that you brought a lookbook to the meeting and already had this vision for the film. What spoke to you about the story and what did you want to emphasize more?

Carlson Young: I thought the script was very nice and fun and it was a familiar trope, but my point of entry into the material, I guess, was specific to me. I really connected with Anna’s character and just the tenacity she has in this set of circumstances that are all stacked against her as she enters an almost impossible world. I really related to this and it resonated with me. The beauty and cleverness that she has doing it, I said, “I want to be like that.” It was just so clean [feeling of] about her character.

And then I felt like it was a story about three women. I felt like that was what was happening for me. The romance, of course, was a fun part of the script. But I found the relationship between her and Claire and her and Catherine really compelling.

Speaking of Anna, I know Camila was an executive producer on the project. How was it with him? What cooperation do you have about who Ana is and how we are introducing her?

Carlson Young: Yes. We’ve collaborated a lot, and Camila is such an intuitive actress and has phenomenal instincts. I think I just trusted her right away. She has great taste and I was like, “Her ideas were great.” This is the dream to have as a director; that trust between your actors. I was very lucky to have him with me.

Ana (Camila Mendes) holds a glass of champagne on a plane in Upgraded

When you’re making a movie with a main character whose passion is art, I guess you want to make sure you have good taste in art there. Do you have a favorite artist or do you get a favorite artist from film work?

Carlson Young: The [Hilma] af Klint was funny because it was originally written as this simple Barnett Newman piece, and we couldn’t delete it at the last minute. The production designer said, “What about Hilma af Klint?” And I was like, “Wow, I didn’t think about her, but I love her work.” When the Swan came to our table, it was so silly.

She’s such a fascinating artist, and I think she’s having a resurgence right now. Everyone is intrigued again, and she has such a cool story, so I was happy to use that part.

Finally, I think it’s great when directors also have an acting background. You were great at Scream: The Series. How do you feel your approach to directing is shaped by acting?

Carlson Young: Yeah, it’s very formed. Acting was my first love. That’s how I learned about this world, and that’s how I learned how sets work and everything, so that was a lot of my education in this job. I think I know how – or at least my attempt is – to create a safe container for my actors to be vulnerable.

Acting is a really vulnerable job and I know that. I remember that. I have experienced it. If I do my job well, then I can only create this line between us until I see you, you see me. You feel safe just letting it all go, because once I get into editing, I can craft it to be something we can both be proud of, hopefully.

About Improved

Ana (Camila Mendes) and William (Archie Renaux) flirt with their eyes on UPGRADED

In this romantic comedy, Ana Santos (Camila Mendes) is a smart and ambitious art enthusiast with dreams of running her own gallery. She is currently paying her dues as an unpaid intern at a premiere NYC auction house run by the influential and demanding Claire Dupont (Marisa Tomei). When Anna is sent on her first business trip and unexpectedly upgraded to first grade, she meets the handsome and well-connected Will (Archie Renaux), who mistakes Anna for her boss – a white lie that sets off a series of random events and VIP Introductions that suddenly lead Anna to win the job and become involved in a whirlwind romance she never expected. However, this little white lie begins to unravel, threatening to destroy Anna’s career and newfound romance.

Check out our other interviews here:


now streaming on Prime Video.

Source: Screen Rant Plus

Improved movie poster with temp logo


Upgraded is a romantic comedy film directed by Carlson Young. Camila Mendes stars as Ana, a young artist brought to London during her internship alongside her handsome and wealthy boss, William.

Publication date
February 9, 2024

Carlson Young

Camila Mendes, Archie Renaux, Marisa Tomei, Lena Olin, Anthony Head, Saoirse-Monica Jackson

Christine Lenig, Justin Matthews, Luke Roberts, Karl Hall

Gulfstream Pictures, Luber Roklin Entertainment, Tempo Productions

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