Writer-director Susanna Fogel had a pretty good idea of what career she wanted at the age of 14. That was when she wrote a script about her experiences going to an all-girl school. To get it from page to screen, the Providence native called the Rhode Island Film Commission for some guidance, and was in turn introduced to a teaching assistant at Rhode Island School of Design who helped her get it made. The resulting short film, “For Real,” a satire featuring Fogel and two friends sitting around a table, talking, ended up being shown at both the Toronto International Film Festival and the Berlin Film Festival. More short films and some episodic TV, as well as her first feature, the romantic comedy “Life Partners,” followed. Now Fogel, 37, who grew up on a diet of mostly art house movies such as “The Piano” and “Living in Oblivion” (but always made time for the likes of “Uncle Buck” and “Jumanji”), is exploring new territory with the buddy-road-trip-action-comedy “The Spy Who Dumped Me.” It’s the story of two friends (Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon) who lead a normal, kind of humdrum existence until they’re thrown into the world of international espionage after one of them finds out her boyfriend has been keeping secrets.

Q: How did you get involved with a big-budget action film after making only the much smaller “Life Partners?”

A: After my first film I was having trouble finding a second film. I had a lot of attempts that failed. I was working on one project for a couple of years, but it fell apart at the last minute. My friend David Iserson had lost a film at the same time, and we found ourselves in a nothing-to-lose place, so we decided to write something together. We were frustrated that our work was pigeonholed as being small and not lucrative. We were fans of action movies, so we thought why don’t we take our sensibilities and put them into a big, fun, entertaining movie, without losing any of the more nuanced stuff. So, we wrote this script. We sent it to someone at Imagine, who loved it, and they were onboard pretty quickly. I had worked briefly with Kate McKinnon on “Life Partners,” so she came on. We went to different studios and said here’s the script, here’s Kate. It was Lionsgate who said, “If you can cast the other role, sure.” We got Mila, and we were shooting a year from when we finished writing it.

Q: There’s some pretty wild action in the film, but you don’t have a background in that area. How did you pull it off?

A: I love watching action films, and especially the little moments of wit and humor in the choreography in a lot of them. The editing of an action sequence often has great moments of comic timing. When we wrote the script, it felt more natural than I thought it would to come up with those moments. Then the idea was to hire someone who had done action sequences that I really liked. So, we got Gary Powell, who was the stunt coordinator on “Jason Bourne” and “Skyfall” and others like that. We mapped out everything together, and choreographed all of it. I would do the directing with the main cast. But when there were overhead shots of cars hitting stuff ... well, I didn’t know how to safely stage that, so that’s why I hired someone whose job was to do that all day.

Q: Did you find that, although this is just your second feature, your confidence level was higher than on the first one?

A: Sure! The first day of “Life Partners” was scary because I felt like, “Are people going to know that I don’t know what I’m doing? Will they be listening to me try to give direction and clearly know that she’s never done this?” I was kind of faking it. But after the first day, I felt, “Oh, I just have to keep doing this every day, it’s going to be fine.” On “The Spy Who Dumped Me,” it wasn’t fear as much as it was feeling overwhelmed because there were so many moving parts. But I felt that I knew what I was doing. And on a movie like this there’s so much preparation that goes into it that by the time you were there, you had done months of planning. Everybody knows what you have to do; you just have to go and do it.

Q: You have a great cast, with both veterans and newcomers, and among them is Gillian Anderson as a CIA boss. I remember interviewing her for the first “X-Files” film, and when she walked in the room, you could feel her presence. Does she have an aura or was I imagining that?

A: Yeah, she definitely has an aura. But she’s also so regal! She grew up in various places, and now she lives in various places, so her accent is really hard to pin down. But then you’ll get her talking, and there’ll be these odd little pockets of conversation where she says something incredibly relatable. She’ll have some offhanded, casual comment, and whenever she speaks in a casual voice, you think that it just doesn’t fit because she’s so elegant. She just sort of floats on a higher plane.

— Ed Symkus writes about movies for More Content Now. He can be reached at esymkus@rcn.com.