About Women, By Women

Here Is a Treasure Trove of News Writing About Women, By Women

Here Is a Treasure Trove of News Writing About Women, By Women

Legacy institutions like The Washington Post have massive archives full of truly amazing stuff. And increasingly, their current employees are going digging for cool finds to revisit—for instance, a new project to highlight coverage of women written by women.

Poytner reports on the WaPo effort, which started with the notion of picking out profiles of women, before developing the concept a little further:

On Tuesday, #womenbywomen debuted with social cards, a hashtag and a new presence on the Web. There’s Donna Britt on Alice Walker from 1989, Sally Quinn on Alice Roosevelt Longworth from 1974 and Lynn Darling on Maya Angelou from 1981. There’s also Martha Sherrill on Madonna from 1991, Marjorie Williams on Sandra Day O’Connor from 1989 and Elisabeth Bumiller on Gloria Steinem from 1983.

In a Medium post announcing the move, the Post’s Julia Carpenter encourages readers to go hunting for additions to the list and share them on Twitter under the hashtag. If you want to get really wild, you can expand your explorations to the Google newspaper archive. Just don’t forget to come up for air every once in a while, of course.

Article Source Jezebel


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A minority, women owned globally focused distribution platform for multicultural independent filmmakers

FilmCloud Distribution Announces Independent Film Signings during South by Southwest Film, Music and Interactive Event

AAHollywood(TM) Market Films Now Available on FilmCloud Distribution’s Global Streaming Platform

Austin, TX – FilmCloud Distribution, LLC announced at SXSW that it has acquired several new titles during the film festival from indie filmmakers, adding to the platform’s growing library of multimedia content. Independent Filmmakers are excited about FilmCloud’s distribution model and their ability to generate revenue from distributing their films through FilmCloud Distribution.

Indie filmmakers are excited and encouraged by the new distribution model. “FilmCloud looks good,” proclaims Fedor Lyass (Moscow, Russia by way of LA) filmmaker and director of photography of the highly anticipated Hardcore Henry. “You are doing the right thing!” Dallas’ award winning director Jacolby Percy (Richetus Cry) agrees, “I really like the layout. The overall look is sleek, easy to use, and doesn’t have a lot of clutter like most streaming sites. Being able to navigate and find what you’re looking for is always a priority when your film is shown on any platform.”

FilmCloud has opened its AAHollywood market segment for FREE viewing during SXSW and through April 1, 2016. A limited number of quality independent films are immediately available for streaming on any device, anywhere in the world.

AAHollywood(TM) is FilmCloud’s trademarked market designation for its “All Americans’ Hollywood” or North American market, representing the diversity of the independent filmmakers throughout America; specifically African-American, Latin American, Native American, Asian-American, as well as independent filmmakers of European descent who support and tell the stories of America that are inclusive of All Americans.

Go to www.myFilm-Cloud.com and click on the North American continent to see the current and growing library of films. FilmCloud has a backlog of films currently under quality review. Those approved will proceed to contract and then on to FilmCloud’s global distribution platform.

FilmCloud Distribution LLC will be hosting its second event for independent filmmakers in Austin, Texas during SXSW at Coopers Old Time Bar-B-Que, 2017 Congress Ave, 78701. Come out and learn about the FilmCloud’s platform, Saturday, March 19th, at 11am – 12:30 pm.

Filmmakers may add their independent film to FilmCloud’s streaming platform today at no cost.

About FilmCloud Distribution LLC

FilmCloud is a minority, women owned company that operates a globally focused distribution platform for multicultural independent filmmakers. They are intensely focused on helping the filmmaker generate revenue and viewers for their films.

Article Source Dallas Weekly

New Initiatives for diversifying Hollywood

Tuesday, Mar 22, 2016 02:35 PM CST
Justin Lin: If we want more diversity in Hollywood, “the general public has to demand it”
The “Fast & Furious” director’s plan to support Asian American artists is one of several new diversity programs
Paula Young Lee

In 2016, the fact that Hollywood made a sequel to #OscarsSoWhite has energized longstanding conversations regarding systemic racism and sexism in the entertainment industry. In its wake: a rash of new initiatives aimed at diversifying television, film, and theater. As the squeaky wheels of progress turn inside the Hollywood machine, a few film directors are doing their part to pull it into the 21st century.

Director Ava DuVernay (“Selma”) founded the film distribution collective, Array, and hired women and people of color for the currently-filming production of the OWN network television series “Queen Sugar.” “Star Trek: A New Hope” director J.J. Abrams’s production company, Bad Robot, will henceforth require that women and people of color be submitted for writing, directing and acting jobs in proportion to their representation in the U.S. population. A new non-profit, We Do It Together, aims to finance and produce films, documentaries, TV and other forms of media that will challenge stereotypes regarding women, and its advisory board includes directors Catherine Hardwicke, Hany Abu-Assad, Amma Asante, Marielle Heller, Katia Lund, Małgorzata Szumowska, and Haifaa Al Mansour, among others.

In 2010, YouoffendmeYouoffendmyFamily (YOMYOMF), the Asian-centric blog and entertainment website founded by director Justin Lin (“Fast and Furious” series, currently filming “Star Trek Beyond”) initiated a competition, “Interpretations,” which asked aspiring Asian-American filmmakers to develop and shoot a 3-minute short around a four-line script. A resounding success, it is being run again this year, with a script written by Tony-award winning playwright David Henry Hwang. The four lines are:

Don’t do that.
Of course.
I have my doubts.
What is it?

(Confused? Here is a funny example of how it works.) The winners get the opportunity to craft a project for the initiative’s lead sponsors, Comcast and NBC Universal (NBCU).

In a recent interview, Lin told me the more the public gets behind these works and artists—both in front of and behind the camera—the more we’ll see things start to change.

“After I made ‘Better Luck Tomorrow’ and started taking meetings in Hollywood, I quickly learned that Asian Americans weren’t even in the conversation as a minority, since there wasn’t even a significant enough audience, and especially an audience for Asian American content,” he said. “I think it’s changing now with shows like ‘Dr. Ken,’ ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ and ‘Master of None,’ but obviously when we look at the film side, there’s still a lot to be done.”

“Interpretations” is the first initiative for the nonprofit YOMYOMF Foundation, which supports Asian American talent, and more programs are on the way. Lin says he started the foundation because he knows talented artists are out there, they just need opportunity and mentorship.

“I’m the child of immigrants. My Taiwanese parents came to America with no money and supported my brothers and me as small business owners in Orange County, which is close to L.A. but about as far away from Hollywood as you can be. I didn’t know anyone in the industry, but had a great deal of people help me along in my path,” said Lin. “I made a lot of mistakes along the way, but feel incredibly lucky to be in the position I am now and to be able to play a small part in trying to support talented, aspiring young filmmakers out there through a program like ‘Interpretations’ who, like me, had the desire and passion, but no connections to the industry.”

Lin also says if we want to see more diversity in film, “the general public has to demand it.”

“It’s about supporting the many talented artists and filmmakers out there trying to create work from that marginalized point of view,” he said. “Go out and buy tickets to their movies and plays, support their crowd sourcing campaigns, show the industry that there is a viable audience for this work.”

The pronounced under-representation of Asian-Americans in the entertainment industry has not gone unremarked. The Asian American Arts Alliance of New York, for example, just announced the launch of a new theater fellowship aimed at supporting young artists and directors of Asian descent by providing them with a stipend, mentorship, and other forms of support. When marginalized groups have limited access to opportunity, it shows up in various ways, including the ongoing drama of #OscarsSoWhite. As the Economist explains:

Oscar nominations have not dramatically under-represented black actors. Instead, they have greatly over-represented white ones. Blacks are 12.6% of the American population, and 10% of Oscar nominations since 2000 have gone to black actors. But just 3% of nominations have gone to their Hispanic peers (16% of the population), 1% to those with Asian backgrounds, and 2% to those of other heritage.

Given that Asians are not only are 60 percent of the world’s total population but Asian-Americans are also the highest income and fastest growing racial group in the U.S., it is statistically improbable that they are barely a blip at the entertainment industry’s most prestigious award ceremony.

YOMYOMF announced the second “Interpretations” competition this past weekend at the annual film fest organized by the Center for Asian-American Media in San Francisco. CAAM Fest, explains YOMYOMF creative director Phil Chung, “has been supportive of Justin from the very beginning when he came here with his UCLA feature, ‘Shopping for Fangs’,“ and so there has been a longstanding connection between Lin and the organization. “Seeing the packed 1,400 seat Castro Theater for CAAMFest’s opening night,” Chung tells me, “was a visceral reminder that there is a huge audience out there hungry for Asian American content–stories by, for and about our communities.”

 

A few television executives have already figured out that this audience is out there. Karen Horne is Senior Vice President of Programming Talent Development & Inclusion for NBC Entertainment and Universal Television. For many years, she explains, Comcast and NBC Universal have supported CAAM Fest, so partnering with “Interpretations” was a natural segue. The company’s diversity push (opportunities linked here) date back to 2000, when NBC “initiated a diverse staff writer initiative that has given start to many people like Mindy Kaling, Alan Yang, Danielle Sanchez-Witzel and many, many more,” she emphasizes. “Our initiatives go far beyond my department as well. It is company-wide and is a part of our DNA.” The winners of “Interpretations” will be featured at NBCU’s Short Film Festival finale in October.

Horne couldn’t promise me that NBC Universal would pick up where ABC left off and build a new comedy around John Cho, of the late, lamented sitcom “Selfie,” but did affirm that casting for new shows under development is “still underway, and I’m enthusiastic that this year, we will see more diversity across the board.”

The key phrase is diversity across the board. When all the other factors are taken into account, the tiny number of Asians in popular media is especially egregious, but Natives and people of Middle Eastern descent are so marginalized they often don’t even get mentioned in “diversity” conversations. The point is that Lin, DuVernay, Abrams and other directors are implementing their convictions, taking financial risks, and using their focused spheres of influence to change cultural perceptions. The result? Great visual storytelling and fantastic entertainment. Let’s demand more of this.
Paula Young Lee is the author of “Deer Hunting in Paris,” winner of the 2014 Lowell Thomas “Best Book” award of the Society of American Travel Writers. She is currently writing outdoor adventure books for middle grade and young adults. Follow her on Twitter @paulayounglee

Black Women Who Have Broken Ground in Entertainment

8 Dynamic Black Women History-Makers In Film, Television and Theatre

Celebrating Women’s History Month with bold and brazen trailblazers in entertainment

hattie mcdaniel

BlackEnterprise.com is proud to celebrate Women’s History Month by commemorating those bold and brazen black women who have broken ground in film, television, and on the stage.

These women left legacies that make it possible for the thriving we see of the African American woman on screen today. Pay homage to these women through and beyond the month of March, as their contributions are worthy of championing each day of the year. Let’s celebrate these history-makers below.

[Related: ‘Black Actress’: Andrea Lewis Takes Matters Into Her Own Hands]

1. Diahann Carroll

We all know the legacy of the diva, herself, Diahann Carroll. And if you don’t know let’s pretend that you do. Diahann Carroll is the first black woman to win a Tony Award for best actress in 1962 for her role of Barbara Woodruff in the musical No Strings. She is also the first African American actress to star in her own television series, Julia, in 1968.

2. Viola Davis

In 2015 Viola Davis became the first African American woman to win the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Annaliese Keating in Shonda Rhimes’ ABC hit drama How to Get Away with Murder.

3. Halle Berry

Halle Berry made history in 2001 as the first African American woman to win an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her role as Leticia Musgrove in Monster’s Ball.

4. Whoopi Goldberg  

The GOAT, or should we say EGOT, Whoopi Goldberg, is the first African American to hold each of  the most highly-coveted film, television and stage accolades–Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. Not only is she toting every award your favorite actresses hope for, but she also makes history as the first African American woman to win the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture.

5. Juanita Hall

Juanita Hall is the first black woman to win a Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress, in 1950, for her role as Bloody Mary in South Pacific.

6. Oprah Winfrey

Self-made billionaire, Lady O, is the first African American woman to host a talk show leading to her position as the first African American woman to appear on Forbes’ billionaire list.

7. Hattie McDaniel

Hattie McDaniel is the first African American, male or female, to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1940 for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind.

8. Ethel Waters   

First African American actress to be featured in a sitcom for her role in Beulah which debuted in 1950. She later went on to quit the series due to the stereotypical portrayal of African Americans. She is also the first African American woman to be nominated for an Emmy Award in 1962.

Source of Article Black Enterprise

Workshops to Increase Diversity

Warner Bros. Launches Directors Workshop for Underrepresented Directors

Women and Hollywood By Laura Berger | Women and HollywoodMarch 14, 2016 at 12:00PM

"Wonder Woman"
“Wonder Woman”

Last year, a study conducted by the Los Angeles Times revealed that, among the major studios, Warner Bros. hired the least women directors. An embarrassing claim to fame, period, but especially in light of the increasing number of headline-dominating conversations about gender in Hollywood. The studio behind Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman” is taking a step towards making their company more inclusive by launching a program for new and underrepresented directors.

The Warner Bros. Emerging Filmmaker Workshop is a nine-month intensive fellowship program where the aspiring directors will have a chance to hone their skills and talent. They’ll be partnered with Warner Bros. executive mentors who will guide them throughout the film production process. At the end of the program, the filmmakers will unveil their work in a film festival on the Warner’s lot. Attendees will include agents and executives from the industry.

This year’s fellowship will include five filmmakers, and each of their budgets will be around $100,000.

The Hollywood Reporter notes that, according to the studio, “the program is designed to recreate the features production process on a micro level. The workshop will have participants pitch, write or work with a screenwriter and develop a script for a short film (3-10 minutes). Once they have a final script, filmmakers will work with physical production to prep, create a budget, cast, shoot on the lot and edit with a full post-production process. The studio will cover all production costs and salary for filmmakers for the duration of the Workshop.”

This sounds like an amazing opportunity for burgeoning filmmakers who need a foot in the door.

“We wanted to have more diverse voices; it’s a better way to connect with our diverse audience and with the world,” said Greg Silverman, president, creative development and worldwide production, Warner Bros. Pictures. He then acknowledged the fact that structural inequality affects the hiring process, and explained how the program aims to address this issue: “There were logjams way down the line before we even saw people.We wanted to start at the first step and give people a leg up, to address the system holistically.”

To be clear, the Warner Bros. Emerging Directors Workshop is not for women exclusively (unlike the recent class of the Fox Global Directors Initiative). In this case underrepresented seems to refer to both gender and race. People of color are of course underrepresented behind the camera, particularly women of color, and we applaud any efforts to increase the number of women of color directors.

This is important for many reasons, especially the fact that when an underrepresented director is at the helm of a film or a scripted episode on television the diversity onscreen increases 17.5% (according to new research from USC Annenberg’s Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative).

[via The Hollywood Reporter]

Op-Ed: Riding the Conversation Wave about Diversity

by Sheree L. Ross

All of the diversity talk since the Oscars is a very good thing. Already new production companies are being formed in Hollywood by women deciding to own our narrative, but it will barely be much more than just a conversation unless we see greater action out of studio executives and powers that be, that isn’t just predicated upon the momentum of bad press. 

It is great to see our allies – like high profile filmmaker  J.J. Abrams  and Women Filmmaker’s of Color like Queen Latifah  making concerted efforts to change the paradigms around Hollywood’s overwhelming diversity problem, yet let’s take a second and expand this conversation to include not only what’s going on in Hollywood but the diversity of location.

Diversity thinking (as it relates to our domestic film and television industry) should also start to include filmmakers, production  companies and studios all throughout the United States. This country learned an important lesson a few decades ago about company towns. Detroit and the people who worked for those car companies could never have imagined the long term economic devastation that continues to have withering effects. I believe those who run Hollywood aren’t imagining, nor can fathom, the long-term effects of their blockbuster spending, monopoly mind-set, and narrow parameters around casting, production location and story lines.

With the increasing affordability of making movies and media, the plethora of exhibition platforms and ever increasing media innovations the powers-that-be of Hollywood can’t continue to ignore what is clearly a shifting paradigm. There are so many talented filmmakers who live all over the US by choice or by economics. Many of us don’t want to live in Hollywood for varying reasons, and yet it often feels impossible to think of any levels of success without doing so. And just before you think I am off the subject of diversity, believe me this is a conversation about diversity most of all. Any industry that is disproportionately dominated by white men gathered in one geographic location has a severe diversity problem.

And again, yes, there are waves of change happening in small ways in Hollywood every day. Certainly Channing Dungey, the first black woman to be president of a major network is  an incredible move forward, but it’s 2016, this shouldn’t be as big a deal as it is.

What if Hollywood were to open itself up to be more like other big industries, where it doesn’t demand it be the sole beacon to riches and success? Every actor, producer, director and Broadway wannabe doesn’t have to move to New York to fulfill their dreams of the stage and make a living (it’s a bonus, not a requirement). In fact, there are few industries I can think of that control their product with such a myopic segregationist viewpoint. Even in tech you can live in your parents basement or college dorm, create something and become a billionaire overnight-ish, you don’t have to move to Silicon Valley or Austin in order to thrive. 

I do realize that there are successful companies outside of Hollywood –  Harpo and Troublemaker Studios are at the top of these success stories. But I think most would agree that there is something inherently screwy about a system that has the deck stacked so in favor of just the Hollywood big boys.

It is definitely time for a new paradigm. If those of us in this industry work towards more diversity – in casting, on sets and when writing our screenplays – and stop holding Hollywood as the Mecca to all things film (which ultimately dilutes talent pools in Indie communities) then the economic structures of sustainability and profitability can change. I believe that this could eventually even impact television, which as we all know is nearly an impossible dream unless you want to live in Los Angeles or New York. These shifts in thinking and action will help the economics of filmmaking communities of color, women, LGBT – all independent filmmakers.  Sure, it’s not going to happen overnight, but these conversations are inroads. Let’s continue the conversation but add lots of action, great ideas and solutions so we, as independent filmmakers, can create a diverse and sustainable industry for us all.

 

 

Sci-Fi is for Women of Color too!

Empowered Colaboration

Film Fatales: Female Directors Unite to Create Opportunities

By Andy Meek

As a child Memphis filmmaker Rachel M. Taylor imagined that she’d grow up and direct a Star Wars-caliber movie. She didn’t realize back then that her ambition would carry her into an industry where the DNA still skews predominantly pale and male.
She just wanted to grab a camera and shoot the kind of geeky, sci-fi flicks she’s always loved – the kind that not enough women are filming these days, to her chagrin.

Film Fatales’ Memphis chapter wants to create more opportunities for women behind the camera. Shown are (top row) DeAara Lewis, Laura Jean Hocking, and Rachel M. Taylor; (bottom row) Phoebe Driscoll, Sarah Fleming, Sara Kaye Larson and Melissa Sweazy. 

(Submitted)

That helps explain why she also doesn’t just want to shoot her own projects – shorts like her dark fantasy “Avarice,” which she released in 2012 – and hope that other women follow suit.

Taylor – who’s been a filmmaker for six years now – is today part of an international collective of female directors working to create more opportunities for women in the film industry. They call themselves Film Fatales, part of a larger Film Fatales organization founded in New York City in 2013 that’s expanded to include what are now dozens of chapters around the world.

The Film Fatales Memphis group got started in June. Earlier this month, the group also launched a speaker series at Crosstown Arts at which local Deputy Film Commissioner Sharon Fox O’Guin was on hand to address the group about topics like resources the Memphis-Shelby County Film Commission can make available to independent filmmakers.

The next speaker in the series is entertainment lawyer Anita Modak-Truran set for May.

Going forward, Taylor says occasional speaker events like those will break up what are otherwise monthly meetings by the group to catch up with each other, share resources, collaborate on projects, swap stories and more.

That also, in a way, encapsulates the purpose of Film Fatales. In short, Taylor says, it’s about community, lending a hand and helping potentially opening doors for each other.

“My dream as a kid was to direct something like the Lord of the Rings or Star Wars,” Taylor said. “I didn’t realize until I got older that just doesn’t tend to happen for a woman. I think that’s starting to change, but not fast enough.”

Indeed, figures cited by The New York Times last month would seem to bear that out. Reporting on the findings of a new study on gender equality in the film industry compiled by San Diego State University, the newspaper reported that 9 percent of the directors of the 250 highest grossing domestic films in 2015 were women.

A small showing, but still an improvement over 2014 when the figure was only 7 percent.

That’s partly why New York filmmaker Leah Meyerhoff launched the Film Fatales organization in the first place and why it’s so touched a chord that today its chapters extend across the U.S. and as far away as Europe and beyond.

Membership, Taylor explains, is available to women who’ve directed at least one feature-length film or television series. Honorary membership is available to female directors of short form content like commercials, music videos and similar products.

Hearing about the Film Fatales at a panel session during the South by Southwest confab in Austin, Texas, is what gave Taylor the idea to see if a chapter could be launched in Memphis.

“I emailed Leah, and from there it’s taken off,” she said about the group. “I’d like to grow it more.

“For us, we realized very early on that having that community is so important. There’s also a chapter in Wellington, New Zealand, which is great because I’m interested in filmmaking there and now there’s a group I can contact. There’s just a huge network.”

Article Source Memphis Daily News

A Very Good Conversation

Happy Christmas Director Joe Swanberg on the Financial Life of the Independent Filmmaker

Melanie Lynskey and Joe Swanberg in Happy Christmas Melanie Lynskey and Joe Swanberg in Happy Christmas

“Transparency benefits everybody.”

That’s Joe Swanberg, whose recommended Happy Christmas opens today, talking about distribution dealmaking, but he might just as well have been talking about all aspects of his career and financial life. Indeed, Swanberg is nothing but transparent in this long interview with producer, director and ArtHome founder Esther Robinson focused specifically on making a living as a writer/director — precisely the subject most directors won’t issue a comment on. The interview was conducted for Robinson’s current piece in the new print edition of Filmmaker, “Still on the Job,” in which she revisits several directors featured in an article five years earlier on filmmakers and their second jobs. Just a few sentences of what’s below appear in that article, but Swanberg had so much more to say that we transcribed, edited and are running their conversation in full. Below Swanberg talks about he and wife Kris Swanberg having a son and buying a house as well as the cash flow provided by his back catalog, paying down his credit card debt, joining the WGA and DGA, why he sometimes prefers to sell a film before its festival premiere, and much more.

Not everyone can be as prolific as Swanberg, but I think any filmmaker can learn something from this conversation. I can’t recommend it more highly, and I thank Joe for being so open with this at times personal information. — SM

Filmmaker: So, since my piece on filmmakers and their second jobs five years ago, what has your life been like? How has it changed? The biggest change, obviously, is that you and your wife Kris now have a son.

Swanberg: It’s just been constant moviemaking, and it’s been very hard. There’s something about having a little kid that makes you [more] aware of time passing in a certain kind of way. And a lot of that [filmmaking] was motivated by the uncertainty of life. When Kris was pregnant and we didn’t have any money, it was easy to work because we both were so unsure about what was going to happen. It was like, “I might as well go make another and another and another because who knows what next year’s going to look like.” Now there’s just a little more sense of what next year’s going to look like. Everything’s less uncertain now.

Filmmaker: Talk to me about how you have put your economic life together. Is it different than it was in 2009?

Swanberg: Well, 2010 was the big shift. We found out Kris was pregnant in February of 2010, and I made six features that year. My feeling was, okay, I will shoot a lot of stuff right now, and then, when the baby is born, I’ll just stay at home and edit. 2011 was crazy because I was trying to put those six movies out into the world. I sold Uncle Kent and Autoerotic to IFC, and that was the first time in the 10 years that Kris and I have been out of film school that we ever had any money. Usually I would sell a movie and put the proceeds either back into the next movie or live off of it until I could get the next thing going. Selling two [films] in the same year meant that we were living off of one of them, and then [with the money from the other], we decided to make a down payment on a house. We were like, “This is never going to happen again, so we should just do it, even though we can’t really afford it.” And so, we bought a house in the summer of 2011, and, financially, that’s been the big project. Then, in 2011, I still made a lot of stuff. I did a movie called All the Lights in the Sky, and then I went to Atlanta and did 24 Exposures. I was still living the same way I always had, cobbling together a month-to-month existence, but, in the meantime, I started to make money on movies that have been out there [for several years]. They’ve reached their second life: Netflix licenses, the Sundance Channel, DVDs, international VOD. There are these tiny accumulations so that every six months, when IFC does their accounting, I get a check for a few thousand dollars. And that income didn’t exist when we last talked.

Filmmaker: How many films are contributing to these few thousand dollars?

Swanberg: There are probably seven films out there with distribution that are recouping. They’re not each bringing in a few thousand dollars — it’s a few thousand dollars total. And the reason I’m getting a few thousand dollars every six months is because I paid for those old movies. I am the investor. Now, those movies only cost, like, a few thousand dollars [each], so it wasn’t a major expense. But when the movies show up on French Netflix, if there is a $600 license, I get that $600 license, which gets shared with whoever else has creative points.

Filmmaker: So, for you, there’s a financial cushion provided by the volume of your work, the fact that you have made so many films. It was stressful at first but now it’s paying back.

Swanberg: Yeah.

Filmmaker: There is a sort of aggregated income flow. $200 here, $200 there; you get income from seven films and that’s a mortgage payment.

Swanberg: Exactly. It turned out to be a necessary cushion. That money showing up was often what we needed to get by that next month. It’s unfathomable to imagine any other industry where the lag time between when you do the work and when you get paid for the work is three, four, six or 18 months, you know what I mean? It’s just crazy how when you’re on the filmmaking side, how un-urgent it all seems. It’s like, often, I know money is coming, but I have no idea when to expect it.

Filmmaker: Or even how much.

Swanberg: Or even how much. But it’s sort of like, “Okay, cool, that movie did well. But will I get that money six months from now? Will I get it a year from now? How much will it be?” The last couple of years have been this weird experience of always playing catch-up, always being a year behind whatever work I did.

Filmmaker: Your model seems to have changed with Drinking Buddies.

Swanberg: With Drinking Buddies, which I shot in the summer of 2012, I [got paid] to make the movie. I haven’t made any [additional] money from Drinking Buddies, and I probably won’t. But what it’s changed for my career has been huge. Because of that, I directed an episode of the HBO show Looking, which was great. I did a movie called Happy Christmas, where I worked with some of the same actors. So, the residual effects of Drinking Buddies have been really helpful in getting Kris and I to a place where we feel neutral. I still don’t feel like I’m making money, but 2013 was the first year where I felt like I wasn’t going further into debt.

Filmmaker: From the outside, you seem like a huge success. But the idea that even with all that success you’re just getting to neutral is intense.

Swanberg: It’s totally intense. For Kris and I, our dream right now is just to get out of debt — the hundreds of dollars a month in credit card debt from movies that I put on a credit card years ago. And that doesn’t even start to tackle student loans and stuff like that. Our family debt is $80,000 or $90,000. If we got to a point where we were at zero, that would feel like a major accomplishment. And then, actually making money, I don’t know how people do that. That’s this other thing.

Filmmaker: Do you feel like having a house has shifted anything besides your financial picture? Has it been nice to own?

Swanberg: Definitely. It’s huge peace of mind to know that not only is our mortgage going towards equity but also that, if for some reason, we couldn’t handle it, we could sell the house because it’s something of value. It’s not like the credit card debt, a monthly expense that just evaporates into the ether. The house feels like something that is for our family and that we can build upon.

Filmmaker: Do you guys both work out of the house?

Swanberg: Yeah, we both do.

Filmmaker: Well, the good thing about attacking the debt is that you’re sort of acclimated to a lower income level. When you finish paying off the debt, you can shift that money over to savings. That’s one of the strategies I teach at ArtHome — to just stay at that level. Don’t ever adjust to income, just move it into savings because income fluctuations can be so intense.

Swanberg: I think about that all the time. It’s been an amazing couple of years. I’m now actually getting paid to make the movies I want to make rather than having to spend my money to make the movies I want to make. But it’s scary to me because filmmakers get successful for a second, and then there’s like a five-year gap between movies, and you wonder what happened. But tastes change. The industry changes. Right now, I’m able to make money because of VOD, but if that revenue stream dries up… like, my movies can’t open in multiplexes, and they’re not necessarily slam dunks for TV. If for some reason in ten years iTunes and the VOD section of the industry becomes not a big moneymaker, I don’t know what we’d do. So, even the prospect of making a lot of money seems to me like it is all rainy-day money because it’s not sustainable. It never has been for anyone. Maybe we can name 15 filmmakers who were just as popular in their sixties as they were in their thirties. For most people, there is a window when your movies are financially successful, and then you eke out a living more on the fringes of the industry. Look at Peter Bogdanovich. He had a period of time when his movies were getting nominated for Oscars, making tons of money. He’s the same guy he was then, but he can barely get a movie financed now. This is Peter Bogdanovich, a master of the cinematic art form, and nobody wants to give him money to make a $5 million movie.

Filmmaker: So what’s your answer to that?

Swanberg: There’s no answer. I mean, the answer was buy a house and pay off debt. Get some things squared away while we can so the inevitable lean times ahead are less lean than they would be if we hadn’t built some infrastructure.

Filmmaker: Going forward, do you want to do more TV?

Swanberg: I’m not dying to do TV. I feel really spoiled because doing that episode of Looking was amazing, but, that’s because I really love that show. I love all the actors, writers and the creators. It was a dream experience. But, doing an episode of a network sitcom doesn’t sound like a dream experience. It’d be hard to do TV that’s not Looking or some cool HBO show or something like that. I’m still primarily focused on making my own stuff.

Filmmaker: What’s your output these days? You’re not at six movies a year. Are you at two?

Swanberg: No, I’m more like a movie a year right now.

Filmmaker: So you’ve gone all traditional?

Swanberg: Yeah. Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood.

Filmmaker: On your bigger-budget films, do you have the same kind of profit participation that you do on the smaller films for VOD?

Swanberg: What I did on Happy Christmas and what I’m doing on this new one, is to put some of my own money into [the film] and participate on the backend side in an equity way rather than just a creative way. If my movies are making money right this second, that’s the way to maximize that [income] the most, to participate to the largest extent on the backend side. I didn’t have any money to put into Drinking Buddies in terms of being an investor, but I did for Happy Christmas and I did for this one that I’m doing right now. Honestly, I would love to be the sole investor for a $1 million movie. Over the years, I learned that the people who take the financial risk also benefit the most from a successful movie. It’s a form of gambling, but I’d be betting on myself, and one success could pay for two or three financial failures. I mean, I’m nowhere near that point, but to me, that’s what the future looks like — the risk getting a little bigger each time. Gambling on a $500,000 movie rather than a $5,000 movie. It’s the filmmaker equivalent of a retirement fund.

Filmmaker: Right. But as your friend, my first thought is that you need to take some of that money and make solely funded, smaller Joe Swanberg movies so you have that 100 percent potential ongoing. The big movies will dilute your participation.

Swanberg: But their earning potential is a lot greater. If I am the sole investor in a $10,000 movie, I may only be able to sell that movie for $60,000. But if I’m a 20 percent owner on a $1 million movie that can make $10 million, that 20 percent’s going to be worth a lot more. Actually, even if I’m only a 20 percent owner on a $1 million movie that could make two million, that 20 percent’s still a lot more money. It’s a balance each time.

Filmmaker: I’m just saying that you should diversify your portfolio. I’m just being a wonk with you.

Swanberg: Mine’s already crazy diversified. I’ve done 17 features.

Filmmaker: No, but I mean, maybe, every three years, you and Kris need to make one [smaller movie] that has all those A-list actors, a film you can own 100 percent of.

Swanberg: Oh, absolutely. But the thing about that is, you have to let the A-list actors in on the participation too. [You can’t own] 100 percent, because really, they will bring the value more than I will. But yeah, that’s the idea. I would love to call Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson and say, “Look, guys, let’s do a $300,000 movie. I’ll put 100 in, you put 100 in, you put 100 in.” And then, we own it.

Filmmaker: Are you doing any teaching or any other new things for money right now?

Swanberg: The only other thing I’m doing is writing a screenplay I’m being paid to write by Fox Searchlight, which I’ve never done before. So, that’s sort of a source of income, but really, the idea is to make the movie. I’m not a screenwriter for hire. And it’s not enough money to really live off of. I couldn’t just do that one year. There would have to be other things going on. If I do more of that, it’ll always sort of be the second job that year.

Filmmaker: And does Kris have an income stream?

Swanberg: She does. I mean, she will this year when she makes her movie, but I mean, historically, she has. Often she was the one who was making most of the money. She was teaching for two years. She owned an ice cream business. She had a lot of other things she was doing. So, it’s actually been really nicely balanced between the two of us. We got married in 2007 and it’s just been lucky that she’s making some money when I’m not and then, when she’s not, I am. I don’t know how that happened. Maybe we can feel it three months ahead of time and then the other one steps up in some way. There have been very few times, thankfully, when both of us have been broke at the same time. This fall, when she’s going to be making her movie, I have earning potential. But, it’s better for me to not work this fall and let her focus on her movie so that we both have earning potential two years from now at the same level. So, this year and next year we are going to spend a lot of our time investing in her career.

Filmmaker: That’s the opportunity cost.

Swanberg: Exactly. It’s an investment like any other.

Filmmaker: Another big change since the last article is you’ve joined the WGA and DGA.

Swanberg: I had to join the Writer’s Guild because of the Fox Searchlight screenplay. I had to join Director’s Guild because of the HBO episode. But what that means is now we have health insurance for the first time in a long time through those guilds. And we have also a pension plan and residuals. I always had some form of residuals because I had ownership in the movies, but now I have contractual residuals. That is fundamentally going to change the way I make movies. I can’t go make a $5,000 movie anymore because of the way these unions work. I can still make very cheap movies, I just can’t make the kind of ultra super cheap movies I used to.

Filmmaker: It’s like an insurance plan of your own, like “no more ultra ultra budget low.”

Swanberg: Well, no, my desire to make those movies hasn’t gone away, it’s just that the practical realities are forcing me up a little bit. I mean, it was a big tradeoff. For a long time I was very resistant to joining either of those unions. But, I reached the point where the budgets were getting a little bigger anyway, and the idea of health insurance and some of the contractual protections were exciting to me and worth the tradeoff — especially the health insurance.

Filmmaker: So in that sense, Obamacare didn’t matter to you.

Swanberg: It would have, but the timing just happened to be that like, the second it got enacted, I also joined the DGA. But you know, those insurances only exist if I continue to make a certain amount of money every year. It’s possible I will lose those insurances at some point over the years and will need Obamacare, but for right now, if I do an episode of TV or a feature a year, it’ll be enough to keep those insurances active.

Filmmaker: Wow. Even just one TV show?

Swanberg: Yeah, the episode of Looking was enough that it met the criteria for the health insurance.

Filmmaker: Looking back, what would be the advice you’d give today to the younger version of yourself?

Swanberg: You know, I feel like I accidentally did the right thing. My relationship with IFC was such that when Hannah Takes the Stairs and then Nights and Weekends made money, because of VOD, it emboldened me to take more control of my own career and become more of a producer and investor. Looking back, those were the smartest things I did — take a bigger ownership stake in my own work and keep that relationship with IFC. A lot of people gave me a lot of flack for selling some of those movies to IFC before they even premiered at festivals, for not bringing them out onto the open market, but I knew they would return a profit. You hear about a lot of movies that did really well, that made $2 million in theaters, but you talk to those filmmakers and none of that money ever came back to them. The P&A expenses were super high or their backend was weird. Once I had that relationship with IFC, had been through all those contracts and the delivery process, and had seen how they spend money in smart ways, it made perfect sense to make that almost like a studio relationship. And then IFC changed. The company restructured, and they just weren’t putting out $10,000 movies anymore. And because they changed, I was forced to do something different, and that’s sort of where Drinking Buddies came from.

Filmmaker: You were kicked out of the nest.

Swanberg: Absolutely. It was like, okay, that’s not an option anymore. So how am I going to get people to see this work? The other advice I’d give is to keep it simple.

Filmmaker: What does that mean?

Swanberg: I formed relationships with actors and crew and kept those the same for project to project. I didn’t get an office space that suddenly cost $1,300 a month to rent. I didn’t get an assistant I had to train to respond to my emails. As the films progressed in level, I never introduced overhead. That was a really big factor in getting through the lean times. When there was money coming in, it was really appealing to think about not having to work from home or getting an assistant. But, I would have had to lose the office and fire the assistant, you know what I mean? That would’ve happened. I stayed totally lean and small, and when times were bad, it didn’t have to change.

Filmmaker: A lot of filmmakers don’t think of their working life as an investment in and of itself. But I think being consistent in how you work can have this incredible payoff. If you’ve got a track record and a plan for your career, then [investors] can put risk capital there without worrying about the filmmaker being able to deliver. I see a lot of people who will blindly just say, “I’m investing in my work” without thinking about what that means. For you, how do you make the calculation of whether that investment is going to pay back?

Swanberg: You can’t really. But I have the advantage of having been doing this for 10 years. I now have a sense of the industry that I didn’t have when I started out. I also have a lot of relationships that I didn’t have then. Like for instance, we sold Happy Christmas to Paramount. Jeff Deutchman moved over to Paramount from IFC. So it seems like a new relationship, but actually, it’s just a continuation of a preexisting relationship. I can now pick up the phone and call distributors. I don’t have to hire a sales agent and give somebody 10 percent of my profits because I have a lot of those same relationships. I think it’s just being cognizant of that kind of stuff and also being really realistic about the work that you’re making. I’ve had enough disappointments and been around long enough to not have any flights of fancy that I’m going to pour a bunch of money into a movie that’s going to be a gangbuster success. It’s like, “Okay, let’s put a little bit of money into a movie that I think can make a little bit more than we’re putting into it.” Taking those baby steps has always been more helpful than betting the farm.

Filmmaker: The last article I did for Filmmaker is called “There’s No Money” and it’s about the incredible freedom of knowing there is no money and then acclimating to that level.

Swanberg: Right. But that only works for so long.

Filmmaker: What do you mean?

Swanberg: Well, you can do no-budget movies up to a certain point, but in order for it to really be sustainable and to work in a truly, artist-friendly sort of way, at the point when your work is commercial, you need to pay people. Otherwise it’s exploitation. If I have four movies in a row that make money, it’s going to be really hard on the fifth movie to say to everybody, “Hey, show up. I’m not going to pay you anything.” It’s like, “Well, no, your movie is going to get distribution. People are going to see it. We also need to pay our rent, and we also need health insurance.” You have to be realistic about that stuff, too. No budget is the best way to start, and maybe it’s the best way to finish, but at some point in the middle, there’s a reason why we pay people upfront as well. It can’t all be riding on the success of the backend, unless it is in a fair way, [which means] you’re paying people their true rates after the movie sells.

Filmmaker: So much of this conversation is about relationships.

Swanberg: That’s all that matters.

Filmmaker: But there are plenty of young directors who think it’s about “my vision” and “my career.” How would you differentiate how you work versus that?

Swanberg: The way I work, where the movies are improvised and the actors are like, writing them with me, is fundamentally different from the get-go. I’m asking [the actors] to bring a lot more than most people are. I’m asking them to share themselves in a different kind of way. I have been on sets — not my own — where somebody doesn’t want to do something and the answer is, “Well, tough shit. You signed the contract. You took the money.” That’s so different from the kind of relationship I’m in with the people I work with, where usually they’re not being paid, and contracts don’t get signed until much later when distribution already exists. It’s like the movies are being entered into as a friendship, as relationships. And so, it’s just changed the way that I look at all of that stuff. But also, I’ve been around long enough to get burned a couple of times, and I just don’t want to do that to other people.

Filmmaker: I know. I was saying to somebody that your 20’s are like, “Ouch, not again.” And then your 30’s are about working out how to say “never again.” And then your 40’s are about cashing in on the fat Rolodex. “I don’t need bullshit, and my tree of friendship is pruned to just this sweet spot of awesome people.”

Swanberg: Yeah.

Filmmaker: I feel like my whole life is that way. I’ve pared it down to the essential people. I can get on the phone and make five things happen, where I used to have to try to figure it out. Like you said, you can now call the distributors directly.

Swanberg: You can just call them, in fact, before you make the movie, and say, “Hey, I’m thinking about this. Is this something that you guys have a place for in your slate of movies?” If the answer is no, maybe that’s not the best thing to spend a lot of money on making next.

Filmmaker: You’re doing your own market research.

Swanberg: When you have reached that level where your decisions have to be both business and artistic decisions, it’s amazing to have those relationships. Everything becomes an educated guess rather than just a guess. For instance, with Happy Christmas, I made the movie I wanted to make, but then, once it was sitting there on hard drives, I had the question of where [and when] to premiere it. It was amazing to be able to call a bunch of distributors and say, “I have a movie with ‘Christmas’ in the title. If this premieres at Toronto, would you have time to get it out by Christmas and would you even want to?” Getting that honest feedback from distributors — “No, September’s too late for us to have something out by Christmas, and also, because it’s an indie movie, we can’t compete with the Oscar [films]” — totally informed our decision to wait until the following year. If I didn’t have those relationships, I might have naively said, “Oh, because it’s a Christmas movie, we should premiere it at Toronto, and then somebody can buy it and put it out by Christmas.” And then what would have happened is that we would’ve premiered it at Toronto, somebody would’ve bought it and then waited an entire cycle to the next [year], at which point the movie would’ve lost all of its momentum. Or, a potential distributor would have gone, “Ah man, I love this movie, but we can’t wait 16 months to put it out.”

Filmmaker: How do you keep up with all these distributors, continue to maintain these relationships?

Swanberg: I’m in touch with these people all the time anyway. Magnolia, for instance, we’re always working on something. IFC, there’s always some email communication over international rights to some previous movie. Because of past work and past relationships, these people are in my inbox once a month anyway.

Filmmaker: You have both a financial and information long tail.

Swanberg: It’s useful for [the distributors], too. There are elements of this industry where being secretive is useful, but for the most part, transparency benefits everybody. Well, let me change that: transparency benefits everybody with a good movie. And transparency benefits every distributor who’s honest. It’s only when you’re trying to sell a piece of shit or do some dirty distribution deal that secrecy works in your favor. But, if you’re talking about quality movies and financially sound distributors, there’s no reason not to be upfront and honest about everything.

Filmmaker: The problem is, is there are so few financially sound distributors.

Swanberg: And so few quality movies.

Filmmaker: Although most people think their movie has quality.

Swanberg: It’s hard. If you go to Sundance with a movie that nobody’s seen a single frame of and your intention is to start a bidding war, your odds of selling your movie for a lot of money do go way up, but I don’t know that you necessarily land with the best distributor. You just land with the person who’s willing to pay the most. Sometimes that’s the only factor that matters; sometimes you do need to sell it for the most money. But, if you’re in the position of just looking for the person who’s going to do the best job putting your movie out, what you’re looking for is somebody who could watch it on a DVD on an airplane and fall in love with it. They don’t need to see it in the frenzied bidding-war environment of Sundance. As a filmmaker, obviously, you don’t want somebody to see your movie for the first time on a DVD on an airplane, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that that [person] is not the right distributor. It’s like what I was saying about IFC. Once I had that relationship and knew how it was going to work, even if I could have taken one of those movies to Sundance and sold it for more money, it would have meant starting a brand new relationship and learning everything from scratch.

Filmmaker: There’s also a perversion in our marketplace, too, because if you have a sales agent and they’re working on a percentage, then they have to get the biggest deal.

Swanberg: Well, the way those deals work, though, is that they’re working on a percentage over the lifetime of the movie, not just of the sale. And so, they are motivated also by long-term success.

Filmmaker: Okay.

Swanberg: It’s less apparent because in our industry, long-term success is such a questionable [prospect].

Filmmaker: I’m not sure people make many good decisions in that Sundance environment.

Swanberg: I agree. I don’t blame them, but it’s not necessarily smart. It’s safer to take the money upfront, but it may not be the best thing for your movie. It’s also probably in everybody’s best interest to think about who you want to spend the next year of your life emailing and on the phone with, and whose financial statements you want to be getting.

Filmmaker: Again, that’s where the risk comes in, right? Do you get paid upfront or can you invest in a relationship?

Swanberg: It’s tricky because it’s different every time. The industry in ways is getting both easier to navigate and a lot more difficult. Like, my first movie premiered at South by Southwest, but that same movie would not get into South by Southwest now. So, I feel lucky that I submitted in 2005, not 2015. But also, VOD didn’t exist back then, and my movie could get bought for VOD today if it went there. It’s just really complicated to stay on top of it, and it’s also complicated because not every filmmaker is as interested in being a businessman as I am. And I don’t blame them. But, in a way, being as interested in being a businessman as I am has enabled me to make weirder, more aggressively experimental movies because I know certain things. I don’t feel artistically limited by having my head in numbers a lot of the time.

Filmmaker: Could you talk a little bit more about this?

Swanberg: Well, I think that there is a notion that for artists to think about business is to corrupt the art process. As soon as you start considering market factors and numbers and all of that stuff, you’re not being a true artist, you’re not following your true vision. To some extent, maybe that’s true, but I think that by knowing the marketplace before I go into a movie, once I’m there, I’m completely free to do whatever I want because [there’s not that] giant question mark of whether there’s an audience for that thing.

Filmmaker: I do eight-hour personal finance boot camps for ArtHome, and one of the things I’ve noticed is that there’s a one-to-one corollary between people who say, “Well, I don’t want to think about money,” and then people who later in the camp realize that’s all they think about because they’re just so broke. There’s this point at which you don’t want to think about money, but then, every decision becomes constrained by it.

Swanberg: There are a lot of filmmakers I know who are making very sincere attempts to make work that is commercial, but they don’t know what that means. They pitch me a project: “I’m tired of doing the arty thing. I’m working on a screenplay now that I think I can attach some famous people to and actually make some money.” And then they tell you the idea and you’re just like, “Never in a million years is a) any famous actor going to want to do that movie; or b) is any distributor going to want to put it out. You are so deluded right now. You don’t know what ‘commercial’ means.” And these are smart people, but they shouldn’t be thinking about “commercial.” They stand a better chance of making money by following their own whacko artistic vision.

Going back to earlier, when you were saying that as an artist you need that space to have some failures, to try some things out — 2010, the year that I made those six movies, was an incredibly successful year for me because I sold two of them, but the other four, I didn’t. But I still needed to make those movies, and by being a businessman and having a lot of that [knowledge] running around in my head, I know when I’m going into a movie that stands zero chance of financial prospect. And then, I’m equally liberated with that, too. The filmmaker Ronnie Bronstein said something once in an interview: “Look, I make movies to go on vacation.” You wouldn’t spend $5,000 on a vacation and come home from it feeling ripped off. You’re choosing to spend that money for travel. Why feel any different about a movie? That made perfect sense to me. I feel like I’ve done that a lot, where I’m like, “Look, this is just going to lose money. That’s all there is to it, but it’s going to be artistically nourishing. I’m going to have fun doing it. I’m going to get to spend time with my friends.” If was worried about that project having to be commercial, it still wouldn’t be—plus, I wouldn’t be having as much fun.

Filmmaker: Are you finding now that actors are coming to you?

Swanberg: Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson were massive advocates for the process after we did Drinking Buddies, and I actually sense that their support turned a lot of people on. And then, when Anna Kendrick came back and did Happy Christmas after Drinking Buddies, that sealed the deal in terms of the perception [of me] as a filmmaker. You couldn’t ask for better champions than those three actors. They’re really talented, everyone knows they’re nice people and likes them, and there they were saying, “I had a good time making this movie.” It’s really changed the conversations I have had with actors about working with me. When I was casting Drinking Buddies, I spent those entire meetings just trying to explain what the hell I did.

Filmmaker: I wish I could’ve seen that.

Swanberg: It’s like, “There’s not going to be a script. I don’t know what it’s about yet, and I need you to help me figure out what it’s about.” That was just such a complicated process. Now, I don’t have to do that anymore. People are like, “Yeah, yeah, I get it. I’m having coffee with you right now because I’m interested in that, so let’s start talking about ideas.” It’s just such a huge relief.

Filmmaker: I love the idea that Olivia Wilde is your gateway drug.

Swanberg: Oh man, she’s been so incredible. I can’t even count how many meetings have started with, “I’m friends with Olivia. She said this was amazing, so I totally wanted to meet with you when you were in L.A.”

Filmmaker: I wonder if you may have come upon all of this by being a Midwesterner. I’m from Minneapolis, and I’m really similar to you: I love art, but it has to be practical. And I’m really nice. Yours is like Midwestern filmmaking but with the urban edge of experimentation. And at its core you’ve got to be nice to your neighbors.

Swanberg: But you still have to throw a good party.

Filmmaker: What do you mean?

Swanberg: You have to deliver on what you promised. You can’t send out an invite to a rager and then people show up and there’s only six people eating cheese and crackers. Jake talked about this a lot, actually. When we got on the phone, he was really skeptical about coming and doing Drinking Buddies. The financing wasn’t in place and it was very shaky at that point. I told him, “Look, you’re going to get to come to Chicago. You can drink beer on set. You’re going to have a ton of creative freedom. You’re going to work with the other actors. If you stay out too late and you’re tired and you come to work, we’ll make your character tired that day. And if you have too much beer at lunch and you’re feeling a little drunk, we’ll just make your character a little drunk.” His brother lives in Chicago and just had a kid. He was like, “I’m excited about possibly coming and seeing my nephew.” I [said], “Your brother can come to set and bring the nephew. We’re going to have a fun, good time making this movie.” And he was like, “Okay. I’ll do it. But, if you’re lying to me, I’m going to be really upset.”

And so, you know, the experience of Jake talking about and promoting Drinking Buddies, a lot of that was him talking about getting there and the promises I made were being followed through on. And that’s why on this new movie I just shot, Jake is the lead. He and I wrote it together. He’s become a major artistic collaborator, and it’s because he trusts me now. I’m not full of shit. And that’s what I mean when I say you still have to throw a good party. I feel like that’s where it breaks down — if the actors are promised something and they don’t get it.

Filmmaker: What you’re saying is that you’re giving them the respect of an actual exchange, which tragically, is a surprising scenario.

Swanberg: I know. Isn’t that crazy? Isn’t that insane, for a really successful actor to be like, “I would just like to be able to utilize my intelligence. That’s all I’m asking, is that I not be treated like a puppet.”

Source of Article Filmmaker Magazine

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