I had the priviledge of interviewing acclaimed producers Miranda Bailey (Swiss Army Man, Norman, Diary of A Teenage Girl) and Amanda Marshall (Swiss Army Man, Diary of a Teenage Girl), on the release of their new film, I Do…Until I Don’t. The film is an ensemble comedy following three couples stuck in the web of a jaded filmmaker looking to prove that marriage should be a seven-year contract with an option to renew. The movie features an all-star cast with Lake Bell, Ed Helms, Mary Steenburgen, Paul Reiser, Amber Heard, Wyatt Cenac and Dolly Wells. It’s such a good movie, a definite must see. Here is a little Q&A with both Miranda and Amanda.
Joanna: Where did the idea for this and the 7 year contract with option to renew come from? And, did you ever intend to be that jaded filmmaker who wanted to prove that marriage was an archaic model, but then end up making a film about the filmmaker and the film instead?
Amanda – Lake really wanted to explore the concept of marriage in today’s society. While the story follows a jaded filmmaker, ultimately I think it’s actually a romantic film. Lake likes to say it’s an unromantic romance. I think the film is positive about marriage and relationships, but also an admission that it’s not all so easy.
Miranda – Oddly enough my husband and I put in our vows that we would have a 5 year option with the right to renew. We thought it was original and funny. Guess Lake and probably several other couples have probably thought about that as well.
Joanna – The documentary filmmaker was really determined to paint a picture for people that apparently wasn’t necessarily true… and that’s maybe why it was so challenging for her to complete the documentary!
Do you feel like this is common among documentary filmmakers; try to tell their view rather than the actual truth, really no different than any storyteller?
Amanda – I think that no matter how neutral one tries to be you can’t really make a film, whether it be narrative or documentary that truly shows all sides. In the case of Vivian, she definitely wasn’t trying to be impartial. But every edit is a choice and it means something is getting left out. So I think all docs have a point of view and some filmmakers try to be more impartial than others.
Miranda – I”m a huge fan of documentarys and I’ve directed a few myself. I gravitate towards more fly on the wall type of stories, ones that explore character more than a topic. But Vivian is one of those documentarians who is trying to get her point across. She will even go to lengths to create drama where there is none. This way she can prove that she is right and marriage is a sham. She reminded me of a reality TV producer.
Joanna – You really did get together a powerhouse cast that were just Perfect for the parts… that or they’re really good actors, either way… did you have each of them laser-focused in mind beforehand or were you flexible in your casting?
Amanda – Lake and Ed were already attached when we came on board the project. From there, it was a lot of fun figuring out the rest of the cast and especially getting into the individual couples. Each couple had to bring a very different energy. It was a big puzzle but one that was exciting to put together because everyone really brings something different and special to their characters.
Joanna – Do you know real couples almost exactly like this? Because personally I feel like I do!
Amanda – I definitely see a lot of people I know in the characters. Including myself! I think that’s what’s great about the film. Everyone feels so real. I went to a table read of the script and it was great to hear the room collectively laugh at things that were both awkward and true to life. It shows how much we all experience similar ups and downs in our various relationships.
Joanna – You co-founded the distribution company The Film Arcade… what inspired this?
Miranda – As a producer on so many films that we would end up selling the rights to another company and then get left out of the release process, I really wanted to find a way to maintain film makers influence on their own release. The Film Arcade started 5 years ago with that as our model. Our first release was Jill Soloway’s feature AFTERNOON DELIGHT. She was a part of every decision. Since then we have worked with Mike Birbiglia and Lake Bell all as collaborators and I think it really is the way to go forward with theatrical releases.
Joanna – Where do you see the future of distribution going? What excites you, and what do you fear about the future distribution market?
Miranda – personally I’m jazzed about all the changes. It’s fun to race to catch up. You really have to pay attention and be innovative. And when you can do something that works, it feels really good. I don’t think going to the movie theaters will go away anytime soon. People still like to go out and do something fun. Our job is to keep it fun. We also need to be accepting that digital is the new DVD- Streaming is actually really cool! We can love both. The VCR didn’t kill movies, neither will Netflix.
Amanda – I think it’s great that there are so many platforms for filmmakers. The traditional model is still there but alongside many alternative routes for a film to find success and connect with an audience. That is very exciting, but also creates it’s own hardships. With so much content – how do you stand out from the pack? Also, not all platforms are financially viable options when you are making films of a certain size. I fear that smaller films will get pushed aside as the new models become homes for more established talent and less about fostering new voices.
Joanna – How did you two originally meet and decide to work together? And what was the first project you produced?
Amanda – I interned at Ambush Entertainment, the company Miranda was a partner at prior to Cold Iron, so we’ve been working together for a long time. I like to say she’s the second longest relationship I’ve had after my husband. Officially, the first project we produced together for The Diary of a Teenage Girl, which was our first film under the Cold Iron banner. That said, we’d already been working together for years at that point.
Miranda – Pretty much what she said. I’m actually amazed as I’m pretty sure I have ended up mentoring someone who is slowly becoming my boss. LOL. Seriously, though, Amanda and I work well together because we both work really hard. We have the same passion for creating movies and are willing to put in all the time it takes to make something. There’s a lot of people in this town who want credits and don’t put in the leg work…Amanda is not one of them. And I admire that.
I Do Until I Don’t Comes Out Sept 1st in Theaters