On Monday night, Chris and I had the chance to attend a special screening of Joe Swanberg’s new film Drinking Buddies over at the Nitehawk in Brooklyn. I had the chance to see the film at South by Southwest earlier this year and really loved it; you can read my review here. While at the event, Chris and I got to interview both Joe Swanberg and Olivia Wilde, giving us insights into the creative process of making a film without a script as well as learning about their favorite beers, upcoming projects and the status of Tron 3.
Below are both of our interviews with Joe Swanberg. You can read our interview with Olivia Wilde here.
Alex DiGiovanna: First off, awesome movie. I saw it at South By [Southwest]
Joe Swanberg: That was a great place to see it.
AD: It was a lot of fun. So how much beer was consumed throughout the movie, if any?
JS: Several cases. We had the advantage of so many good breweries from the Midwest sending us beer and we could only put so much in the movie so the rest went to us.
AD: Well what’s your favorite beer?
JS: If I had to pick one, the Three Floyd’s Zombie Dust is probably the one I would pick.
AD: This is your largest film to date, how did you go about securing such an awesome cast?
JS: You know we got very lucky and, you know, I think people were drawn to having a chance to do something, to do a process they’ve never done before. The fact that the film was improvised and we got to play around with it was appealing to people, so and then I worked with Mark Bennett, who’s a casting director who cast like The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, and some great movies and so he was a huge help in being an advocate for the movie and getting good people in to meet with me.
AD: A lot of the actors have worked a lot in improv or at least to a certain extent, how did you direct them to get the most and the best content out of them?
JS: Well, casting is the first big thing, I try and cast good people and then beyond that I just let them be themselves. Really a lot of the hard work happens in the editing room, on set I try to be as loose as possible and really welcome all ideas.
AD: Basically your entire filmmaking community and friends like Ti West and Simon Barrett are all blowing up right now and releasing great films. What’s it like for you to be a part of this group when you’re all blowing up at the same time?
JS: It’s thrilling. It’s exciting because we’ve all been at it for such a long time now. Like Ti West and David Lowry who did Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and James Ponsoldt who did The Spectacular Now, we’ve all known each other for something approaching a decade and we’ve all been working trying to make good stuff. It’s really exciting that it’s happening now and people are starting to see these movies.
AD: How do you manage to remain so prolific and do you think you’ll plan on making another all-out horror film or maybe do a thriller this time and change it up?
JS: I would love to, I mean I think I can stay so prolific because I really like making movies. I have a lot of friends where it’s really an exhausting process for them but for me it’s energizing, the second I finish a movie I’m always anxious to jump right into the next one.
AD: And what do you like doing more acting or directing?
JS: If I had to pick I’d probably choose to be a director but thankfully I don’t, I really like doing both of them.
And here is Chris’ interview with Joe:
Chris McKittrick: So much of this film seems to be told through the characters’ body language. How much direction did you have regarding that, or was that mainly brought by the actors?
JS: The actors always bring a lot of that. They especially bring the first take. Then if anything I’m really just shaping and sculpting from there and trying to figure that out. I’m a big fan of silence and body language in movies, especially with improv. There’s this sense to talk constantly, and so a lot of my direction to the actors throughout the shoot was to remind them that they could quietly listen and they didn’t have to have an immediate response to questions. The body language plays into that. Sometimes a perfectly timed little touch or move or something like that is going to read and speak much bigger on camera than dialogue that can fill for that.
CM: You mention in the press notes that you are a home brewer. Is there any style of beer that you think you are particularly good at making?
JS: No. My home brewing is very much a hobby for me that hasn’t necessarily gotten a lot better since I started doing it. But when I brew I brew every single style just because I like playing around with it. A big part of the process is doing it just to escape filmmaking and so it means really goofing around. I’m at a point now where I started doing these Frankenstein recopies where I’m picking different grains
and hops and yeasts and combining them just to see what happens. The one beer that I’ve made that I actually bothered drinking was this Belgium Trippel that I then aged in the secondary with a cinnamon stick and a vanilla bean. That’s a beer I would actually give to other people. The rest of them are for friends only.
CM: What were some of the challenges of shooting this film compared to the way you’ve made films in the past?
JS: There was more infrastructure, so I had to adjust to what it would be like to get thirty-five people on the same page rather than three people, so that was a change in the production of it. I don’t know, it felt the same. The producers and I worked very hard to try and make it feel the same and make the experience of doing this one not that much different from one of my other films. I had a great time — if anything it was easier than the other movies because there were so many people to help. A lot of the jobs I had to do myself over the course of my career I had professionals doing now, so it was a real pleasure to me.
CM: Why does Jason Sudeikis go uncredited?
JS: We thought it would be fun. Jason just came to visit Olivia and we sort of wrangled him into doing the movie. We thought it would be really fun if he showed up as a surprise to the audience rather than putting him on the poster or anything like that.
Drinking Buddies is now available on VOD and will be in select theaters starting this Friday, August 23.