Interview With Katie Aselton – Writer and Director of The Freebie

by Melissa Silverstein on September 17, 2010

in Actresses,Women Directors,Women Writers

Women & Hollywood: In the notes for the film you said you began to think about writing and directing your own project because you want to work.  Do you think that is more of an issue for women or men?

Katie Aselton: I am an actor in a sea of talented and not so talented pretty people.  There are various jobs and there are a lot of people after them.  And there are a lot fewer jobs than there used to be.  This is where out business is at.  Truthfully, there are only so many great roles out there for women my age and there are many talented actresses that are going after them.

W&H: Where did you get the guts to write your own script?

KA: This is what I love to do.  This is what I want to do and my husband (Mark Duplass) is also a filmmaker.  He is one of the big do it yourselfers out there.  He wouldn’t let me sit down and whine about it.  I didn’t have an excuse when he is out there making it happen for himself.  I had all the support to go out there and make it happen.

W&H: Not everyone who is an actor can write or direct.  What made you believe you could do both of those?

KA: I believed I could try to do it.  I didn’t know if I would necessarily succeed or not.  Worst case scenario I made a steaming pile of crap that no one saw, but at least I could say I did it that I went down fighting.  I have no interest in sitting around and waiting for my phone to ring.

W&H: Tell us a little bit of the process of getting the movie made?

KA: It was more of me saying look I want to this, I want to make a movie.  Let me find something that inspires me to sit down and conceive of the entire arc of a movie.  When the idea came to me — it was really the first thing that I imagined from start to finish.  I think when a story comes easily to you you should really go for it.  This is a story that flowed very easily for me and I made the outline and said to my husband, I think this is really doable, I think we can pretty much shoot the whole thing in our house. It’s a really small cast.  I went to a cinematographer that I met at a film festival, to an editor that I knew and started to put a team around me.  And I picked a date.  I said we are going to start shooting the end of March.  It was just making it happen and putting together the schedule and saying ok here we go.

W&H: What do you think — if anything — that this film talks about the state of relationships and where people are.

KA: If it says anything it is about a generation of us who have too much time on our hands and are maybe a little bit over therapied and have tendency to fix things that aren’t broken and mess up their own lives.  When you are not struggling financially and you’ve got security and things are ok you have a tendency to go inward and pick on things in your own world that don’t necessarily need to be fiddled with.  It’s a sort of self destructive thing — things are almost too good, let’s mess it up.

W&H: It’s a certain type of person who has this sense of privilege.

KA: Exactly.  And this couple is like that.

W&H: What do you want people to think about when they walk out of the theatre?

KA: It’s so interesting.  I have never thought in a million years that I would make a movie that would inspire conversation, but what I love is that this movie regardless of the audience there is always a conversation happening afterwards —  did he do it or did she do it?  Would you do it if you could do it?  Should they have gone through with it?  Should they have called it off?

W&H: I wondered if it even happened?

KA: That’s another possibility.  I loved that I was able to put the audience in the characters position of not really knowing.  Even for me I have a different experience every time I watch it.

W&H: Now that you have written and directed do you enjoy acting differently now that you have been on the other side?

KA: I do.  It’s so interesting.  I made this movie because I thought I would get more acting jobs from it and now I find that I have more opportunities to direct. I am totally going to take advantage of them because it is such an amazing way to work your creativity.  I really love the collaboration of it.  I love working with other people.  It is so exciting and I never, never knew it was available to me because I had never tried it, and so now that it there I will do more of it.  But acting is still my first love.  It will still be my first pick.

W&H: What advice do you have for other women who want to get their voices out there?

KA: I didn’t have to talk anyone into doing this, I just did it with the resources I had available to me. I didn’t have to wait for anyone to say yes or no, I just did it.  I didn’t ask permission.  The best piece of advice I have for women is just be confident in your story and your storytelling abilities and capabilities and go out and make it own your own.   I made my movie for literally less than what an automobile costs so I don’t think that there is any reason to be waiting on anyone else.  So I think if you are a woman who wants to make a movie, go make a movie, and if you can make it for $10,000 all the better because that’s just easier and if you need the financing then walk in there and ask for it.

The Freebie opens today in NYC and will open on October 1st in LA.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jeannine September 19, 2010 at 5:06 PM

Thank you Katie Aselton for making this film and
Melissa for bringing this interview to us.

These are words that I needed to hear as I finish my first short and start planning to film my own $10,000 feature by next year. Katie, you were so clear in how to do it and so fearless in your outcome that I am taping this next to my writing desk and reading it as I sit down to edit or write. You have empowered me to get over my perfectionism and just finish it.

Thank you both again!

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