Don’t Make Me Go Director Hannah Marks Interview – The Hollywood Reporter

Writer-director Hannah Marks, who got her started starring in projects like Accepted, weeds, roughness needed and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agencymade her directorial debut with After all, which she also wrote. And she made another movie that she wrote, Mark, Mary and a few other peoplebefore she realizes Don’t make me gowhich is currently streaming on Amazon’s Prime Video.

For Marks, directing a film she didn’t write was something she “really loved”.

“It was a great experience, because I got to get an outside perspective on the material, and it was really fun to be able to riff on the material that already existed,” Marks said. The Hollywood Reporter. “We improvised and played around a bit because everyone was so collaborative that they were involved.”

But that doesn’t mean doing Don’t make me go was not without challenges. The film stars John Cho and Mia Isaac as a father and daughter who embark on a road trip from California to New Orleans, ostensibly for Cho’s Max to attend his college reunion. But the trip is really a way for Max, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, to reconnect his daughter Wally (Isaac) with her mother and allow her to pass on valuable life lessons.

With Cho based in New Zealand while working on Netflix cowboy bebop amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Marks and Co. had to choose between the actor and taking an American road trip to New Zealand.

“The borders were closed and it wasn’t really possible to have John Cho and America at the same time, so we chose John Cho because at the end of the day, even if it’s a American history, the most important aspect was the father-daughter relationship and John was so perfect for the role that we thought we would cast him,” Marks recalled. “There were no cases of COVID in New Zealand at the time, so it was incredibly safe for us to go there and do the film. Of course, there were a lot of challenges, as you can imagine.

When it comes to these challenges, Marks quickly ticks off several: “It’s an American road trip that takes place in the summer, and we were in Auckland in the winter. The weather was a challenge. The whole ride was a challenge. They drive across the road there. They just don’t have as many roads and highways, and you’re not allowed to close them, so that was tricky.

She adds: “Also, left-hand drive cars are illegal unless it’s a collector’s car, which is how Max’s Wagoneer was born. It wasn’t originally part of the story. He used to drive some kind of modern Toyota… It was funny there were so many random things you wouldn’t have anticipated that just felt foreign like the doors – I noticed all their door handles and Door handles were much taller there than they are here. Trying to sell California, New Mexico, New Orleans, Florida, all to Auckland. There is no other New Orleans.

Despite all these difficulties and adjusting story aspects, like the car, due to geography, Marks says filming in New Zealand “ultimately” made everything “better”.

“We had a really amazing local team that was really into trying to make everything look like America,” she says.

After not writing Don’t make me go and the upcoming film adaptation of John Green’s bestselling novel Turtles all the waywhich she directed for HBO Max, Marks is being scripted for future stories.

“I’ll probably write the next thing because the last two I didn’t write and I’m itching to go back to them even though I loved the scripts I got to do and I’m so grateful, but I really want to do the writing,” she said.

But that’s not to say Marks didn’t have personal ties to Don’t make me go. Talk with THRMarks talks about how she got involved in film, why it resonated with her, making movies for streaming services, and her future as a writer-director.

How did this project come to you and what made you want to direct it?

I had a general meeting with Peter Saraf at the Big Beach offices in New York. I was such a fan of him because he did Little Miss Sun and Adaptation and all those great movies. And he sent me the script for Don’t make me go after we met, and I read it immediately and loved it so much. I was so shocked by the twist ending and thought it was so bold and brave both with the way the movie started and the twist at the end so it felt very emotionally resonant. And I’ve had a lot of connections to that in my own life. So that’s really where it all started.

Could you specify the links with your own life?

My dad taught me to drive, and he’s also a cancer survivor.

[The following paragraph contains spoilers from Don’t Make Me Go.]

And on top of that, I have a problem with my heart. That’s why this twist really shook me. I really hope and think mine won’t kill me, but I have a problem with my heart valves that I monitor and check that I don’t always talk about, but it’s definitely linked me to the twist that’s happening .

[Spoilers end]

What do you hope people take away from this film?

I hope they take away that you can come of age at any time in your life. It’s not just about a 15-year-old coming of age, it’s also about her dad coming into his 40s. It’s never too late to change or try things or take a risk. I hope I’m still trying to pursue my dreams and my different careers and ambitions when I’m older. I want it to sing at the end of the film.

This movie is coming out on Amazon and your next movie Turtles all the way is for HBO Max. What do you think of this movie being released on a streaming platform at this time when the future of theatrical releases is kind of in question?

I love going to the movies and I miss it so much because I think it’s so important. However, I don’t like to talk about trash on streaming, because it means a lot more artists can make movies, and I’m lucky to be one of them. Streaming allows me to do projects that might not have been done normally. I have no qualms about streaming or not releasing the film in theaters because it really allows us to tell so many more stories and reach such a large audience.

Turtles all the way has been in development for a while and you’ve been attached for a while as well – first it was at Fox and now it’s at HBO Max. How does it feel to be part of this project when it’s been through a few twists and turns?

It was great because I think I was able to grow with the project. When I started interviewing for this movie, I was 23 or 24 and now I’m almost 20. In my personal life, I’ve changed and grown, and it’s exciting to see my perspective change with the project. The story has become even more relevant during the pandemic because the main character is so terrified of germs and infectious diseases, and now it’s something we can all relate to, not just anxious people or hypochondriacs. . I think we’ve all had that experience. So in a weird way, the movie became even more universal around this time, and I really believe it wasn’t meant to be done until now.

What kinds of stories do you hope to tell in the future as a writer-director?

I think I will always focus on a central relationship, and my characters will always be my main focus. I would like to add a more conceptual side to what I write. The last thing I wrote, which I haven’t released yet, has a robot and takes place in the near future, and I really, really enjoyed that process, and I found it extremely fun, but of course, it’s still kind of a relationship movie even though it has a robot.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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