Joe Swanberg's Netflix Series + Best Quotes from His SXSW Keynote
March 17, 2016 by Mike McNamara
Chicago filmmaker Joe Swanberg has teamed up with Netflix for an original series called EASY, set to be released later this year. And to clarify what was being reported in other mags, the episodes have already been shot. They're in the can, in post, soon to be ready for your viewing pleasure. Joe has always had a penchant for keeping his productions under the radar a bit - and he's generally been really good at accomplishing that, especially when filming in his hometown. So yes, Orlando Bloom and Malin Akerman and a whole bunch of other stars were in town filming not too long ago and you missed em.
About the series: The eight-episode, half-hour, single-camera comedy, dubbed EASY, is being described by Netflix as an “anthology series that explores diverse Chicago characters as they fumble through the modern maze of love, sex, technology, and culture.”
Cast includes Jane Adams and Jake Johnson, who have collaborated with Swanberg on past productions, as well as actors Hannibal Burress, Orlando Bloom, Malin Akerman, Elizabeth Reaser and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. As EASY nears its Netflix release date, I'll keep you posted.
Meanwhile, Joe was a keynote speaker out here at SXSW this past Monday. Plenty to take away and chew on from his talk, here are a few highlights:
Swanberg on why he made it a point to be so prolific from the outset of his career: “The myth of the brilliant first feature that just takes off and starts off your career is one way to go about it... But the other way to go about it is to be tenacious and make so much shit, that people will lose the will to fight against you.”
On film financing: “Money is still somehow a taboo subject. It makes it harder to be a film-maker, because nobody is really talking about it. I’m a good example of it ‘cause I’m standing here – proving that any idiot can be here.”
On asking for money: "[After DRINKING BUDDIES], everyone wanted to give me money … and the less you need money, the more people want to give it to you... you don’t have that stink of desperation.”
On not having a day job: “I had to fully engage with the process and just choose to be broke. Following [HANNAH TAKES THE STAIRS], I had no other job.”
When microbudget movies are your only income: “Living off these movies I was forced to pay attention to the business aspects of them. One thing I noticed is when you premiere a film at SXSW, it generated a lot of attention, but by the time it goes out no one cared. Attention spans were shrinking.”
On reviews: “Honestly, the truth is … nobody reads anything. I’ve been told by people, ‘Hey, congratulations on the great review!’ And it was a really bad review.”
On turning down those "money gigs": “Only work on stuff you love … when I don’t, I fight with my wife a lot more, I’m snippy with my kid.”
Mike McNamara is the Co-Founder of The Midwest Independent Film Festival, www.midwestfilm.org. Mike pays his rent as an actor in Chicago in theatre, commercials, television and film. More from Mac at www.findmac.com.