Today on the show we have Katie Aselton. She is an acclaimed actor and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. She may be best known for her starring role as Jenny in the FX comedy “The League.” Aselton can next be seen in Bill Burr’s comedy Old Dads. She was recently seen in The Unholy, opposite Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and appeared in Tiller Russell’s Silk Road, with Jason Clarke. Aselton was also seen in the second season of the hit Apple + series “The Morning Show.”
Aselton’s breakout acting role came in the indie darling The Puffy Chair, directed by Mark and Jay Duplass. The film was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards. Aselton’s other feature credits include Book Club, Father Figures, She Dies Tomorrow, Synchronic and Bombshell. Her small-screen work includes “Legion,” “Animals,” “Togetherness,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Veep,” “The Office,” “Room 104” and “Casual.”
Aselton made her directorial debut with The Freebie, in which she also stars. The film premiered to much critical acclaim at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and was released theatrically by Phase 4. She also directed and starred in the survivor thriller Black Rock, opposite Kate Bosworth and Lake Bell. The film premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and was released by LD Entertainment.
Katie’s new film is Mack & Rita starring the legendary Diane Keaton.
When 30-year-old self-proclaimed homebody Mack Martin (Elizabeth Lail) reluctantly joins a Palm Springs bachelorette trip for her best friend Carla (Taylour Paige), her inner 70-year-old is released — literally. The frustrated writer and influencer magically transforms into her future self: “Aunt Rita” (Oscar winner Diane Keaton). Freed from the constraints of other people’s expectations, Rita comes into her own, becoming an unlikely social media sensation and sparking a tentative romance with Mack’s adorable dog-sitter, Jack (Dustin Milligan). A sparkling comedy with a magical twist, Mack & Rita celebrates being true to yourself at any age.
Enjoy my conversation with Katie Aselton.
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Katie Aselton 0:00
Really spent 10 years since black rocks sitting with that and thinking about the kind of director I want to be in the way, I want to leave a set and. And with Mack and Rita I lead with kindness and gratitude, and respect, and, and humility. And I think that there is nothing more powerful than someone saying, I don't know. Let's figure that out together.
Alex Ferrari 0:27
This episode is brought to you by the best selling book Rise of the Filmtrepreneur how to turn your independent film into a money making business. Learn more at filmbizbook.com I'd like to welcome to the show, Katie Aselton. How you doing Katie?
Katie Aselton 0:44
Hey, I'm doing really good. How are you doing?
Alex Ferrari 0:44
I'm doing great! Thank you so much for coming on the show. I've been watching you since the days of the Puffy Chair.
Katie Aselton 0:46
Ohh you just watched me get old right?
Alex Ferrari 0:56
I hate to tell you we all do it.
Katie Aselton 1:03
I just happen to do it on camera.
Alex Ferrari 1:05
I was I was gonna say that's so interesting. Like you like my kids. See some videos of me when I was a kid. Like when I was younger. And they've seen pictures of me younger, but they literally see their you know, yeah, you and Mark just grow old. Better, better, I would say yes. You know, we're just evolved. We're evolving. Exactly. So no, I've been and I'm a huge Morning Show fan. I love the morning show. Love the money show was such such a great show. So my first question to you, Katie is how and why in God's green earth did you want to get into this insanity that is called the film industry.
Katie Aselton 1:40
I know. I grew up in Maine on a on the coasts, like past the tourist parts of Maine, like real main. And it wasn't a town where people left to go to Hollywood. So it wasn't like I was following in the footsteps of anyone else I knew. I just got a wild hair, that this was what I was meant to do. And I had like, just big dreams that I kind of kept to myself for a lot of my early years. And finally, I couldn't keep them in anymore. I don't know. I'm like the kid who? And look, I think we all do this. But I was definitely the kid who in everything I watched, like put myself and I was I'm like a super empath. And so I would like things like really got me and I would really just throw myself into every story and, and my siblings were all much older than me. So I was essentially kind of an only child living in like a really rural area. So my sense of imagination was always very full. And yeah, I just I don't know, it just I don't know, that's what lit me up very early, but then had no opportunity for that. You know, like, if you look in my high school yearbook like I'm in the drama club. There were no productions.
Alex Ferrari 3:01
So what did the so what is the drama club? Do the has no productions just hanging around?
Katie Aselton 3:05
Yearbook picture every year I don't know. It was the weirdest thing. And that is that we're the drama program like they used to put on productions. I think they put her on productions. After I left. It was just my four year stint like nothing. Wow, you're getting Uruguay gets high school.
Alex Ferrari 3:27
Wow. So obviously you've set out to the university. You said, hey, I want to be an actress. Yeah, I want to get to the film industry. And then obviously Hollywood just called and said, Hey, what would you like to do? Oh, my baby, what do you need? Let me help you. How can I? How can I help you? Not sure what you got? So what was the stage from when you want the dream? To go to New York? Did you go to LA? Where did you go?
Katie Aselton 3:53
I went to Boston.
Alex Ferrari 3:56
Obviously the I think the third biggest action in the country.
Katie Aselton 4:02
My family, my parents, God bless them. We're like, you need to go to school in New England for at least two years. And I think their thought was, you know, I would fall in love with a program or a boy or the city or, or just forget that I kind of thought maybe I wanted to move to LA to be an actor. Um, but I didn't. I didn't and while I was in Boston, I went to be you. In my denial of my dreams and my, my sort of need to become to like be perceived as like a serious, like, contender in the world. I told my parents I wanted to go into journalism. I was like, that's the closest I think I can get there's a camera involved. I'm still like a personality. And so I applied and and, and got into Boston University, which has a fantastic journalism program that I absolutely hated that I read Howard Stern's book and I was like, This is gonna be great. Not for me, because I actually just wanted to be Holly Hunter, and actually a real journalist. So I took acting classes on the side and really, really loved it and, and, like, kept looking at my clock and was like, Alright guys, and we're at the end of the two years, and you said you promised and they, they stuck by their word and they did it. And at 19 I moved out, not knowing anyone in Los Angeles and I scoured the pages of backstage West, as early actors did as you do before the internet. And I found a play and I sent in my headshot, and I got a play that was in Sunland. Now, I don't know if your listeners are familiar with Southern California.
Alex Ferrari 5:58
Yes. It's just a bit. It's a bit out of LA. It's a bit just a slight
Katie Aselton 6:05
And north and there's nothing there. It's like industrial parks. I landed a play called at a place called Play us at the foothills. And
Alex Ferrari 6:19
That sounds like a place where that's where a horror movie starts. The play house of the foot that you said sounds like something where a horror movie would start?
Katie Aselton 6:26
No, I and if you saw it, it definitely looks like a place where we're moving. It should take place. They didn't even give me the full script. Like I just got my scenes, but I was like in it. I loved it. I was so excited. My college roommate came out to visit. And this is where the story gets. Gets a little sensational. But I'm promising you right now this is all true. Because she came out we were 19 we didn't have fake IDs. So we were going to go out to celebrate what were we going to do? We're going to go to Mel's diner on Sunset to celebrate get some strawberry shortcake. So we did and while we were there, I look up. We were sitting outside. I look in the windows and I was like oh my god. It said afterwards that Dracula do like, what is his name? I can't remember his name. And Rita's, like, my roommate was like James Woods. And I was like, yeah, it's James.
Alex Ferrari 7:25
Do you ever play track?
Katie Aselton 7:29
Our one of my. I think he did.
Alex Ferrari 7:34
We'll have to look it up. I don't I'm not sure if James was playing
Katie Aselton 7:37
In my head at 19. I was like, he played Dracula. I think he did. And now, I was like, I don't know. But he's looking at us. And I think he's gonna come over and talk to us. And she was like, now what does he want to he doesn't want to talk to us. And I was like, I don't know. But he's walking to the table right now. And he was like, Hey, are you an actor? And I was like, yeah, no, I'm trying to be. And he was like, Well, my name is Jimmy, my friend. Here's a manager and he thinks you have a good look. And through that manager, I ended up getting my first agent. And that is how my career was born.
Alex Ferrari 8:10
So you were you were discovered in Mel's diner? Is that is that?
Katie Aselton 8:16
Yeah, like it was 1949. Like I was Yeah. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 8:22
That's amazing. That's an amazing story.
Katie Aselton 8:27
Why an ultimate scumbag?
Alex Ferrari 8:31
Hey, welcome to Hollywood.
Katie Aselton 8:33
Listen, you just gotta find ways to just make those stories work for you.
Alex Ferrari 8:39
So then, Alright, so now you have an agent, you have a manager? And then how did you get involved with this very big budget film puppy chair? This is at least 100 million if I'm not mistaken.
Katie Aselton 8:50
Oh, yes, it was. I mean, all the financing for that movie came from Mark's parents.
Alex Ferrari 9:00
By the way, what was the what was the official budget of that film? Because there's a lot of myths about that film. Do you remember it's there?
Katie Aselton 9:05
Yeah, we can say I think it was like 20,000 or something like that. Right? Yeah, that's low. But it's so much more than the budget of my first film, the freebie which was 10,000.
Alex Ferrari 9:16
So you have one up on marketing.
Katie Aselton 9:20
But I, you know, so there, I spent a couple of years in LA, like, really, I like putting myself out there auditioning. Getting some crap roles that I really wasn't graded and didn't love but I knew I loved doing it. So it was at that point, a couple of years in that I was like, I'm actually going to go to theater school. I had started dating Mark already, Mark was in an indie rock band at the time,
Alex Ferrari 9:44
And really quickly for everyone listening because just in case they don't know. You're married to Mark Duplass, who is the director of puffy chair and many other independent films, brothers, yes. And half of the Duplass brothers, as well. Jay and mark. So yeah, just so everyone He knows who we are. Because we just keep saying mark like you and I know,
Katie Aselton 10:02
And everyone knows, I think everyone, anyone who's listening to your podcast is gonna like they know, but just in case. So we've been dating, he was an indie rock guy, not a filmmaker, not in movies at all. And while we were dating, he, he did it, they did their short movie, this is John. And then after that, we and while I was in school in New York, we did the short scrapple. And that went to Sundance, both of those went to Sundance. And so then the day after I finished my, my theater school program, we went into production on the puffy chair.
Alex Ferrari 10:44
And, and the rest, as they say, is history. So I have, so I have to ask you, because, you know, during that time, I mean, there was obviously that film movement that you know, which I know a lot of the filmmakers in that world don't like to use the word mumble core, but because it was coined by some, some journalists, but for lack of a better term, I'm sorry,
Katie Aselton 11:04
Growth journalist isn't.
Alex Ferrari 11:07
Exactly. So but. But during that time, there was a group of filmmakers doing this kind of style of filmmaking. And in looking back at those kinds of films, you know, when I, I mean, if you were I mean, puffy chair, and mark, and Jay and Lynn Shelton, and all that they were just such huge inspirations for me, for my first featured I didn't, I don't know, a few years, a few years ago. But the thing that was interesting about that, that kind of that movement of filmmaking, it was just very run and gone, it was shot with video cameras, I have to ask you, because you had been at least in productions at this point as an actress. So you're on the set of puffy chair? What do you think as an actress going, it's this kind of work? Like, there's no lighting? Is that kind of like raw? It's like, what did you think about that?
Katie Aselton 11:53
It was really interesting, because, you know, in there in the early years in our relationship, Mark would see me in LA with my friends who are all like, all actors who are out of work. And he's like, I don't understand why you guys just don't grab a camera and make something and I was like, okay, that's cute. Like, that's not how it's done. Okay, like, you need a studio, you need a trailer you need, you know, it was like, just an idea, because that is what we were told was always just how it was how it was done. And it's because it had to be that way. Back in the days when you're shooting film, right? But right around this time is where everything started to change with technology and things became so much more accessible and affordable. And I mean, God, you look back at some of those early mumblecore movies, and they look they're garbage. They look so
Alex Ferrari 12:49
So much so much. Joseph Jones Jones, just Weinsberg stuff. I look back on what how did that get released
Katie Aselton 12:54
I know, but at the time, like no one cared, because it was you were getting cameras in the hands of young artists. And so it was so exciting to hear and see young voices at work. And so it was, I mean, yes, there were definitely moments on puffy chair and Scrabble. And this is John where I was like, this is like, never gonna fly. But also there's something so incredibly freeing in like, first off, not kind of knowing the rules that you don't even know you're breaking. Right? So there's that whole idea of like, know the rules before you break them or not, or just go from the gut and make a piece of art that you're excited about with people you love. And by the way, for anyone looking to go do this, you absolutely should because even if it fails and doesn't go anywhere you learn so much. So as long as you're not, you know, bleeding money doing it you should absolutely be getting out there with your friends with a camera and going and making some fun stuff.
Alex Ferrari 14:01
And the technology today is so much more advanced than what was going on you reshot you shooting mini DV I mean I shot my first film on mini DV dv x 100 A if when it kicked out a little bit I got a sonic
Katie Aselton 14:14
I want to say that might have been what we did Pepe cheer on.
Alex Ferrari 14:17
Yeah, it was one that was the it was the first time you could get a film look out of a real
Katie Aselton 14:23
Very loose but at the time
Alex Ferrari 14:26
I look but at the time it was a 24 p camera and look gorgeous for the it's because all you had is like the 30 unit video cameras compared to so it's like it's beta canon or oh my god it looks like film.
Katie Aselton 14:40
So like with puffy chair no lights. We had one guy who did sound and like would occasionally hold a sheet up over like her slate. It was all we had we could do
Alex Ferrari 14:55
You just run a gun. So that was that was fun because I was wanting to ask actresses and actors who Were in those early movies like, I got, I mean, before it was a thing, and you were there at the beginning of it, you had to go like this. am I wasting my time? It's, um, am I just doing this because I love mark, like.
Katie Aselton 15:11
And I'll also say, like, you, you have those moments in there where you're like, Oh, it feels really good.
Alex Ferrari 15:18
It's wrong. It was wrong.
Katie Aselton 15:20
It was, there were some moments in the puffy chair that I still look back on. And like, you know, actors talk about like, it was in the flow, but like, you have this moment, and you're like, that was one of the more authentic moments I've ever had. As an actor,
Alex Ferrari 15:37
It's really interesting to go back and look at those those films because there is this kind of kinetic raw energy to them. And even though they're technically not sound at all, at all,
Katie Aselton 15:50
But their hearts are so pure and bright.
Alex Ferrari 15:54
And it completely goes through and it is pretty remarkable. And of course, you named it something so marketable. Like the puffy chair, which
Katie Aselton 16:04
When you tell what a movie is about, just by hearing the title, it's about a puffy chair was about.
Alex Ferrari 16:10
I remember during those years, I was I was hearing the rumbles of puffy chair, and I was like, hell is the off the chair. And I'm like, why is this? Oh, it's actually a puffy chair, like, and I remember thinking to myself before because this is, it wasn't pre internet, obviously. But it was internet like, like the early internet. So it wasn't like there was a lot of information out there about the movie. So I remember what like hearing about it. Like, I don't even there was no YouTube yet. 2004 2005 is when YouTube started. So the trailer wasn't out.
Katie Aselton 16:41
Now, it wasn't. I don't think we had a trailer until years later. Yeah, until like, Finally, eventually, someday ended up on the apple. And that's a very sweet person who just like cut it together for for fun.
Alex Ferrari 16:56
Now why? I mean, when did this film when the movie came out and went to Sundance? And were you surprised at the reaction? I mean, I mean, that's the question. I was like, did you know it was going to be hit? I knew you didn't know. But it's so overwhelming, because
Katie Aselton 17:10
I will say in the test screening. When we were testing puppy chair, I cried. Because I was like, this is awful. I also like never as an actor had never been privy to a test screening, right? So like, when moments fall flat when things like aren't playing well. And like, I never should have been in that room. Thank God, I was now that I'm making movies like I'm so happy. I know what it is. But my God, I was like, this is awful. I never should have done this and might end our relationship. This is a real a real stinker.
Alex Ferrari 17:48
By the way, did you have a conversation with him about this afterwards?
Katie Aselton 17:52
Yeah. And he was like, David, it's a test screening like every year asking people to critique the movie. They're like, they're, they're there to criticize it to make it better. So you gotta tear down to build back up again. And it was an early, early, early test screening at two boots pizza in the Lower East Side.
Alex Ferrari 18:09
And I can imagine, I'm assuming technically it was sound very technically sound
Katie Aselton 18:13
That sounded and looked amazing. But call it riding alone was fantastic. Again, what I will say is that experience to the next time I saw it, because then I said I would refuse to watch any more cuts of the movie until it was done. I've been next time I saw it was when it premiered at the library at Sundance, and it played to a full theater. And when that Death Cab for Cutie song comes on, and your, your The van is pulling through the tunnel. I just like had this moment that where everything just froze, and I was like, Oh, I think this might work. Like it just you can feel the energy in the room. But the interesting thing about that screening was that I had never seen puppy tears like a funny movie, because I was like pouring my heart into it. And it was about heartache, and you're watching this couple fall apart. And, and as at some point in the movie, I think it's in the hotel scene. Maybe I haven't seen this movie in 100 years. But I think it's in the in the hotel room where I'm like, give me I'm having a complete emotional breakdown. And I'm sobbing and I'm like, give me a number I just want to know, and like the whole audience laughs and I was like, Wait a second. I was like, Oh, it is funny because there's nothing else. As an audience member, you're so uncomfortable and you can relate so much and you connect. And it was in the moment. I was like, Oh, I get it. And I also get what I can do. And I get like that that particular type of humor of like really dissecting like human discomfort like that something clicked in me It was really amazing. And then like, everything changed after that we got I got signed by at the time it was William Morris, and on stage at the premiere and we moved right out to Los Angeles from there and we've been here ever since puffy chair premiered.
Alex Ferrari 20:17
So then from that point on your career kind of took off.
Katie Aselton 20:21
Oh, yeah, it's been it was so easy. After that, it was just everything happened.
Alex Ferrari 20:26
Everything is like it was just, they just did they, when they backed up the money
Katie Aselton 20:31
In every television show. And in every movie, it's like hard to figure out like when to take a break because I'm just always work.
Alex Ferrari 20:40
So when they pulled up the money truck, and they did it back up into the front yard.
Katie Aselton 20:45
Like all BP dump it in. Yeah, no, it's funny, I didn't work that way.
Alex Ferrari 20:52
It never does. It never does. Even for even even for Mark and Jay. They had to, they had to hustle.
Katie Aselton 20:59
Work at it and still bust your ass and find who you are as an artist and decide what kind of artists you want to be. And then I'm gonna know that's like all part of it.
Alex Ferrari 21:11
So when you made your first feature, the free V. Which when I when I was watching, I was like, Oh, this is obviously taking a cue from puffy chair, arguably, much more sound technically, I have to say, if I'm if I'm gonna, if I'm gonna call it out,
Katie Aselton 21:29
Mark will be the first one to tell you that I lean into cinema a little bit more than he does. He's like, I don't give a shit. I just give me like, give me a performance. That's all I care about. I literally don't care what's in the frame, it doesn't matter. Kind of want it to look pretty.
Alex Ferrari 21:44
So when I was watching them, like, definitely there's an inspiration from from that that core, the mumble core movement, but it's definitely a little bit more cinematic. But there's still there's watching scenes, there's like, oh, there's no lights here. Like this is all natural. This is all natural. It's and then you had DAX Dax Shepard in as your co star who's absolutely wonderful. And, and I mean, he was in 2010. It was pre parenthood. Yeah. So he was he was he wasn't Dax Shepard. Yeah, he was. No,
Katie Aselton 22:12
He was. He was without a paddle Dax Shepard. Oh, punked or pound Dax Shepard. He was there. Um, which is like, I really take great pride in being like this. Like the first step for him into like, him really showing the world who he is as an actor. And I truthfully, I really hope he gets back into more of that kind of acting. He's a beautiful actor.
Alex Ferrari 22:39
No, he's he's, he's excellent actor, even when you're in parenthood, he was, oh, my,
Katie Aselton 22:43
Well, that's the thing. I think you said he took freebie in an effort to like, get into natural acting. I was like, it's like training ground. Like he was just like, he was working his stuff out on me, which like, Thank God, thank God, he did, because he finished. You finish shooting. He finished shooting our movie, all of eight days that we shot that movie and went right up to San Francisco to go shoot parenthood.
Alex Ferrari 23:15
And he's done. And he's done. Okay, since then he's done. All right. He's done a rough himself. He's, he's gonna write for himself. No question about it. Now, the one thing I always love asking directors into something that's not talked about as much as it should be. Is the politics on set. That there's a lot of politics that young directors and especially female directors who have had on the show, they have a whole other set of things that they have to deal with, on set. Is there any advice you can give young directors both male and female coming about politics on set? And when I say politics of set? Yeah, there's obviously the politics of studio executives and investors and producers.
Katie Aselton 23:52
And I can't speak to that at all.
Alex Ferrari 23:54
But but with even crew people who push back on you don't believe in your vision, or are been doing this for 30 years, and they're like, Who's this kid? And that how do you deal with that? What advice do you have for kids? Or young, young young directors coming up?
Katie Aselton 24:10
Yeah, I mean, please, I want the 60 year old who's making their first movie to deal with the politics of the sunset. Because the truth of the matter is, is I've had two different experiences and look 3d was a unicorn all on its own like that was like felt like film camp. Like it was a very like Cassavetes esque, like just really warm environment where it was so collaborative, and I don't think we'll ever have anything like that again, where I felt fully supported from every single person who was in my home shooting that movie. It felt like such a safe space. My second film with Blackrock I definitely went in with a much heavier sense of imposter syndrome. And I think I I wrongly, so balanced that out with like, a strong persona of like, no one's gonna push me around and I didn't treat people I think the way I want to treat people moving through this world, like I, I very much regret the way I handled situations. And I think part of it came from insecurity and part of it came from stress and, and we were under so many, like, the physical elements of that movie were so hard, we were freezing cold and wet and bug bitten, and, you know, over budget, and all of those things, I think, led to me not being the leader that I really want it to be. And then with Mac and re, I went into that, having really spent 10 years since Blackrock sitting with that and thinking about the kind of director I want to be in the way, I want to leave a set. And, and with Mack and Rita, I lead with kindness and gratitude, and respect, and, and humility. And I think that there is nothing more powerful than someone saying, I don't know, let's figure that out together. I don't know, what do you think there is a reason why you hire the incredibly talented people around you. And that is to support you with their knowledge of their job, right. I don't know how to be a cinematographer. There's a reason why the cameras not in my hands, because I don't know how to do it. I don't know how to hang a light. I don't know what it takes for, you know, everything that goes into production design, I hire people who are wonderful at their jobs. And I think the biggest job for a director is to trust in those people. And to thank them for their work. And it is still a collaboration, it's still a conversation, you can absolutely weigh in on things. But I think that if you can end every day with thank you so much for everything you did today. I couldn't be doing this without you. I think that would be my biggest piece of advice.
Alex Ferrari 27:06
You know, what's so interesting is when when I watch Black Rock and washed, makin read up, it's you can you can feel the energy difference. I mean, they're two different kinds of story, but you can just feel, you know, because in Black Rock, you're one of the actresses, you can kind of sense that and I have to I have to ask when I was watching, I was like, Man, this must have been a super easy set. I mean, it should have just just flowed everything worked nicely. On Black Rock. There's no issues whatsoever, because you're running around on an island and I'm like, oh,
Katie Aselton 27:37
Exteriors on the poster name. I mean, it just my rental house is six hours away. Well, you know, when your water housing fails, like you're there, like, we were supposed to have cameras in the water with us didn't have any like, things like there was no shooting and jiving on that movie. Like it was
Alex Ferrari 28:01
Yeah. Opposite of freebie.
Katie Aselton 28:03
The complete opposite. And, and sitting in that headspace for two years, the you know, the time that it takes to make that movie. Really? It didn't a number on me.
Alex Ferrari 28:17
Yeah, cuz I mean, I mean, it was it was your Apocalypse Now, in many ways, because you were stuck out.
Katie Aselton 28:21
And I must admit, I was the one having 10 heart attacks.
Alex Ferrari 28:28
I mean, it must have been it must have been brutal. Because as I'm watching it, I'm like, This is not easy on a massive budget. Oh, my God was $100 million budget. You're still in the elements. Anytime you shooting in the elements, even a scene or two, shot most of that film in there, and you're running.
Katie Aselton 28:46
The only interior shot of that movie is in the car in the beginning when the two girls when Lake and Kate are in the car is the only time wow, that there is an interior shot.
Alex Ferrari 28:58
So when you were prepping that film, I have to ask you Did you Did it come up that like Hey guys, we're gonna be shooting outside? Can we control because you're at the whim of weather and the sun going in and out? Time all tides we probably never considered booking tides that go in and out. Ah, god, it was a it was
Katie Aselton 29:26
A matter that were like we bit off more than we could chew with this one. And it was I'm still so proud of what we made ultimately. But man, it was hard.
Alex Ferrari 29:35
So how do you how is the director? Do you keep morale going? And by the way, you have the added bonus of being an actress in the film that you're directing in this insanity. So I can imagine
Katie Aselton 29:47
I think I misstepped is I focused the most on morale of the cast. And not because we were also in two separate camps like the crew was all held up in One house, and the cast and the produce the Daelim Romanski. and I were in another house. And so
Alex Ferrari 30:08
I was like, so above the line below the line,
Katie Aselton 30:11
I need to keep the actors happy, not realizing that the crew was like ready to uni mutiny,
Alex Ferrari 30:22
They were going to they were going to do so that is if everyone listening, if you can at all help it definitely don't separate above the line and below the line on an on an independent film, try to bring them all together.
Katie Aselton 30:33
And in my head, I was like, this is it's all going to work if we can all just get through these 23 days, like, it's all gonna like, I promise you, it's all going to work. But like when you're getting $100 a day and getting the shit kicked data you and they bitten eaten alive by bugs. Like it's hard to remember that it's all I ultimately, like financially going to work. You know, it was hard. And I hope for your listeners. Yeah, I hope I can take with you.
Alex Ferrari 31:06
I mean, look, I've shot I've shot and in nature, and it's it sucks. It's like you just can't control. When that sun goes behind a cloud, we gotta wait, are we going to try to light it are we going to, because we don't have the we have the budget to actually set up a nice, you know, 10k up and turn it on and off the matches. It's it's just, it's just, it's, so when I was watching this, I'm like, I know she didn't have the biggest budget on this. This is our second movie. And she's running around on an island.
Katie Aselton 31:34
We make make it free.
Alex Ferrari 31:41
It was the pilot for Naked and Afraid that's exactly.
Katie Aselton 31:45
Every, every time we hit a thing, you just can actually crank it up a notch. And that's where we were it was. Wow. Looking back on it like, glad I had that experience. But holy, holy cow.
Alex Ferrari 31:58
Wow. Now, you've gone through a bunch of stuff in your career, and you've gone through your journeys, is there anything that you wish someone would have told you at the beginning of your career? If you can go back in time and talk to yourself? And go look, I know you want to be an actress? And that's all good, we're gonna do that. But keep this in mind.
Katie Aselton 32:17
Ah, the one thing that I would say is like, and I mean, it really speaks to your podcast is like never stop hustling. You gotta just like I am, I will forever be so upset at myself for the way i i operated post puffy chair. I was like, I just had a movie that was a hit in Sundance, like, I'm fine. I let Mark and Jay go to every film festival. And I was like, I'm gonna do pilot season, I missed every opportunity to meet filmmakers to get in those conversations. And, and that was such a loss. Like, I'm so proud of that. And it changed the narrative, right? And, and the narrative became like, you know, Mark put his girlfriend in the movie. And it's like, oh, no, I'm actually like, I'm an actor. I've been doing this longer than he's been doing it. But like, because I wasn't there. I wasn't a part of the narrative.
Alex Ferrari 33:17
You know, someone else wrote the narrative for you.
Katie Aselton 33:19
Someone else wrote the narrative. So that would be my piece of advice to my younger self is like, Don't let anyone else write the narrative, like, keep the pen in your hand at all times. Do you think that doesn't mean? Sorry to interrupt you mean to be utterly obnoxious, and to be that person who's constantly like trying to shove the door open, but it just means like, say yes to opportunities, and never think that you are at a point where you are too good to whatever that thing is, for me as an actor. It's like, I still put myself on tape for everything that I'm excited about. Like, I am not good for that. I don't care. I don't care. I'll do it. And for you know, as far as like putting back and read out the world, I want to say yes to every opportunity to talk to anyone because this is my moment now. And I don't know when I'm gonna get this moment again.
Alex Ferrari 34:14
And that's something that people people don't realize is like when you're directing, I take it when anytime I walk on set, I'm like, I'm so happy to be here. Unless you're Ridley Scott, and you're directing every single day of your entire life for the last 40 years. Generally, people don't get that opportunity. So when you get the opportunity, as artists, directors are the one artists that we rarely get to, to perform our art. Yeah,
Katie Aselton 34:37
Well, I'll say that to Eddie. Any, like actors feel the same way at least? A lot of times directors or creators have their own art, right. So at least then you have some semblance of control, in your in your path. We're as actors so often we are left to you know the mercy of others. are like making the correct decision like asking permission to do what we do. And so, you know, look, I think the more we can self generate and and, and at least just keep our idle hands busy but even, you know, directors, I think have a little bit of an easier time generating things for themselves but it is it's hard. It's deceptive, right? Like, the job the work is it's few and far between as as you move through the world.
Alex Ferrari 35:32
When when when you were saying that you didn't take advantage of all those conversations after puffy chair and you were just like, I'm gonna go do pilot season was that ego? Where you're just like, I have arrived. I don't need to do this
Katie Aselton 35:43
100% It was young, stupid ego, and not really understanding the business that Well, I am still the girl for main who like I wasn't raised in this like I didn't. And I didn't have anyone really guiding me to tell me. You This is like we were mark and Jay and I sort of came. And you know, my previous group of friends in Los Angeles, we're all living very different lives. And they didn't understand they didn't understand the Sundance of adult right. They were like, so crazy. And in their minds. They were also like she made it. Like, you know, Jeremy Sisto on a TV show doesn't understand, like, Katie Appleton edits in a Sundance movie, you know, it's like just two very different worlds. And so I had no one to look to to be like, how, what do you think I should do right now?
Alex Ferrari 36:34
There was no podcast that back then to tell you. I would have killed for this podcast 15 years ago. Could you imagine having all this information, having these kinds of really candid conversations? I mean, it would have been massive.
Katie Aselton 36:51
It's so awesome to have something that just demystifies something that is that we grew up, like putting on a pedestal right? But it felt so unattainable. It felt so like, you know, we grew up looking at directors like Spielberg and just being like, how does he do it? But like, what if he actually told us?
Alex Ferrari 37:11
I had the pleasure of talking to some of the and I've had the pleasure of talking to some of these kinds of gods. He's like, filmmaking gods. I'm trying to get Steve on the show. I thought I call him Steve, because you know, oh, but
Katie Aselton 37:23
I saw him one time I had a meeting at DreamWorks. He just walked in the door. And I was like, the only thing I could say is, he looks exactly like Steven Spielberg. I know. That's so weird. But like, he like he looks like he like had the best he had, like, just I was like, Whoa, no, you are absolutely stupid.
Alex Ferrari 37:45
It's a uniform. It's a Steven Spielberg uniform. Yeah. You know it. Can you imagine? And I've talked to so many people who've worked with Steven and and had businesses with him and stuff. How what's it like being someone like that, that in certain circles, I mean, he could walk around, he could probably he's so famous. And he's such a he's such a known person around the world. But he's not Brad Pitt. Like he can go off
Katie Aselton 38:08
He looks just like Steven Spielberg,
Alex Ferrari 38:09
Right. So the point is, like, every time he walks into a room, and there's a filmmaker in there, they all had the same reaction you did, like, how do you? And I've talked to people like, how does he deal with it? He's like, he's just really nice, man. He's just really nice and pleasant.
Katie Aselton 38:23
And I think there are people who are not quite so kind, but I think
Alex Ferrari 38:27
No, in this business, stop it.
Katie Aselton 38:30
I know it shocked up it.
Alex Ferrari 38:32
Next, you're gonna say there's egos in Hollywood.
Katie Aselton 38:34
I know. I'm not the only one it turns out.
Alex Ferrari 38:39
So I had the pleasure this morning to watch your new film, Mack and Rita and I absolutely adored it. It's so much fun. And I'm, you know, in the beginning of the movie, you guys shot in Palm Springs. And I just left LA, I moved to Austin, about a year ago. And right before I left, I went to Palm Springs for the first time. And that's where the devil lives. I don't know if you know that the devil actually has a home in Palm Springs. It was 119 when I went, I've never been in 119
Katie Aselton 39:09
You're not meant to go in. But there's times I don't quite know. You're thinking.
Alex Ferrari 39:14
I went to Joshua Tree and then we're like, Hey, we're close to Palm Springs. Let's just go check it out. And but there's human beings walking the streets and bursting into flames. So I felt like just yelling at them with the Tron with up like, don't you understand? Don't you understand what's happening? Me? Thank God they love them so much. So as soon as I was watching those scenes that you shot, I was just like, when did they shoot this? Because it had
Katie Aselton 39:36
It was March. It was hot, but not as hot as it
Alex Ferrari 39:43
So when we were in the 90s Hundreds, yeah,
Katie Aselton 39:46
it was probably it was probably like 90 and honestly like it was fine. We were okay. Okay, yeah, could have.
Alex Ferrari 39:51
Cuz I'm just like port I keep going. Alright, so tell me about the movie. Tell me what the movies about.
Katie Aselton 39:58
The movie is, is really ultimately about being your truest forming yourself at any age, right? This is a really hard movie to give like a one line synopsis too. So that's one line, right your
Alex Ferrari 40:14
Pitch, that's your pitch this
Katie Aselton 40:16
Is like be it is your true self at any age Or pitch.
Alex Ferrari 40:23
Please tell us the longer pitch.
Katie Aselton 40:24
The longer pitch longer pitch is it is a story about a 30 year old woman named Matt who finds herself living a very inauthentic life. She has friends who are all very hip trendy, and with it, yet she connects more to the older women in her life. She was raised by her grandmother and she really feels like she is a 70 year old woman trapped in the body of a 30 year old. So while on this wild bachelorette weekend in Palm Springs with her girlfriends, she is just dying to lay down and get away from it all. So she tucks herself into a side tent that has a regression pod in it and she doesn't care. That's a regression pod, you're going to lay down and in that pod has a bit of a mental breakdown, and really screams that she is a seven year old trapped in a 30 year olds body. And sure enough, she comes out Diane Keaton, and which is very,
Alex Ferrari 41:22
Very big, very big style. Tom Hanks big, beautiful.
Katie Aselton 41:27
But it was so fun to like then watch this character. Have a seven year old woman have to live the life of a 30 year old but the obligations of the 30 year old she's an influencer. She's a writer like she just still has to live that life and it turns out you know, our girl Mac really confused age with wisdom. And the truth is she didn't want to be old. She just wanted to be her. And how do we get back to ourselves?
Alex Ferrari 41:54
Oh, much better pitch than the first one I have to say. It's it is no but that it takes a minute to to bring it out because and you know, just that Pilates scenes alone was probably I mean that must have been so so you so you're working with this young upstart Dan keen? What is it like? Introducing what's it like introducing it into the world?
Katie Aselton 42:16
I'm gonna be excited for people to see what she can do.
Alex Ferrari 42:20
What's it like working with a living legend? I got it. Like it's a director. How do you approach giving her notes and directing a scene? How did you work with her?
Katie Aselton 42:28
I say like it truly someone at some point was like, Oh, you're directing Diane, like dream come true. And I was like, a dream that big. Like, look at what I'm doing. This is insane. Who dares to dream like I'm from a town of 300 people from a school that didn't have a drama program. Four years. Four years I was in a drama club with no production. So it is like it is a real like even like on the eve of like putting this movie out into the world. I am still pinching myself that that is my reality that I get to work every day with her and the truth of the matter is is that is she is just an absolute fucking delight like she is she is one of the reasons why she's so great in this movie is because she is hands down like the most authentic person you could ever possibly want to meet the Diane that we have known and falling in love with as audience members like for decades is exactly who she is. That is Diane, those quirks the idiosyncratic like wild, wackiness, the in the insecurities, the the heart, like the humor, all of that is wrapped up in, in Diane and it's all right there she is, like, vulnerable and real and fun and, and self effacing. And it's just like she's a true delight and working with her was I was really expecting are prepared anyways, I think a lot of actors, nevermind actors who are in their 70s and have been doing this for 40 years, or 50 years. I you expect them to be very set in their ways that they're going to come in, they're going to give the performance they're going to give and no one's going to tell them any different right? And Diane was not that at all. She was so open and like game and ready to play and always wanted to do more physical comedy and yeah, it was just, I am so grateful for what she brought every day.
Alex Ferrari 44:46
And I mean, just again, I'll go back to the Pilates scenes. I mean, it's absolutely brilliant what she did and that that you could just see the the mastery of timing and and comedy and how she's able to like she's a she's a masterful Whoa, competition really is
Katie Aselton 45:02
I know and he doesn't get to do it, which is like crazy to me. I feel like I feel like I haven't seen her do like be this physical in a movie since like baby cheese Baby, baby boom as like a reference throughout this movie because I think it is a very underappreciated movie. It's still 100% holds up. The story of Baby Boom is it's almost more relevant now than it was then post pandemic, and are we going to work from home? And like, do we work to live or live to work? And like, what was the who's the director of that Shire? Oh, who is it? I think it's Charles Shire, wasn't it?
Alex Ferrari 45:46
It was yes. I think yeah. Because I had I think I had him on the show. I didn't think I had him on the show. And I was asking him about this is Charles I think it was yes, yes. Yeah. He's Yeah, he's a master who's, ah,
Katie Aselton 45:58
What's really physically in that movie, like, they're her like, freak out, break down at the well, when the well runs dry. The way she kisses Sam Shepard, like, all of those were touchpoints for me, in making this movie, and we talked a lot about it. And, and I just loved it. I mean, I love all of Diane stuff. But I think what she did physically and baby boom was really like, where we were looking to sort of land with Mack and Rita.
Alex Ferrari 46:28
And what was it, you know, as a director we always come up with is that day that the whole world's coming down crashing around us? And I know that you could argue that everyday stuff. But there's always that one day that has
Katie Aselton 46:42
Alex Ferrari 46:43
Exactly, exactly. Was there a day that sticks out in your mind that the whole world was coming crashing down around you and you felt like oh my god, how am I gonna get through this? What was that? And how did you overcome it?
Katie Aselton 46:54
The day that we were shooting out at the beach, the big fire stuff? Yeah, a clear power Summit. Shooting and all of a sudden, I'm sorry, I think like the Army's landing nearby title. We were shooting at the beach. We had this big big fire stunt and we're getting going and it's a gorgeous day like so psyched, the weather's great. And all of a sudden, like as we're like gearing up for the fire stuff, like the wind starts to pick up. And la ended up having like, gale force winds that day. And you're gonna watch like there's hair blowing everywhere. We ended up having to CGI like most of the fire we could not get anything to frigging light it was the most infuriating finally dying was just like the second third fire I'm getting on stage I was like yes, you're gonna just go and we're gonna do it and we're gonna and thankfully I had Nicole Byer there who is like just a comedic genius and I could just rely on her to like be clutch like you just need in moments like that you need people to deliver and so we ended up like barely pulling out that fire thing we go to turn the cameras around so we can get her walking through the event. And the when I want to say was like 40 miles an hour Gail first picks up all of the tents Get Lifted like Wizard of Oz and fucking Malibu like they went so far. And we were just like we gotta call it like obviously we we cannot shoot
Alex Ferrari 48:36
We don't have a set anymore. God doesn't want you to shoot is basically
Katie Aselton 48:39
Not want us to finish this day. So he like go home and we're like, oh my god, what are we going to do? What are we going to do? So we're looking at the schedule working out with AD and the only day that we can like fit in a half day reshoot is the day that we are shooting Diane coming out of the pod Yeah, the first time I'm Dion's work hours are 12 hours portal portal, hair and makeup. All of that requires some time to locations Santa Monica to downtown oh man and a massive massive wardrobe change in between and a hair changed because she's has the longer hair there meant that I had 20 minutes to shoot day and coming out of the pot.
Alex Ferrari 49:39
Katie Aselton 49:41
It was like only the most important
Alex Ferrari 49:43
Basically the most important shot
Katie Aselton 49:46
But then also the Marie Claire thing is important because then that's like production value, right? Like we need the feel of this big huge event. We need Diane like working the vendors we're you know, we're shooting her coming through and doing the whole thing. There was No compromise. You just had to do it. It was one of those things where I was like, oh my god, oh my god.
Alex Ferrari 50:07
And you know what, and I love these kinds of stories. That's why I always asked that question because I love to demystify for for young filmmakers coming up that they're like, Oh, you've got Diane Keaton, this is a big budget this is this and that everything runs smoothly. No, no.
Katie Aselton 50:23
Shit goes wrong at every level. Like I don't care how much money you have. I don't care what studios making your movie. I don't care if you're just making it with friends, every something is going to always go wrong, and you just have to be ready for it.
Alex Ferrari 50:38
Now, when is when is this film available?
Katie Aselton 50:40
August 12 in theaters. Yes, August 12 that's Friday, August 12, in theaters, and then we'll be PVOD in September and then on Hulu in December.
Alex Ferrari 50:53
So awesome. I can't wait for the world to see this film. Now I'm going to ask you a few questions. I ask all of my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?
Katie Aselton 51:04
Make stuff with your friends, get good
Alex Ferrari 51:07
Work and just hustle
Katie Aselton 51:10
Hustle make it.
Alex Ferrari 51:13
What is lesson? What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?
Katie Aselton 51:20
I think it is. You got to put that ego on the shelf and do the work.
Alex Ferrari 51:25
It is something that they don't talk about.
Katie Aselton 51:27
Like you got to bet is I think, you know, listen, I listen to Oprah, and Deepak and ego is is a daily struggle for everyone. But it is like the enemy. Like if your ego does you no favors.
Alex Ferrari 51:41
But you know what the funny thing is that in our business, it's even more prevalent, because not everybody has a group of people or an entire industry telling you you're the best. Yeah, awesome. It's difficult to handle that at any level.
Katie Aselton 51:55
Well, and I think that it gets confused. ego gets confused with confidence, right? Like you can have confidence in your skills and your abilities, but not be led by your ego.
Alex Ferrari 52:07
Right! Exactly. Like I'm too good for that. I remember when I first started directing, I went out as a commercial director, and I had been editing I was with top editor and in South Florida, I was making tons of cash. And then when as soon as I made my demo reel I just said, I'm no longer an editor. I'm just going to send my and then I got calls. Hey, can you work? No, I don't edit any more. I am now a director. Mind you wasn't directing.
Katie Aselton 52:30
Hard to call yourself the director when you're not actually doing it.
Alex Ferrari 52:33
Exactly. So it was just very automated. I always tell people don't worry, the universe has a way of just slapping this little nudge here and there.
Katie Aselton 52:42
I can knock in your head just a little bit.
Alex Ferrari 52:44
And last question three of your favorite films of all time. Hmm. Tootsie so brilliant. Ah, Big Lebowski. Not a brilliant one. And I will say baby, boom. Very nice. Very nice. I had one other question. I forgot to ask you. What did you learn from your biggest failure?
Katie Aselton 53:09
That that there's always another there's going to be a tomorrow you know, the world doesn't stop making movies The world doesn't stop making TV shows. It doesn't end on on the last project it's going to the business keeps going. And no one gives us much shit about you as you do
Alex Ferrari 53:37
Do you spent how many. How many hours of your life was wasted thinking about what other people thought of you and you can and as you've gotten older you didn't think a bit about me they have their own crap. Oh crap they're dealing with how egocentric are we to think like when we walk in the room? What are they thinking? I'm how I look.
Katie Aselton 53:56
No. Everyone cares. No one get no one cares. They're all worried about themselves. right and the wrong cut everyone else some grace. Everyone's doing their best.
Alex Ferrari 54:09
Yeah, exactly. There's no quit. We're all doing our best and we're all just trying to make it through this. This life's journey and in this business is is brutal.
Katie Aselton 54:18
Without some grace, cut everyone else some grace and trying and enjoy it as much as you can.
Alex Ferrari 54:25
Katie it has been an absolute pleasure and honor talking to you so much fun. Thank you so much for dropping your knowledge bombs on the tribe. I appreciate your very, very much and best of luck. I can't wait to see your next project. So thank you again.
Katie Aselton 54:37
Me too. Alright, I'll talk to you soon.
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