HJ: What is your movie about?
M: Well Good Dick I think is about two people who fall in love with each other and end up having this original courtship that is fun and funny and enlightening and at the end of the day ends up being very sweet for both of them. And I think he changes her life in a really radical way that’s worth seeing the movie for.
JR: The thing I love about the way Mariana put that all together is that you know it’s not all tied up in a little bow and they don’t walk off into the sunset together and you as an audience member think well “I pretty much know what their relationship will be like for the next 30 years”. But at least she’s showing up and they’re going to try. And it’s hopeful in a realistic way as opposed to hokey sort of Hollywood ending. No “running to the airport” or anything like that.
M: Yeah. No running to the airport. But it’s definitely a feel good movie.
HJ: Now, Mariana, you wrote, directed, star and produce in this film. What do you consider yourself? Did you start out thinking that “I want to produce, I want to direct”? M: The order was I started off as an actress and I was doing a lot of theater and I was really excited to work on other people’s projects. I had never written anything before or directed anything before Good Dick. So the order was that I wrote Good Dick. And then I decided to direct it as well as be in it. And then producing it came as a bi-product of doing an independent film; it just made sense to produce it. So Jason and I, we have a production company together, so we produced it through that production company along with another one called Present Pictures. And we had a lot of fun. And now that I’ve had so much success with the film and the film has just enabled so many people to work even more in their given fields. The editor and composer and all the other actors have been given employment just on their performances or what they did on Good Dick.
HJ: What was your decision process for setting Good Dick in a video store?
M: I originally thought of the idea for the film in that actual video store in Los Angeles. So, I was renting a video in there and I thought, “someone should shoot a movie in here.” So that’s where the original idea came from. And then I thought I want to really make something that’s funny and fresh and refreshing and saying something about romance that is fun and so that’s where I came up with the idea. So the video store, the world of the video store just seemed so fun to explore. And it really was, genuinely, you know, such a cool place to shoot in. The people who own it are so great. And it’s funny now because you can kind of do a Good Dick tour if you go in there because you can see that it’s basically our set.
HJ: Jason. You’ve been acting since you were like one year old, right?
JR: pretty young, yeah.
HJ: Theater, TV, film. Right now, what do you like? What do you like doing?
JR: Boy, I think that my favorite thing has been independent film. I mean it seems to me that that is where the stories are and that is where the brave story telling is.
HJ: And a long with that, the diversity of roles that you’ve taken recently have been, everything from Education of Charlie Banks where you have a very tough role, to movies like The Deal where you’re sort of the soft-hearted optimist in that movie. And then you have this movie where you’re, well, strange, but there is a sweetness to the role. What have you liked doing lately?
JR: Well, that, I mean those are the things – with Good Dick and the Education of Charlie Banks, they’re full characters. And with the Education of Charlie Banks, and I’m not trying to take anything away from anyone, but I would imagine that a bigger studio, if there’s more money involved I think there probably would be too many people worried about and actor like me taking on that role. They probably would have like to have gotten someone who was a little more bankable.
HJ: Mariana, can you talk a little bit about the impetus for writing the film.
M: I came back from an audition and I just was feeling very much like the stuff that I was auditioning for in LA wasn’t as artistic as the plays I had been doing in New York. So I wasn’t as artisticly fulfilled and I couldn’t really blame myself for that. So I was looking around at what the options were and I just started to write. I just literally started to write. And so I just I don’t write and outline or anything when I write, I just write the whole thing out. And go over it meticulously and over it and over it and over it again. So I found that to be the best, most organic way for me to do it because an outline just drives me nuts. And so I really was inspired to write something that was about real people and about real characters who really find one another, and really truly change each other. And really have an amazing time, I mean I really wanted to write something that would inspire people and would have people feel like anything was possible, you know, and I think that the film has got such a positive message. I’m so proud of that. I’m proud of the fact that I made something that’s positive. Because honestly I don’t think I could write something that doesn’t have a catharsis. You know like a positive ending or positive message. Because you have to work on something for so long; I’d been working on Good Dick, I started writing it in 2005, so I’ve been working on it for a few years now and it’s had so much success and it’s been really amazing and I think if the message was anything but really positive it would be kind of hard to get out of bed in the morning and talk about it, you know?
HJ: Based on the response that you’ve had from Sundance and everywhere else, why do you think it’s going to do well – why should video stores bring it in?
M: Well I think that it has an element of what I think Clerks had, which is, or an independent movie like Clerks. It’s about a bunch of guys in a video store hanging out and this girl comes in and they kind of dig her and that’s where the movie begins. So I think that it’s really – it’s going to be fun for the people who work in the video stores to have our title because they work in a video store and it’s about them. And I think that the reason why people might want to rent or the reason why people will be drawn to it is because of all the attention the film has received for being so kind of refreshing in terms of the romance and the ways in which it’s fun. I think that there isn’t really another relationship out there like this one in a film in modern time right now. It’s really and interesting period of time to be able to show something that’s so romantic to people.
JR: …and I think it’s a positive film, but in the reality of the world that we all live in. you know it’s not sort of in a kind of fantasy world where everyone looks a certain way and it’s realistic. And I think that that forces it to be more inclusive of people watching the movie. Instead of saying, “well you know that person in that movie, I’m not even that person on my best day.” They can watch this movie and say “whew. Well I’m glad I’m not like that even on my worst day.” Or, “wow, some days I am like that.” And really feel like, I don’t know, I think there’s something about the film that’s a universal thing that I’ve found in almost any relationship – romantic or even friendships sometimes –there’s always this push and pull and there’s something satisfying about seeing it slightly exaggerated to this point in this movie where you can kind of laugh at the characters and also kind of be aware that you’re not always so far around the corner from it.
HJ: Marianna, how cool was it to receive an award from Sean Connery for Best New Director the Edinburgh Film Festival?
M: That was the bee’s knees! It was really cool. It was like receiving and award from the king of Scotland. Because if you’re going to have a king of Scotland, I mean, it would be Sean Connery. It was really an amazing honor, you know. It’s up there with one of the best moments.
Good Dick is a truly original love story. When Anna (Palka) slinks into an independent video store, she catches the eye of one of the clerks. He takes it upon himself to break down her emotional barriers and launches on a quest to make her fall in love with him. Starring Jason Ritter and Mariana Palka (who also wrote, directed and produced), Good Dick was an official Sundance nominee for the Grand Jury Prize and Winner of New Director Award at the Ediburgh Film Festival.