‘Mark, Mary + other people’ – written and directed by Hannah Marks
Born in Los Angeles and raised in San Luis Obispo, Hannah Marks made her film and television debut in 2005. She was twice nominated for the Young Artist Award, the first for her work in the film “Accepted” by 2006, then for his work. in the TV series ‘FlashForward’. In 2017, Rolling Stone Magazine listed it as on their 25 artists under 25 who are changing the world characteristic. Since 2016, she has directed or co-directed four short films and two feature films. Her most recent film ‘Mark, Mary + Some Other People’ debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Starring Hayley Law and Ben Rosenfield, ‘Mark, Mary & Some Other People’ is a wacky romantic comedy about a young married couple who decide to try an open relationship. As charming as it is insightful, the film explores the complicated interpersonal dynamics of romantic and sexual relationships. Set around a pre-quarantine Los Angeles, Marks’ film is also a love letter to the unique diners, bars and neighbors of LA and the Valley. An authentic look at the growing pains of a twentysomething, ‘Mark, Mary + Some Other People’ marks a fresh new voice in the rom-com genre.
‘Mark, Mary + Some Other People’ is now available in select theaters and on demand.
Mark, Mary + others
Mark and Mary’s meeting happens at a neighborhood pharmacy, where she’s busy buying a pregnancy test, and he has to make an effort to remind her that they met at … Read Story
Hannah Marks spoke to Moviefone about her latest movie.
Moviefone: What prompted you to write a film about open relationships?
Hannah Marks: I felt like it was talked about a lot among my friends and peers. It felt like a missed opportunity not to have an open romantic relationship, although I’m sure there have been in the past. I just felt like it was time to start over.
MF: Lea Thompson’s character plays a slightly older swinger. What kind of research have you done on the subject?
Brands: Yes, I’ve spoken to a lot of people and read a ton of articles. The New York Times made an excellent series of it. So it was incredibly useful. A lot of it inspired different scenes. The scene where Mark and Mary take each other’s dating profile photos was inspired by research. For the character of Lea, I thought it was important for different generations to talk about what he once was versus what he is today. I don’t want to preach in any way how I think it should be. I think you can do monogamy, polyamory, ethical non-monogamy, and you’re fine. This relationship with me is not the example of what it is meant to be; It’s just a relationship and an experience.
MF: Did you always expect Mark and Mary to be a young married couple?
Brands: I am a big fan of young marriage stories. The first project I co-directed was also about a young marriage. I think it’s such an interesting subject, when you entrust your life to someone when you still have so much life to give. I think this is a fascinating subject. But there was a time when I considered making them an older married couple, because it made more sense in the traditional sense; an older couple wanting to liven things up. So that was a first draft, but it changed very quickly to talk more about people in my age group because I wanted to write it as precisely as possible.
MF: How did you choose Hayley Law and Ben Rosenfield in the main roles? Did you take a chemistry test?
Brands: They are wonderful. Honestly, we winged it, which is not really my style, but we were moving really fast. I have great confidence in the actors. I had seen their work both and I was a fan, so I offered them the roles, and we did. They didn’t have any chemistry reading or anything. So it was a big bet, but it really paid off. They were so great and dedicated and ready to improvise, which not all actors are ready to do. It was really important to me. I had seen Ben Rosenfield in “Boardwalk Empire” and in “Six Years” and thought he was so versatile and special. Hayley Law had starred in a friend’s movie called “Spontaneous” and she was so good. I thought she stole every scene she was in. So it was just an instinctive thing.
MF: Did you ask the actors to watch specific movies to get the crazy comedy vibe?
Brands: I’m a huge mumble core fan so we talked about Lena Dunham’s ‘Tiny Furniture’ way of working and early Noah Baumbach and Joe Swanberg. That kind of filmmaker. But in reality it felt like we were having fun with it and finding out where it can go and bringing you to that. It was a big thing for me. I chose them because I found something about their personalities that was really compelling. So I wanted everyone to bring their own strange flavor to it.
MF: Can you tell us about the filming in Los Angeles?
Brands: The locations were really hard to find as we are in Los Angeles on a budget. We didn’t have a stage manager, so my producer and I were the stage managers. There was a lot of begging, but I think we were very lucky. We have some wonderful places that unfortunately aren’t there since the pandemic, so I’m glad they’re immortalized. There’s this place called Crawford’s which used to be a pretty iconic bar in the valley and it’s now closed. So I’m really glad we’re here. We shot into this restaurant in Van Nuys called Hearts, which I love the look of this place. I have a soft spot for Valley diners. The apartments and houses were in the Echo Park and Silverlake area. So we have a real mix. It was a blast, but really tough when you don’t have the money to pay for LA locations.
MF: How did Patrick Stump come to be as a composer?
Brands: There is a company called Crush Music which also owns a brand called Crush Films. They’re new to making indies, but they’re really good producers. They lead different musical artists, Patrick being one of them. So when I told them about making this movie, they told me you should meet Patrick. I was delighted because obviously I knew his work, and it is so easy to get along with him and collaborate. He actually wrote one of the band’s songs, the first was Courtney Love, but the second was Patrick Stump. He also helped teach them and coached them. He was just a delight. I can’t believe I’ve been so lucky.
MF: Did you have a specific kind of vibe that you were looking for with the music?
Brands: Yes, inspiration was definitely the life of Kathleen Hanna / riot grrrl. I love you Courtney Love’s previous sound, like that song “Miss Narcissist” was a big inspiration. It corresponded to many themes covered in the film. So I knew this would be the first song if we could get and luckily she was a Crush Music artist so it worked. Then I asked Patrick to go get some Bikini Kill vibes.
MF: I loved all the different group names. How did you come up with these names?
Brands: We had so many unused names that I wish they could all fit in. When I first met Hayley to talk about her playing Mary, the first thing she told me was that she was obsessed with band names as well. She had a list on her phone of all these band names, and then I showed her my list. We were comparing the ratings, so it really tied us up right away.
MF: How do you expect the audience to feel at the end of the film?
Brands: Hope they understand that this is not everyone’s experience. I really want it to sound like the experience of this couple and these characters, and not preaching about whether monogamy is the right thing, or polyamory is the right thing, or ethical non-monogamy. I think it’s everyone’s thing and I hope it’s recognized. Hope people see it as a fun character study and something that feels real and maybe close to their own experiences. But really, I just want it to be a good time. Even though it’s silly, I want it to feel genuine to people.
MF: Could you recommend another female-directed film that readers should be looking for?
Brands: I love Andrea Arnold and Marielle Heller and Ava DuVernay. These are the first women that come to mind. Also, Greta Gerwig and Hannah Fidell. There are so many great women making movies. In fact, I was very lucky when I did the Sundance Lab in 2012 that two of the filmmakers were Chloe Zhao and Marielle Heller. It has been very cool to see their careers evolve since then.
MF: Do you have a favorite Marielle Hiller film?
Brands: I think all of his films have been great. “Diary Of A Teenage Girl” is such a great movie, really, really wonderful. I think she innately understands the story and understands the characters. She started out as an actress, which I also really appreciate. A lot of directors that I love started out as actresses because I come from an acting background. So I think she has a very good understanding of the story, the dialogue and the characters that we don’t always understand. She’s been great on ‘Queen’s Gambit’ as well, so I think she has that unique perspective of someone who can live it.
“The diary of a teenage girl” – written and directed by Marielle Heller
Born and raised in the Bay Area, Marielle Heller began performing at an early age in the Alameda Children’s Musical Theater, as well as in local community theater productions. After studying theater at UCLA and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, Heller worked at the Magic Theater, the American Conservatory Theater, the Berkeley Repertory Theater, and the La Jolla Playhouse. While living in New York City, her sister gave her a copy of Phoebe Gloeckner’s 2002 graphic novel “A Teenage Girl’s Diary: An Account in Words and Pictures.” After convincing Gloeckner to grant her the rights, Heller made her directorial debut with her adaptation. The film premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards. His follow-up film “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” About literary forger Lee Israel received three Oscar nominations, most notably for its actors Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant. Tom Hanks received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Fred Rogers in his third film, “A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood”.
Starring Kristen Wiig, Alexander Skarsgård and Bel Powley, “A Teenage Girl’s Diary” follows 15-year-old cartoonist Minnie (Powley) as she came of age in 1976 in San Francisco. Living with her free-spirited mother (Wiig) and younger sister, Minnie begins to explore her budding sexuality, including having an affair with her mother’s older boyfriend (Skarsgård). Notable for its candid and non-judgmental presentation of Minnie as she navigates her sexual maturity, Heller’s film came at a defining moment for female directors and teenage films.