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Wednesday, 6/26/2013

Interview Adele Romanski

Indie Producer Queen presents MILO in Munich

Adele Romanski is one of the leading U.S. indie producers. Together with Lynn Shelton (TOUCHY FEELY), she belongs to the Mumblecorps around brothers Mark and Jay Duplass, for whom she recently produced 2012 thriller BLACK ROCK based on a screendplay by Mark Duplass, directed by his wife Katie Aselton. In recent years, FILMFEST MÜNCHEN has screened several films Romanski has been involved in: THE MYTH OF THE AMERICAN SLEEPOVER by David Robert Mitchell and THE FREEBIE (both FILMFEST MÜNCHEN 2010) as a producer, and her feature directing debut LEAVE ME LIKE YOU FOUND ME (FILMFEST MÜNCHEN 2012).

This year in Munich, she will present absurd horror comedy MILO directed by Jacob Vaughan on Mon. July 1 at 7:30 pm in the Kinos Münchner Freiheit, and take part in the Crowdfunding-Panel on Tues. July 2 at 7:30 h in the Gasteig Black Box . Director Jacob Vaughan will also be in Munich, holding the Q&A after the screening of MILO in the Filmmuseum Wed. July 3 at 10:30 pm.

The script to MILO is unusual to say the least, involving a man who has a demon living up his behind. How did you fall in love with this project?

When Mark Duplass and Jake Vaughan first pitched MILO to me, I said, 'I'll read it, but I gotta be honest, it sounds a little out there for me." I'd worked with Mark before and was working with Jake for the first time on BLACK ROCK. It was a really positive experience and I was interested in working together again so I read the script. It. Was. Hilarious. There were a couple scenes that were almost too gross for me, but overall Jake & Ben Hayes wrote a great script - I laughed so much when I read it. I couldn't say no. One of my favorite things about being a producer is that I can jump between genres and collaborate with different directors on really unique stories. I get to add my voice to theirs and in that way be involved in a more diverse slate of films than if I was the one conceiving and writing each script.

Demon inside: Ken Marino in MILO

David Robert Mitchell was a big hit at Munich with MYTH OF THE AMERICAN SLEEPOVER. You went to Florida State University's film program together, what was that like? Party much? Or how did you hit it off?

I met David Mitchell in 2001 at Florida State. We met at a wrap party for Mitchell's thesis film, I think…it was such a long time ago! Tallahassee was a very special place. I met many of the people I am closest to and still collaborating with during my time there - including my husband. We all worked together on student films and yes, we also partied. For most of my time in Tallahassee I lived in a big old house with some other artists & film students (including Megan Boone) and we were notorious for our parties. (Should I be concerned that as far away as Germany FSU is known to be a party school?)

Myth American Sleepover

Summertime Blues: Claire Sloma in MYTH OF THE AMERICAN SLEEPOVER

Amy Seimetz acted in MYTH OF THE AMERICAN SLEEPOVER and came to Munich with THE OFF HOURS, did you meet her in Florida as well? Are you in touch?

I've known Amy for a long time. We met at Florida state - she's one of the aforementioned folks I met in Tallahassee who I have continued to work with over the years (I worked with her as an editor on one of her earlier directing projects and she came to Detroit to help us shoot MYTH) We are still close and talk often. Fingers are crossed that we will work on something together again very soon.

You shot MYTH OF THE AMERICAN SLEEPOVER in your second hometown of Detroit for $30 000. You had to scrimp and cut corners wherever you could, could you tell us a little bit about that adventure?

I was just reminiscing about our MYTH production the other day - remembering how Mitchell and I ate oatmeal and tuna fish for two months. We used to joke about getting mercury poisoning. We made the film for so little money, but both Mitchell and I felt passionately that the film needed to be made and we couldn't figure out any other way to do it. There are a lot of stories from that summer. It's a nostalgic film about the summers of our youth and ironically I have a lot of nostalgia for the summer we made the film. It was special, in that, for most of the people involved, it was our first film. There's something magical about that - like first kisses and first loves. It's innocent and passionate and you don't really know what you're doing half the time - it's all unchartered territory - and you just do the best you can. Looking back there are certainly things we would have done differently, had we known any better, but I am incredibly proud of that film…so maybe we shouldn't change a thing.

You produced THE FREEBIE and BLACK ROCK with Katie Aselton and husband Mark Duplass - does it all get a little incestuous at times, working with friends? What do you do when someone infuriates you, or rips you off?

Personally, I enjoy collaborating with the same people on multiple projects. There is a familiarity and a trust that comes with repeat collaborations that I really value - you develop a short hand. It's inevitable that the people you work with will become your friends. It may start off as a professional relationship, but eventually it becomes personal too. It's crucial that we support each other as we grow as artists and that we push one another creatively and professionally on each new project - I think our best work as filmmakers will come as a result of repeated collaboration.
And yes, there will be disagreements. And sometimes yelling. But with time comes trust and mutual respect and love and with those things in the mix, you'll work through it, apologize, have a beer and then pick up where you left off.

Actress Megan Boone was here at Munich last year in LEAVE ME LIKE YOU FOUND ME, which you shot spending two weeks in a big tent all together at Sequoia National Park, and she confessed she missed the comfort of a Hollywood trailer after two weeks. What was it like for you? Had enough weenies and marshmallows for a while?

LEAVE ME was shot under unique circumstances. It's true, we all slept in one big tent. We had to cook our own food, wash our dishes, build a fire, tend camp all while shooting a film. It was an experiment. But I love being in the woods. Camping is one of my favorite things to do. I never went camping when I was a kid. I grew up in Florida where it's hot and humid all year and sleeping outdoors is miserable. But as an adult, living in California, I've fallen in love with camping. It's the only time when I'm truly off the grid and no one can get ahold of me. I need that kind of break sometimes. I would love to go shoot something like LEAVE ME again. Next time around, I'll add one additional crew person whose job it is to tend to the camp.

David Nordstrom and Megan Boone in LEAVE ME LIKE YOU FOUND ME

You raised $10 641 for LEAVE ME LIKE YOU FOUND ME out of a $5000 goal. What is the key to a successful Kickstarter campaign? How do you raise attention when you're competing with Hollywood stars?

I'm a big fan of Kickstarter. I've backed 25 projects and raised money for two films on Kickstarter, so obviously I'm a supporter of the site. I love the idea I can throw a couple bucks to a project and if enough people do the same, it can get made.

I think one common misconception about Kickstarter is the expectation that backers have to make large contributions. It's wrong for project creators to expect large donations from their network and it's important that backers know it's okay to give $5 or $10 to a project - even $1. The philosophy behind crowdfunding is that every little bit counts. If you don't embrace that idea, then I think you are missing the point and perhaps have no business launching a campaign on a crowdfunding site.

I don't feel like I am competing on Kickstarter with Hollywood stars. People who chose to back Veronica Mars or Zach Braff are supporting projects they believe in. And the people supporting my projects believe in what I'm doing. Sometimes there will be overlap. But I don't think it's a direct competition. Some people may feel that it's not ethical for celebrities to use crowd funding when they have other avenues of funding their films…but I don't think they are depriving others of campaign contributions.

You've been developing SLEEPOVER follow-up ELLA WALKS THE BEACH for a few years - what's the situation? What can we expect from the sequel? Is it still happening?

Don't worry, Mitchell and I are still working on ELLA WALKS THE BEACH! It's a beautiful script and in the same way I believed MYTH needed to be made, I believe we need to make ELLA. Mitchell and I have both been very busy with other projects the last couple of years, but no one has given up on ELLA.

The Duplass brothers just signed a package deal with Fox - ever consider "Selling out" and making a big budget film? Did they ask?

I would sell out in a heartbeat!

Interview: Collin McMahon
Reprints allowed.

Patrick Warburton in MILO