Writer/director Jake Paltrow – Exclusive Video Interview – THE GOOD NIGHT

     October 10, 2007

Already playing in New York City in limited release, and opening up on November 2nd in Los Angeles, is writer/director Jake Paltrow’s debut film “The Good Night.”

The movie premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and it was actually one of my favorites from the Fest. And even though you may not have heard of it yet, the film stars some pretty big actors like Gwyneth Paltrow, Martin Freeman, Danny DeVito, Penelope Cruz, and Simon Pegg.

Anyway, while at Sundance I was able to interview the writer/director of “Good Night” Jake Paltrow. I really meant to post the interview before the film opened in New York… but circumstance conspired against me and it didn’t get done. Needless to say… my bad and I’m sorry.

But while it may have been delayed, tonight is the premiere of one of my first on camera interviews. You may notice that both of us make a few mistakes… and while I won’t point out Jake’s, make sure you notice me chewing gum while trying to conduct the interview. Also the entire conversation was on the fly – I didn’t have any of my usual prepared questions. Thankfullyitnever slowed down and we covered a lot of ground.

And since at least 98% of you have not seen the movie, I’m going to repost what I wrote when I first saw the movie, before I did the interview with Jake. But if you’d rather just watch the interview…scroll a bit further down. For the original post click here.

So as I originally wrote… One of my favorites from the festival.

Martin Freeman plays a man who composes music for commercials. He used to be in a semi-successful band but that was years ago and he’s settled into his regular nine to five life. His boss, played by Simon Pegg, used to be in the same band and unlike Martin, has become very successful and is as happy as Martin is sad. As the years have gone by Martin’s character has lost his inner drive, his spontaneity and ambition, and they have been replaced by unhappiness and boredom. At the same time his relationship with his girlfriend (Gwenyth Paltrow) has been deteriorating due to his emotional state and also due to his lack of effort in trying to make it work.

As the film goes on Martin begins to experience extreme happiness when he is dreaming as he meets an amazing woman, who is played by Penelope Cruz. She loves him unconditionally and is nothing but supportive. Unfortunately, due to outside circumstances, he struggles to stay asleep and begins to seek out ways to keep himself dreaming. But in focusing so much on his dream girl will he ruin his real life relationship?

I would rather not give away too much more of the plot as I hate when people ruin movies….

I think Jake Paltrow did a great job as a first time director. While there aren’t crazy camera movements or Eternal Sunshine type sets, he does a perfect job filming the different realities and making it easy for the viewer to know where Martin is. When we are in the “real” world the film stock is more grainy and dark as he used Super 16. Conversely, when we enter the dream world, it’s bright and colorful, a place that welcomes us in and it just seems happier and where Martin wants to be. For those scenes he used 35mm and it’s a great way to distinguish the realities on a limited budget.

Something else that Jake did, that I thought was perfect, was putting in something simple and repeating it to demonstrate the monotony of Martin’s life. Every night when Martin and Gwyneth’s characters go to sleep they each tell each other that they love one another. Jake put in a number of scenes with them in bed saying these words and also what their night time life was like – him wanting to read a book while she wants to sleep, or vice-versa. It was a simple and perfect way to say so much about what both characters lives were like and where they were in their relationship. So many times a filmmaker puts in unnecessary scenes of dialogue or situations that are unneeded to try and tell the audience what is going on. I really dug the simplicity of their nighttime lives in bed.

Of course the film wouldn’t have worked without the amazing cast. I think any A-List director would be over the moon for the cast he put together and he uses them all perfectly. Simon Pegg plays Martin’s best friend and is the light to Martin’s dark. Gwyneth plays the unhappy girlfriend to perfection – her character is trying so hard to make it work, but can’t if Martin won’t put in any effort. Penelope is perfect as the dream girl (I mean have you seen Penélope Cruz?). I think she could turn a gay man straight. And Danny Devito is also great as the man who instructs Martin in lucid dreaming. As I said, an amazing cast.

And now… that interview I was talking about…

Jake Paltrow – part 1

  • We start with Thundercats talk… it had to do with my hat.

  • What is it like to have your first feature in Sundance and what was the reaction at the premiere.

  • The writing process and where did the idea for the movie come from.

  • I ask when he wrote it did he envision certain people in the roles.

  • How he got the actors to be in it like Penelope Cruz and Danny Devito.

  • The rehearsal process and the shooting schedule.

Jake Paltrow – part 2

  • Why they filmed in London instead of New York

  • We talk about how he shot on both Super 16 and 35mm and what that was like.

  • His writing process – when he writes.

  • What he’s working on. He talks about a short doc he did.

  • Did you allow for Simon Pegg to improvise?

Jake Paltrow – part 3

  • He gives a summary of the film – describes it

  • How did he get so many big actors to play small parts?

  • Talks about working for Paul Thomas Anderson as a PA –what did he learn?

  • What is his desire for who gets to buy the film?

  • Has he seen any films at Sundance.

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