Writer/Director Mariana Palka Exclusive Interview – GOOD DICK

     October 14, 2008

Written by Charlie Mihelich

I recently took part in the press day for “Good Dick”, the new film from first time writer/director Marianna Palka. The film stars Palka, Jason Ritter, Martin Star and Tom Arnold.

“Good Dick” is about an unnamed guy (Ritter) and girl (Palka) caught in an unconventional romance. He is a recently homeless video store clerk who is fascinated by the wounded, withdrawn, aloofly sexual girl who frequents the video store in search of softcore porn. She is the object of his fascination, guarded and ornery with serious issues that stem from her relationship with her father (Arnold). As he desperately tries to invade her world, he drifts father away from his friends and fellow store clerks who want nothing but the best for him.

I have to say I really enjoyed the film. It’s definitely a different kind of movie with killer indie cred, and its clever use of West LA landmarks also made me feel very close to the story (it was filmed only a couple blocks from my apartment). At the press day, I was able to sit down and talk to Marianna about the film.

Collider: Where did the idea for “Good Dick” come from?

Marianna Palka: I just wanted to make a different kind of love story. I wanted to see how you can bring two wounded people together in a way that you wouldn’t expect. I just thought “There is so much crap out there, why can’t people see something different?”.

Collider: How did the other actors get involved in the film?

Marianna Palka: Well, Jason and I are friends from back in school in New York, and the other actors are all good friends of ours. The only people I didn’t know going in to it were Martin (Starr) and Tom Arnold, but they were both really excited to do the film.

Collider: How has the film changed since you first conceived it?

Marianna Palka: I mean, it really hasn’t changed that much, which was kind of my intention from the beginning. A lot of these people have backgrounds in improv, but I wanted to get away from that idea. It was very important to me, you know, to not have them improv their lines, because I feel very uncomfortable when that starts to happen. I feel like it can kind of change this kind of movie.

Collider: How limited was your budget for the film?

Marianna Palka: Very limited. We shot most of it in our houses and our apartments. I mean the apartment in the film is our apartment in LA. Everyone was really great about working for little or no money, which is just what you have to do with this kind of movie. It all paid off because the film was received so well at Sundance, which is more than I could have ever hoped for.

Collider: I noticed that you filmed a good portion of this film at Cinefile in West LA, which is where I rent movies.

Marianna Palka: Yeah, yeah! That’s where we go too. The guys were really great about letting us shoot there, and we felt it was important to have the location resonate with people who know the area.

Collider: Judging by the fact that there are no cars in the streets when you show the outside of the video store, I’m guessing you shot after closing time.

Marianna Palka: Yeah, yeah, it was pretty late. We shot from about 11pm-7am. I mean, when we were leaving the sun was coming up, so it was really surreal.

Collider: You also feature the Nuart Theater in the film, which is where they show avant garde cinema and, of course, the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” experience.

Marianna Palka: Have you ever been to that?

Collider: Not to that one, but I hear it’s amazing.

Marianna Palka: So do I! I’ve never been, but I really want to. We’re actually opening “Good Dick” at the Nuart, which will be very cool.

Collider: Very cool. It lets the audience be part of the experience.

Marianna Palka: Watch the film where it was filmed.

Collider: Alright, back to the film.

Marianna Palka: Right, back to the film.

Collider: How did Tom Arnold get involved?

Marianna Palka: It was very interesting. When I wrote the part, I felt it would be perfect for him. So I sent him the script with my cell phone number saying “Call me if you’re interested!”. Apparently he immediately called and left a message saying “Oh man, I love it! I want to talk to you about the issues of child molestation and sexual assault, and I really think you’ve got something great here!”. I say apparently because he called the wrong number and ended up leaving a message about child molestation on someone else’s cell phone! Once he finally connected with me, it all worked out.

Collider: It’s a really different role for him.

Marianna Palka: Yeah, he’s normally known for playing the comic relief, but here he plays a very dark character who captures the essence of this very unlikeable person.

Collider: What’s next for you?

Marianna Palka: I think I’ll know once the film opens. It will be the culmination of this amazingly fulfilling project.

“Good Dick” opens October 10th in select cities and it expands in the coming weeks.

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