“Mark, Mary & Some Other People” premieres Thursday, June 10 at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. The film centers on newlywed couple Mark (Ben Rosenfield) and Mary (Hayley Law) who decide to opt for non-monogamy with complicated results.
Writer-director-actor Hannah Marks (Banana Splits, After Everything) is known for wowing audiences with indie hit films. Mark, Mary & Some Other People is Marks’ latest shining star of brilliant filmmaking with an incredible ensemble cast including Gillian Jacobs, Lea Thompson, and Kelli Berglund to boot. Below, Marks opens up about how the film came to be ahead of the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival world premiere and subsequent day-and-date premiere with Vertical Entertainment later this year.
The Knockturnal: What inspired the story behind MARK, MARY & SOME OTHER PEOPLE, and what is the writing process like for an improvised comedy?
Hannah Marks: I was inspired by meeting people in my own life who were in non-monogamous relationships. I always thought it was an interesting topic and ripe for a romantic comedy. A lot of movies explore cheating and affairs, but not as many approach the open relationship subject matter. I was excited to do something that felt different, where I could channel a lot of my own personal feelings throughout. The writing process was standard in that I wrote the script as if it would never be improvised, so it was fully fleshed out, and then each day of the shoot we would try to throw it all away.
The Knockturnal: Hayley Law and Ben Rosenfield really shine in the film. What was the casting process like and how did that trust build between the actors and yourself as the writer-director-producer on set?
Hannah Marks: The casting process was actually pretty unusual. I didn’t audition either actor. I had seen their previous work and felt they both were similar to Mark and Mary. I met with each of them — Ben on Zoom in New York and Hayley in LA in person. I just went with my gut. I feel so grateful to them for showing me trust and giving it so much life and nuance. On set, I approached each day wanting to help them feel confident and supported. I wanted them to feel the freedom to take risks and try things.
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The Knockturnal: What was the road to Tribeca 2021 like, and what does this new festival circuit after the 2020 quarantine mean to you?
Hannah Marks: We wrapped right before the pandemic hit. So the entire movie was edited on Zoom over the course of quarantining. After that, it was pretty straightforward — we were incredibly excited to be invited to Tribeca, the first in-person domestic festival. It made all of us involved so happy to know we would get to share the movie with a live audience.
The Knockturnal: The last few years have been incredible for you, from the success of Banana Split to appearing in (personally, one of my favorite) series You’re the Worst to last year’s I Used To Go Here. How do you balance being a multi-hyphenate talent, and between producing, writing, directing, and acting, which passion do you find yourself drawn to the most?
Hannah Marks: I’m drawn to each equally — I want to do what is right for the specific project. Not all projects make sense for me to act in, just like not all projects make sense for me to write or direct. At the end of the day, it’s about supporting the story. I love, love, love acting but it has been nice to take a step back and focus on other endeavors. I think directing makes me a better actor and acting makes me a better director — so they all kind of feed each other.
The Knockturnal: You also seem to have worked with some familiar actors throughout projects, like Gillian Jacobs and two stars with Riverdale connections. How did you create your working inner circle, and what do you look for in costars and directing talent?
Hannah Marks: It has always been my dream to make movies with friends. And this movie feels like it was the start of that trajectory. Gillian became a dear friend after we met on I Used To Go Here and we were just wanting to spend more time together. I was so honored that she was open to playing the mean gynecologist!
The Knockturnal: Your upcoming film Don’t Make Me Go has an incredible cast. Who are some of your dream actors to direct later?
Hannah Marks: Thank you! Oh gosh, so many. Off the top of my head: Steve Buschemi, Dave Chappelle, Amy Adams, Julia Garner, Seth Rogen, Dev Patel, Chris Rock, Pamela Adlon, Olivia Colman, Jason Sudeikis, Zoe Kazan…. There are also a few basketball players I’d love to direct in something one day, like Javale McGee and Anthony Davis.
The Knockturnal: What are you currently watching in your (probably very spare!) free time?
Hannah Marks: I’m finally watching The Crown! Wow, it’s brilliant! I can’t believe how late I am to the party.
The Knockturnal: What’s next on the horizon for you?
Hannah Marks: I’m typing this from New Zealand right now, after a day of filming on Don’t Make Me Go. So in the immediate future, finishing the shoot and editing the movie. Editing is my favorite part of the process so I’m really looking forward to it.
“Mark, Mary & Some Other People” premieres June 10 at the Tribeca Film Festival.