The Tribeca Film Festival is in full swing, with ‘Duck Butter’ star Alia Shawkat and ‘O.G.’ director Madeleine Sackler gracing the red carpet to discuss their films, their past experiences informing their newest work, and more.
It seems that people often think that being in the moviemaking business can be a breeze. From the complimentary luxury clothes and jetsetter lifestyle to the glamorous parties and screeching fandom, being a filmmaker can sometimes sound like a dream come true. But those people often don’t see the grueling call times at 5am, the neverending press coverages, and the never-ending need to be “on.” It can be an exhausting experience, but one that can be equally rewarding. After all, being a star sure does sound great. And it seems that that never seems more obvious than during the festival circuit.
Duck Butter star Alia Shawkat and O.G. director Madeleine Sackler both attended the glitzy premiere of their respective films, taking the time to soak in the fun and chat about their highly-anticipated films. Gracing the red carpet, the two talked about their time working on their respective movies, the challenges that they ran into, and collaboration. Check out what they had to say below.
Alia Shawkat Interview
Miguel Arteta seems to love working with the same people. Mike White is obviously one of his most favorite collaborators. How did it feel to collaborate with him in a screenwriting capacity on this project?
Alia Shawkat: It was an honor. We were already really great friends since we worked on Cedar Rapids. And then afterwards, he was like, “Yo, I want to write something with you,” and I was like “Okay!”
So he approached you?
Shawkat: Yeah he did. It took five years but earlier we sat down and we were like, “what do we want to write about?” and we both started sharing stories about our worst relationships and how we still in a way couldn’t get over them.
They do make for some of the best stories.
Shawkat: Yes, they really do. So we did lots of weird research and personal research. We really delved into telling every story for a while until we actually sat down and came up with these two characters and started going from there.
This film is in many ways a thought experiment that has been put in real terms. What inspired you to want to do that?
Shawkat: Well I’ve never done the 24 hour thing. Yeah, hopefully people will start doing it now. But the fatigue would be real. It would be bad [laughs]. But you know, Miguel always had this idea about being with somebody—in his mind he was like, “you should have a hundred orgasms before you say ‘I love you’ to somebody. Sexuality can sometimes confuse a relationship and you can be with somebody and then down the line realize that your physicality doesn’t work out so much. So this is like a throwing-yourself-into it thing. The main theme was to throw yourself in chest first and not looking back.
I love the title of this film. To me it sounds like an indulgent experience. Like the taste of duck confit [laughs]. I was wondering if that was something that was really apparent to you in coming up with a name that invokes such a fatty and indulgent thing. Was that the inspiration for the title?
Shawkat: Yeah, kind of. By definition, it’s another word for Smegma. If you look it up in urban dictionary—it’s like truffle butter [laughs], except it’s a more fun name. And it was always our original title! People were like, “that’s a working title, right?” and we were like, “no, that’s the actual title.” But what it ended up becoming about was the two characters say to each other, “show me your grossest, realist side,” and they convince each other to do it. But the minute they do, they actually go, “oh wait, I actually don’t like that.” So it’s like “show me your duck butter, show me your grossest. Show me everything. But actually that’s too intimate and I can’t accept you.” So that’s the meaning behind the title.
That’s a really nice underlying meaning to the title.
Shawkat: Yeah, and it’s gross [laughs].
So do you think this sort of 24 hour, sex every hour, intimate experience could be recreated in reality or something that should be left to the silver screen?
Shawkat: I think maybe left on the silver screen for plot sake. But you know, I’m into the idea of spending 24 hours with someone but, you know, having sex at your own pace. There’s already a lot of pressure anyways that early in a relationship.
Madeleine Sackler Interview
Obviously this is your first narrative feature film. That probably informed the way in which you made this film. What were some of the challenges in transitioning between documentary to drama?
I’m always inspired by the truth—by reality. I brought in a group of people that are very like-minded in that way. The cinematographer I’ve shot with is like that and the screenwriter had been a writer on The Lottery project so he had done investigative screenwriting before and then Jeffrey [Wright] had a strong desire to work closely and collaborate with the people in the prison. We all just wanted to make a real prison film—maybe for the first time. And once that goal happened, the difference between the fiction and nonfiction filmmaking all dropped away. It just became about making our vision come on screen. I took a lot of acting classes [laughs].
Duck Butter and O.G. had their world premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 20.
Laia Costa, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Mel Eslyn, Natalie Qasabian and Miguel Arteta celebrated the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Duck Butter at the official after-party on Friday, April 20th, hosted by Cîroc at Bar Gonzo.
PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images