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Writer/Director Andrew Bujalski On Selling Out, 10-Year Retrospectives and 7th-Grade Influences

The Nerdist Writer’s Panel podcast, hosted and moderated by Ben Blacker, typically focuses on television writers. Since NFS focuses primarily on film, I haven’t featured this podcast here, but highly recommend it as a lot of fantastic narrative writing is happening in television today. In a recent Nerdist Writer’s Panel podcast, however, Blacker and his guest (and friend from seventh grade) writer/director Andrew Bujalski discuss how to make a living as an independent filmmaker today and over the past decade. During their wide-ranging conversation, Bujalski touches on the economic need to sell out, the tenth anniversary screening of his first feature film Funny Ha Ha, and the influential films of his youth.

You can listen to the podcast online or download it at Nerdist.com or you can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or RSS feed.

A decade after Bujalski emerged as a new voice in the independent film world, today he expresses a grounded and relatable view on selling out:


That’s something I’ve learned over the last several years is that selling out is as much work as doing something you care about, which is why I keep doing things that I care about because I think, f*** it, if I have to work this hard at both of them, I might as well do something that I believe in…. I do have a kid and I do have a mortgage now, which are things that I did not used to have, so I’ve been taking the “selling out” part a little more seriously.

Bujalski also describes how he stumbled upon his idea for Funny Ha Ha as he realized his first roommate in Austin, Kate Dollenmayer, had this strange charisma that would cause guys to fall in love with her instantly upon meeting her at a party. After he asked Dollenmayer if she would act in his film if he wrote a script for her, he was able to channel her voice into the lead character of Marnie. The realism of Dollenmayer’s voice as Marnie in the script convinced Bujalski that he had to make this movie, which is credited as the start of the mumblecore movement.

Here’s a trailer for Funny Ha Ha:

Listen to the entire podcast to hear how movies ranging from the summer of 1982 (the greatest summer of movies ever according to the Alamo Drafthouse) to introducing Blue Velvet to his seventh-grade buddies influenced Bujalski’s own work.

What’s your take on balancing economic stability and “selling out” in the film industry? What films from your childhood still influence your work today? Share with us in the Comments.

You can also watch the progression of Bujalski’s films in these trailers for Mutual Appreciation and Beeswax.

Link: Nerdist Writer’s Panel – Andrew Bujalski

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COMMENT POLICY

We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

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  • I really like Bujalski films, “Funny Ha Ha!” is great and “Mutual appreciation”. Bujalski, Swanberg, Duplass brothers, Safdie brothers… they have the talent and courage to focus on characters like in the European way, and not just a plot. If you don’t know their films go see them, specially if you have no money and want to see how this guys with the same micro budget did their feature films.

  • I find the quality of the filmmaking in mumblecore pretty distracting even though the story may be good. Personally, a little forethought in making the cinematography better goes a long way.

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