'Nine Days' Is the Film of Our Times—How the Heck Did It Get Made?

A filmmaker's dream interrupted...

Writer/director Edson Oda's first feature Nine Days premiered at Sundance 2020, where it won the Screenwriting Award and was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics.

A dream come true for a first-time filmmaker, right? The film, which is about social isolation and deep reflection on the meaning of life, was all set to debut theatrically later that year… until COVID-19 had other plans. It socially isolated all of us, and made all of us reflect on the meaning of life.

This week it finally hits theaters (NY and LA on July 30, everywhere else in the US  on August 6), and if you like ambitious films that ask existential questions, Nine Days will have been worth the wait. NFS Founder Ryan Koo talked with Oda and producer Jason Michael Berman (who also produced Koo's own first feature, AMATEUR) about the Herculean task of getting a first feature made—especially one as ambitious as Nine Days.

In this episode, we talk about…

  • Director Edson Oda’s background and early career, including screenwriting.
  • How film-writing contests can be useful for the purposes of getting a deadline and some external pressure, and less for the results.
  • The process of going through the Sundance Writers’ Lab, and actually getting a film made out of it.
  • How the casting process for Nine Days went, especially given that the film was unfinanced at the time.
  • How the team eventually got financing for their movie and the hurdles they faced.
  • Oda’s preparation process for filming his first feature film and why prep is one of the most important parts of the process.
  • Why Oda didn’t do a ton of rewriting during filming.
  • What surprised Oda the most about the experience filming Nine Days.
  • Why you really need to believe in yourself, be resourceful, and not give up when you’re trying to get a feature film made.
  • Fun stories from the (often stressful) filmmaking process.

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This episode of The No Film School Podcast was produced by George Edelman and Charles Haine. 

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