Hannah Marks made her feature co-directorial debut with the independent film “After Everything,” which she also co-wrote. The film premiered in competition at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival. Her acting credits include “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” and “Daniel Isn’t Real.” She starred in “Banana Split,” which she also co-wrote and produced. Marks will direct the film adaptation of “Turtles All the Way Down,” making her one of the youngest female directors ever hired to direct a studio film.
“Mark, Mary & Some Other People” is screening at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival, which is taking place June 9-20.
W&H: Describe the film for us in your own words.
HM: “Mark, Mary & Some Other People” is a story about a young, newly married couple trying out non-monogamy for the first time.
The movie talks about sex and gender in a frank — and sometimes misguided — way, allowing the characters be flawed, make mistakes, and grow throughout.
W&H: What drew you to this story?
HM: I love rom-coms deeply and always thought there should be a “When Harry Met Sally” but for polyamory, or ethical non-monogamy as we call it in the movie.
I had seen movies about cheating or about open relationships that had a darker worldview and saw the opportunity to make something a little lighter, fun, and unexpected.
W&H: What do you want people to think about after they watch the film?
HM: I want people to see a movie about two characters with opposing worldviews that are still able to find love. I’m obsessed with the concept of temporary love and how the people we meet, even if they aren’t with us forever, can create a huge impact on our lives.
I don’t want anyone thinking I’m preaching which way a relationship should go, whether it be monogamy or polyamory or anything in between — there’s no right or wrong way, and everyone is an individual who should be able to experiment and discover what works for them.
W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?
HM: It’s always hard to make an extremely low-budget movie. On top of that, we were making it in Los Angeles, which can be quite expensive, especially for filming. We also had limited prep as we were trying to shoot in the narrow window between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Thankfully, everyone involved in this movie is a dear friend who supported it from start to finish.
W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.
HM: I spoke with a very cool music management company called Crush Music about potentially directing music videos for some of their clients. I’ve always been interested in music video work and saw it as a cool way to sharpen skills and grow as a filmmaker. They surprised me by saying they were starting Crush Pictures and wanted to make independent films.
It all happened really quickly after that conversation and we brought in several of my friends to come help us produce: Stephen Braun, Pete Williams, Jonathan Duffy, and Kelly Williams. Everyone was incredibly supportive and trusting, letting me take risks and feel creatively free throughout the whole process.
W&H: What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
HM: Movies are my favorite thing on earth. I started in acting, but always wanted to be an actor to be closer to movies and the filmmaking process. My mother was an actress and I grew up watching her work and doing theater and it all spiraled from there. I feel incredibly grateful that this is what I get to do.
W&H: What’s the best and worst advice you’ve received?
HM: The best advice is to stay true to yourself and your vision because you can never control how people react or see things. Everyone has their own life experiences and baggage that they bring into any creative discussion and trying to predict that will be impossible — however, it is important to pick your battles and be open to collaboration.
I think everything in filmmaking — and life — is about finding balance.
The worst advice would be to wait for the “right thing” to come along. While I think it’s important to have confidence and faith in your career path and learn how to say no to things, I also think if inspiration strikes you should follow your gut and not overthink the next step. If you’re heart is in something, go for it and go for it with everything you’ve got!
W&H: What advice do you have for other women directors?
HM: The advice I’d have for any filmmaker regardless of gender would be to work on something that you are passionate about and that feels specific to you. The amount of work that goes into creating a movie and the amount of time it takes won’t be enjoyable if you’re not super engaged with the topic.
W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.
HM: Too many to count! Penny Marshall’s “Big”; Andrea Arnold’s “Fish Tank” and “American Honey”; Ava DuVernay’s “Selma”; Marielle Heller’s “Diary of a Teenage Girl”; Amy Heckerling’s “Clueless”; Catherine Hardwicke’s “Thirteen” and “Lords of Dogtown”; Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird”; Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s “Mustang”; Alma Har’el’s “Honey Boy”; Mary Harron’s “American Psycho”; Alexandria Bombach’s “On Her Shoulders”; Kitty Green’s “The Assistant”; Lorene Scafaria’s “Hustlers”; Eliza Hittman’s “It Felt Like Love”; Kimberly Peirce’s “Boys Don’t Cry”; Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation”; Lone Scherfig’s “An Education”; Lisa Cholodenko’s “The Kids Are All Right”; Laura Poitras’ “Citizenfour”; Desiree Akhavan’s “Appropriate Behavior”; Lynn Shelton’s “Your Sister’s Sister.”
W&H: How are you adjusting to life during the COVID-19 pandemic? Are you keeping creative, and if so, how?
HM: The pandemic was devastating for so many — I am beyond lucky to have a safe roof over my head. There’s no reason for me to complain about it when I have been so fortunate and never got COVID myself.
It was a moment for me to be creative because of the extra space and alone time, but also there were times that weren’t inspiring — feeling like the world was collapsing.
I’m fortunate now to be prepping a movie in New Zealand where there is essentially no COVID-19.
W&H: The film industry has a long history of underrepresenting people of color onscreen and behind the scenes and reinforcing — and creating — negative stereotypes. What actions do you think need to be taken to make Hollywood and/or the doc world more inclusive?
HM: I think awareness is huge. There’s a lot of change happening in our industry right now because of all of the conversations in the media. I want to support people of color and women of color in whatever way I can — and ultimately that comes down to hiring the best people for the job and giving everyone the opportunities they deserve. I think a lot of people are “all talk” and need to put their words into actions.