“I Do…Until I Don’t” is a new ensemble comedy about the ups and downs of marriage. Lake Bell, known for her roles in films such as “No Escape” and “In a World” has also moved behind the camera to write and direct.
She also stars in her newest film, alongside Ed Helms, as a woman who starts to question whether marriage is really worth it. The film also stars Mary Steenbergen, Paul Reiser, Amber Heard, and Dolly Wells.
In anticipation of “I Do…Until I Don’t,” I had the opportunity to talk with two of the film’s producers, Amanda Marshall and Miranda Bailey. The part have produced a number of films together. Their most successful venture to date is “The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” which starred Bel Powley, Kristen Wiig, and Alxander Skarsgård.
Karen Peterson/Awards Circuit: How did you two come to work together?
Amanda: I interned for Miranda back in the day. So that is how we came to work together. And I also say she’s my second longest relationship, after my husband.
Miranda: It’s just kind of one of those things that happened. She was an intern and then became an assistant and then became an office manager. And now, anytime I have to go to the bathroom I call and ask her if it’s okay. (Laughs)
KP: What was the first project you collaborated on together?
Miranda: “The Diary of a Teenage Girl.” Well, under our Cold Iron Pictures company, that was it.
Amanda: Our relationship has been in many different forms. We’ve been working together and I would say collaborating for a long time. Actually, Miranda shot a short that I produced. I started producing and became a part of it. I feel like we’ve been collaborating for so long that it’s hard to say. And then we became true producing partners on “Diary of a Teenage Girl.”
KP: Which was a great movie, by the way.
Both: Thank you.
KP: What was it that drew you to “The Diary of a Teenage Girl?”
Miranda: The script. It was just one of the best scripts Amanda and I had read in a really long time. There’s at least 20 scripts that come through here a week and it’s not easy for one to stand out. That was one that just really did. Also, we were kind of at this crucial point in Cold Iron Pictures. I had had another one called Ambush Entertainment with someone else and I decided to kind of go off on my own, and Amanda was going to be part of that as well. And that was one that just felt right at that time. In my life, in terms of finding identity and it just felt right for us at that point.
Amanda: I’d like to say that we’re not a genre driven company, we’re a perspective driven company and that one was definitely one that had a very specific perspective. We’ve seen the story of a young girl and an older man. We’ve seen that before but not that way. And that was really exciting. I think one to take on the vision of Cold Iron. It was one of our first projects and had a unique perspective and point of view that we hadn’t really seen and that is what we look for in general.
KP: I love that you say it’s a perspective-driven company. I think that comes across in the films you’re choosing. Do you purposely seek out films [with female directors] or is it just how it happened?
Miranda: I don’t think we purposely seek it out. I think we do make an extra opportunity to make sure we’re including it. Because if you don’t kind of put the extra effort into make sure you get that material then yes. But, at the end of the day, we pick the projects that we like. We just did “Norman” by a white Jewish director where Richard Gere plays the white Jewish guy. We just liked that project and that script. We do whatever is best for us, in terms of do we like it? Do we not? We worked with Mike Birbiglia and we worked with Lake Bell.
Amanda: I think for us, again being perspective driven, looking for a perspective that isn’t out there lends itself to working with female filmmakers. It’s just going to be the fact that we work with female filmmakers because we want to get a point of view that isn’t already out in the marketplace.
KP: I know producers tend to approach projects in different ways. How hands-on do you try to be with your films?
Miranda: I think we don’t have enough hands for our hands-on work! We’re not just producers that say, “Here’s some money, do what you want and give us a credit at the end and we’ll show up at the premiere.” That’s just not the kind of movies that we do. Not to say that I wouldn’t do that if the right opportunity came along, but I think the projects we pick are so edgy and small that they have to be carefully handled. And when you’re investing your time and, sometimes your money, into a project it’s hard to just hand it over to someone else and know it’s going to be done well. We’ve seen people do that and it hasn’t necessarily gone well. We’ve watched people allow things to happen that didn’t need to happen and Amanda and I will be there as much as possible in every aspect of production, development, post, whatever. Amanda and I have different strengths. So… pre- and post-production, Amanda really likes that. Whereas I’m really into development and production and what happens after the movie is over.
Amanda: We complement each other and I think because we work with a lot of first and second time filmmakers, that does require a little more hand holding. In some areas I need to step back and in some areas I need to step up. But we are never passive. We are very active producers.
KP: What was it that drew you into your current film, “I Do…Until I Don’t?”
Amanda: We were really big fans of Lake [Bell] and her first film and really wanted to work with her. And when we heard about her new project and I saw it at a table read, I thought it was hilarious. She and Ed and Dolly Wells were at that read. And it was just working with Lake. It’s this funny film about marriage that is very relate-able… Really, it was working with Lake again. Another bad ass woman and the way she transitions from directing to being in front of the camera, it’s cool to watch and drew us in.
Miranda: We had just come off of Mike Birbiglia’s film (“Don’t Think Twice”) and he had done that as well. We thought, “Hey! We can do this! We can work with these people who are in control of every aspect. Because both Mike and Lake are not just directors and actors, they are writers and producers. It’s a full collaboration, so you have to be careful who you do that with. Sometimes I imagine that person would be in control and you’re there to help, not to collaborate necessarily. But neither of them were like that. They were really receptive to our creative input. I think we were able to work to make these films better than they might have been with other producers.
KP: Was there a particular experience on this film that really stands out?
Miranda: For me, who’s also an actor and director, I found myself oftentimes watching Lake in awe. She’s so very particular about every little thing and she knew exactly what was going on around her all the time even when she was acting in a scene. I thought she was out of her body and had this aerial view of everything. I felt like I learned a lot from watching her…
Amanda: I think it’s the little things that make a huge difference. During prep, it was very important to Lake that everyone feels like a team. And so we would all stop and eat lunch together. You do that during production, but during prep no one stops and eats lunch together. But it was a great way of bonding and setting the tone that everyone’s important and everyone should take the time to get to know each other. And I felt like that carried over into production. This general vibe that we were all on one team.
Miranda: It was pretty drama free.
KP: That’s pretty rare to find on a movie set!
Miranda: There was plenty of technical drama, don’t get us wrong!
Amanda: But it just was really important that everyone felt like a team because a lot of times it’s not like that.
KP: I’m sure you have some stories! What are your hopes for “I Do…Until I Don’t?”
Miranda: It’s a really fun, light-hearted movie. We needed to work on something like that. We’ve done some serious movies. I think all of us kind of need a break. We’re bombarded everyday by all this news. And movies like “Moonlight” are great but they’re tough! Or like “Detroit.” This is kind of the opposite of that. This is a throwback to a cute romantic comedy, but it’s an ensemble. I think we just want people to sit down and enjoy it and laugh and relate to some of the funny, odd things that happen when marriage gets tough. And also to be hopeful that you can survive your silly rough patches in marriage.
Amanda: You nailed it!
KP: What are you looking for next?
Amanda: Miranda just directed a film which I produced called “You Can Choose Your Family” with Jim Gaffigan and Anna Gunn. We’re in post on that right now. That was another new step in our relationship.
Miranda: It was a great step!
KP: What was great about it?
Miranda: I just really trusted Amanda because I know what she knows. (Laughs) I’m very comfortable feeling safe with her because we’ve worked together so long. And I was able to just dive in and say “What do you think of this?” We had other producers on the movie with Ron Howard and Imagine, but having Amanda there at the helm of those people guiding everything made me feel safe, and it was a fuckload of fun.
Amanda: It was great. Because we know each other so well, there’s a really great shorthand. I know she’s going to listen to me and I know what she needs as a director. And production went pretty smoothly. It was great and it’s exciting to see it in post right now. In terms of what we’re looking forward to next, in general I feel like a lot of the things we’ve done have surprised us when they turn up. There are a few movies we have in development and it’s really about looking for the unexpected in a positive and creative way.
Miranda: We’re trying to dip our toe in the water of longer form like television or a mini-series and it’s an exciting challenge because it’s not something we’ve done before.
KP: And the way television is going now you can do a lot more.
Miranda: Yeah! It’s so edgy now. I was watching “I Love Dick” and each episode would just take this crazy left turn and I thought, “I can’t believe this is television!” Amanda, what’s that show you love that I hate that’s super artsy?
Miranda: I watched one episode and I was like “This is such artsy fartsy crap!”
Amanda: I love it! It’s amazing.
Miranda: But I was inspired by it because I realized you can do anything on television now!
KP: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Miranda: We should mention “The Pathological Optimist.” We have another movie coming out September 29 in New York. It’s a documentary that Amanda is a producer on and I am a producer and director on. It’s super controversial and we’re hoping…Do you remember the Tribeca Film Festival with the guy with the vaccine movie? I have been following him since he lost his medical license. For me it’s this odd meditation on rejection, in a way. In Hollywood we get attacked for our art all the time. But what’s it like to get attacked for everything you do? What’s it like to be married to that guy? What’s it like to have him as your dad? Is he a fraud? Is he not a fraud? What does he think of himself? So I was kind of a fly on the wall of his life. It’s not to say if he’s right or wrong. It’s just to see what his life is like. Who are his supporters? What about this part of it? I honestly didn’t think it was going to be THAT controversial. But as the years went by, it just became a bigger and bigger issue. And then social media grew and people started really sharing their opinions and I thought, “What the fuck did I do?” Because people are full of vitriol and sharing their opinions. But it’s been a long time in the making and now it’s releasing in September. I’ve been working on this since 2011 since it first hit the news. It’s not boring. I’m personally proud of that. It’s hard to make a documentary you want to stick with and I feel that was accomplished with this.
Many thanks to Amanda Marshall and Miranda Bailey for a great conversation.
“I Do…Until I Don’t” is now in theaters.