What was your filmmaking background before making The Freebie?
KATIE: Honestly, my only background in filmmaking was watching and collaborating with Mark and Jay Duplass. I acted in their short films, Scrapple and The Intervention, and went on to not only act in, but also co-produce their feature film, The Puffy Chair. And I have been present for all their films since. Being close to them and watching their process from the moment of conception to the moment of completion was and still is an incredible education.
What was the genesis of this movie -- how was it developed and written?
KATIE: This movie was born out of unemployment! I was an actor who wasn't booking anything and when you're married to Mark Duplass, you realize that, if you have the idea and you have the passion, there's no excuse to not execute it.
The truth of the matter is that I am surrounded by an incredibly talented safety net that I knew and respected and trusted to not let me fall on my ass. So once the idea of this seemingly fine couple giving themselves the freedom of one night with someone else came to me, it all happened very quickly from there.
I wrote the outline that we shot from (the movie was 100% improvised) and a number of people from the aforementioned safety net jumped on board - Ben Kasulke (our d.p.), Nat Sanders (our editor) - and through them, we were introduced to other amazing people - Adele Romanski (our producer), Hillary Spera (our 2nd shooter), Sean O'Malley (sound) -- and we created this awesome collaborative team who loved this story and shared a vision of how to tell it.
Were you always planning to both act and direct it?
How did you fund the film?
KATIE: We paid for it out of Mark's and my own bank account... couch cushion money, really. And then we cut some serious corners shooting in our house, cooking our own meals, begging many favors from many friends, etc.
What sort of camera did you use for production and what were the best and worst things about it?
KATIE: We shot on two Sony EX3s and I was really happy with the look of the film... I think it's incredibly cinematic for video. I have a hard time thinking of the "worst thing" about it, really.
What was the smartest thing you did during production? The dumbest?
KATIE: I fired our lead actor 3 days into shooting, which could have been the dumbest thing I could have ever done, except for the fact that we ended up with Dax Shepard, which was by far the smartest thing I could have ever done for this movie! He and his performance just blew me out of the water! I was so pleased.
The previous actor just wasn't enjoying the process... he wasn't comfortable improvising and instead of embracing it, he became very guarded and defensive and incredibly hard to work with. And when it comes down to it, when no one is making any money, you all better be having a good experience.
I love doing what we do. What we do is fun! Don't get me wrong... it's hard and exhausting and it takes a toll on every part of your life, but I can promise you, if I’m lucky enough to be running the set, I’m going to do everything within my power to make sure the vibe is great and that the people are good, and they want to come to work everyday!
And, finally, what did you learn from making the film that you can take to other projects?
KATIE: I learned I can kinda do this! Which is exciting and terrifying all at the same time... it's a whole new world open to me and I have only dipped my toe in, but I’m excited to go deeper!