‘Together Together’ Writer & Director Nikole Beckwith Knows You Have a Lot of Feelings About That Ending

Nikole Beckwith can’t fairly pinpoint the second she formally felt like a director as a result of, as she admitted over Zoom final month as half of Decider’s This Is What a Director Looks Like piece, “Oh, I don’t even know if it has happened yet. I guess I’m waiting for it. But if at all, probably recently, when we heard that we got into Sundance. It was like, oh wow, two for two. Maybe I’m good at this. I think that’s something I still wrestle with.”

Beckwith wrote and directed each her first function, 2015’s Stockholm, Pennsylvania and her newest movie, the humorous and touching Together Together, which is now accessible on VOD, each of which had been massive breakouts on the Sundance Film Festival. Together Together finds Matt (Ed Helms), a single straight man in his 40’s bonding with Anna (Patti Harrison), a younger girl in her 20’s who has taken on the function of surrogate for his child. If it seems like one thing you’ve by no means seen earlier than, that’s as a result of it’s.

“My producing partner, Anthony Brandonisio got it right away,” Beckwith defined of the idea. “We met working on my first film, which is also a story about women primarily. [But] I remember going around with this film, looking for financing and there were people who really wanted the story to be all Matt’s story, which I didn’t want to do. I also heard a lot of like, ‘What is Matt going to…do with the baby?’ What do you mean? What’s he going to do? Even hearing that phrase is horrifying. I’m like, love it and care for it for the rest of his life. I don’t understand what you’re asking. But they couldn’t wrap their mind around a straight male wanting to be a dad on his own. I [thought], great. That’s why the story needs to be told. It was funny to experience men just being disoriented by that story of a man wanting to have a baby and then a surrogate who was fine with not mothering the baby.”

There’s a good probability some males may even be disoriented by a specific scene that I couldn’t have liked extra — and particularly knew it needed to be designed by different ladies as effectively. During an ultrasound appointment, Anna is instructed to scoot down on the examination chair. The technician, performed by Veep’s Sufe Bradshaw, continues to instruct Anna to scoot down nearer to the top of the desk. It continues for longer than it feels or looks like it ought to, which is precisely how that have typically performs out for ladies whereas they’re in stirrups, and felt not solely so extremely relatable however so precisely humorous that it’s no shock Beckwith had a story to associate with it. “That wasn’t in the script, that came in the moment,” she revealed. “Sufe, who plays the technician, Jean, she had to put gloves on and it was taking a long time. I hate rushing actors. I want everything to be comfortable and for you to not have to be in your head about anything. I was like, well, we’ve got to get some scoots in, right? That’s what you would be doing when you’re putting your gloves on. It’s like getting in position. Then we were just laughing and having so much fun because that recognition that, how is this not in this script was just staring us in the face. We were having so so much fun doing it. The gloves are on but I was like, ask for more scoots. Then when we were in the edit, and when we were doing ADR, I would just be texting Sufe asking, you want to throw a couple of scoot scoots on a voice memo for me? Because I want even more scoots. So we had a really fun time with that, and that’s one of the best things about directing is you’re trying to fix a problem and then something really great happens as a fix. I love that scene too, for that reason and Patti scooching down, her face, everything she’s doing is so funny. The way Sufe is delivering the scoots, that was just very fun.”

Nikole Beckwith directing Ed Helms and Patti Harrison in Together Together
Tiffany Roohani/ Bleeker Street

Harrison’s efficiency can have a lot of folks speaking as a result of it actually is a particular, breakout second. Beckwith first knew she discovered her Anna when she noticed Harrison’s set from The Tonight Show years earlier than, and thought, “Oh look, there she is.” As she defined, “Patti has this really intrinsic magnetism. You want to lean and you want to watch but she also has this really easy saltiness to her and that combination is… you can’t give it a direction. I don’t even know what it is. It has to be inherent. Patti has that: you can’t tell someone to be magnetic, but be a little salty. Let people come closer, but not too close. That’s really a delicate balance. After I saw that video, I watched anything I could get my hands on or eyes on that she was in. I watched a lot of interviews while I was casting, maybe even more so than watching them perform in anything. She just had that magic quality. This film is a different tone or genre from my first film. I was a playwright before this and my plays are all comedic, but really kind of absurdist in a way, and so this was a totally different tone for me and also for her and Ed. So it was really nice for all of us to adventure in on this new thing together.”

Beckwith additionally couldn’t say sufficient good issues about Helms, who’s a bit extra subdued on this function than maybe we’ve seen him earlier than. However, she put it finest when she mentioned, “Everything I see him do has this beautiful center core of vulnerability and humanity. I think that’s one of his greatest gifts. No matter how hilarious he’s being, or how absurd the physicality or whatever it is, he never lets go of that core. Andy Bernard just makes me weep. All he wants is to belong, he is mourning the loss of his potential. That’s such a hard tug of war, I just feel all that so intensely when he’s punching a wall or trying to serenade you with his banjo. So I really just wanted to explore that being in the front seat. What a gift that is to have that humanity and vulnerability all the time, no matter what you’re doing. That’s not easy. I want to accelerate that and lift that forward. He did such a beautiful job. I’m so in love with Matt, you know? Ed is just wonderful.”

The solid can also be comprised of many different humorous folks together with Nora Dunn, Fred Melamed, Julio Torres, and Tig Notaro, nevertheless it was one performer that actually had everybody in stitches, particularly throughout a group assembly scene, and that was Jo Firestone. “I love Jo,” Beckwith mentioned with a massive smile. “She’s so funny. I wish we had more of her in the film. Her shooting day is one of my favorite days because she makes Patti laugh like I’ve never seen Patti laugh or break before and that was just a delight. My direction off camera was just, Jo, be less funny. Don’t be funny. Patti can’t laugh.”

*Spoiler alert* for people who haven’t but watched the movie, however I additionally needed to ask in regards to the ending — not that I used to be the primary nor the final to take action. But the best way the movie ends as Anna offers beginning and the digicam lingers on a closeup of her face simply earlier than the credit roll, leaves viewers with a lot of emotions, questions, and even hope for extra. “The ending is exactly as it was in the script, which is exactly as it was in my mind,” Beckwith said. “The visual, the framing, the tone, and the cut, all of that was something and for me, I think it was the North Star for the entire movie, tonally and otherwise. We have to earn this end and so that’s how the ending came about.”

“We shot the bulk of the movie in 17 days in Los Angeles, and then went to San Francisco for a day and a half of exteriors,” she continued. “So bonkers, but we scheduled it so that scene was the very last thing we are shooting in Los Angeles, with our crew, with the family, with all of us together for the last time. So that was the very last shot of the very last scene that we filmed in our full production. It was very emotional for all of us. We scheduled it that way on purpose and I think the feeling shows and the performances are beautiful, and it’s more beautiful in life and execution than I even could have imagined it being when I was writing it.”

Nikole Beckwith and Patti Harrison on the set of Together Together
Nikole Beckwith on the set of Together Together.Photo: Tiffany Roohani/ Bleeker Street

For anybody hoping for a sequel, Beckwith needs you to know, definitively, “I will not make a sequel. Sorry, everyone. The answer is no.” Since it’s unimaginable to not develop hooked up to those characters, I questioned if Beckwith felt the identical, and if she imagined what life may go on to be like for every of them. Would they keep mates? “The question of whether or not they stay friends is so tricky,” she mentioned thoughtfully. “What I say is that even if they never see each other again, they are a part of each other’s lives from now on. Matt’s life as a father, in the world forevermore, thereafter is touched by Anna, and Anna going to school and anything that is happening based on that degree and that time and the community she makes in the life that she’s leading from that moment on is forevermore touched by Matt. So they do stay in each other’s lives in that way, no matter what happens, and that’s okay.”

“Part of what I’m saying is, we conflate forever with the idea of happily ever after and with success. I think that that’s not accurate,” Beckwith mentioned. “I think there’s lots of impermanence in our lives and whether that is manifesting in people that we know in our relationships, in our jobs, in our homes, there is fluctuation and a lot of times that fluctuation can be equated with some sort of failure, and that’s deeply inaccurate. I think it’s important to embrace that and to be okay with that and to know that. I don’t think staying friends depends on hanging out in person or getting coffee. I have friends that I have not seen for years. When I think of them, they feel like a friend, and when we do see each other, it is like, hello friend. But life is complicated and layered and just gets more and more layered as our lives go on. So, yeah, I always like to think of Matt having to actually explain to Lamp [the baby] how a tampon works and in that moment, Anna is in the room with him again, so there’s a lot of that. I think they both will hear each other and feel each other forever.”

And so whereas Beckwith awaits that eureka second of feeling like a director, she does already know that’s what she is in her coronary heart — which can also be very clear from her work. “The landscape and the business is so uncertain and changing all the time. So I don’t know when I’ll ever feel comfortable, if that’s the feeling. But in terms of being on set and actually doing it, there’s never a question in my mind. When it’s just about the work, I’m like, yeah, this is what I’m doing. This is what I was born to do. I think writing, directing, it’s such a lucky job. I’ve been making my living as a writer since 2012 and only recently have I been like, I guess this is my job, this is what I do.”

Plus, after the nice recognition ladies equivalent to Chloe Zhao and Emerald Fennell obtained on the Oscars this 12 months, Beckwith is feeling extra optimistic than ever, providing encouragement to different ladies and the trade as a entire to “keep going.” As she famous, “Sundance this year was gender parity, half and half for directors, which was great. The Oscars this year are really showing up. I’m always really hesitant to be like, we did it, because we didn’t do it. We’ll know that we did it when we’re not talking about it. We still have to constantly be talking about it, we still have to constantly be advocating for it, we still have to constantly be applauding and shining a bright light on any example of that space being taken up by women or whoever else until we don’t have to be handing out party favors every single time that happens.”

The recommendation she needs to go on to fellow feminine filmmakers is that “You can do it, but it’s different for everybody. I don’t think there’s any one way to do it. You can lead with softness, and the best director empowers everyone around them to be doing their best work. Don’t be afraid to be soft.” In truth, once I requested what her favourite half of the job is, she answered, “I love how collaborative it is. Writing is so solitary, but directing is like, let’s all do this together. It might be physically demanding and mentally demanding and depleting in those ways. But I think for the spirit, the soul, the heart, it’s very restorative in terms of the creative process. I’m dying to get to the point in time where the term ‘female director’ isn’t something that’s said. I think that continues to other us from the norm and I would love to have that not be a phrase I hear anymore. I’m looking forward to that.”

Stream Together Together on VOD

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