Q: How has Jim Jarmusch remained an independent filmmaker?
Jon Kilik: He’s stayed true to what he’s been doing from the beginning. With Stranger than Paradise, Jim set a standard and inspired so many young filmmakers, including me.
Stacey Smith: Everything about him is independent. He doesn’t know how to work any other way. With Jim, there’s no development process. The development process is: Jim writes the script and decides who he’s going to collaborate with. Actors want to work with him, because of the respect he shows his cast.
He develops longstanding relationships with his creative team and he’s extremely collaborative, but it’s a bit like alchemy. There’s something about the way he brings everything together that is absolutely unique…and he can only do that if he has the freedom to do it his way.
JK: He has created a wide range of material, but all of it consistent with his own style. The film world tries to pressure any artist to change. He’s remained steadfast and stayed true to his instincts, his style, and his way of working.
He’s rare in his ability to do that – and, his desire to do that; others probably have the power to, but don’t have the same determination and don’t make the choice to stick to their guns.
SS: He takes a very singular approach to each film and what the film needs. When he writes a script, Jim writes very simply, but he is very particular about physical detail. He describes physical locations in great detail. On this movie, I have to give special thanks to the locations department, which did an amazing job in finding these places in the real world that sprang from Jim’s head.
Q: How do you see your jobs as producers?
JK: My contribution is to try to create an environment where the writer/director can surprise himself. This way, he can continue to come up with ideas; things can evolve, and the material can reach its full potential. The cast and production crew should fully support and enhance the filmmaker’s vision.
SS: My job is protecting Jim’s vision, protecting his space and allowing him to do his work, enabling him to do what he needs to do with the amount of money that we have and in the time that we have…and helping to protect how the film is presented.
Q: How did Bill Murray effectively illuminate the character of Don?
JK: Bill Murray is a treasure, and a pleasure to work with. He brings a complexity and humanity to Don; both humor and tragedy, hope and despair, vulnerabilities and flaws. He shows it all.
SS: It was amazing to watch just how completely Bill Murray inhabited his character, Don, on this strange journey through suburban America, and his own past.
JK: Each of the women in the film represents a different part of Don’s past. Each one reminds him of some part of his personality and what he’s been through. In each of them, Don rediscovers what his life might have been like, the choices that he might have made, and a person he might have become because of the woman he’d stayed with.