As Vice President of Cold Iron Pictures, producer Amanda Marshall admits to being most passionate about projects that tell stories in unusual ways. Having had indie success with films like Diary of a Teenage Girl and Swiss Army Man, Marshall’s goal is to find projects that push back against the norm.
“I look for something that I haven’t seen before, even if it’s a world that, on the surface, maybe we have,” she proposes. “Like with Diary of a Teenage Girl, the story of a young girl sleeping with an older man is one that’s been told before but what drew me to that was the perspective. And I hadn’t seen it told from that perspective before and that was what was exciting for me.”
“With Swiss Army Man is more obvious in its different-ness. In fact, I think that sometimes, it can be easy to overlook that, at the core, it’s about something that’s very relatable and that’s how do we connect with other people and what is loneliness, shame and how do people process that. That’s a story that we’ve seen but it was told in a very different way. That was most important.”
“I don’t want to tell stories that, when you see the logline, you say ‘oh, it’s this story’? or ‘it’s that story?’ I want to tell stories that are a little bit different and maybe even a bit scary to a lot of other companies. If it’s a little bit scary to other people, that’s probably something that we’d be interested in.”
With her latest film, I Do… Until I Don’t, Marshall believes that she’s found a story that explores relationships in an unconventional manner.
According to Marshall, “I Do… Until I Don’t follows [a filmmaker named] Vivian (played by Dolly Wells), as she’s making a documentary about marriage and whether or not it should be a seven-year contract with an option to renew. She follows these three couples – Lake Bell and Ed Helms, who are trying to have a baby, Amber Heard and Wyatt Cenac, who have more of an open relationship, and Paul Reiser and Mary Steenburgen, who have been married for a while, and the stresses that come with that. It’s just a look into relationships and what makes them tick and what makes them worth fighting for.”
With a story that includes elements of comedy, drama, and documentary filmmaking, I Do… Until I Don’t is a film that doesn’t particularly fit neatly into any particularly neat categories. However, Marshall believes that what’s most important to her is the film’s ability to connect with the audience.
“It’s a blend,” she reflects. “I guess it’s a dramedy of sorts. To me, what I am more drawn to as a producer, is perspective and I think that this movie can be very relatable. The couples are all very different but there’s something about each of them that I feel like, if you’ve been married for a while, which I have been, that you can see your own relationship and that’s what I appreciated about it.”
One of the most exciting prospects for Marshall was the opportunity to work with writer/director Lake Bell. Having tracked Bell’s work for some time, Marshall was thrilled to finally be able to work with her, especially on a project that was so entertaining.
“I was already a big fan of Lake’s work, both as a director and writer, and after her first movie, wanted to do something with her,” she beams. “When I heard about her new project, I went to a table read. I thought it was hilarious! I don’t think I’ve ever laughed that much at a table read before. Some of the cast that is in the movie was at the table read – Lake, Ed, and Dolly were all there – and I just thought it was so funny that it was definitely something I wanted to be a part of.”
With a title like I Do… Until I Don’t, one might assume that the film’s perspective on marriage is mostly negative. Still, Marshall believes that I Do… balances the challenges of life while emphasizing hopefulness as well.
“Lake likes to call it an ‘unromantic romance’,” she says. “I do feel it has a positive view of marriage but that it also acknowledges that there are ups and downs and that it can be a roller coaster ride. You have moments that you have to get through to come out the other side. There are things that are worth fighting for.”
“I think you have to find a balance. If you’re dealing with another person, you’re in it together. You really have to give up some of that freedom but, yeah, I think it’s a balance, like everything in life. You have to compromise. I think that Vivian, the documentary filmmaker, is in a bitter, unhappy place so she sees the world in a very specific way, as I think all of our characters do at the beginning. Your opinion can evolve.”
With so much conversation at the moment about the importance of a feminine voice in the film industry, Marshall believes that what matters most to storytelling is that the filmmaker be allowed to share their own perspective. In light of this, one of the reasons that she was so interested in working with Bell was the clarity of her vision and voice.
“For me, I always say that I’m not genre-driven; I’m perspective-driven,” she begins. “So, to me, whether it’s male or female, what is important is the perspective of the filmmaker and the film. [With this film,] I think Lake has a very specific perspective as a filmmaker and on the subject matter. That’s what really drew me to the project. I think it’s awesome to work with female filmmakers and I think she’s such a bad ass to watch her go from behind the camera to in front of it… so seamlessly (and often at the same time). That was pretty great. I do think that as a woman, as a mom and where she is in life that she definitely brought that to the table, both behind and in front of the camera.”
Through her desire to tell unique stories like I Do… Until I Don’t, Amanda Marshall continues to find projects that challenge our assumptions.
I Do… Until I Don’t opens in theaters on Friday, September 1st, 2017.